13 Ways to Develop Self-Initiative at Work or in Life

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You've probably heard the word initiative, and may have a general idea of what it means… but do you know how to step up and take initiative?

Some people seem to do it so effortlessly, while others need prompting or appear more comfortable letting others take the lead.

Today, we are going to talk about why initiative is important and explore the differences between initiative and self-initiative. We’ll teach you how to rise to the occasion, without being asked.

What Is Initiative?

Initiative is basically the ability to assess a situation and take action without waiting for someone else to tell you what to do. It allows you to recognize opportunities that are right in front of you and take advantage of these opportunities before they slip away. 

Taking initiative helps you stand out from the crowd at work. It shows management that you are capable and forward-thinking. At work, initiative is often one of the biggest deciding factors when promotion-time comes around or raises are handed out.

But when it comes to your personal life, how does initiative come into play? Keep reading to find out.

Initiative vs Self-Initiative

People often think of initiative and self-initiative as the same thing. While they are very similar, there is a slight difference. Regular initiative can be as simple as speaking up and agreeing to volunteer when someone asks.

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Initiative is basically the ability to assess a situation and take action without waiting for someone else to tell you what to do.

It can be taking control in an emergency, when there is only the choice between doing so and something bad happening.

Self-initiative, on the other hand, is stepping up when nobody asks and there isn't going to be dire consequences if you don't. Only you can take responsibility for your personal growth and direction in life.

Self-initiative is knowing where you want to go and recognizing the chance to better yourself or the situation around you. It is taking control of your own destiny and making the path smoother.

Why Don't People Take Initiative?

If self-initiative is so helpful, why don't people take it more often? There are several reasons that come into play. One of the biggest is a lack of self-confidence in your abilities and another is fear of failing or being ridiculed. Some other reasons include:

  • Some people can't see past what they already know and see that there is a different way.
  • Some people can't see the benefits of stepping up.
  • Some people are so focused on their own work they don't see or don't care about what they aren't now responsible for.
  • Still, others already have a full plate and just don't have the time or energy.

The big problem with all of these is that when you don't take self-initiative, your life can quickly become stagnant. You don't advance at work and you don't advance as a human. As humans, we are meant to learn and grow, especially on a personal level.

Now that you see the benefits of self-initiative, let's explore ways you can develop this trait.

13 Ways to Develop Self Initiative 

1. Use Tools

There are many tools available that can help you be organized and focused. By journaling, you can often open up your mind to things that you didn't realize you actually have available to you.

Time management tools are another helpful thing. You may think your plate is too full, but when you realize just how your time is spent, you may be pleasantly surprised at the time you have available.

Or, you may find that you can rearrange your schedule to take advantage of a great opportunity. 

2. Be Positive

It can be difficult to remain positive when it seems like nothing is going correctly. Stress has a way of coloring our vision. Learning to manage your stress will help reduce your stress level.

Things like yoga are great for doing this. Yoga has many other benefits as well, including clearing your mind and making your body healthier. 

Learn to turn your negative thoughts around and find the positive angle on them. Turn these into affirmations and stick with them.

Eventually, you will find yourself automatically thinking in a more positive way. Remember, the energy goes where thoughts flow. Let yours flow toward the positive.

3. Look for Opportunities

Opportunities are everywhere, but we are often too busy to notice them. Take time to look around your place of employment and see where you may be of help.

Maybe there is an opportunity to volunteer to lead a new project or someone calls in sick and you volunteer to do their work as well as your own that day. This gets noticed.

Maybe you want to learn a new skill in your life and you see an ad for a course that is free or at a greatly reduced price. Grab that chance. Don't overthink, just do.

4. Speak Up

Do you see something that isn't being done efficiently at work? Don't be afraid to go to your supervisor and mention it. If you feel you are being taken advantage of in your home life, speak your mind. Often, people don't realize they are imposing.

This is especially true if you have allowed it to go on for some time. If you are overlooked for something you would like to try your hand at, being it to the attention of the person who can give you the chance.

5. Offer Your Assistance

People will remember the times you were there to help them. This relates to both work life and in the greater world. If you have the time, volunteer to help out with planning the school fair or help your friend prepare for their wedding.

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Regular initiative can be as simple as speaking up and agreeing to volunteer when someone asks.

Yardwork is mentioned? Grab your rake and offer to help. Go the extra mile and you will be noticed.

6. Address/Prevent Problems

This pertains especially to work. If you can find a way to increase or speed up production, speak up. Make sure you have a plan and that you have considered it from all angles… then you can go to those in charge with your idea.

You will be noticed as a go-getter that is not only a team player but someone who can think outside the box.

7. Become More Self-Aware

It is difficult to grab opportunities if you have no clue who you are as a person. It is also difficult to improve if you aren't aware of both your strengths and weaknesses. Make a point of getting to know yourself as fully as possible.

This may require some negative emotions at first, but the more you know about yourself, the more you can become confident in convincing others to trust you.

8. Focus on Building a Routine

If you know where you want to be, it will be easier to get there if you develop a habit that brings things into focus on a daily basis. Maybe you make a routine of a daily exercise routine, weekly savings, or taking time to evaluate your work situation and look for ways to improve.

What is important is allowing your self-initiative endeavor to become a habit that is done naturally, without having to stop and think every time.

9. Be Decisive

Opportunities won't wait around for you to examine them from every angle. You need to trust yourself enough to learn to make quick decisions. They say that he who hesitates is lost and that couldn't be more true in regards to self-initiative.

This moment only happens once, so you need to be ready to grab it without over-thinking.

10. Figure Things Out on Your Own

There is no shame in asking for help when you need it. However, it is important that you try things on your own. You will most certainly surprise yourself at just how much you can accomplish without help.

Even if there is a problem you have never encountered before, first try to figure out a solution based on what you do know. Many skills can be used in many areas. Believe in yourself and your ability to solve things on your own.

11. Be Proactive

This goes back to the people who wait to be asked. To use self-initiative, you need to be able to anticipate the need and then act on it, sometimes even before others realize there was something that needed to be done.

By being proactive, you can head off potential problems, anticipate questions and come up with answers, or even create your own opportunities.

12. Listen to What's Going On

We don't mean sneaking around and listening in on private conversations here. You can learn a lot by taking notice of the complaints of coworkers, friends, and families. This will give you ideas on where you can help and how you might be able to solve a problem.

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Self-initiative, on the other hand, is stepping up when nobody asks and there isn't going to be dire consequences if you don't.

Many of today's most innovative products were created because someone took the time to listen to others on the Internet and learn what people wanted. Taking an interest in what others are thinking can go a long way.

13. Keep Growing

Self-initiative helps you to keep growing in all areas of your life.  Self-improvement is one of the greatest ways to build your self-confidence and learn to acknowledge what you are capable of achieving.

None of us is perfect and there is always room to grow in many areas of our lives. Taking the opportunity to grow as a human being is one of the greatest acts of self-initiative you will ever take.

Final Thoughts on Ways to Develop Self Initiative at Work or At Life

Once you decide to take initiative, you’ll need to work on your communication skills with others. Learning effective communication skills in business or life will help you be more successful as you reach out more and more often.

Each time you take initiative, it becomes easier. There will be times you will stumble, but don't stop stepping up. You will soon wonder why you hesitated when you realize the feeling of control you get by exercising self-initiative.

Remember, you might need help reaching certain goals… but ultimately your success is up to you taking those initial steps. Only you can change you.

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13 Ways to Develop Self-Initiative at Work or in Life