Act proactively - shape life according to your ideas

Reading time 7 minutes
Act proactively - shape life according to your ideas

Proactive is the opposite of passive. Proactive people do not wait and see, but think with an eye to the future. Proactive action has the effect of influencing situations and events oneself.

The term proactive comes from Latin. The word is composed of "pro" (forward) and "activus" (active or working). Proactive action is always forward-looking. Proactivity means becoming active at an early stage and acting with an eye to the future before reactive measures are necessary. Being proactive is one of the soft skills that are often required in job advertisements. In management positions, this characteristic is even a prerequisite.

By thinking ahead, problems can be identified and solutions found in good time. Acting proactively means becoming active yourself instead of being passive and waiting.

The definition of proactive

The proactive definition, which is common in psychology, states that it is about active action. Those who behave proactively act in a goal-oriented and forward-looking manner. The proactive meaning is generally defined as committed, responsible and goal-oriented behavior.

The proactive opposite is reactive behavior. A reactive behavior is characterized by passivity and waiting. One reacts to a situation, whereas a proactive person makes his own decisions early on, before an event occurs.

Achieve goals you set yourself

The purpose of engaging behavior is to ensure that desired outcomes are achieved and self-set Targets to be achieved. In the dictionary, proactive is described as a combination of goal-oriented action and differentiated advance planning.

Proactivity is considered significant for the further development of the personality in the fields of economics and psychology. A proactive management style is expected of employees in management. One of the tasks of a manager is to encourage committed behavior.

proactive meaning

What is a proactive behavior?

Is it possible to work proactively when the task at hand does not allow you to make your own decisions? In everyday professional life, it is necessary to identify problems or obstacles that affect the workflow as early as possible. Only if the causes are identified in good time can suitable solutions found and countermeasures initiated.

Wait-and-see, passive behavior leads to undesirable developments being overlooked, ineffective work processes not being identified at an early stage, and deadlines not being met as a result. Proactive action can counteract and prevent unfavorable developments.

Influence processes positively

Proactive behavior is change-oriented and future-oriented. All actions are aimed at positively influencing processes. People who act proactively leave nothing to chance. They actively cooperate, think independently and look for efficient Solutions.

As a manager, you encourage this behavior by assigning work tasks to your employees, which they independent get things done. A proactive leadership style involves taking responsibility and Personal initiative to support. Proactive employees plan their careers according to their own ideas. They set themselves concrete goals and work intensively to achieve them.

Thinking and acting with foresight

Proactive behavior is characterized by forward thinking and action. Question things that do not make sense to you. Motivate yourself if you want to be motivated to work and shape your own future. Daily routine can inhibit your proactivity. The same work processes and procedures are supposed to make work easier, but they usually inhibit any progress and prevent necessary innovations.

Proactive behavior means taking responsibility for one's own actions and also completing tasks without being asked. People who behave proactively go through the world with their eyes open. They recognize problems before they become challenges. In meetings and conversations, they express their opinions clearly and concisely and back up their points of view with logical arguments.

Difference between proactive and active?

The two terms belong to the same Word family. Yet they have different meanings. You are active when you act energetically. However, your activity may be at the direction of your superiors.

Your boss expects you to prepare the presentation on time. You get to work right away. This is called being active. Active behavior is a reaction to a preceding event. Active action is based on an external impulse. Furthermore, not all activity is useful. Blind actionism hardly helps to overcome challenges.

Proactive behavior linked to certain expectations

In contrast to active behavior, proactive action requires a certain level of expectation as well as good advance planning. Being proactive means taking the initiative yourself. These people do not wait until they are approached and asked to act. They think for themselves about how best to solve problems and find new solutions.

Proactive behavior differs from active behavior in that the latter is based on a certain amount of forward thinking. Those who act proactively prepare themselves specifically for developments that may occur. What does reactive proactive mean? Reactive is someone who waits for an impulse from outside. Proactive is a person who takes the initiative himself.

act proactively

What does proactive work mean?

Commitment is expected in almost every workplace these days. The days when employees were regarded as mere recipients of orders are long gone. In the job market, it is no longer just qualifications and professional experience that matter, but above all independent action and taking responsibility.

Proactive work is basically possible in any job. Even if the job has a rather subordinate function, there is always the possibility to contribute your own suggestions and ideas.

Targeted action

Working proactively means not stubbornly carrying out instructions, but acting in a goal-oriented manner. Make suggestions on how routine tasks can be better structured or completed more quickly. Do not wait for instructions "from above", but become active yourself.

Develop suggestions for improvement and present your ideas at the next meeting. Think about what could work better in your workplace. Change things that are proving to be ineffective and not achieving their goals.

Making decisions spontaneously

People who work proactively are always one step ahead of the competition. They think about alternatives and compare several options with each other. If the situation requires it, decisions are also made spontaneously.

Being proactive means recognizing opportunities and seizing opportunities that arise as a result. At work, this way of working is equated with motivation and commitment: Employees continue their education on their own initiative and do not wait for educational offers from their employers. They write unsolicited applications to advance their careers. Proactive action requires prudence and a healthy dose of pragmatism.


Is proactivity right in all circumstances, or can the behavior also have disadvantages? In the past, employees were expected to implement management's instructions exactly. Suggestions for improvement, criticism and innovative ideas did not always fall on fertile ground. In the meantime, the advantages of proactive behavior have been recognized.

In the modern, constantly evolving world of work, companies rely on employees who are committed to Company goals are dependent on the commitment of their employees. High competitive pressure means that changes are necessary to remain competitive. Anticipatory behavior makes all the difference.

Employees who act on their own initiative not only carry out the tasks assigned to them, but also campaign for improvements.

The advantages are:

  • improved competitiveness
  • better work results
  • more efficient work processes
  • more sense of achievement
  • Innovation promotion
  • higher job satisfaction
  • Less stress

Proactive employees who frequently take the initiative are an asset to any company. They provide ideas for optimizing work processes and thus ensure better work results. Competitiveness increases and the company can better hold its own in the markets.

For employees, proactivity means a greater sense of achievement. If your suggestions are taken into account, this is a personal success for you. Higher job satisfaction leads to better employee loyalty to the company. People who work in a proactive and well-organized manner experience less stress.

For the employer, fostering innovation is an essential pillar to ensure the economic Potential to its full potential. Innovative ideas are decisive impulses for the future. Proactivity helps to shape these processes. In the following video you will learn how to release your mental brake and become more active.

Examples of proactivity

Proactivity is not a given everywhere. Sometimes we humans only act proactively when we find ourselves in a crisis situation. But then you can hardly avert the crisis.

What is proactive? Being proactive means thinking ahead. An example of proactivity is to create a plan and define goals. You then define milestones and set time periods to check whether each goal has actually been achieved.

Proactive: Show initiative and motivation

Proactive action is evident in many situations in everyday life. While some employees sit at their desks waiting for instructions, others are already taking action. People with a proactive attitude quickly notice where there is room for improvement. They see when a process is not efficient or the organization has shortcomings. With initiative and Motivation they try to change things.

Even simple actions can be good examples of proactivity. The employee who checks the conference room in the morning and brings the missing documents there without being asked is acting proactively. The team colleague who notices that office supplies need to be reordered and informs the secretary, even though this is not one of his duties, is demonstrating proactive behavior.

Proactivity manifests itself in different ways. A person sitting at a desk, seemingly motionless, gazing at their computer screen may well be proactive. Perhaps she is doing research online so that she can bring her suggestions for improvement to the team meeting later. Being proactive has nothing to do with physical activity.

Proactive thinking

A good example is proactive thinking. People who think this way say "I want to" and not "I have to". A positive mindset facilitates the development and realization of creative ideas. Proactivity is a behavior that is necessary to passivity, Indifference and convenience. Proactive behavior helps against chronic procrastination.

Proactivity promotes resilience. Our inner resilience improves when we better prepare ourselves for potential challenges. Those who react smartly and act in time can achieve a positive outcome even in difficult situations.

How to become more proactive

You want to achieve your career goals and realize your own ideas? The right mindset is crucial. You've probably heard of the can-do mentality. Proactive people don't despair when obstacles stand in their way.

Becoming more proactive means not passively waiting for the crisis to arrive, but acting quickly to prevent it. If you want to become more proactive, then:

  • form your own opinion
  • seize every opportunity to improve things
  • change your attitude towards the job
  • Be open to challenges
  • question existing processes
  • develop new concepts or optimize existing processes
  • solve your problems on your own
  • get involved at work

Think ahead and consider what should change immediately, in a few weeks or months. Show initiative by committing to things that are important to you. This could be a better distribution of important tasks or a new break arrangement at work.

If you find that something is not working, suggest improvements. Focus on the solution, not the problem. Make sure your ideas are heard. Solve your problems on your own. Talk to your supervisors and colleagues when deficiencies affect the entire department.

Don't look away, but try to find solutions. Obstacles and resistance are there for you to overcome. Ask for feedback on your commitment. Proactivity is an important career catalyst. Know your goals. If you know exactly what you want to achieve, it's easier to be more proactive!

Are you already in?


Experience Europe's largest festival for personal development, fulfillment, business success and sustainability LIVE in Cologne! You can expect +150 speakers +10,000 participants +6 stages 


10 Business Coaching Tips for Your Career

You want to get to the next level in your job faster?

Then get 10 free tips to help you succeed in management and leadership now!
Reviewed by Dr. med. Stefan Frädrich

Like this article? Don't forget to share!

Recommended by Greator

Greator SloganGreator Awards
Data privacy
Cookie settings
© copyright by Greator 2024