Harvard Business Review: Nine Things Successful People Do Differently

In an article for the Harvard Business Review, Heidi Grant Halvorson writes:

Why have you been so successful in reaching some of your goals, but not others? If you aren’t sure, you are far from alone in your confusion. It turns out that even brilliant, highly accomplished people are pretty lousy when it comes to understanding why they succeed or fail. The intuitive answer — that you are born predisposed to certain talents and lacking in others — is really just one small piece of the puzzle. In fact, decades of research on achievement suggests that successful people reach their goals not simply because of who they are, but more often because of what they do.

The details of each item can be found here: Harvard Business Review.  I didn’t exerpt the entire article, because I don’t copy and paste people’s work. The nine items listed are as follows:

1. Get specific

My response: I’ve assumed that goals I’ve accomplished didn’t require specificity. Yet, now that I think of it, when I was specific (even down to the date of achievement) I got what I wanted. So I will go back to my list(s) and include details.

2. Seize the moment to act on your goals

My response: That is so correct. The years can fly by, especially in my case, when one doesn’t jump on the ball. Even acting on it a few minutes a day gets the goal(s) accomplished.

3. Know exactly how far you have left to go

My response: This is a great project management point: Where am I in achieving this goal(s)?

4. Be a realistic optimistic

My response: So I cannot be a billionaire and master of all domains? Dang. I’ll take off a few zeroes, that should do the trick. 🙂

5. Focus on getting better, rather than being good

My response: I don’t see myself as a perfectionist. Yet I do get into that mindset of “it has to be much much better than this” and as a result nothing will get started or finished.

6. Have grit

My response: I’m a wimp sometimes. Gotta work on that. 🙂

7. Build your willpower muscle

My response: Still wimpy.

8. Don’t tempt fate

My response: No! But I’m different! I’m not like everyone else. I’m special! The rules of reality don’t apply to me. 🙂

9. Focus on what you will do, not what you won’t do

My response: That is perfect. I think a lot of us spend too much time and mental energy on what (or who) we don’t like. I think the hardest thing to do is keep your mind engaged on the positive. Focusing too much on the negative drains your energy, drains your spirit, and then nothing gets done.

Harvard Business Review: http://blogs.hbr.org/cs/2011/02/nine_things_successful_people.html

Spring Cleaning

It’s coming! Time to clean out the cobwebs from our mental and emotional closets! 🙂


6 thoughts on “Harvard Business Review: Nine Things Successful People Do Differently”

  1. I feel remiss for not commenting on how grateful I was for this article the first time I read it here.

    So thank you for writing it, and for bringing the resources to our attention. 🙂

    GoldenAh: You are quite welcome, Rita. I’ll remember to try and find stuff like this in the future. 😀

  2. I like the list. One of the most self-defeating things I do is set a goal and then do nothing (or very little) to bring it to fruition. Arrrghh!!

    Where’s my wish fulfillment button!!!!! 😀

    It is not enough to have the idea/dream. Work, somtimes hard work, and discipline have to come into play.

    It’s not easy. I am still a work in progress!


    GoldenAh: I hear you! I think it’s perfectly acceptable to keep it to one big goal a year or within 6 months. Or two moderate sized goals to get done within 3-4 months, whichever makes you comfortable.

    I agree that the daily grind makes it hard to focus. I read some of Tim Ferriss’ 4 Hour Workweek and he has some good ideals for cutting out time wasters. I think I need to review that book again. ‘Cause no one procrastinates like me. I don’t want to see September-November come along and say, “Dang, I still didn’t do diddly-squat about so-and-so.” 🙂

  3. @GoldenAh- Thank you. I’m feeling much better.

    I am a chronic list-maker, but you’re right about doing the simple things first-staying on task is tough sometimes LOL! That’s something I have to keep working on.

  4. I’m not one for goal-setting, lol. In the past, I didn’t like it because 1) it felt limiting, and 2)I was afraid I wouldn’t meet the goal.

    But getting specific forces me to evaluate WHY I didn’t meet the goal, and hey, that scares me at times.

    Still, like you, Goldenah, when I think about it – the things I’ve accomplished were because I was specific about my goals.

    I like all 9 things, but #4 particularly resonates. Sometimes, the aggressive positivity concept pushed on those of us in the United States masks the requirement of “time, planning, effort, and persistence.” Stuff don’t happen solely due to your vision board and wishing it into existence!

    It also seems that the first 5 things listed drives the rest of the list.

    Great post!

    : Thank you, Daphne. I see what you’re saying: the first 5 items does drive the rest.

    Not only am I afraid of failure, I think I’m more nervous if I’ll get what I want. Sometimes that “prize” isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. It can be a two-sided coin.

    I’m going to keep my list to 2-3 core achievements, and a time frame of a few weeks for each in this year. I have a tendency to make too many lists, even though I know I don’t have the ability to multitask like a lot of people. I’m a one track minded kind of person, that’s the only way I can stay focused.

    I’m not going to knock The Secret, but I find that stuff (maybe anything New Age) to be off putting. I agree that we can only accomplish things through a near-laborious grind – day-in and day-out. I’m certain a degree of prayer and meditation works, but stuff gets done the mundane way – acting on it. 😀

  5. This is a really great list. I will be sure to to write these down and put them up where I can see them. Oh yeah, and your response to No. 8 made me laugh out loud! Sounds a whole lot like me 🙂

    GoldenAh: What kills me is when I look around and notice I have a ton of lists for things I keep reminding myself to do. I have to do the simple, easy ones right away, and keep a checklist for the big promises. 🙂

    Thanks for stopping by. And I’m glad to read (from your blog) that you are feeling better. 😀

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