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How to Become a Self-Starter in the Workplace

Posted by Glassdoor Team

Career Advice Experts

Last Updated June 29, 2021

Guide Overview

What does being a self-starter mean?Ways to be a self-starter in the workplaceTips for becoming a self-starter

Guide Overview

Why being a self-starter is an important quality for any job

Self-starters are highly valued by employers for their ability to set and achieve goals, work independently, and take initiative to get the job done. There are several skills that a self-starter often possesses, including ambition, motivation, and confidence. Here we explore what a self-starter is, how you can be a self-starter in the workplace, and tips for improving your self-starter skills to support your overall career goals and job productivity.

What does being a self-starter mean?

A self-starter is a person who is motivated to set and achieve goals and takes initiative within the workplace. Self-starters are especially important in the workplace and highly sought after by employers because they can get their job done with supervision and work through issues and perform tasks on their own. These types of professionals often excel in their careers and accomplish goals that lead to favorable outcomes for the organization as a whole.

Self-starters usually have several valuable skills, including confidence, motivation, resilience, innovation, and creativity. You can take initiative and be a self-starter at any point in your career and use the momentum built from self-starting behaviors to excel in your job and take on new responsibilities at work.

Ways to be a self-starter in the workplace

There are several ways you can be a self-starter at work, and doing so will likely have a positive impact on your productivity and ability to contribute to your company’s overall goals. Here are a few ways you can incorporate self-starting skills in the workplace:

  • Set and achieve goals. A quality that sets self-starters apart from others is that they don’t only set goals but also achieve them in a timely and successful manner. Consistently set and meet goals that exceed company standards and volunteer to help others meet their goals whenever possible. For example, set goals at the beginning of each week or month and take steps to increase your efficiency when completing each goal.
  • Learn to love challenges. Challenges are something that many people face on a regular basis at work, whether it be having to learn a new program or adjust to a new management style. Self-starters actively test their limits and strive to meet challenges head-on with a positive and can-do attitude. When challenges arise at work, confront them with a motivation to learn and the confidence to triumph. For example, if you’re asked to learn a new program, take the time to get familiar with it and come up with ways to make the learning process easier not only for yourself but for your coworkers.
  • Show initiative. Employers value employees who take initiative in their work. Don’t be afraid to seek out opportunities to improve a certain way of doing or thinking about things. Look for ways to make your company stronger and take the initiative to offer viable solutions to any problems you uncover. For example, if a colleague is having trouble completing a task, offer your help to devise a solution that would enable them to successfully finish the task in a timely manner.
  • Avoid procrastination. Procrastination is can stand between you and the successful completion of a goal or project. Avoid procrastination by taking action whenever possible, even if the action is small. For example, if you have a task that’s due tomorrow, spend 30 minutes today prepping for the work you’ll do to complete that task tomorrow.

Tips for becoming a self-starter

The following are tips you can implement into your day-to-day work life to increase your self-starting abilities:

  • Get used to uncomfortability. Self-starters understand that being comfortable at work is rarely going to support a growing career. Feeling uncomfortable is often a daily occurrence for self-starters and means that you’re being challenged in new ways. The more comfortable you are with feeling uncomfortable, the more adept you’ll be at handling new situations, making necessary changes, and taking risks that can advance your career and support the growth of your organization.
  • Don’t focus on failure. Failing is often an important component of making progress and succeeding at your goals and projects. You’ll likely have to try and fail several times before you discover a new way to do things, but that new way of doing things could lead to increased productivity and output that ultimately contributes to furthering your career. Rather than viewing failure in a negative light, look at it as a stepping stone on the path to success.
  • Look for leadership opportunities. Being in a leadership position is a great way to boost your self-starter abilities, as others will look to you for direction and motivation. If you aren’t in a leadership position now, look for opportunities to take on leadership responsibilities at work. For example, if a project requires a team leader, volunteer to take on the role. Even if you don’t have a ton of experience in that role, you’ll gain invaluable experience and self-starter skills like flexibility, strategic thinking, and positivity.
  • Practice positivity. Being positive regarding your current skills and knowledge, or having strong positive self-expectancy, is a key component of being a self-starter. When you believe that you have what it takes to succeed, you’re much more likely to be motivated to set and achieve goals as well as take on new challenges.
  • Participate in teamwork. While self-starters are great at working independently, they also thrive in group settings and gain inspiration from their peers. To improve your self-starter skills, participate in teamwork opportunities when possible. To do so, you could discuss a new project with coworkers and brainstorm together ways to complete the project in an efficient manner. Ask for feedback as to how you can better contribute to the group effort and be willing to implement that feedback.

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