Highlights from Book Succeed - How We Can Reach Our Goals

In this post, I will share my highlights from the book Succeed : How We Can Reach Our Goals which I recently read.

We all have goals, but we don’t have an understanding of why we achieve some of them and fail on others. This book is about understanding how goals work, what tends to go wrong, and what you can do to reach your goals.

Know where you are going

  • Be Specific : Try to be specific about your goal as much as possible. “Lose five pounds” is better goal than “loss some weight”. Avoid saying I will do my best and know exactly what you want to achieve.
  • Make it hard : Make it hard to be challenging, but not impossible
  • Think why or what: Goals can be thought of in relatively abstract, why-am-I-doing-this terms or in more concrete, what-am-I-actually-doing terms. Think about your goals in why terms when you want to get energized, stay motivated or avoid temptations. Think about your goals in what terms when you are dealing with something particularly difficult, unfamiliar or anything that takes a long time to learn.
  • Think positive, but don’t under estimate: Think positively that you will succeed, but don’t underestimate how difficult it could be reach your goal
  • Use mental contrasting: Think about both wonderful things that will happen if you succeed and the obstacles that stand in your way. This process of mental contrasting will help you to make a good decision about whether or not to adopt the goal.
  • Growth vs Fixed mindset : Fixed mindset people overly concerned with receiving validation, proving that they are smart (at least not stupid), while growth mindset people uses every opportunity to learn and improve them.
  • Use triggers to tap your unconscious: To keep yourself motivated, fill your environment with reminders and triggers that will keep your unconscious mind working toward your goal, even when your conscious mind is distracted by other things.

Goals that keep you motivated

  • Be good or get better? The motivation for your goal may be about proving yourself being good or about improving yourself getting better.
  • Be good to perform well: Wanting to be good is very motivating and can lead to excellent performance, provided that things don’t get too difficult. Unfortunately, when the road gets rocky, people who are focused on proving themselves tend to conclude that they don’t have what it takes—and give up way too soon.
  • Get better to improve performance: People who pursue growth often turn in the best performance because they are far more resilient in the face of challenges.
  • Get better to enjoy the ride: When your goal is to get better rather than to be good, you tend to enjoy what you’re doing more. In other words, you appreciate the journey as much as the destination.
  • Get better to fight depression: People whose goals are more about self-growth than they are about self-validation deal with depression and anxiety in more productive ways. Feeling bad makes them get up and take action to solve their problems, rather than just lie around and feel sorry for them-selves.

The bottom line is, whenever possible, try to turn your goals from being good to getting better

Goals that can make us happy

  • Three basic human needs: Not all goals will bring you lasting happiness and well-being, even if you are successful in reaching them. The ones that will are those that satisfy your basic human needs for relatedness, competence, and autonomy.
  • Relatedness strengthens your relationships: You satisfy your need for relatedness by pursuing goals that are about creating and strengthening relationships, or giving to your community.
  • Competence develops new skills: You satisfy your need for competence by pursuing goals that are about personal growth, learning from your experience, and developing new skills.
  • Autonomy reflects your passions: You satisfy your need for autonomy by pursuing goals that you choose to pursue, because you find them interesting and enjoyable, or because they reflect your own nature and core values.
  • All that glitters isn’t gold: Goals that are all about obtaining external validation of self-worth – like being popular, famous or rich – not only won’t make you truly happy, but will actively diminish your sense of well-being. by interfering with the pursuit of goals that will really benefit you.
  • Intrinsic motivation lights the biggest fire: Goals that are freely chosen create intrinsic motivation that leads to greater enjoyment, longer persistence, enhanced creativity and better performance. This motivation is destroyed by anything we experience as controlling – including rewards, punishments, deadlines and excessive monitoring.
  • Autonomy fuels motivation: Intrinsic motivation can be protected or even restored when we perceive our environment as autonomy-supportive. When we feel our inner experience is acknowledged and we are offered choices, even trivial or illusory choices, our need for autonomy is satisfied and our motivation and well-being are enhanced.

Greatest achievement comes from the goals we ultimately feel to be our own.

Choosing right goals

  • For easy tasks, choose be-good goals. Focus on demonstrating your ability and on what you have to gain
  • For hard tasks, think in big-picture (why?) and choose prevention goals (think what you could lose if you fail )
  • When you are tempted, think about your goal in why terms and choose loss-focused prevention goals. Both of these strategies will help you to resist even the most powerful temptations.
  • When you need speed, choose gain focused promotion goals (benefits I would get when I achieve it)
  • When you need accuracy, choose prevention goals
  • When you want to be creative, choose promotion goals. Also Feelings of autonomy fuels creativity.
  • When you want to have fun, choose getting-better goals along with self-chosen autonomous goals
  • When you want real happiness, choose goals that satisfy the basic need for relatedness, competence and autonomy - Avoid focusing too much on fame, prestige and wealth.

Make a plan

  • Writing down specifics of what will you do, when and where to do it provides far more chance for actually doing it than a general high level goal.
  • Make a if-then plan and target obstacles: This will allow you to make the best possible decisions well in advance, keeping you on track to succeed no matter what comes your way.

Conquer the Goal Saboteurs

  • Seize the moment : Achieving your goal means grabbing hold of all opportunities before they slip through your fingers.
  • Put your shields up: Goals require protection – distractions, temptations, and competing goals can steal your attention and your energy, and sap your motivation.
  • Know how you are doing: Achieving a goal also requires careful monitoring. If you don’t know how well you are doing, you can’t adjust your behavior or your strategies accordingly. Check your progress frequently.

Keep it real and avoid unrealistic optimism

  • Sometimes optimism is dangerous: After a setback, optimists are more likely to try to make themselves feel better, rather than figure out how they could do better next time around.
  • Know the unrealistic optimism: Unrealistic optimism is a confidence in things you can’t actually control – like a fixed ability, fate, or luck. If you believe you will succeed because you are naturally smart, or lucky, or that you have “star quality” you are just asking for trouble.
  • Keep it real: Realistic optimism is confidence in things you can actually control. It’s believing that you will succeed because you will make success happen, by putting effort, staying motivated and using the right strategies.
  • Don’t visualize success: Instead, visualize the steps you will take in order to succeed. That will make you better prepared for the task ahead.

Keeping perseverance and knowing when to walk away

  • Grit - People willing to make commitments to long-term goals and be persistent in the face of difficulty, are far more likely to be successful than those who are less gritty
  • Blame your effort, not your ability: Effort, planning, persistence and good strategies are what it really takes to succeed.
  • When to walk away: It’s important to recognize that you have only so much time and energy at your disposal to achieve your goals and sometimes that means somethings got to give. Don’t be afraid to abandon a goal when achieving it becomes practically impossible
  • Out with the old, in with new one: Knowing when to give up a goal that is just too difficult, or too costly to attain is an essential part of being a healthy, satisfied person. To make the process not only easier but even more rewarding, be sure to replace your old goal wit new one. This will enable you to maintain your sense of engagement and purpose, and to keep moving forward with your life.

Getting the Feedback

  • Praise should seem sincere: In order for praise to enhance, rather than undermine motivation, it has to be seen as sincere. Praise that is too effusive, too general, or too frequently given is likely to seen disingenuous.
  • Praise what they do, not what they are: Praise should emphasize behaviors that are under the recipient’s control. Highlight hard work, good strategy use, determination, and persistence rather than praising abilities that are seen as fixed or innate.
  • Avoid comparing to others: Avoid praise that explicitly compares to their peers. Instead, compare their performance to their own past performance, in order to emphasize the value of improvement and keep the focus on getting better.
  • They should not be doing it for the praise: Don’t allow praise and rewards to undermine autonomy – acknowledging the recipients’ own choices and feelings will keep them focused on the task for its own sake, protecting their powerful intrinsic motivation to succeed.
  • Keep it real: Praise & criticism should always convey realistic, attainable standards and expectations. Be careful not to let exuberant language (“You can be the best ever!”) create an atmosphere where they feel too much pressure to be perfect.
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