2. Self-Regulation

2.3 Conscientiousness

The dictionary’s definition of conscientiousness is:

“/kɒnʃɪˈɛnʃəsnəs/ (n)   the quality of wishing to do one's work or duty well and thoroughly.”

Of course, as a Dux, you know that simply wishing is not enough. To be a conscientious individual requires self-discipline, carefulness, thoroughness, and deliberation. It means you can be depended upon to fulfil your duties, be efficient and organised, and take obligations to yourself and others seriously.

In other words, being conscientious makes you highly employable!

Not only that, but having a reputation for being reliable, hardworking, and organised makes it more likely that you'll earn a higher salary and enjoy greater job satisfaction throughout your life. (Because you can be trusted to work remotely, to manage your professional development, and to work on significant or sensitive projects.)

Being Conscientious is Good for Your Health

The personal attribute that correlates most consistently with good health is conscientiousness. Studies have shown that:

  • “People who were rated as conscientious as 8-year-olds by their parents and teachers tended to live longer.
  • There are correlations between conscientiousness and lower blood pressure, lower rates of diabetes and stroke, and fewer joint problems.
  • Behaviours that are among the leading causes of mortality - alcohol use, disordered eating (including obesity), drug use, lack of exercise, risky sexual behaviour, risky driving, tobacco use, suicide, and violence - are all predicted by low conscientiousness.
  • Conscientiousness may shape career choices, friendships, the stability of marriage, and many other aspects of life that affect health and, ultimately, longevity.”

How Conscientious Are You?

Answer “Yes” or “No” to the questions below:


Now you can score yourself:


If you scored 13 – 16:

Well done on your high level of conscientiousness! Please be careful not to let your conscientiousness become perfectionism and/or workaholism. Give yourself permission to fail and stop worrying so much about what others think of you. Allow yourself to be creative, spontaneous, and flexible.

If you scored 9 – 12:

While you are generally conscientiousness, you slip up occasionally. You would benefit from the steps below in order to maintain a more consistent level of conscientiousness.

If you scored 5 – 8:

Your creative spontaneity makes you very popular, but your low level of conscientiousness is holding you back from fulfilling your potential. Follow the steps below to give yourself a better chance of success.

If you scored 1 – 4:

Well done for being conscientious enough to complete the quiz! Your lack of conscientiousness makes even simple tasks feel like an uphill battle, so do yourself a favour and commit to improving your level of conscientiousness using the steps outlined below.

How to Become More Conscientious

Know thyself. You can't improve without knowing where you currently stand and what areas you need to work on.

Personality change research has learnt that people can positively change their personalities by doing more activities that fit three these criteria: important, enjoyable, and in line with your values. Use this to help you keep your promises and commitments.

Slow down. This may seem like counter-intuitive advice, but it pays to pause and reflect every now and again.

Ask yourself, “Am I doing the thing right, or the right thing?” In our current world, there are so many distractions – from social media to ringing phones to demanding colleagues – that it can be easy to put your conscientiousness into tasks that are not worthy of your attention.

Learn to say “no” to unreasonable requests with authority and grace. By slowing down, you will become less harassed and more productive.

Narrow your focus. This is two-fold:

  1. 1. Making a resolution to be “more conscientious” lacks the specifics needed to achieve your goal. Setting yourself smaller goals – such as being punctual or keeping your desk organised – as steps towards increasing your conscientiousness increases your chances of success.
  2. Multitasking is a myth. Not only does it force you to keep switching your attention, but multitasking lowers your efficiency and increases your stress levels too. Focus on one challenge at a time to improve your productivity and the quality of your work.

Get organised. Consider how much time you could put into completing quality work if you didn’t waste it looking for files on your laptop or pulling all-nighters because you forgot about an assignment.

The heavier your workload, the more essential order is to conscientiousness.

Making your own schedule daily and then sticking to it goes hand-in-hand with being organised. Use the tools on your computer or smartphone to keep track of your to-do lists, remind you to back up your data, or tackle the most important tasks during your most productive time of the day.

Concentrate. Distractions make it harder to achieve your goals. By improving your ability to concentrate, you can lift the standard of your work and focus more clearly on your responsibilities. Try training your attention through meditation and mindfulness, and by improving your environment, nutrition, and mindset.

Bonus: Not only is conscientious about holding yourself accountable to meet your objectives, it’s also about your responsibilities to others and how you interact with them. Make the time to understand other people's needs and to put more thought into how you communicate.


Complete the quiz below.

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