Hilary Thompson

Initiative — you either love taking it or you don’t. For some, showing initiative is a reaction. They seem to always know what more they can do to help out around the office. For others, showing initiative is difficult. They dread the “extra” work or feel they don’t have enough time to help out. Regardless of what group you fall into, there’s a lot of benefits that come from showing initiative — learning new skills, getting recognition from your boss, and creating more opportunities for yourself are just a few. 

If you’re one of the people that struggle taking initiative, there are things you can do to “trick” yourself into taking initiative:

1. Use tools that make it easy. 

There are plenty of tools to keep you organized and productiveTime tracking tools are available to help you manage your time. There’s also dozens of productivity tools that help keep your tasks organized. When it comes to writing, take a look at this list for best writing tools. Any one of these will help you produce more quality content faster.

2. Be positive. 

It can be scary to show initiative—especially when there’s a chance others might disagree with you. Developing a positive, confident attitude helps you become more sure of your abilities, which helps you be more willing to take on more.

3. Look for opportunities. 

Take a look around and get an idea of how things are going. Don’t think about how you can improve things, just get a sense of your environment. You’d be surprised at how fast ideas for improvement will surface as you take a look around.

4. Figure things out on your own. 

Make this a general rule. Instead of asking others how to do something, figure it out yourself. Jump on Google and learn all you can. This will help you solve problems on your own and—surprise!—helps you take initiative in teaching others.

5. Reward yourself. 

Give yourself a reward each time you accomplish something no one has done, or when you check off all of your tasks in a day. Reward systems work for children, why wouldn’t they for adults? Set big stretch goals for yourself and get the treat yourself to something nice when you achieve them. 

6. Listen to what’s going on. 

Pay attention to the conversations that are happening around you. Even if they don’t pertain to you, listen in. You never know when an opportunity to help someone will arise. 

7. Speak up. 

Whether you’re in a meeting or just talking with colleagues, speak up. Make your voice heard. Get used to sharing your ideas and letting others hear you. This helps you become more attached to your ideas—and more willing to act on them.

8. Offer your assistance. 

Make a goal to ask your team every day if there’s anything you can do to help out. Don’t think of it as doing extra work, think of it as trying to find ways to bolster your team. You never know who could use some extra help.

9. Always be prepared. 

Prepare for every potential opportunity—whether it comes or not. Preparing for everything allows you to refine your current skills and ensures you’re ready for anything.

10. Start small. 

Taking initiative can be overwhelming, which is why it’s important to start small. Focus on one area where you can show some initiative and pour your energy into that one area. 

Taking initiative doesn’t have to be uncomfortable or overwhelming. Following the tips above will have you taking initiative without even realizing it.