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How Can You Change Your Personality?

#personaldevelopment Mar 22, 2024

Your personality, usually described as how you think, feel, and behave, and stemming from a combination of nature vs. nurture,  remains largely consistent throughout life. However, when you break it down into its component parts, change IS possible, and it takes a combination of self-awareness, reflection, intention, attention, and discipline.  Yes, that’s a lot; however, taking small steps can lead to significant change over time.

There are five components to personality, and each of them has some opportunity for adjustment.

Openness, also called originality, is the degree to which you are curious, open to new ideas and learning vs. attentive to detail and resistant to change.  The growth mindset rests on this trait.

Conscientiousness, also called consolidation, is the degree to which you are organized, disciplined, attentive to detail and follow through vs. being flexible and spontaneous.  Research has suggested that this is the #1 personality trait related to longevity.

Extraversion, the degree to which you seek adventure and social interaction vs. being quiet and reflective, preferring to work independently.

Agreeableness, also called accommodation, is the degree to which you are cooperative vs. competitive, how open you are to differences, how you deal with conflict, and how well you get along with others.

Neuroticism, or the need for stability and control, is the degree to which you respond to stress, ranging from cool and resilient to alert with a high sense of urgency.

Each of these traits is comprised of sub-traits and can be measured via an assessment known as The Workplace Big 5. (If you have an interest in better understanding how you may score in these areas, let’s talk). As an extensive user of diagnostic tools like this one, my belief is that there are no bad scores; the benefit is in the self-awareness, because that is the first step to making lasting change.

With awareness of where you may fall on the spectrum for each of these traits, you can be more attentive to how they show up and create an intention to change your behavior in a given situation.  For example, if you are an introvert, it doesn’t mean you are not social with people in certain circumstances, even if that means moving beyond your comfort zone. That is just one example of how change is possible.

When it comes to agreeableness, we know that with education and training, our sensitivity to individual differences increases, and we can learn to better understand and even value all kinds of diversity. We can, for example, be more conscious of learning to listen, taking turns in conversation, and creating a sense of inclusion and belonging among team members. It takes attention and intention.

One of my mentors taught me that only two things create change in your life: either something (or someone) new comes into your life, or something new comes out of you. While I think this is brilliantly simple (and I love simple!), I recognize the work involved in creating change and personal transformation.  I’ve been working on it diligently for most of my adult life.

So, what about you? What is your level of self-awareness about your own personality? How have you changed over time? What aspects would you consider changing?  These are some great questions to reflect on, maybe journal about…

And, as always, if you need some help or direction in making changes, let’s talk.  I can offer tools and scientifically proven systems that work, and I’d love to help.


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