What Exactly Does It Mean To Be Proactive? How Can You Become So?

Last updated by Lauren Hart

Sometimes I feel like I’m being completely proactive and other times, much less so. Yet I know that this is a behavior that can bring me many things, especially in the professional world. But what exactly does it mean to be proactive? Why is it good to be so, especially in our careers? Let’s get ahead of events and expectations to do even better! Let me explain.

What Exactly Does It Mean To Be Proactive? How Can You Become So?

What is a proactive person?

Let’s look at some etymology to understand what proactive means 🧐. The prefix “pro” comes from Greek and Latin, meaning “forward”. The word “activity” comes from Latin only and refers to the tasks that lead to a goal being achieved. When we link the two, we understand that there is an idea of thinking ahead to achieve your goal. Therefore, you need to learn to anticipate to be a proactive person. Take things more into your own hands to be in control of your destiny 🏃‍♀️. Indeed, you shouldn’t wait for events to alter your lives! You might as well get into action to achieve your goal, your dream, in short, your objective 💪.

👉 A little help with some synonyms: when you think of proactive, you can also say anticipatory, dynamic, determined, productive... and entrepreneurial!

>>> A little bird tells me that Elon Musk has some advice to give us to succeed. Should we listen to him (whether we like him or not)?

Why should you be proactive?

Whether you work in a large group or are self-employed, being proactive can make a big difference. It’s about activating skills that go beyond what we’ve learned (during our studies, for instance, 👩🎓). As a result, we show autonomy and creativity, but we also show that we’re able to adapt and solve problems quickly.

Obviously, showing this quality will set us apart from others, and we’ll progress faster in our professional careers. However, we should bear in mind that being proactive will also help us in our personal life. Especially if we realize that we have other desires and are thinking about changing jobs to be in tune with who we are. In short, there are only advantages 😉!

How can you be proactive at work?

Nevertheless, we aren’t born proactive, we become so! Of course, some people manage to anticipate and be more reactive than others naturally, but it’s a quality that can be worked on 🤭. So, in order to adopt a proactive approach, we must:

  • 👉 Keep watch: Monitoring what improvements are being made in our field is essential. This means observing the competition, but also the working methods of your colleagues. In short, you have to be alert to anticipate better!
  • 👉 Set achievable goals: Setting goals is good, but setting achievable goals is better! There’s no point in running before you can walk, it’s better to go step by step and break down a big goal into several sub-goals to make sure you get there. After all, Rome wasn’t built in a day 😬!
  • 👉 Anticipate problems: This is a bit of a part of keeping watch, in order to be proactive you need to make sure that you anticipate all the problems that will come your way. This will prevent you from being faced with something that seems insurmountable and taking action right away.
  • 👉 Accept criticism: If it’s constructive, it can help you move in the right direction. Being corrected or criticized doesn’t call your skills into question. It allows you to adjust, which is why it’s important to learn how to respond well to criticism.
  • 👉 Listening and communicating: Active listening in the professional world is crucial, as it helps to keep all the information in mind, but also to show respect to others. Verbalizing and communicating equally balance the relationship, and it allows you to say your needs to go further, and faster.
  • 👉 Get out of your comfort zone: Taking the initiative, getting out of what you know, and taking risks is being proactive! You have the right to make mistakes, and it’s important to try because it makes you evolve!

The important thing to remember is not to remain passive and inflexible, whether or not you’re facing a problem. Getting ahead of things makes a difference, but you still have to be able to prove it, especially in interviews 👀!

How can you show that you’re proactive?

Being proactive is good, but you need to remember that you need to show it to employers, especially when you’re in the job interview phase. You shouldn’t just say “I am proactive” but prove it 🤔! We need to be tangible by explaining our successes as well as our failures, this proves that we’re daring and that we aren’t afraid to take risks and act. We can take advantage of the question “why you and not someone else?” to show how much we know how to anticipate and bounce back 🤗.

➜ For example: I did an internship at a company for 6 months. I felt that there were going to be occasional needs related to my tasks. I collected the evidence and afterward offered to continue working for them as a freelancer. This allowed me to start my own business and enabled the company to have someone they could trust for occasional assignments!

⚠️ One last thing not to be overlooked: being proactive and invested is good if in exchange there’s professional recognition and respect at work. It’s like in everything if it’s not mutually beneficial because otherwise you risk heading straight for a burn-out 😪.

Editor’s note: The importance of getting help

It’s obvious that showing and applying your proactivity will be very beneficial in the working world. Even if Camille has given you several keys to progress, it’s never easy to do this on your own. You can therefore choose to get help from a coach to achieve this new state of mind. Coaching can also be a good way to take stock of what you want to do in your life and how to achieve it by being more proactive. So don’t wait any longer, get ahead of the game!

🤗 Understanding yourself, accepting yourself, being happy... It’s here and now!


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Article presented by Lauren Hart

Writing is a beautiful means of expression that I cannot do without. It has allowed me to channel my hypersensitivity, plus I love writing about psychology and personal development. For me, self-understanding is the best way to move forward!