Cultivating Career Adaptability with Proactive Personality to Thrive at Work

My first job out of University was working as an assistant Wedding Planner. I spent my school years working as a cocktail waitress and for my Aunt’s catering company, so I knew the events business pretty well at the age of twenty-two.

Adapting and Being Proactive After COVID

There is much discussion in my networking groups, clients, and friends about what the world will “look like” as we open up after COVID. What will work look like? What will job design look like? What are the new expectations? I believe the event business and wedding planners galore are ready to tackle whatever is to come. Their minds are already wired for change.

  1. Identify and discuss proactive personality traits.
  2. Then, how we can utilise BOTH to aim for Thriving at Work.

Career Adaptability

Career Adaptability refers to our internal ability to utilise our psychosocial resources to cope, adapt, learn, and respond with direction to career changes. What we’re looking at here are not INTERNAL resources to cope, adapt and learn to respond, which we discussed last week, but the PSYCHOSOCIAL. This is in the context of others, of social influence and its environments.

  1. Identifying and deciding on what career to go after or what is called “control.
  2. Being able to outline the options with “curiosity.
  3. And having the “confidence” or self-efficacy to move forward to pursue those career options and larger career goals.

Proactive Personality

Studies have shown that those with a proactive personality tend to take the initiative, continually look to enhance themselves, and create favourable environments to “enact positive situational changes” (Wang et al.. 2017).

The Science: Linking Proactive Personality to Career Adaptability

When I began researching Career Adaptability, I noticed a lot of research on personality traits and their relationship to entrepreneurship. But the research around career adaptability is less and, to me, more interesting. Here are some findings:

  1. Other traits found to predict career adaptability include self-esteem, emotional intelligence, core self-evaluations and future orientation (Lee, 2021). (You can see this finding mirror the CAAS competencies).
  2. People who utilise their proactive personality traits can manoeuvre career transitions better than those who exhibit lower proactive characteristics. (Lee, 2021)
  3. Research has also shown that those with proactive traits are intrinsically motivated “to actively improve the constrained environment via positive coping strategies” (Zhao & Guo, 2019). This proactive responsiveness to WANT to shape both their inner self and outer work environment develops an individual's career adaptability resources. (Lee, 2021).

Developing Career Adaptability Skills and Building Proactive Traits

Loads of business websites outline “strategies” to become more proactive, including tips like planning, take action and initiative, set goals, and don’t dwell on mistakes.

  1. Understand how the brain adapts to changes and how you can tap into that neuroplasticity.
  2. Asking “what” and “how” questions will build your curiosity resource when confronted with a challenge.
  3. Use your Creative Adaptability skills as outlined in last weeks article to help develop openness and options.
  4. Finally, my favourite technique that I use moment-to-moment is to use your inner voice to build self-esteem, motivate you to be more assertive, and prove to yourself you can adapt to any situation.

“Thriving” at Work and in Life

The concept of “thriving” at work pertains to “the psychological state in which individuals experience both a sense of vitality and learning” (Jiang, 2017).

Conclusion — Where to go with this knowledge?

Back to my story… I made it safely onto the four-lane highway known as the MASS Pike with the bride and her Dad in the backseat of the Cadillac. They were enthralled in a quiet, meaningful conversation when I exited the Pike and embarked on the narrow one-way street in the North End.

Making sense of psychology and neuroscience research & applying it to wellbeing.

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