Do you wish you were more effective in life? Maybe you’d like to achieve more at work? Or perhaps you’d like to be a more loving and devoted partner?

Whatever it is that you want to improve, you’ll only get there if you change yourself first. And the surest way to achieve lasting personal change is to develop better habits.

It’s true that we are creatures of habit. Not only how we act, but who we are, is, to a large extent, defined by our habits. But what are the habits that can help you more effective? Below, we outline just that.

– Be proactive. There aren’t enough hours in a day. If you’ve ever said or thought about this at any point in your daily grind, you’re not the only one! When we think about our responsibilities (spending time with loved ones, being a good employee, continuing your professional education, taking up hobbies, etc.), it can feel like 24 hours are, in fact, too little for each day. But they’re all we have! The key is to become extremely disciplined and manage our time well—something we’re all constantly learning to do.

– Always begin with and end in mind. When we begin with the end in mind, we have a personal direction to guide our daily activities, without which we will accomplish little toward our own goals. Beginning with the end in mind is part of the process of personal leadership, taking control of our own lives.

– Put first things first. Putting first things first means doing the most important things in life. It means being clear about your priorities and acting on them. That sounds pretty easy and intuitive, but many people fall into the trap of getting caught up in non-important things. They neglect the larger life priorities until it becomes too late to act on them.

– Think win-win. Win-win makes things cooperative instead of competitive because both parties are mutually benefited. A win-win attitude brings three key character traits including integrity, maturity and abundance mentality.

– Seek to understand first, then be understood. If you’re like most people, you probably seek first to be understood; you want to get your point across. And in doing so, you may ignore the other person completely, pretend that you’re listening, selectively hear only certain parts of the conversation or attentively focus on only the words being said, but miss the meaning entirely. So why does this happen? Because most people listen with the intent to reply, not to understand. Effective communication plays a major role in the success of any organisation. People normally spend too much time reading and writing but don’t give much attention to listening, which is undoubtedly the key factor.

– Synergizing. The basic principle of synergizing is that the whole is greater than the sum of its parts, that 2+2=5, that two people can come up with more than one person. The pursuit of synergy is practiced by most businesses in the world. The boardrooms are full of brainstorms about ways to collaborate more effectively. Cross-business teams are set up to develop key account plans, coordinate product development, and proliferate best practices.