Latimer: Being conscientious can lead to success

These are all habits that can be formed with practice and are key to success.

Paul Latimer

A person who is conscientious is by definition someone who wants to do what is right – particularly when it comes to his or her work or duty. Synonyms for the trait are descriptive: A conscientious person could also be called diligent, industrious, painstaking, dedicated, careful, meticulous, thorough, hard working or particular.

Though this might not describe the life of the party, they are positive descriptors. It shouldn’t be a surprise to learn this personality trait is linked with better performance in many areas of life. What you may not know is that many experts name conscientiousness as the top predictor of success.

Consicientious folk live longer, do better at school, are more successful and happier at work, earn higher wages, and have more marital success than others.

Although our basic personality type is generally with us from birth, it is possible to train to increase positive traits or behaviours including conscientiousness. Here are a few habits to hone if you want to become more conscientious and successful.

Be careful with your money. Conscientious people don’t generally make unplanned purchases. They are more likely to make a budget and stick to it and to take time to carefully consider expenses. In addition to living within their means, conscientious people tend not to miss bill payments or cheat on their taxes.

Write it down. We all know one – maybe a spouse or family member who insists on making lists for everything and putting every detail into their calendar. Even if it inspires teasing from family or seems a tad fastidious for your taste, this is a habit of successful, conscientious people. If you write it down, you’re more likely to follow through. This is helpful in work and social spheres.

Avoid the binge. Overindulging in anything- be it food, alcohol, television or something else – is not healthy and can also get in the way of success. Conscientious people are less likely to binge and more likely to eat healthier, get enough sleep and use their time effectively. Typically, a conscientious person will follow the advice of health care providers to use all things in moderation and to take deliberate steps to stay healthy.

Be dependable. This wasn’t on my list of synonyms at the start of the column, but it could have been. Conscientious people are dependable – a key trait for success in many areas. If you make an appointment, keep it. If you take on a commitment, honour it. Show up on time and prepared for the task at hand.  This is one of the single most important qualities employers are looking for – to say nothing of life partners and friends.

Don’t quit. Even facing obstacles or the potential of failure, conscientious people are more likely to persevere through a task. Studies have found that a combination of passion and perseverance is more important to success than a high IQ.

Finally, if you want to increase your conscientiousness, you must face your problems. Whether personal or professional, a truly conscientious person does not live in denial. Conscientious people take responsibility for their mistakes, fix them, and learn to prevent them in the future.

If you were born a conscientious person, you’re in luck. These traits come naturally to you and are no doubt serving you well in your life. If not, these are all habits that can be formed with practice and are key to success.

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