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Succeed: How We Can Reach Our Goals Paperback – December 27, 2011
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From Publishers Weekly
Social psychologist Halvorson, a blogger for Psychology Today and assistant professor of psychology at Lehigh University, tackles attainment of goals in every area of life from relationships to sports. Extensively reviewing past studies on self-esteem, motivation, and pursuit of goals, Halvorson sidesteps conventional notions about achieving success, particularly the idea that one should imagine oneself achieving goals easily. She cites studies by psychologist Gabriele Oettingen showing that those who think the path is difficult invest more effort and work harder: for instance, "people who believed that getting a good job after college would be easy sent out fewer applications." The ideal, Halvorson says, is to think positively about achieving one's goals but to think realistically about the effort that will be required to achieve them. Halvorson then goes on to advise readers on how to set appropriate goals, avoid obstacles, and exercise self-control to stay on track. "Don't visualize success," she warns. "Instead visualize the steps you will take in order to succeed." Despite repetitious instructions, Halvorson makes academic studies palatable by writing with clarity and interspersing personal anecdotes along the way. Many will find her insights of value. (Dec. 23)
(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved. --This text refers to the Preloaded Digital Audio Player edition.
"A must-read."—Matthew Kelly, New York Times bestselling author of The Rhythm of Life
"Both brilliant and practical, entertaining and rigorous."—Edward Hallowell, M.D., author of Married to Distraction
"If you have goals, then you should read this book. If you manage others or are in a position to help others achieve their goals, then you have to read this book! It's filled with fascinating studies revealing the secrets of success."—Peter Bregman, CEO of Bregman Partners, Harvard Business Review blogger, and author of 18 Minutes: Find Your Focus, Master Distraction, and Get the Right Things Done
"Strategies people can utilize to help themselves achieve success."—CareerBuilder
"Halvorson makes academic studies palatable by writing with clarity and interspersing personal anecdotes along the way."—Publishers Weekly
Top customer reviews
It is science-based yet not dry.
The author puts a lot of effort trying to be engaging and she largely succeeds (pun intended).
Being based on science, this book does not offer the simple, clean-cut, one-size-fits-all solutions of many delusion-based self-help books, so most of the time the answer to a practical question raised in the book is "it depends" - immediately followed by a clear explanation of the key variables at play, which should make it very easy to any readers to plot their own course.
Here is a break-down of the chapters, I hope this is useful:
Chapter 1 - do you know where you are going?
About choosing an appropriate formulation for your goal ( "well formed"): being specific, making it hard, why vs. what frame, value vs. feasibility, chances of success vs. the road to get there, mental contrasting as a decision making tool for goal setting.
Chapter 2 - do you know where your goals are coming from?
About beliefs (fixed vs. growth mindset; see Carol Dweck's work) and about environmental triggers for goal pursuit
Chapter 3 - the goals that keep you moving forward.
An excellent explanation of be good (achievement, performance) vs. get better (progress, mastery) goals.
Chapter 4 - goals for optimists and goals for pessimists.
Promotion-focused (maximizing gains) vs. prevention-focused (avoiding loss) goals. A very important and extremely useful distinction, further articulated in terms of when to choose one or the other, how the distinction is linked to optimism / pessimism, motivation, feedback, risk-taking and inner needs. I think the book is worth buying for this chapter alone.
Chapter 5 - goals can make you happy.
How some goals are better than others because they nourish our essential needs of Relatedness, Competence and Autonomy (see Self-Determination theory). How internal goals are different from external goals and the important role played by intrinsic motivation in goal pursuits.
Chapter 6 - the right goals for you.
In this chapter the author recaps the ground covered so far but from the perspective of the user. In the previous chapters the author presented psychological research results and how they are relevant to goal setting. In this chapter the author starts from a specific need / situation (e.g. "when you can't seem to get going"; "when you need speed"; "when you want to be creative"...) and then matches the situation with the appropriate goal frame (e.g. in the 3 examples above, why & prevention goals, promotion goals, promotion & autonomous goals respectively).
Chapter 7 - the right goals for them.
The author shift gears, and this chapter is about assigning goals to others (vs. to oneself, the topic of the previous 6 chapters). The tips given center around leaving a sense of personal control, using the right triggers, using the right frame, making the goal contagious.
Chapter 8 - conquer the goal saboteurs.
This chapter is about seizing opportunities, knowing what to do, increasing monitoring and shielding your goal pursuit from distractions or competing goals.
Chapter 9 - make a simple plan.
This chapter is all about the virtues of the magical formulation "if... then...", i.e. "if I am in this situation, then I will take this action". Making such plans is the most effective strategy for goal pursuit. According to the author, if you take nothing else from the book, take at least this.
Chapter 10 -build the self-control muscle.
This chapter explains the concept of self-control as a muscle and useful strategy for goal pursuit based on this insight - namely, like any other muscle, strengthen it, rest it and compensate when tired. I am personally very critical of some formations of this analogy (e.g. the glucose explanation, see Why Everyone (Else) Is a Hypocrite: Evolution and the Modular Mind) and I think a better treatment of the topic is given in the book The Willpower Instinct: How Self-Control Works, Why It Matters, and What You Can Do To Get More of It by Kelly McGonigal. However it is true that this is not the main focus of Grant Halvorson.
Chapter 11 - keep it real.
This chapter further elaborates on the role of optimism in goal pursuit. Given the good press optimism gets in self-help books, the distinction made by the author in this chapter between realistic vs. unrealistic optimism is pure gold.
Chapter 12 - know when to hang on.
This chapter is about another key ingredient of goal pursuit: grit. That old-fashioned virtue of commitment to long term goals and persistence in the face of adversity. And no, long term does not mean tomorrow and adversity does not mean "twitter is down, OMG!" or "I do not have the latest iPhone".
Chapter 13 - give the right feedback.
Frankly the least interesting chapter of the book, at least for me. The good part though was the author presenting the "5 rules of positive feedback" by Henderlong and Lepper. It is research-based and it is a useful checklist for anyone tasked with giving feedback to others.
Overall a great book, an essential reference for anyone (coaches, executives, consultants) involved in developing leaders, and a useful treasure throve of good tips for anyone engaged in goal pursuit.
It includes self tests so the reader can see how they fit into the type of thinker she is discussing. This really helps to personalize what she is writing about. The summaries at the end of the chapter help to outline how to put what she is teaching into action.
The first time I listened to the book on audible I thought it was good but just didn't really appreciate all she was telling me. I listened to it again about a year later and realized she was filling in the gaps in all the books I had been reading. I bought the Kindle book to go along with the audible because it really is that important to understand the concepts she discusses.
This should be a must read for anyone who needs to get motivated or needs to motivate someone else. We are not all the same and subtle differences can make all the difference.
In "Succeed," Dr. Halvorson applies real science to the real goals and struggles we all face: losing weight, building better relationships, getting a raise, strengthening willpower, and even just getting up from the couch on those days we feel stuck. Whether one wants to get out of a lousy rut in life or go further faster, "Succeed" presents a comprehensive, step-by-step, scientifically-sound "toolkit" for success.
Using examples from her own life as a working professional, wife, and mother, Dr. Halvorson describes the best ways to frame our goals, plan for success, and put those plans into action - and that includes dealing with moments when we fall down along the way. Piles of scientific studies reveal that HOW we pursue our goals powerfully influences how likely we are to be successful, and many of the most effective methods are genuinely surprising. In "Succeed," Dr. Halvorson takes those studies from the laboratory to life.
All along, Dr. Halvorson's writing is engaging, down-to-earth, and often humorous. I found "Succeed" engaging and enjoyable, and have a feeling it came as much from the heart as from the mind. There's no useless nonsense here about "picturing yourself thin" or asking "the universe" to give you that raise. Instead, Dr. Halvorson has crafted a true, realistic guidebook for boosting motivation, achieving goals, and personal growth. "Succeed" is an absolute success, and I hope we see more from this talented scientist and writer.
Most recent customer reviews
-Use IF-THEN plans to control yourself; I've got very fast results; IF cue("It's 2 o'clock etc.Read more