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Harness the Power of Being Proactive

Harness the Power of Being Proactive

If your thesis or dissertation year commences in the new year, and you’re already contemplating the tasks of research and academic writing, this article is for you. Instead of just thinking about what the year will hold as you take on this mammoth task, you can be proactive and start planning right now. Reducing stress, managing your time effectively, and even saving money are some of the major benefits of grabbing the bull by the horns, before the countdown clock starts ticking on 1 January.


What does it really mean to be proactive?

The best description I’ve come across is that of proaction expert Thomas S Bateman, who explains that  “…it (proaction) is the “possible you” that 1) spots and prevents problems, 2) identifies, pursues, and captures opportunities, and 3) creates a new, personally-chosen, desired future through a strategic change of trajectory.”

Being proactive makes room for possibility and engineers change in an area of your life in a manner that is cognisant of the path ahead. Further, the proactive mindset actively seeks opportunities that will help reach the goals set out.

Proactivity was introduced as a scientific concept about 25 years ago and has been investigated under a number of different labels, including Michael Frese’s (2001) concept of personal initiative. Since then an increasing number of studies have shown the beneficial effects of different types of proactive behaviour at work for individuals, work teams and organisations. These positive effects have been found for a number of different outcome variables, including work performance, career success and individual well-being. All of which are relevant to students working towards academic performance and success.


academic writing be proactive

Fundamental principles of proaction

Bateman, in his article Why Proactivity Is the Superpower You Can and Should Develop (2018) succinctly lists these principles. Here they are revised for the purposes of academic projects.

  • Think well ahead. Use your uniquely human advantage: forethought. Predict where your thesis is heading based on current trajectories and envision possible better outcomes.
  • Self-direct. Proaction is a personal choice, not dictated by external factors. Apply the mindset that you can change your actions to create desired outcomes.
  • Think strategically. Choose your proactive targets and behaviors thoughtfully. How will others react? How can you enlist their support? What sacrifices do you need to make? How will you adjust your daily routine?
  • Swing into action. Proaction requires not just thinking, but doing. “Doers” can be action-oriented without thinking strategically, and therefore ineffective in making their desired impact. Thinkers/dreamers/visionaries are proactive only if they take thoughtful action and make progress toward their new goals.
  • Adapt wisely. Learn and adapt rapidly through trial and error by adopting a healthy mindset. Maintain your strategic vision while making tactical changes as circumstances suggest.
  • Persevere to impact. Grit matters, but you also need to learn along the way and adjust.  Revisit “Adapt wisely” above.

Proaction is what drives constructive change. It is essential to successful self-management, leadership and entrepreneurship, and even to tackling and solving society’s global challenges. So why wouldn’t you be proactive with your academic work?


Proactive people recognise that they are “response-able.” 

They know they choose their behaviour. Reactive people, on the other hand, are often affected by their physical environment. They find external sources to blame for their behaviour and are never ahead of the game.


Benefits of being proactive

1. Roadmapping the Future. Proactive individuals are able to plan for and build the future that they want, rather than waiting on external forces to determine which direction they should go in. Acting proactively means that you are forward-looking. You’ve identified that there’s work to be done and mechanisms to be put in place because you’re aiming to deliver the best academic work you can. 

2. Alleviates problems or issues before they happen. You’re able to uncover potential problems or conflict and minimize your exposure to it. For instance, if you know you will need a certain software programme for your data handling, you can plan in the time of learning to use the application effectively. 

3. Be more prepared for situations. You’re thinking about what could happen today to avoid chaos tomorrow, sort of like an insurance plan! You have a succession or back up plan in place just in case life happens so that unforeseen events and circumstances are only setbacks and not failure.

4. Saves time and money. You’re putting in the work and effort now to save time and money by preparing for the unexpected problems now instead of at the last minute. Booking an editor early is a good example of this.

5. Peace of mind. You’re happy with where you are and where you are going because you have an idea of what is coming. It’s easier to sleep at night when you have a plan for the morning.

The Dale Method

At its core, my methodology, The Dale Method, is aimed at harnessing the power of being proactive during your thesis writing year. Working with me will give you all the tools you need to reap the benefits of being a proactive student. 

So, before finding yourself in a nightmare of stress and anxiety and having to jump into my intensive emergency program, take advantage of the Proactive program. This will afford you the opportunity to:

1. Manage your time effectively

2. Make sacrifices and create contracts

3. Learn to master the art of effective planning

4. Get to grips with implementation and control (motivation, discipline and routine)

5. Learn how to acknowledge and manage your psychological barriers

6. Make a realistic PACT with yourself: get clear direction and a commitment to act


“Experience the feeling of achievement and success.”