There is a popular notion out there that life “just happens” without any control. But if you truly think about it, you have more control than you think. In fact, life is designed based on the choices you make. For example, you can choose to let something funny make you happy, or you can be indifferent to it. You can choose to dwell, or choose to persevere. You can choose fear or courage; failure or success; laziness or hard work.

In his novel The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, author Stephen R. Covey discusses how to successfully accomplish your goals. Covey says to best complete this, one must change their way of thinking and adhere to seven key habits.

In this blog, we’re going to break them up into seven posts—one for each habit. The goal is to highlight each habit individually in a way that provides clarity for each without overwhelming a reader (we want you to remember what you read).

The first habit of highly effective people: Be Proactive

Remember, we have the freedom to make powerful choices that can affect our daily living and our future. So take responsibility. Focus on those things that you can control and do everything you can to create the life you want to live.

There is a big difference between reactors and responders.

Reactors react to external conditions outside of their control, such as the weather. When it’s cold outside, they feel gloomy. Responders respond to the cold by putting on a jacket and treating this day as any other. Reactors blame external stimuli as if they have no choice but to let it dictate their lives. Responders choose to take control.

Similarly, the responder uses language like “I can” and “I will.” The reactor says “I can’t” or “if only.” How you speak indicates the type of person you are.

Those who are responders—the proactive bunch—put their time and energy into the Circle of Influence. They make positive choices and take steps to positively confront poor health, problems at work, or rowdy children. Reactive individuals spend too much time in the Circle of Concern. These individuals have no control over the rain, global pollution, or missile testing in another country, yet they dwell on it.

The effective individual behaves based on decisions, not conditions.

If you want something to happen, make it happen. You want more prospects? Then find more prospects. Even if that means cold-calling, mass e-mails, asking for referrals, marketing yourself, building a website, studying to become better at your craft, or learning new prospecting ideas.

The proactive individual who wants it most will find a way to get it done.