Most administrative professionals understand that being proactive is an absolute must. As an assistant, your executive looks to you to anticipate needs and do everything in your power today to make sure tomorrow is successful.
That’s what being proactive is all about.
But it’s not as easy as it sounds! Those who have tried to enhance their proactivity prowess know how tough it can be. All too often, we’re so consumed by today that we don’t have the time (or energy) to think about tomorrow. When that happens, we end up stuck in reactivity—focusing on what’s right in front of us instead of planning and preparing for the future.
And that spells disaster.
If you want to enhance your ability to be proactive, you need to avoid the three biggest enemies, described below.
Enemy #1: Procrastination
Procrastination forces you into reactivity. When you procrastinate, you take things that should be done today and push them off till tomorrow. Procrastination puts you on your heels—instead of staying ahead of things, you’re scrambling to catch up.
This is the exact opposite of what you’re trying to achieve.
Of course, that doesn’t mean you can’t thoughtfully prioritize. After all, you can’t do everything on your task list right this minute. Some things should rightfully be postponed. But that’s not the same as procrastination.
Procrastination is when you avoid doing what you should do when you should do it because you’d just rather not deal with it today. That’s setting yourself—and others—up for problems in the future.
Instead of procrastinating, prioritize with tomorrow in mind. What can you do now to set yourself up for success in the future?
Enemy #2: Impulsivity
In the workplace, it’s easy to make snap decisions in the heat of the moment. Then, after the moment has passed, it’s common to look back and think, “Shoot! I wish I had thought things through a bit more!”
Proactive people are very deliberate in their actions. They don’t act spontaneously based on emotion or on present circumstances. Instead, they pause and think through the consequences of their actions. They look for the ripple effects of their decisions. They consider their options and make smart choices based on long-term goals, not short-term desires.
If you want to be more proactive, practice being intentional. Don’t give in to impulse.
Enemy #3: Lack of Creativity
Finally, the third enemy is lack of creativity. Too many people look at the workplace with a very static perspective. They fail to see opportunity and possibility. All they see is what’s obvious—the problems, the many frustrations, and the immediate demands on their plate.
But proactive people use their imagination to see solutions. When something isn’t working, they find new and innovative ways to improve it. They don’t continue to deal with the same old issues. They figure out how to solve them once and for all.
The ability to be proactive is rare, even amongst the most experienced professionals. It’s a skillset that takes time to develop. And to do so effectively, you can’t fall into the traps of these common enemies.
Being proactive is also the single most important trait to differentiate yourself as an assistant. Master this and you’ll truly become an indispensable asset for your executive.
If you’re interested in learning more about how to be proactive, grab The Proactive Professional: How to Stop Playing Catch Up & Start Getting Ahead by Chrissy Scivicque.
Chrissy Scivicque is a career coach and corporate trainer who believes that work can be a nourishing, enriching part of the life experience. Her website, EatYourCareer.com, is devoted to that mission. You’re invited to join the FREE Eat Your Career Resource Library where you’ll gain immediate access to dozens of tools to advance your professional skills and achieve career fulfillment.
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