Being proactive can set you on the path to success

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To be truly successful in your career as a finance professional means more than just showing up and doing your job. Being a demonstrably engaged and proactive individual will not only make any finance role more interesting for you, but will also make you a much more attractive candidate to potential recruiters.

If you have a tendency to be a bit passive and reactive, how can you make yourself more proactive? Being solution focused is the advice from career coach Caroline Arnold.

‘If you come up against a problem, come up with a solution and then present it to the team and your boss and ask for their feedback,’ she says. ‘And learn from how the problem arose so that it doesn’t happen again.’

Get into the habit of trying to stay one step ahead in all that you do, advises Karen Young, director at Hays Accountancy and Finance.

‘You should be looking to complete the things you need to do without having to be reminded or chased up by your boss or other colleagues,’ she says. ‘A good way of staying organised and on top of tasks is to have a to-do list that you can update and refer to each day, setting out priorities and ticking things off as they are completed.’

Being proactive can also involve a bit of crystal ball gazing as well. Try and cultivate a sense of foresight to predict what’s coming round the corner and try to make any necessary preparations for situations or issues you anticipate.

‘Being commercially aware is also a great way to stay on top of trends in your field and can help predict potential problems before they arise,’ adds Young.

Make sure you also get involved in all aspects of the working life of your company, office or practice. Don’t sit back and simply observe.

‘You should be actively participating in meetings and work discussions, ensuring that you are well prepared beforehand, of course,’ says Young. ‘You should take the initiative and be seen to be making a contribution to the overall goals of the business and offering solutions to achieve them.’

But what if you feel you lack the confidence to be proactive?

Perhaps something went wrong in the past after you tried to do something.

Arnold offers some advice for boosting your sense of self-worth: ‘Acknowledge that everyone has an inner voice, but that it can sabotage your success if you let it. Ask yourself the question: “Would I speak to my friend like this?” The answer is probably “no”, so don’t talk to yourself like that either. Also, be aware of your body language. Stand up tall and be proud of what you have achieved so far. And celebrate the successes. Your boss may not necessarily congratulate you every time you do something well, so congratulate yourself.’

Remember that learning how to be proactive in the workplace can take time, suggests Young, but taking the first step towards doing this can actually help to boost your confidence too.

‘You will start to see how your thinking ahead or staying on top of tasks actually helps you in your professional development, which in turn will make you feel more confident about the work you are doing.’

Read also: Five ways to achieve ‘the perfect blend’

Top tips for being proactive

  1. Ask for help – if there is a colleague or friend who you know is proactive, ask them how they do it and learn from them.
  2. Never stop learning – read a book or a blog, listen to a podcast, attend a conference and ask colleagues how they have achieved their success.
  3. Seek feedback – ask your team and boss what you are doing well and what you can change so that you are constantly enhancing your own performance.

Source: Caroline Arnold, career coach

This article was first published in Student Accountant

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