9 Ways to be More Proactive and Take Initiative
Whole books have been written on the power of proactiveness over reactiveness. Basically, the former boils down to one thing: control.
Proactive people are the driving force in their own lives, whereas reactive people are simply passengers that are letting life sweep them along.
Naturally, it’s been found that people who are in the driving seat are more successful in the workplace. Here are several ways to help keep your hands on the steering wheel at all times.
9 Ways to be More Proactive and Take Initiative
1. Prepare and Participate
Always come to meetings fully prepared. If you and your colleagues are discussing a problem, an upcoming event, or a client, do some brainstorming ahead of time.
Consider what questions are pertinent and what might be asked. Try to work out possible solutions to these problems yourself. If you’ve noticed anything at work that could be a potential problem, make sure to bring it to someone’s attention where appropriate.
Whenever you have the opportunity to make yourself heard in a productive and useful way, take it.
When you put together a plan, you have enough information and data to know what should happen. However, things don’t always go the way we want.
As you move forward, be observant and note any variant in the situation that could affect your plan, because it could lead to a bigger obstacle later.
Have contingency plans in place for different eventualities. These preventative measures will help you overcome roadblocks when you come to them.
3. Seek Responsibilities
If something needs doing, do it. That’s what makes the difference between an employee and a team player.
By taking care of things that are being left unattended, you help everyone out and show you care about the company, not just yourself. If your boss was going to ask you to do it anyway, you’ve already done it and that initiative is impressive.
You might also wish to volunteer to take on more responsibility. It is a great way to expand your skill set or demonstrate skills that you already have that don’t necessarily apply to your current job. You can highlight strengths that you can’t normally take advantage of.
4. Act on Feedback
If the person you report to doesn’t frequently give you feedback, you should be proactive in asking for it. It will help you improve at your job and show that you’re committed to excellence.
When you are given feedback, don’t answer, “Yeah, but -” or try to explain your decisions if you are asked to change something.
Accept the fact that you made a mistake, if you were the one behind it (and never blame yourself for the faults of others as they can get a “free ride” as a result).
Apply the feedback and continue getting better. Look for training opportunities, such as workshops, online modules, and expert lectures where you can learn more about your trade.
5. Ask Questions
“There’s no such thing as a stupid question,” is an old piece of advice, but it’s true. If you don’t know what you’re doing, it’s quite possible that you’re wasting your time and probably resources.
It takes confidence to admit when you’re unsure, but it’s worth it. Clarify anything you don’t understand and make adjustments to your plan before starting your project.
If your concerns aren’t acknowledged effectively or at all, try to escalate the issue to someone who will actually listen and value your input. If all else fails, cover your bases and ensure the blame cannot be placed on you.
6. Create SMART Goals
Setting up some SMART goals can help you achieve great things. It might make sense for you to make daily and long-term SMART goals.
The acronym stands for Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Timely.
A daily SMART goal can be your game plan for the day. Your goals should inform your to-do list. Are you really able to complete all the things you’ve put on your to-do list by the end of the day?
If not, remove the low-priority tasks and give yourself a reasonable amount of time to finish high-priority jobs, even if it means others will be displeased, as you’re only human. If you have recurring tasks in your job, figure out how long it normally takes you to complete them and expect it to take that long every time you do it.
You shouldn’t overwhelm yourself when it comes to your life and progress in the workplace. If you know where you want to be in five years, set SMART goals to get there.
Overworking yourself will only lead to burnout. SMART goals help you be more consistent. It also gives you a chance to see those milestones you put out for yourself, so you can give yourself something to celebrate.
7. Rely on Yourself
If you want to take credit for your successes, you also need to hold yourself accountable for your failures. Often the reason we don’t succeed is that we’ve failed a couple of times before and don’t want to risk disappointing ourselves again.
You can’t rely on luck or someone else to change your life, as that responsibility lies with you. If you did fail before, consider what went wrong in the past and try a new approach. Eventually, you’ll find a way that works.
If you don’t know how to do something, it’s up to you to seek the necessary knowledge and skills. A co-worker may be able to help, but sometimes it means taking continued learning courses.
8. Recognize Your Own Agency
No one forces you to go to work, clean your house, or pay your bills!
In reality, we are actively choosing to do those things, even if we don’t want to. That’s because the benefits of doing these things outweigh the benefits of not doing them, and not doing them has many negative consequences on our lives.
When you’re wondering if you should do something, or deciding not to, ask yourself how it will affect your life in the long run. Are you only not doing it because there are no negative consequences if you don’t?
Have you properly considered all the benefits you could reap if you do it?
9. Stay Positive!
Lastly, it’s important to respect and not be too hard on yourself. You don’t want to be perfect, and nobody should try to force such an unrealistic mindset on you.
The real goal is to be dedicated and not give up on self-improvement. If you’ve just suffered a major setback, being told to stay positive and trust in your abilities may feel like the worst advice in the world. Life goes on though, and another opportunity will present itself.
Failure eventually leads to success because with every mistake you learn something new. Being optimistic and remembering that you haven’t lost your chance will help you become more resilient and give you the boost you need to keep trying.
Taryn Watts is the founder of The Mind Rebel Academy. Taryn created a coaching methodology called the Mind Rebel Method, a transformational self-development framework and practical roadmap empowering people to step into their fullest potential and create the life they truly desire. As a result, the Mind Rebel Academy has quickly become one of the most beloved and sought-after coaching academies for women in the world.
The Mind Rebel Academy offers a two-step life-coaching training program, and our coaches graduate having what they need to become ICF-certified and ready to help others make strides in the workplace. Are you ready to start your career as a life coach, or are you interested in learning more about our services?
Contact us today to book a discovery call. We’re happy to help!