How to take Initiative at work
"Hold up a mirror and ask yourself what you are capable of doing, and what you really care about. Then take the initiative - don't wait for someone else to ask you to act. " - Sylvia Earle
In an in-depth conversation I had recently with a fellow boss lady, we discussed the successes we have experienced as a result of us taking the initiative and seeking out opportunities. We also discussed the need we see daily for more women to be bold and take the initiative. Isn't it interesting that the verb used in relation with Initiative is “taking”? This highlights the need for us to take action.
In this blog post, I want to encourage you to take the initiative with the help of some useful techniques and resources.
What does Initiative mean?
Why do you need to take Initiative?
Why don’t we take Initiative?
To understand this more, I did some research to find the top reasons why people don't take Initiative.
Five ways to start taking the initiative
Make the decision
Be clear on the benefits of taking the initiative in your career development. Decide to start taking the initiative today and take the first step. When you decide to start taking the initiative, good things start unfolding, and opportunities come your way.
Questions to consider:
Seek out development opportunities
Now that you have decided to start taking the initiative, be on the lookout for things you are interested in and care about. Take full responsibility for your development and start identifying ways to make it happen.
Questions to consider:
Work on extra projects
Showing that you can take the initiative and work on projects that may be outside of your daily responsibilities has many benefits. If you are looking for a way to gain visibility and set yourself apart, working on a side project is a great way. Use every opportunity you get to show your value.
Questions to consider:
Stay informed and current
Connect yourself to people who know what happens within the company. They will provide you with insight into the events that you can benefit from. Staying informed and aware is a crucial part of taking Initiative.
Questions to consider:
Surround yourself with other "Initiative Takers."
The best way to cultivate a habit of taking Initiative is by surrounding yourself with others who believe in the power of taking initiatives. You can inspire and get inspiration from this group of people.
Questions to consider:
Let's wrap up this post with some great quotes about taking the initiative
My Journey so far: Connecting the dots
One of my birthday traditions is reflecting on my past year and preparing for the future. This year, I'm doing something different, I'm reflecting on my whole journey so far.
In today's blog post, I am sharing my story so far with the help of some key reflection points that make me who I am today.
If I were asked to characterize my journey so far, I would say that there have been many unexpected twists and turns that have led to where I am today. When I hear people's almost perfect life stories, I'm amazed because my story is very different. Looking back to my simple beginnings and my earliest memories, I never thought I would be where I am today. I'm incredibly grateful for my experiences, learnings, and achievements.
Being a Twin
I always say I am blessed to have been born with my best friend. The great lesson being a twin has taught me is that although you were born with someone, your journeys will be extremely different. Think about that before you compare your experiences to someone else.
Over the years, I have also learned the importance of staying connected to my twin no matter how far we are geographically and being in different phases of our journey.
Raised by a single Mom
While I was writing this post, I realized that my mum was the same age as I am now when she gave birth to us. My mother taught us many valuable life lessons, some of which I shared in a previous blog post titled 10 lessons I learned from my mum. Learning how to work hard towards my dreams and keep learning, have been the two lessons, that have propelled me on my journey.
Living on 3 Continents
Some of the core influences to who I am today come from living in Nigeria, Germany, and the US. Spending my childhood in Nigeria grounded me in the beauty of the culture, the food and family values. Growing up in Germany, I learned a lot of valuable lessons that guide me in my adult life and career. Now living in the US has broadened my view on possibilities of whom I can become. I feel very fortunate to have experienced living in different countries and diverse cultures.
Building my Tribe
The great people I have met and become close to have enriched my journey. I moved away from my family at age fifteen, and it was essential for me to find my new tribe, people that will be my support system as I progressed through my journey. Reflecting on my tribe, I can honestly trace all of them to a different phase in my life over the past 17 years. I have learned to guard my inner circle, and I'm very intentional about whom I let in as they play a significant role in my life.
Discovering my Identity
To me, your identity is something you define for yourself. It is not only determined by your family, race, culture but also by all the influences on your journey. To get to this definition, I went through a few years of an identity crisis. If you ask me who I am today, I'll say I am a German - Nigerian woman who is proud of all her roots. It took me years to feel comfortable with my identity.
Overcoming the bad Experiences
A few years ago someone special told me something I never realized about myself. He said he valued the fact that I wasn't bitter after the hardships I experienced. My journey was far from easy, and sometimes I felt like quitting. However, one thing that remained was my smile. I became an expert at dusting myself after a fall and being positive about the future.
Appreciating the Detours
The first time I realized that life can be difficult was having to move from a home I believed will provide me security in my first year in Germany. Looking back, I lost count of the unexpected changes because there were many. One thing is for sure, I am no longer afraid of change, and I keep accepting that there are many paths to my destination.
Expanding my Portfolio
Over the past year, I added blogger and coach to my skillset. These were dreams that I had for years but was afraid to take the first step. For someone who encourages people to take action, it took me several years to leap. I'm very grateful for all my experiences and lessons I have learned since I took the first step.
Discovering my Mission
We are all on this earth to serve a purpose and bring change. Recently, I've been on a discovery journey to find my mission. My mission is to:
My Top 10 life Lessons (so far)
Thank You, Vielen Dank, Na Gode
I want to wrap up this post with a quick thank you to all the people that have contributed to my life. I can't name everyone individually, so I created some groups:
To my Twin Sister
It was a Tuesday, shortly after noon two amazing twin girls were born in Neuss Germany. It's our birthday, and I want to do something special for my birthday companion - my twin sister Melissa-Sue.
This post is very personal for me. I want to celebrate Melissa today in a very special way. Let me share a little about my sister, the important role she plays in my life and some of my favorite memories.
How would I describe Melissa?
This is a dicey one; there are so many words that come to mind when I think about my sister. I chose to describe some of her unique strengths:
What does my sister do for me?
Over the last year, I've been learning to value my relationships. Here are some of the fantastic things my sister does for me:
What we have in common?
We are a very "uncommon" set of twins. Though our physical features and personalities are very different, we have some commonalities. I want to take time to share things we have in common:
My favorite memories with my Twin sister
In our lives together, we have had a lot of great memories, a few of them are:
Celebrating our birthdays as kids
I enjoyed our birthdays together; it felt great to share my birthday with someone. Although my mum decided to dress us in the same outfits, we still had our individual birthday preferences.
Telling people, we are twins
It seemed like we spent much time trying to convince people first that we were related and then that we were twins. I enjoyed the shocked look on people’s faces. We had something special that was ours.
Enjoying great food together
There were so many times growing up when we would eat the simple things we loved and bond over them. The memories of our weekend meals are very dear to me. Till date, every time we get to spend together, we make it a priority to eat something delicious.
Reuniting in Germany
After spending over a year alone in Germany, my sister moved as well. Thinking back, being in the same country allowed us to share many growth opportunities and be there for one another.
Having my niece
Seeing my sister become a mum seven years ago was a very memorable milestone on our journey. Observing my sister with my niece shows me how much she is willing to share her love.
Spending Christmas 2017 together
Spending time with my sister and niece was very special. Introducing them to my new life in the US made me very aware of all the changes that I have experienced. We made so many great memories that I’ll always value.
My Final Thoughts
I am very grateful for my sister, and I'm looking forward to many more years together.
Please wish my twin sister Melissa-Sue a happy birthday.
Happy Birthday to my one and only twin Sister 😊
There is something magical about this time of the year. As we approach the final months of this year, I have started an activity I enjoy - preparing for 2019. Planning for the year ahead has been a significant part of my adult life. I am excited to share my process with you.
In this blog post, we will explore some guiding principles and ten essential questions to help you prepare for 2019. For additional tips on planning for a year and achieving your goals, refer to my older blog posts What's your plan for 2018? March Edition and Mid-year Goals Review.
While you go through this preparation process, keep the following in mind:
How to start preparing for a great 2019
With the help of the questions below, you can start planning your next year.
Question 1: What went well in 2018?
The best way to kick-start your planning process is by celebrating your past achievements. Start with writing down the things that went well this year. In my opinion, we need to spend more time thinking about our success and accomplishments.
Question 2: What didn't go well in 2018?
Answer this question with a growth mindset and willingness to learn. The primary objective is to be aware of the things you want to do differently in 2019. We can all learn from the experiences that didn't go as we expected.
Question 3: What are you looking forward to in 2019?
Starting from a positive place when you think about the future is crucial. Think about some great things you want to experience in 2019. Start building your excitement for the amazing things to come.
Question 4: What are your goals for 2019?
Having goals will motivate and guide you. Start thinking about the top five things you want to work towards in 2019. Goal setting is a necessity for your personal and professional development.
Find great resources to help with goal setting under the Great resources section below.
Question 5: How will you track your progress?
After you set your goals, it is essential to be clear on what success looks like and how you plan to track your progress. Some of the useful techniques include setting the frequency of reviews and metrics to measure your progress towards achieving your goals.
Question 6: What resources will you use?
Being equipped with the right tools and resources is crucial to achieving your planned goals. While you evaluate the goals you want to achieve, think about the tools you will need as well. Some helpful resources are courses, podcasts, learning blogs, conferences and much more.
Question 7: Who will you surround yourself with?
The concept of amplifying your success with the help of a support system is one that I value a lot. There are so many benefits of having a strong group of people who support you and hold you accountable to your goals. Write down the current members of your support community and the new ones you need.
Question 8: How will you stay motivated?
There will be times throughout 2019 when you will need some motivation and inspiration. Thinking about ways to stay motivated will help you bridge those difficult times.
Question 9: How will you empower others?
Helping others achieve their goals is a great way to make an impact. In 2019, do something meaningful for people around you. There's something magical about giving back and enriching someone else's life.
Question 10: How will you make 2019 count?
Chasing your passion and dreams should also be your focus. As you start envisioning the new year, think of ways to ensure you live out your passion and dreams.
Congratulations you have started setting yourself up for a great 2019. Now, what do you do next?
Sharing some great resources to help you plan for 2019
How to stay motivated at work
In job interviews, you are often asked: "what motivates you." Interestingly this question is only asked before you start a job. However, it is a valuable question you should repeatedly ask yourself as you get deeper into your job responsibilities. This topic is very close to my heart because I see many people around me who don't feel motivated at work. With all the time we spend at work, it is essential to enjoy it.
The primary objective of this post is to encourage you to be in the driver's seat when it comes to your motivation at work. Often motivation is talked about as if we have to depend on others to motivate us. Earlier in my career, I tied my motivation to things my managers or team did. It became exhausting as I was often disappointed and in turn easily demotivated. Once I decided to make a change and start being self-motivated, I found more happiness at work.
Why do you need to be motivated?
There are many benefits of being motivated at work that you want to tap into:
How to stay motivated at work
Let's explore five ways to take control of staying motivated at work
#1: Do work that you enjoy
The concept of being able to enjoy the work that you do is one I have been pondering on lately. Does it mean that you have to enjoy every task you do? The answer that gives me peace is, no you don't have to enjoy every single aspect of your job. The key is to identify the one thing you like doing at work and do it well. Although you might have to do things you don't like, now you have something that makes you smile.
#2: Build a peer motivation community
Camaraderie and peer motivation are significant factors for employee motivation. Build your support group of co-workers and other colleagues that help one another stay motivated. I encourage you to surround yourself mostly with co-workers who are positive and motivated. You will begin to see great results in your attitude and motivation at work.
#3: Own your professional development
One of the reasons we feel stuck is that we fail to plan our careers. An excellent way to avoid getting to that point is to have a professional development plan. Ensure you set goals and work towards them. Working towards your career goals will not only help you grow professional it will also help you stay motivated.
#4: Check your motivation gauge regularly
Be aware of the circumstances that affect your motivation negatively. Make it a priority to check in with yourself and adjust accordingly. Personally, checking in on how I'm doing at least once a month helps me. I notice that if I let too much time pass without checking in, I miss key signals that highlight the need to make a change.
#5: Stay connected to your professional network
Some great ways to get instant motivation at work include keeping your skills current, being mentored, reading industry journals as well as attending events and conferences. Staying connected to other professionals outside your day to day team provides you with a needed fresh perspective. I've found inspiration from my professional network. Keeping your inner fire burning is crucial!
Here are the Top 10 lessons I have learned about staying motivated at work
My Life in the US - Year 2 - 3
Continuing my relocation story, with year 2 and 3 in the US. The theme of this phase was learning and developing especially professionally and financially. Looking back on this time in my life, I can see the immense growth and learning that I experienced. While my focus in year one was getting settled and situated in my new home, in year two and three, I was able to focus on other parts of my life such as my career. There were many firsts and doing things I never thought I ever would.
In this post, I will share my experiences, learnings, and insights from my second and third year of living in the US. If you missed the first year, read my previous post My Life in the US - Year 1.
Settling into my new life
By my second year in the US, I started feeling more at home. Compared to my experience in Germany, I felt more settled in a very short time. The fact that there was no language barrier was a huge win. Also, not being alone here was great for my transition. Looking back, I'm very grateful that it didn't take seven years to feel at home like in Germany.
Learning and professional development
At this stage in my career, it was crucial for me to expand my knowledge and improve my skills. I was ready to grow my career and take on new responsibilities. Taking classes at UC Berkeley extension provided me not only new knowledge but also budding professional network. I learned what was necessary for professional success in the US.
Growing my finances
Moving to the US helped me increase my income. This new phase created the need for me to educate myself of ways to grow my finances. It's been an exciting journey learning more about managing my wealth. I was already proficient in the basics of financial management, so I needed to concentrate on the next level which was investing and making wise money choices. I'm still exploring and learning more about financial planning.
Making new connections
Attending events and courses helped me grow my professional network a lot. As I was new in the US, being able to learn from other people's experiences was important to me. I'm still in regular contact with some of the great people I met during this time. Building a new community has been a continuous task on my relocation journey.
Staying connected to my family and friends
Especially when you live so far away from your family, it is crucial to stay connected to the people that matter the most to you. I have been extremely fortunate to keep in contact with my niece who is growing up very quickly.
The communication tools that are now available are amazing. Staying in touch with my family and friends was a very crucial part of me feeling at home in the US.
After being in the US for two and a half years, I finally visited Germany for my Niece's first day of school. The first thing I did when I landed in Frankfurt was to buy a pretzel. Speaking German and knowing where everything was, made me feel at home again. I missed being in Germany where I had lived for fourteen years. Interestingly, on this trip, I discovered that you could feel at home in multiple places at once.
Preparing for new roles
My career grew exponentially in my third year. I made it a priority to say yes to new projects and roles. Often, I stoped to assess how far I had come and how incredibly grateful I was for the opportunities I had been given and accepted. Looking back, I'm delighted to have worked on some amazing projects and learned so much.
Exploring new cities and countries
Travel used to be a very stressful experience for me. So, when the opportunity to travel for work came, I wasn't too pleased. However, I decided to take this opportunity to learn how to make travel work for me. Traveling provided me with the excellent opportunity to explore more places in the US and new countries. Looking back, I have great memories of my adventures.
Making time for things that matter
The greatest lesson I learned was the importance of finding time for the things that matter the most in my life. With everything I was doing, I neglected some key relationships and self-care. Thankfully, I was able to rebuild relationships and take care of myself more before it was too late. Now, I set boundaries around the things that matter the most.
Rekindling my passion
Living in the US provided a safe space for exploring ways to make my dreams a reality. Seeing people live out their dreams and passions motivated me to go back to the things I always wanted to do but didn't think I could. For the longest time I thought about starting my coaching business and launch my blog. In 2017, I finally believed that I could and took the first step.
Top 10 Tips and Lessons
Over the three first years of my relocation journey to the US, I have learned so many valuable lessons, that I would like to share with you.