Using Conscientiousness to Maximize Success

A friend of mine told me that her superpower is conscientiousness, which piqued my curiosity, so I decided to do some research. According to an article in Psychology Today, “Conscientiousness is a fundamental personality trait… that reflects the tendency to be responsible, organized, hard-working, goal-directed, and to adhere to norms and rules.”

After thinking about this definition, I figured an easier way to explain it is, “It is the quality of doing what needs to be done, when it needs to be done, and doing it well and thoroughly.”

Here’s why this trait is so important.

Everyone knows people who are talented and intelligent that struggle with life. But an average person that possesses a high level of conscientiousness can be incredibly successful.

In fact, after doing my research, I found that conscientiousness is one of the most reliable predictors of success.

Use these tips to help you to become more conscientious:

1.    Start by planning your time.

Make a schedule for yourself based on the most important tasks that need to be done. This way the crucial things will get done first, and you’ll be much less likely to waste time. I talked about this in depth in the article, “The Value of Organizing Tomorrow – Today.”

2.    Schedule life maintenance time.

Being conscientious means taking care of your personal business. This has been a cornerstone for me being able to live authentically, and a key of what I teach to all my clients and students. This includes all of those like maintenance tasks like exercising, relaxing, paying bills, laundry, cleaning, shopping, and mowing grass. Create a schedule for all of these responsibilities and stick to it.

3.    Create grooming standards.

One pretty reliable way to determine if someone is conscientious is to look at how they dress and their wardrobe. While you can’t judge a book by its cover, people will judge you by your appearance.

This is because people will make instant inferences about you from how you look. If you tend to trend a little on the disheveled side, create a routine to improve your look.

Always wear clean clothes that fit and are in good condition. Get rid of the rest. You don’t have to be known as the best dresser at the office, but you need to look neat and clean.

4. Declutter

Something I started doing a couple of decades ago was scaling back on my possessions and ensuring that everything that’s left has a place. I have a place for everything, and I put everything back when I’m done using it.

Following these small steps are more than enough to remove all the clutter from your life and will make your life a lot less stressful.

5. Conscientiousness means Being punctual.

One thing I learned in the military was being on time is being at least 15 minutes early. This habit has stuck with me ever since.

Conscientious people are aware of the time they have allotted to different items and stick to their plans. They don’t make other people wait. Be prompt and courteous. Show yourself and others that you’re in control of your time and your life.

6.    Finish what you start.

One thing that will absolutely help you feel better about yourself is finishing what you start. A lot of this has to do with wanting to make whatever you are doing, “perfect”.

Here’s some of the best advice I ever got, “Don’t worry about getting it perfect, just get it done!”

Those at the low end of the conscientious distribution have a habit of failing to finish what they start. You can’t win if you don’t finish. You can’t accomplish anything until it’s competed. Develop the habit of seeing things through to the end.

7. Wake up and go to bed at the same time every day.

Have a bedtime and stick to it. Get up at the same time every day. The earlier the better. This takes a little discipline, but it’s worth the effort.

8.    Learn to control your impulses.

If you don’t control your impulses, they will control you. Following an impulse is doing what you feel like doing regardless of any other concern.

Poor impulse control is one of the biggest reasons for failure. Instead, focus on being conscientious, doing what needs to be done, when it needs to be done, regardless of whether or not you feel like doing it.

You can be more conscientious!

We all know that person with all the intelligence and talent that anyone could ever hope for, but for some reason they can’t live a successful life. The most common reason is a lack of conscientiousness. They just haven’t developed the habit of “doing what needs to be done, when it needs to be done, and doing it well and thoroughly.”

This can be a challenging quality to develop if it doesn’t exist in you naturally, but the benefits clearly outweigh the time and effort it takes to develop it.

The best first step is to schedule your day and follow your schedule. Keep to the schedule no matter what. You can become a conscientious person! Once you do, an easier, less stressful life is waiting for you.

If you’d like to develop more consciousness in your life, pick up my book “Mindful Mastery: Find Focus, Get Unstuck, and Drop Into the Peak Performance Zone”.

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