Conscientiousness is defined as a fundamental personality trait that influences whether people set and keep long-range goals, deliberate over choices or behave impulsively, and take seriously obligations to others.
Being tagged as a conscientious person, on the surface, seems to like it would be a pretty good way to be classified. But the truth is that those who truly commit to living a life of conscientiousness subject themselves to a lifetime of sacrifice and to the possibilities of being ostracized and misunderstood.
A Conscientious Life Is a Fulfilled Life—but Not Necessarily a Happy One
Many personality psychologists believe that there are five basic dimensions that comprise a person’s personality. Experts call them the “Big 5”. These are a set of five broad personality traits and include extraversion, agreeableness, openness, conscientiousness, and neuroticism.
Conscientiousness is the character trait of being deliberate, careful, meticulous, and vigilant. The presence of conscientiousness is the fundamental personality trait and determinant that influences people to set and systematically chase goals. It is what makes people keep their word, fulfill their obligations and remain steadfast and loyal in the face of opposition.
In other words, it is the ability to live intentionally.
The Conscientious Mind Is a Strong Mind.
How do you know if you are conscientious or not?
A person with low levels of conscientiousness can be described as easily distracted, unfocused, unmotivated, spontaneous and is often called “flighty” and “all over the place.” If you find yourself constantly failing to achieve your personal goals or quitting projects midway through—you may need to work to live a more conscientious fashion.
The absence of conscientiousness is a key contributor to the absence of success. Becoming more conscientious requires an organized and industrious mind.
Organization and living an orderly life is a predictor in whether or not you achieve what it is you want in life. Having things neat, tidy and well organized keeps your mind neat, tidy, organized and focused. Establishing routines and sticking to them as much as possible is a great way to bring order to your life.
When working to become more organized, be careful not to overdo it. Placing routine and order as a top priority leads to perfectionism, anxiety and other counterproductive attitudes. Put yourself on a schedule and get organized—but don’t go overboard.
Industriousness is associated with tenacity and grit. It is the passion and perseverance needed to achieve long-term goals. Industrious people are often described as achievement/goal-oriented, disciplined, efficient, purposeful, and competent. They are productive, not busy. They chase their goals and live life intentionally and methodically work hard to achieve their destiny.
Equipping with the Conscientious Mind
Conscientious people have several common habits that are worth studying. Here are 17 Habits we can learn from the masters of conscientiousness:
A place for everything, and everything in its place. You have designed a system of organization for most things in your life, and you get slightly stressed if someone isn’t privy to your mode of stacking, storing, and measuring. If taken to the extreme, this organization can morph into obsessive-compulsive disorder or perfectionism. Along with this talent for the organization comes a need to balance it out; those socks can stay on the floor for five more minutes. Try not to have a meltdown.
2: TO-DO LISTS
If something goes on a “to do” list, you WILL achieve this goal. You cross it off with a great deal of satisfaction, knowing that you put your heart and soul into the task. And now you get to move on to the next conquest. You are a person of your word; you honor your commitments to yourself and others, and others seek you out for your dependability and responsiveness.
You are the epitome of self-discipline. Whether your goal is to read a new self-development book, to improve an aspect of your professional life, or to lose ten pounds, you have it covered. You will find systems of success to reach each goal, and if these systems don’t yet exist, you will create them. Discipline and steadfast attention to each task allows you to enjoy the journey of accomplishment, and you stride forward with the confidence that you will find a way to meet all of your goals.
4: BEST EFFORT
When others are signing up for the half marathon, you put your name down for 26 miles. Home economics class may have meant scrambled eggs for your classmates, but you were interested in crafting a delicate and flaky quiche for your presentation. Whatever you choose to do, you give it your best effort, and if you are not adept at the skills required to accomplish a task, you’ll set about to acquire this skill set to reach your ultimate potential. Watching you achieve is a source of inspiration to others as they seek the same kind of resolve they see from you.
5: DELIBERATE THINKING
You may be a person of few words, but they are well-chosen. You are a very deliberate thinker; when a problem is presented to you, you survey all angles before arriving at your conclusion and course of action. Being a careful thinker allows you to take action with confidence, knowing you have exhausted all possibilities and arrived at all findings before coming to a resolution. Be proud of your intellectual abilities, for a person like you is becoming increasingly harder to find.
Being the type of person that others wish to allow you to exude a sense of confidence, which is extremely attractive. You seem to attract success like a magnet, and your humility and honesty make your station in life that much more admirable, as you don’t take your position for granted. You have earned the respect of others, and you return this in kind as you forage successful relationships. Indeed, you may even have made it your mission in life to help others achieve their goals as well; nobility and kindness look good on you. Keep up the excellent work.
7: FINANCIALLY RESPONSIBLE
Being a person of your word is essential to you. You understand the value of obligations and expectations, and your financial affairs reflect these qualities and beliefs. You pay your bills on time, you honor your commitments to others, and you find your economic issues growing positively. As you continue to use your resources wisely, you’ll keep growing and expanding to your full potential.
Cleanliness and order are essential to you. Indeed, you like your surroundings and your home to reflect this value. You take pride in your home, and even if it is modest, you care for it and lovingly maintain it, knowing that as you do so, you are paving the way for more good to come to you.
Cleanliness may be a habit that is so ingrained that you don’t realize it is a part of your daily routine; dishes are always washed, the floor is always swept, and beds are always made. You’ve made the mundane fun and enjoyable; please teach the rest of us to cherish our home and create inviting spaces, no matter what we currently live in.
9: PRACTICE SELF-CARE
A conscientious person cares about his/her body as a temple and practices self-care and presentation with care as well. Clean and combed hair, clean clothing, and a polished appearance are just as important as grooming your home; you present an image of loving kindness to yourself that is inspiring to others, so keep shining in the self-care department to show others how to love and care for themselves.
10: HEALTHFUL EATING
Just as you give thought to how you design your day, you give careful thought to how you design and care for your body. The practice of healthy eating is very important to you. So you shop for, prepare, and cook meals as if you were serving a king or queen. Gobbling chicken wings over the sink is not an option for you. It is time to set out the linens, light a candle, and practice mindful eating in an environment that is good for the body and the soul.
11: ORGANIZED WORKSPACES
Regardless of the number of deadlines you have, you always seem to be able to maintain a clean workspace. Papers are filed, the desk is dusted, and your personal effects are tasteful and pleasing to look at. You have designed the ultimate space for creativity and productivity. Plus, it is a place that you look forward to going to each day as you anticipate the wonderful things you will do at work.
A conscientious person is almost always on time. If it is within their power to arrive on the dot, they will do so. Meetings, dinners, social engagements, work, play….it doesn’t matter. Being on time is part of the whole package. Of course, you can count on them to be watchful and respectful of others’ time as well.
If you are conscientious, you can be trusted to do what you say you will. You will not take on more than you can handle, and that which you do take on you do to the best of your ability. Sure, you have challenges that may arise. However, you are diligent about working around them and coming up with solutions that work for all.
14: FEARLESS ABOUT CHALLENGES
True grit is evident here in that you don’t run from challenges—you meet them head-on. Many people who live in this kind of integrity tackle the most challenging and unpleasant aspects of life first, knowing that leisure will come later. The best part about getting your work done satisfactorily is that you can attack your entertainment with the same passion as the early day.
15: BODY CONSCIOUS
Your body is your temple, and it is essential to keep looking young and fit as long as possible. You have adopted a regular exercise routine, and it is a regular part of your day. As sure as the sun rises in the East, you commit to a workout each day in hopes of attaining the perfect human form….or at least your version of perfect.
16: TAKE BREAKS AND CARRY ON
Take rest, regroup and restart. But don’t ever quit. Quitting is not an option. Remember, in order to be successful you need drive, determination and a stubborn will. You have to have fight, grit and a scrappy attitude to be who you truly can be.
If you have watched The Hacksaw Ridge, you would have heard of Desmond T. Doss. He epitomizes the type of fight, tenacity and strength of will the truly conscientious have. Desmond was a combat medic serving in WWII and his heroic actions, driven by his value system, led him to perform acts of heroism during the Battle of Okinawa. He became the first-ever conscientious objector in US history to win the medal of honor. And he did it without ever firing a shot.
17: DON’T RELY ON MENTAL NOTES
Taking mental notes is great and we all do it. But there is one major problem with using your mental notes to recall information—you won’t remember it. Conscientious people write things down. They add dates to their calendar. They are schedulers and note-takers. They intentionally make jotting notes a part of their routine and standard operating procedure.
A Conscientious Life Is Not Easy but Is Worth It
Conscientiousness is an act of one’s will. It is intentional and requires purposeful actions, an organized mind and an industrious attitude.
By internalizing and embracing the five key habits of conscientious people, you set yourself up to be a reliable, productive and wildly successful best version of yourself.