Reactive thinking means you respond to events as they happen while Proactive thinking means you think forward with anticipation.
Moving from reactive thinking to proactive thinking may help you to better handle your time, deal with events with more wisely, and ultimately take more control of what is happening around you.
How about an example?
You are in the kitchen making soup. Also, you have a chef hat on which makes you really cool! The soup is covered with a lid and begins to boil over. The liquid runs down the sides of the pot, it hits the stove and begins to steam. Uh oh… What do you do?
At this point, you are a reactive thinker. You take the lid off. You turn the heat down. You temporarily move the pot off the burner. You react to this event that has happened. Hopefully, you learn a little something (i.e. try not to let the soup boil over).
Now, you can move to become a more proactive thinker. In the same scenario, you are making your soup (wearing your chef hat, of course). When it comes time to cover the soup, you either turn the heat down somewhat or you keep a close eye on the soup to make sure it does not boil over. You observe what is taking place and you respond based on anticipation.
The difference between thinking reactively and proactively is what you anticipate. If you train your self to think of consequences to your words or your actions, you can more reasonably predict certain outcomes. In the case of this cooking illustration, anticipating a boil over is a means of thinking proactively.
Take this line of thinking and apply it elsewhere: apply it to school, apply it to work, apply it to your family. What will happen if you do not turn in your assignment for math? What happens when you sense a project flaw at work and raise attention to your supervisor? What happens when you do something nice for your family, not because they asked you to, but because you know that doing it would make them feel loved?
In all of these scenarios, events tend to play out better.
To be a proactive thinker is not all about being an intuitive person. Rather, it is about being intentional with your thought process which flows out into your words and actions.
I encourage you to think in such a way that your life and the lives of those around you may benefit from thinking wisely!
Reactive Proactive Image Source: https://maintenancebasics.files.wordpress.com/2014/07/re-vs-pro-chalkboard1.jpg