Be proactive

The word proactive is often tossed around in the workplace with little context. If you’re reading this article, it’s safe to assume you’ve heard it. Perhaps you’ve even been instructed to “be more proactive.” But you may be wondering what it really means to be proactive at work. This is the critical question that never seems to get addressed—and it’s why so many professionals struggle with the concept.

The Proactive Approach

Put in the simplest of terms, being proactive means doing the things you need to do before you need to do them—like regularly changing the oil in your car instead of waiting for it to start sputtering and spewing smoke. When you’re proactive, you keep your car running smoothly and prevent costly repairs. As a result, you experience greater peace of mind and extend the overall lifespan of your vehicle. The minimal investment you make in regularly getting your oil changed pays huge dividends in the long run. That’s the essence of proactivity.

Being reactive means you allow circumstances to control you, rather than the other way around. Reactive people only take action when it’s absolutely required—when the consequences of inaction are pressing down upon them. It’s like waiting to put your seat belt on until you see an accident about to happen or waiting until the day you retire to start saving for retirement. It just doesn’t work.

Be Solution-Focused

One of the greatest traits of effective people is good problem-solving skills. We are all going to run into problems. It’s how you handle them that makes you effective. The most effective way to handle a problem is to focus on finding a solution. Focusing on things that are out of your control is a waste of time, so focus on what you can control with the final outcome. Your team will learn to approach problems and solutions effectively if you lead by example.

Make Your Own Luck

Being successful is not about having the right kind of luck or expecting the right break to come your way. It is not about the mere expectation that you will succeed. It is about taking steps every day to be better than you were the day before by moving in a positive, forward trajectory. Make a blueprint and set out milestones for yourself in specific timeframes, or you are not going to hit your goal. Things do not come to fruition just because you really, really want them to happen. You have to make them happen.

Be Consistent

Ultimately, success is not about getting everything right. It is about being consistent. Are you consistently and persistently taking steps every day to steadily move toward your goal? Do you stop making progress or do you continue on when you encounter a seemingly insurmountable problem? Be consistent in what you do. And even though the steps may seem small at the time, doing the right things day in and day out will move you further down the path to success.