Developing habits, part 2

Earlier this month, I stated I was reviewing habits that I would like to develop.  Over the past few days, I have been reviewing what habits/virtues that I deem appropriate for cultivating.   I used several sources for evaluating various virtues, including Ayn Rand's virtues in Virtue of Selfishness (VOS), Stephen Covey's 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, Steve Pavlina Personal Development for Smart People, Branden's 6 Pillars of Self-Esteem (as much as I hate the guy, he did write some useful things on developing habits), and The Virtues Project (which mostly helped me review a list of virtues that I may have forgotten).

In compiling and organizing this list, I tried to develop a hierarchy of virtues, with four major virtues, Rationality, Productivity, Integrity, and Justice, and lower level virtues that best capture the totality of the top virtue.  While this does not perfectly match Ayn Rand's conception, my goal was to put this in my own terms.  However, her influence is readily apparent.  For each, I considered habits in developing of ideas, habits with staying true to ideas, and habits applying ideas consistently.  I tried to stop at thirteen virtues, so that I could use these virtues similar to Ben Franklin did (as I described  in my last post on developing habits).  Because of that, I'm sure this list is not comprehensive, but serves as a practical starting point.

So without further ado, here is my list along with a brief explanation of each.

Rationality - applying reason to all my thinking

  • Living Consciously:  Applying my focus and mental awareness to all situations. 
  • Independence:  Verifying all ideas in my mind with first hand research and thinking.  When multiple perspectives exist on a subject, I must independently evaluate each perspective to discover the truth of falsity of those perspectives using logic and the facts.
  • Honesty: adherence to the facts of reality. In this sense, honesty applies to both with myself and with others.  It includes having the courage to face difficulty, danger, pain, etc. without undo fear, particularly in being true to truth.
  • Self-confidence: being true to my own consciousness.  
Productiveness - consciously chosen pursuit of a productive career, in any line of rational endeavor, great or modest, on any level of ability.
  • Purposefulness: The systematic identification of goals and objectives to achieve.
  • Ambitiousness: The systematic pursuit of achievement and of constant improvement in respect to one’s goal.
  • Efficaciousness: The systematic pursuit of the knowledge and skills necessary to produce desired effects
  • Self-Discipline: the ability to get myself to take action regardless of my emotional state.
Integrity - loyalty to rational principles.  Never comprise on my morals.
  • Principled: the pursuit of living by principles.  In my case, I refer to this as the systematic identification of principles for optimal living.
  • Responsible: Strive to be accountable and respond rationally to principles consistently.
  • Moral ambitiousness: Always strive to be as moral as possible.  This includes discovering what my values and virtues are and pursuing them with all of my effort.  Ayn Rand described this as "pride", but it makes more sense in my own mind when I refer to it as moral ambitiousness.
  • Joyfulness: pursue joy in the little things so as to make the pursuit of the big things bearable.
Justice: Improve my judgment capabilities of others and apply that judgment consistently. I will "regard strangers as innocent until proved guilty, and grant them that initial good will in the name of their human potential. After that, [I will] judge them according to the moral character they have actualized." ~ Rand, VOS, "The Ethics of Emergencies".  My focus is on identifying and rewarding the good in people.


  1. I have thought about developing a similar list myself, but I wasn't sure how to go about it on a practical level. The fact that you've done this is quite inspiring.

    Now what specific habits are you going to implement to support these values?

    For my own self-interested reasons, that's what I really want to know :)

  2. Morgan,
    These are the habits I want to implement, not the values. But I plan on reviewing them regularly, ideally once a day. I would like to take 10 minutes every morning to look over the list, reflect on yesterday's successes and failures.