Using initiative to reach your career goals
For many of us, life has changed significantly since the March 2020 Covid-19 lockdown. Your work might have had to shift focus, or you could have lost a job and be looking for a new career path.
It’s worth thinking about the types of personal and professional attributes that can help you maximise your future career opportunities. Research shows that those of us who have worked out a long-term term career plan are more likely to take initiative in our jobs – and this can have some real benefits. In these times of Covid-19, where we are experiencing a lot of change, there are opportunities to develop and use initiative. Like the other employment skills we have talked about, you sometimes need to practice to get better it.
You’ve probably heard the phrase “using your initiative” to describe someone taking action to get something done. It’s a proactive skill, valued by employers who want their staff to focus on results. It does require a level of confidence in your abilities and ideas, but like anything, practicing can improve your results.
You might be the quiet member of the group who looks at things in a different way, or is always mindful of the bigger aim you’re all striving towards. For initiative to have value, it’s as much about putting things into practice as coming up with a new idea or approach. Initiative is not really something you have or don’t have – it’s something that you demonstrate. You may use your initiative skills all the time, or you may have shown it at some times and not others.
You’ll find that initiative comes more easily to areas of life you’re passionate about. This is one of the reasons you should think carefully about what you want to do in your career, because you’ll naturally perform better when working towards something you care about. If you have plenty of ideas but confidence isn't your strong point, the best solution is practice – and it doesn’t have to mean making a major change immediately; using your initiative could be as simple as sharing an idea with your colleague or boss. The more you try sharing your ideas with the group, the easier it will become – especially when you see that people's response is usually to listen rather than point and laugh. Give the small-steps approach a go – try sharing your next idea and see what happens.