Book Review: Nine Things Successful People Do Differently

Have you ever wondered why some people are more successful than others? Do you have big dreams, great goals that you feel like you can never achieve? Author Heidi Grant Halvorson summarizes decades of psychological research on motivation and simplified the equation to success in her 2011 book, Nine Things Successful People Do Differently. Halvorson not only explains what you need to do to be successful, but also outlines how to put this knowledge into action. This book has significantly changed my life and encouraged me to reach higher and live a better more productive life. If you are ready to become the person you have always dreamed to be, I highly suggest you pick up a copy of this book and dive in today!

Halvorson’s book is divided into nine simple chapters, each containing an important lesson to learn:

  1. Get Specific
  2. Seize the moment to act on your goals
  3. Know exactly how far you have left to go
  4. Be a realistic optimist
  5. Focus on getting better, rather than being good
  6. Have grit
  7. Build your willpower muscle
  8. Don’t tempt fate
  9. Focus on what you will do, not what you won’t do


Her easy language and motivational power will intrigue you, enlighten you, and inspire you to get moving towards your goal. My favorite thing about her book is that it can be applicable to any goal you want to achieve. Unlike most self-help books that are specific to weight loss, business, relationships, or mental health, this book has the ability to reach out and inspire any journey towards achievement. The key to using this book successfully is to set your mind on one goal and apply each lesson to your specific desire.

I specifically applied this book towards my journey of weight loss. After gaining 40 pounds post-college and one year of unsuccessful attempts to lose the weight, I knew something was missing in my equation. I didn’t understand why I could not succeed in loosing weight when it is my job to help others lose weight. I had all of the scientific knowledge to succeed, but I lacked a concrete strategy to move me towards success.

After reading her book, I set specific goals and reflected on specific obstacles that may deter me from getting where I want to be. I employed strategic planning strategies like if-then thinking and monitoring my progress. I began to make “make success happen– through things like effort, careful planning, persistence, and choosing the right strategies.” I changed my internal conversations to focus on visualizing the steps I needed to take to lose the weight, rather than visualizing the end result of 40 pounds loss. I stopped thinking in black-and-white, and realized that it is okay to screw up. Losing weight became a journey of progress, and not perfection. I got “gritty” and resilient in the face of temporary set backs, and I constantly exercised my self-control. I focused more on what I will do to lose weight, like exercise and eat lots of protein, rather than what I won’t do, like not eat carbohydrate or skip workouts. I no longer felt deprived or overwhelmed with changing my negative behaviors. I felt prepared and ready to get myself skinny. As Halvorson sums up, success is not about ability, luck, or genetics, “it’s about making smart choices, using the right strategies, and taking action.”

I have lost 14 pounds since completing her book, which is the most weight I have ever lost in my life. I feel in control of my body and my decisions. I am taking the right actions and learning to recuperate when I take the wrong ones.

“Successful people set very specific goals and seize opportunities to act on them… They always know how far they have to go and stay focused on what still needs to be done. They believe they will succeed, but embrace the fact that success will not come easily. They remember that it’s about making progress, rather than doing everything perfectly right out of the gate. They believe they can develop their abilities through effort, which makes them gritty in the face of set backs and challenges. They build their willpower through frequent exercise, make plans for how to cope when willpower is low, and try not to put themselves in situations where temptations abound. They focus on what they will do, rather than what they wont do.

There is nothing they do that you can’t do too.”

You can, and you will be successful. With the right guidance, you can and will reach your goals. Read Nine Things Successful People Do Differently, and get moving on your journey towards success today!


One thought on “Book Review: Nine Things Successful People Do Differently

  1. This book seems like it provides methods to achieving our goals, or things we’ve set out to accomplish; thanks for putting up here and I’m going to have to check it out:)

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