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Why the Conscientious Mind Is a Successful Mind

Why the Conscientious Mind Is a Successful Mind

Douglas Hostetter was a conscientious objector to war who found himself faced with the dilemma of having to fulfill his military obligation during the Vietnam War in 1966. As a conscientious objector to war, Douglas refused to carry or use a weapon or participate in any of the violence of war. Instead, he opted to serve by teaching English to Vietnamese children. He also opted to live outside the heavily guarded walls of the American camps. He lived in a bungalow completely exposed to enemy forces. He had no gate, walls or weapons to defend himself. He insisted on fulfilling his service in a non-violent manner and was able to dedicate himself to providing quality education to surrounding Vietnamese villages on his terms.[1]

    Being tagged 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”.[2] These are a set of five broad personality traits and include: extraversion, agreeableness, openness, conscientiousness, and neuroticism.

    Conscientiousness as defined by Psychology Today is:[3]

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    “…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.”

    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.

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    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 over do 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 five lessons we can learn from the masters of conscientiousness:

    1. Think Deeper Before You Act

    The conscientious mind always evaluates the pros and cons of a situation and considers the consequences of their actions. They exercise impulse control and work to act versus merely reacting. They count the cost before they undertake an endeavor and give their word.

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    Before launching a business, a conscientious person will do extensive amounts of research and ensure they have the appropriate capital and resources in place before they dive in and begin. They understand the market space, their brand, their customers and know the type of people they need to hire in order to be successful. Their business succeeds and thrives because of preparation, planning and diligence; not luck.

    2. Commit to Promises

    Because the conscientious think before they act, they are able to commit to things they know they can deliver. They provide exactly what they promise. They consider the cost before they make a promise and then dogmatically work to do what they say they are going to do.

    If you promise your best friend you are going to help them move on a specific weekend, that is precisely what you should do. But before you commit to helping your friend, you should first ensure that you are available for the date and duration of time they need you. You should add it to your calendar and consider that date, time and task non-negotiable. You should show up when you said you would, work hard and fully deliver on that promise.

    3. 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. Read more about why Human Brains Aren’t Designed To Remember Things.

    4. 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.[4]

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    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.

    5. Take Responsibility for Problems

    A conscientious person is not a coward nor a victim. They take responsibility for their part in failures and don’t run from problems. They stand flat-footed and stare issues in the eye. And then they devise a plan and attack. They are brave, tough and resourceful. They seek out solutions to their problems and refuse to “sweep things under the rug” and blame others.

    Say if you have a report due at work and you realize it’s going to be late because you don’t have the necessary input from your colleagues. You apologize to your boss and give him a new time that the report will be due while taking full responsibility for not getting the input on time. You work with your colleagues to expeditiously get the input you need, and do whatever you have to do to ensure that you deliver on your promise and meet the new deadline.

    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.

    Reference

    [1] Civilian Public Service.org: Doug Hostetter
    [2] Very Well: The Big 5 Personality Traits
    [3] Psychology Today: Conscientiousness
    [4] YouTube: Conscientiousness

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    Anna Chui

    Anna is a communication expert and a life enthusiast. She's the editor of Lifehack and loves to write about love, life, and passion.

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    Last Updated on February 15, 2019

    How SMART Goal Setting Makes Lasting Changes in Your Life

    How SMART Goal Setting Makes Lasting Changes in Your Life

    SMART goal setting is one of the most valuable methods used by high achievers today to actualize their life goals time after time. SMART goal setting is the inverse of random or carefree goal setting without strategy.

    Perhaps, you’ve always wished to get back in shape but failed to act; or wished to get an annuity in place but failed to act; or wished to have control over your finances but failed to act. When you approach your goals with a carefree and nonchalant attitude you’re less likely to achieve them.

    You should have a strategic goal setting method in place. It ought to be a time-tested and proven one. It ought to be purposeful. Without any of these considerations in view a person is likely to continue in a vicious cycle of failed goal realization.

    To achieve your goals consistently and join the pack of high achievers out there who have consistently achieved much of their goals you must be prepared to do what these set of persons have been doing, and be ready to do the right thing: SMART goal setting.

    What is SMART goal setting?

    SMART goal setting is a goal setting method that considers certain factors about a goal relative to the person setting it. These factors are simply the five different letters in the SMART acronym.

    It is relative to the person setting the goal because what is true for A may not be true for B; or what is possible for A or within A’s ability to achieve may not be possible for B or within B’s ability to achieve.

    The acronym SMART can be broken down thus:

    • S—Specific
    • M—Measurable
    • A—Achievable
    • R—Realistic
    • T—Time bound

    Is it possible that this acronym can make a long lasting impact in your life?

    Is it possible that a mere goal setting metric like SMART can help you achieve so many of your unfulfilled goals?

    Is it possible that if you practice SMART goal setting you would be able to have faster results, understand your goals better, overcome the habit of procrastination, and achieve a lot?

    The power to achieve your goals is in your hands.

    It is important to extend the enquiry by asking:

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    • How many times have you said you’ll read two books every week but failed to do so?
    • How many times have you said you’ll cut down on your expenses so you can save enough money to make a down payment for that apartment building you said you’ll buy five years ago but failed to do so?
    • How many times have you failed to keep to your diet routine even after all the tears you shed realising you keep adding pound upon pound every day?

    We all have goals and we all have twenty four hours at our disposal and no one has more or less of it. While some people find it easy to achieve their goals without procrastinating. some find it difficult doing so.

    For some people who have succeeded again and again in achieving their goals they have simply found out an easy way of doing this. Is there something they know that you don’t?

    How SMART goals make a lasting impact in your life

    Through SMART goal setting, Stephen Cooley was able to grow his real estate business to the point of closing at $110 million in sales when the average price point of homes was between $100, 000 – $200, 000 in South Carolina.[1]

    Through SMART goal setting Steve Jobs was able to improve the fortunes of Apple and prevent the company from going bankrupt even when it had barely 90 days left before being declared bankrupt.

    SMART goals setting can make a lasting impact in your life:

    1. Make your goal clearer

    When you use SMART goal setting it is easier for you to understand the various phases of your goal.

    By using SMART you’re able to ask yourself relevant questions pertaining to your goal.

    2. Motivate you into acting on your goals

    When you use SMART goal setting and break down the goal into smaller goals or milestones, the bigger goal no longer looks intimidating or impossible.

    Jack Canfield, co-author of Chicken Soup for the Soul wrote in his book How to Get from Where You Are to Where You Want to Be about how they applied the rule of five in marketing their book, Chicken Soup and were able to make the book a best seller after some months. The rule of five simply means doing five specific things every day that will move you closer to achieving your goal.

    In order not to be overwhelmed too, you would have to measure your performance using the right metrics. Here we are considering the Measurable and Achievable aspects of the SMART acronym. It is critical that you measure yourself in terms of lead measures.

    What are lead measures? They are the things you do that leads you closer to your goals. On the other hand you would have to avoid “lag measures.”

    While lag measures mean a successful outcome that you wished for and got, they can be emotionally draining and deceitful because whenever they don’t happen, you can become discouraged and so leg measures do not necessarily mean that you are getting closer to your bigger goal.

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    So it is better to stick to lead measures.

    3. Help you save you time

    You can achieve more when you’re strategic with your goal setting task.

    To be strategic, your goal would have to be specific, measurable, achievable, realistic, and time framed. If you can’t identify any of these points in your goal, you probably will be wasting your time on a wild goose chase.

    When your goals are written down, it’s easier for you to go into action mode.

    4. Improve your self-discipline

    Self improvement is an important thing for everyone to do periodically. When you set SMART goals, it makes you realize that you have to sit up and work on achieving them.

    How to set a SMART goal

    To make your SMART goal works, follow the following tips:

    Specific

    Every goal ought to be specific. It is important to guard against making vague goals because even when they are achieved you may not know. This is because you weren’t specific enough.

    For instance “I will start planning toward retirement” is vague. Rather than write that you could say, “I will start planning toward retirement by starting an annuity plan.” This is more specific.

    So when you are specific on your goal it’s easier for you to identify all its components and work accordingly toward achieving it.

    Measurable

    Your goals must be measurable. When they are measurable, it’s easier for you to follow through.

    A goal like this is not measurable, “I want to make millions of Dollars.” You can make it more measurable by saying, “I want to make one million Dollars selling one hundred thousand copies of my book at ten Dollars each.”

    Also, using our example while explaining the Specific acronym, you can make the goal more measurable by saying, “I will start planning toward retirement by starting an annuity plan and saving $500 every month.”

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    Achievable

    How realistic or actionable is your goal? Is it practical enough to fit into a given time frame? Is it something you are able to achieve in your capacity?

    A man would only be setting himself up for failure if he sets goals that are not reasonable.

    A goal like this is highly unrealistic and therefore not achievable: “I want to be the Governor of Texas in six months” meanwhile the elections will be coming up in the next three years.

    Goals must be written down relative to the experiences of the one setting them. They must resonate with you. It is important that you have at least some of the resources needed to actualise this goal.

    It is also important that you consider your time frame. When the time frame to achieve a complex goal is too short it is rare that such goal will be actualised.

    Thus, using our previous example if you write “I want to make one million Dollars in ten days selling one hundred thousand copies of my book at ten Dollars each,” you would only be setting up yourself for failure.

    This is especially true if you’re not a popular author or if you’ve never sold even up to one thousand copies of any of your previous books whether e-copy or in print.

    Realistic

    Before you proceed to making the commitment toward that goal you need think about how realistic it is.

    Being realistic means you should be willing to make all the commitments required for that goal to be achieved.

    Time framed

    Every goal must have a commencement date and an end date written down. It is also important that you break down your goals into phases, chunks, bits, or milestones.

    The act of having deadlines set to your goals is ample motivation that drives you into action. Without a deadline, it is not possible for you to know if you’re making headway with your goals.

    “I will start planning toward retirement by starting an annuity plan and saving $500 every month for the next twenty five years” is a time framed goal.

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    Remember that some goals are short term while some are long term. It is important to always bear this in mind because this will help you in making a clearer and realistic strategy for your SMART goal setting.

    Without SMART goal setting in view, much of our goals may likely end in our minds or on paper or just midway into implementation. SMART goal setting reveals to us all the action points of our goals and helps us to have an awareness of every aspect of our goals.

    Over to you: Time for you to act now

    I could go on and on. What matters at the end of the day is what you do with the contents of this article because the power to achieve your goals is in your hands.

    It is not enough having a goal. It is not enough putting it down in writing. It is important having a strategy in mind while putting it down. This strategy is a guideline or set of rules that guide you. It is SMART goal setting in the given circumstance.

    After writing down your goals you would have to be ready to take action. There should be a clear action point. Write down what you need to do on daily, weekly, or monthly basis.

    As a matter of practice, it is important that you begin by putting down a single statement that captures best your goal. For instance, “I want to own a $200, 000 worth duplex by 1st of August, 2019.”

    Now, you can break this goal into smaller goals by saving $17, 000 per month for the next twelve months. You would have to ask yourself if this $17, 000 is within your reach on a monthly basis. If you make up to $25, 000 per month and you spend $5000 for monthly upkeep then it is possible setting aside $17, 000 every month for this purchase.

    When your goals are realistic, they make them worth the chase. One of the things to bear in mind is that in order not to be overwhelmed by the daunting nature of your goals remember to always break them into milestones, chunks, or bits. In fact, take one day at a time.

    Do not bother yourself with the one year, three year, five year or ten year plan as this may likely overwhelm you with fear and doubt. Let your focus be on each day. What will I be doing today? Consider this and go for it.

    More Resources About Setting & Achieving Goals

    Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

    Reference

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