Effective: (adj.) successful in producing the desired results

We all have different goals in life. Different people have different aspirations, different beliefs, different hopes and different dreams. In this post I’m going to discuss the characteristics that help us live the life that we want and reach our goals, regardless of what that life is and what those goals are. While some of these characteristics might come easier to you than others, all of them can be trained. You can develop habits around them until they become second nature to you.

Below is a list of these characteristics, including a few habits that you can adopt to develop each characteristic.

1. Don’t get angry

Anger is never productive. Some people are foolish and think that anger drives them forward but it doesn't. Anger stabs at your heart and then your heart closes. You need your heart to be open.

Dealing with a difficult person? Staying calm under conflict helps you resolve that conflict faster rather than putting the person you’re in conflict with in a defensive mode. When people feel attacked they shut down.

Dealing with an unexpected crisis? (e.g. The server broke down. The kitchen is on fire. Important destination and your plane left without you.) Staying calm during a crisis helps you look for ways to solve it faster, as your mind will remain clear and logical. Anger, on the other hand, stops us from thinking clearly.

One of the best ways to get rid of anger, is to practice gratitude daily. Take a few minutes out of your day to acknowledge and appreciate all the positives in your life. Gratitude puts situations into perspective.

Another habit that help you get rid of anger is to avoid thinking that a person “should” or “ought to” act differently, and to avoid thinking that the circumstances or crisis is “unfair” to you. You have no control over other people’s behaviour nor do you have control over many life circumstances, but you do have control over your own actions and how you react. For example, instead of thinking of how you can change someone, think of how best it is for you to deal with that person. Remember, it’s not your job to change people.

2. Are focused

Highly effective people can focus on the task in hand. They live in the present moment. Whether they are playing with their kids or working on an assignment, they are able to tune into that moment, experience it, and live it. They give it all their attention.

Some people have higher ability to focus than others. It’s partly chemical in our brains, and partly habitual. For example an ADHD person is more likely to have trouble focusing on tasks that aren’t interesting to them, but they also have the tendency to become fully absorbed in tasks that are stimulating. We aren’t all born with the same ability to focus, but we can all improve it if we work on it.

Meditation has many benefits including improving the ability to focus and concentrate. It might be worthwhile to learn how to meditate starting at just 10 minutes a day and gradually increasing it. You can also try to the Pomodoro technique. For more tips on how to improve your focus, check out The science behind concentration and improved focus

3. Prioritize well

It goes without saying that to live the life you want and to reach your goals, you need to spend more time doing the things you want as well as the things that will help you reach your goals! Sounds simple, yet we always find ourselves wasting time on unproductive busywork.

Getting into the habit of separating the important from the urgent is one of the best ways to help you prioritize well. Knowing your priorities is the first step to spending more time there!

4. Are patient with a sense of urgency

This is a tricky one. People are often either patient and relaxed, or act with a sense of urgency. Few people combine both of these skills.

Myer Brigg’s (MBTI) personality types categorizes people into two preferences Judging and Perceiving. People with the Judging preference want things to be neat, orderly and established. The Perceiving preference wants things to be flexible and spontaneous. Judgers want things settled, Perceivers want things open-ended. We all use both Judging and Perceiving as we live our day-to-day life. The distinction is which way of life do we lean towards, and are more comfortable with.

If you lean towards the Judging then you are more likely to act with a sense of urgency. As you feel better when things are closed and done, and you can move on. On the other hand, if you lean towards the Perceiving preference, you are more likely to postpone decisions to see what other options are available. This allows you to be patient and wait for more information before taking an action.

Highly effective people know which way to act depending on the situation. If you have a Judging preference and like things closed and settled, you can train yourself to keep things open when it’s the best course of action. Try to reason it to yourself; point out to yourself the advantages of waiting for more information before taking an action. Your desire to finish things off might also come from not wanting to have to remember to do them later. If that’s you, try putting those items on your to-do list so you can take them off your mind in the meantime.

Similarly, if you have a Perceiving preference and tend to keep things open for too long, you can train yourself to act with more urgency and get things done faster when it’s the best course of action. You can work on getting more organized so you don’t miss out on important events and deadlines in your life.

5. Are smart

Not only do highly effective people tend to be smart, but they tend to stay smart. And the only way to do so is to keep learning always. This comes easy if you:

1- are interested in a variety of things
2- know that you don’t know

Realizing that what you think you know might be a myth, or that the skills you think you have can be expanded, will encourage you to look things up and continuously learn.

Also, the more you learn, the more you will be building and expanding your interests. And the more interests you have the more you will be learning. It’s a nice cycle!

6. Are open-minded

Keeping an open mind allows you to continuously improve. It allows you to learn from your experiences and change accordingly.

It is not the strongest or the most intelligent who will survive but those who can best manage change.

~Charles Darwin

Highly effective people are open to better ways of doing things, that’s how they stay effective! They are also open to automating what can be automated to reach their goals faster.

Again, just like all the other characteristics you can train yourself to be more open-minded by taking on new habits. Here’s a few that might work:

1- Listen more. Talk less. We learn new ideas when we seek to understand.
2- Avoid making snap judgements. Maybe there is more to it than meets the eye.
3- Look for new opportunities. This trains you to keep an open mind.

7. Have a healthy body

I believe that the greatest gift you can give your family and the world is a healthy you.

~ Joyce Meyer

A healthy body, just like a healthy mind, enables us to do things more effectively. I’m not suggesting you over obsess about it with complicated gym routines or supplements or following a vegan or atkin diet. Of course you can do these things if you’re into them, but all I’m suggesting is moderation and a healthy lifestyle.

1- Sleep well. Aim for 8 hours a day.
2- Drink plenty of water.
3- Exercise regularly. Try to do one activity daily. e.g. a long walk, a 15-min run, a 20-min gym workout.
4- Eat well. Roughly following the food pyramid is a good start.
5- Don’t smoke.
6- Drink moderately.

How do you stack up to these characteristics? Are you working to adopt any new habits? Share with us in the comments below.