Ever wonder why certain people are more successful than others? According to a study conducted by James Heckman, a Nobel laureate, and his colleagues, it actually has very little to do with your IQ.
What matters far more is certain personality traits. More specifically, conscientiousness plays an enormous role in predicting whether or not someone will achieve in life, particularly when it comes to earning potential.
4 Ways to Become More Conscientious
If you’re concerned that you’re not conscientious enough, the good news is that you can work on building this characteristic.
1. Take a breath.
Work is not all about going, going, going — or, at least, it shouldn’t be. Striving to be more conscientious also means recognizing when you need a moment. With so much competition for our attention and time, it’s critical to understand when it’s time to take a breather. That means having a moment to yourself so you’re better equipped to face the demands and tasks on your plate.
A break will actually reinvigorate you, allowing you to slow down and give all your tasks the attention they deserve. It enables you to be more thoughtful — and conscientious — in your approach.
2. Change your mindset.
You usually don’t have power over your assignments, but you can change your mindset as you approach them. In the Harvard Business Review, Stefano Tasselli, Martin Kilduff, and Blaine Landis advise seeing an assignment “in a way that matches your values.” If you do, you will likely have a less difficult time approaching it and completing it in a way that’s satisfactory to both you and your manager.
3. Invest in building relationships with your colleagues.
It’s important to remember that cultivating conscientiousness is not just about you — it’s also about the people around you. That means you should be taking the care to build and solidify relationships with your colleagues.
You should strive to connect with them, creating connections. In fact, one study found that spending time engaging in activities with colleagues can help you boost both your relationships and your diligence (dare we say conscientiousness?) in the workplace. You’ll also feel more a part of things.
4. Cultivate organization strategies.
It probably comes as no surprise that organization is critical for conscientiousness at work and beyond. But it doesn’t come as naturally to some as others.
How do you establish a sense of order, when you’re perhaps more used to (organized or not) chaos? Take small steps at first, such as downloading organization and productivity apps to help you manage the tasks on your plate and keep better track of your calendar. Dedicate a few minutes a day to straightening your workspace. Not only will this help you stay organized, but it will give you a clearer head.
You CAN change your personality. And it may help you succeed. Ultimately, how you act matters — even more than how innately intelligent you are.
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Laura Berlinsky-Schine is a freelance writer and editor based in Brooklyn with her demigod/lab mix Hercules. She specializes in education, technology and career development. She also writes satire and humor, which has appeared in Slackjaw, Points in Case, Little Old Lady Comedy, Jane Austen’s Wastebasket and The Haven.