Proactivity is the ability to do things in advance of an event to ensure you have maximum control. It is the opposite of reactivity, which is when you simply respond to events after they have unfolded
Examples of being proactive include:
- Studying for an exam so you have the best chance of succeeding,
- Turning up to work early to be prepared for your day, and
- Asking for help when you are stuck rather than failing at a test.
List of Examples of being Proactive
Here is a list of instances of being proactive:
1. Turning Up to Work Early
Going to work early shows that you’re prepared and doing everything you can before you even get to work so you will have a productive work day.
Even if you are not a morning person, it could be worth thinking about going to work early.
Before the actual workday begins, the workplace is quiet and serene, allowing you to concentrate on some of the more important items on the agenda.
Turning up to work early also shows your boss that you value your job and you won’t waste his time.
Employers love to see that you’re always punctual because it means you are a reliable employee.
2. Doing Extracurricular Work to Increase Chances of Getting into College
Many of the most successful college applicants have a lot of extracurricular experience. This is because it shows your college that you have initiative and are proactive about getting involved in your community!
Extracurricular activities reflect who you are outside of the school context and allow you to exhibit your leadership potential. This kind of activity opens up new doors for you, giving you the chance to learn new things and meet new awesome people.
Furthermore, engaging in things that you are enthusiastic about can improve your cognitive abilities and help you manage your time more effectively, all of which lead to better outcomes.
So, employers and colleges love to see that you’ve been proactive about going out and building those attributes.
3. Asking Your Professor for Advice on How to Complete An Assignment
Your professor will be impressed by your proactivity when you ask for help instead of just completing the assignment (and getting it wrong!).
The professor may encourage and support you by keeping track of your progress and highlighting areas where you need to make changes before you submit.
This is a much more beneficial situation than just submitting your work and then getting bad results. Here, we’ve got a great example of how being proactive is so good for you!
4. Writing Daily To-Do Lists
This is as much a strategy for being proactive as it is an example. By writing to-do lists, you can plan out your day and your future, making you as prepared as possible!
Writing things down clears the mind and gives you a sense of control over your life. To-do lists also can assist you in recognizing things you may not see at first look.
Writing things down pushes your mind to concentrate thoroughly on the situation at hand.
5. Researching About a Company Before a Job Interview
A proactive person will look into a company’s ethics, vision, values, and mission statement so they can make sure they know about the company before the job interview.
You may discover useful information about an employer’s company by researching them beforehand. The information you learn will help you feel more at ease and confident throughout the interview.
6. Proactive Policing
Proactive policing is a type of policing that involves going out and engaging with people before crimes take place.
This is the opposite of reactive policing where the police just sit in the station waiting for a phone call to tell them that a crime has taken place.
Proactive police develop good relationships with the community and try to show their presence around the community to discourage crimes from taking place. They are planning ahead before a crime takes place to protect us all.
7. Asking for Help When You Are Stuck on A Task
Anyone who has achieved success, such as sportsmen, business leaders, and politicians, did not accomplish things alone. They proactively sought out help.
All successful people were all supported by many more people behind them, allowing them to save their energy on the more important tasks like practice sessions, client meetings, and campaigns.
Whether you are a senior student or a new employee, you should seek out someone who can help you with your work so you can benefit from their advice rather than fumbling through and reacting when things happen to you.
8. Asking for Feedback on How to Improve After A Task
Too many of my students don’t act on their feedback. But by reading feedback, you can proactively take steps to get better results on your next essay or exam.
Knowing how to receive and ask for feedback from your professor it is extremely crucial to advance in our studies and jobs.
Those who can graciously accept and use feedback are much more likely to succeed. Good feedback is useful in many ways because it provides new perspectives, raises consciousness, and helps you find ways to improve.
9. Exercising to Stay Fit and Healthy
Exercising may be difficult and a struggle, but it’s a proactive strategy to make sure you’re fit and healthy well into the future.
The fact that exercising provides so many health advantages is difficult to overlook. It has been proven that exercise is beneficial to everybody, regardless of age, gender, or physical capabilities.
Regular exercise also aids in the prevention and management of a wide range of health issues and concerns, which can be beneficial to your productivity and efficiency. This is why proactive individuals love including exercise in their everyday routine.
10. Changing the Oil in Your Car Before A Long Trip
Proactive people will make sure their car is ready for a road trip. Reactive people will find themselves half-way down the highway before realizing their oil change light is flashing!
Leaving it too late to replace your car’s oil might result in irreversible damage that you should completely avoid. And, you can avoid this by being proactive about your oil change!
Oil checks and replacements are beneficial to your vehicle and your wallet in the long term! If you keep your engine oiled, your vehicle will run further than you imagine, allowing you to visit more places and meet new possibilities.
11. Saving Money for A Rainy Day
People who proactively save money will be better prepared when they suddenly hit financial shock.
Learning how to save money will improve your financial management skills significantly. Once you understand how to save money, you will feel a lot safer and more confident about your future.
If you aren’t proactive about saving money, you will find yourself in a situation where you’re forced to be reactive to a sudden loss of a job or financial stress. You’ll be in a tough situation!
12. Buying Insurance
Proactive people know that having health insurance can pay off in the future, even if they are still young and healthy.
Nobody expects to get sick or injured, yet awful things do happen. Having a health insurance plan on hand might help you avoid costly medical expenses that can be burdening.
This shows that you’re a highly responsible person, which of course, any employer would want to see.
13. Carrying an Umbrella in case It Rains
A proactive person will think ahead about the weather and make sure they’re prepared for all possible situations.
It is never nice to get soaked in the rain on an important day. When it comes to protecting yourself from the icy rain or even the blazing heat, an umbrella will always come out on top.
Tips on How to be Proactive
Here are some tips that can help you become more proactive:
1. Keep A Calendar of Upcoming Activities
Meetings, gatherings, special events, tasks, and examinations are always flying around; they take up our time even before the week begins.
So, how do you keep track of everything? Keeping a calendar is a simple and affordable method to improve your time management as a student or employee.
Rather than pulling an all-nighter researching essays or remembering meeting schedules, knowing and planning for these days can help accomplish success.
2. Make To-Do Lists
We establish commitment for ourselves when we put things down on our to-do lists.
Not only that, but anything we jot down stays with us longer than something we type on our computer or smartphone.
Although some argue that to-do lists limit our freedom, they can serve as a reference point to assist us in getting through our days.
3. Set Yourself Reminders
You will not get things done until you have a reliable method of reminding yourself to complete your agendas and to-do lists. That is why you need reminders.
Moreover, you can create reminders for almost anything on your phone, tablet, or even smartwatch. Thus, you will never have to worry about forgetting crucial items in your everyday life again.
4. Create A Plan B in case Something Doesn’t Work Out
A Plan B does not have to be a substitute or an option to the current plan; it may also be an addition or an extension of the current plan.
You can approach your day with confidence if you have a Plan B since you can be flexible in attempting several strategies until you reach the desired outcome.
A wise, strategic individual will always have a cascade set of plans with increasing usefulness and survival in mind.
Why Employers Like Proactive People
Employers value proactive employees because they are people who seek out ways to complete tasks, whether or not they were requested. These people generally have very good work ethic.
In other words, proactive employees can act, take responsibility, and make decisions to fulfill the company’s objectives.
Furthermore, proactive workers do not wait for chances to present themselves; they create their own opportunities. At the first hint of a problem, they engage the conversation and express their point of view as well as how they can contribute to the endeavor.
Every action of a proactive person is performed to achieve a goal they have set out for themselves.
Proactive vs Reactive Thinking
Proactive thinking involves thinking ahead and taking action before an event. Reactive thinking involves waiting for things to happen then reacting to those events.
A proactive person will be in more control of their lives because they do things in advance to influence a situation.
For example, proactive police will try to prevent crimes before they happen whereas reactive police will only respond to crimes once they have been committed.
Proactive vs Active
Someone who is active is a person doing things rather than sitting around (passively). But that doesn’t necessarily mean they’re proactive, which means acting before an event.
To use the police situation, a police officer who reacts to a crime is being active. But, this sort of action is reaction, whereas ideally they will be proactive.
In other words, you can be active both before and after an event. But a proactive person is a person who is active before, not after, an event.
Proactive vs Initiative
One type of action that occurs before an event is initiative. And initiative is similar to proactivity, but not the same thing.
Initiative means starting something whereas proactivity means planning ahead for something.
So, a person with initiative might start a new project, whereas a proactive person might then plan how to do that project.
Initiative starts, proactivity plans.
Sometimes we can use these two terms interchangeably because they overlap.
Related Required Skills For Students And Employees
Here are some other skills you might need to be able to demonstrate as a successful employee or college student:
If you want to be proactive, you must be active. You must get out there and do things that need to be done to achieve your goals.
Proactive people do not sit around waiting for solutions to arrive; they get up and look for the solutions.
These people are always pushing forward, thinking ahead, and getting stuff done, which is why these individuals often have more sense of control over their lives.
Being proactive gives you a major benefit in both the classroom and the job. Your proactivity will allow you to be better prepared since you will be able to plan and make decisions ahead of time before your situations shift.
Proactivity not only gives you extra time to achieve your objective, but it also gives you time to be systematic about your judgments rather than panicking and reacting.
Dr. Chris Drew is the founder of the Helpful Professor. He holds a PhD in education and has published over 20 articles in scholarly journals. He is the former editor of the Journal of Learning Development in Higher Education.