Succeed - Heidi Halvorson PhD

Succeed - Heidi Halvorson PhD

 Video Book Summary

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Book Summary Notes 


“The important thing is that while achieving your goals is a bit more complicated than just doing “Three Things,” it’s not overly complicated, either." 

"In Part 1 of the book, “Get Ready,” I’ll talk about the key principles of goal-setting that seem to be universally true, whether you’re pursuing goals at work, in relationships, or for self-development."

"In Part 2, “Get Set,” you’ll learn about the different kinds of goals we set for ourselves, focusing on the few distinctions that seem to matter the most. I’ll show you how to choose the goal that will work best for you personally in your situation. And you’ll learn how to instill the most beneficial goals in your children, students, and employees." 

"In Part 3, “Go,” I’ll take you step by step through the most common reasons why we fail to reach our goals once we’ve started pursuing them. And you’ll learn effective, often simple and easy-to- implement strategies for avoiding these pitfalls in the future."

"In the last decade or two, social psychologists have come to know a lot about how goals work. Succeed is my attempt to take that knowledge out of the academic journals and handbooks and spread it around a bit more so that it can do some good.”

Want to Succeed? 

Focusing on setting the right, meaningful goals!

What should we know about goals before we set them?

What are the reasons we often fail and how can we overcome that?

This book is filled with studies and tactics to help us be successful in setting and reaching our goals..

Often when I speak to people from the YouTube channel they talk about not setting goals.. 

They are worried that setting goals blocks them in, causes them stress or makes them feel bad about themselves.. 

I have been there too!  But here is something I've learned.. 

Setting goals is a powerful internal motivator! 

Helping you achieve meaningful work with your like and feel accomplished.. 

The process doesn't have to be arbitrary, painful and zero sum as we might have experienced in the past..  

Success leaves clues and this book is full of them!


Self Control

“If you want more self-control, you can get more."  

"And you get more self-control the same way you get bigger muscles—you’ve got to give it regular workouts. Recent research has shown that engaging in daily activities such as exercising, keeping track of your finances or what you are eating—or even just remembering to sit up straight every time you think of it—can help you develop your overall self-control capacity.

"For example, in one study, students who were assigned to (and stuck to) a daily exercise program not only got physically healthier, but they also became more likely to wash dishes instead of leaving them in the sink, and less likely to impulsively spend money"

Want to achieve your goals?  Self control is the key..

When we set goals are promising ourselves to do some kind of work in the future!

  • Setting a health goal is going to require you to give up sweets and exercise..
  • Setting a business goal is going to mean working long hours doing high focus work.. 
  • Setting a relationship goal is going to mean being comfortable sharing emotions with a partner..

This work takes self control..

  • Of course we've all experienced setting a goal and not living up to our commitment!
  • This is not often because we decided we don't want to achieve the goal anymore..  More often it's that we've decided that we're not willing to do the work!

How do we make sure we will live up to our commitment?

Building our self control muscles! Which is actually easier than you think.. 

Instead of focusing all of our attention on the big goals we're trying to accomplish; spend time exercising self control on small things.

  • Wash the dishes
  • Exercise
  • Stand up straight
  • Make your bed

All of these small things flex your willpower muscles and make it easier for you to do the work towards your goals!

Possible but Difficult

“Edwin Locke and Gary Latham, two eminent organizational psychologists, have spent several decades studying the extraordinary effectiveness of setting specific and difficult goals."

"In more than one thousand studies conducted by researchers across the globe, they’ve found that goals that spell out exactly what needs to be accomplished, and that set the bar for achievement high, result in far superior performance than goals that are vague or that set the bar too low."

"And this is true regardless of whether the goal is something you adopt on your own, something you are assigned to complete, or something that you develop jointly with your parent, teacher, boss, or coworkers.”

“Of course, you shouldn’t set goals that are not realistic or are impossible to reach. Difficult but possible is the key. That’s because more difficult goals cause you to, often unconsciously, increase your effort, focus, and commitment to the goal; persist longer; and make better use of the most effective strategies.”

1000 Studies?!?  I guess we should set high goals.

Setting goals can be tricky..  Here is what we need to understand!

  • When we set goals that we don't think we can achieve we wont..  (That means don't set unreasonable expectations). 
  • When we set goals that are too easy we don't find them meaningful or challenging and we're unlikely to give them or all (or our anything). 
  • The sweet spot for setting goals is challenging but not impossible.. 

What kind of goals are you setting right now?

  • Are they small goals you could hit in your sleep?  Or are you setting them too large and they feel impossible?
  • Setting goals that are challenging enough that we're pushed out of our comfort zone but not so hard that we feel panicked to get them done takes practice!

Try this:

The number one goal I have right now is. 



Mine: Produce 50 more book videos by the end of the year.  (2 Books a week). 

This is difficult because it takes a lot of time!

But I have proven it possible for the last two weeks so I'm going to push forward..  


“Women who imagined that the path to weight loss would be easy lost an average of twenty- four pounds less than those who imagined themselves having a hard time resisting temptation." 

"Oettingen and her colleagues have found the same pattern when looking at students in search of high-paying jobs after college, at single individuals looking to form lasting romantic relationships, and at seniors recovering from hip replacement surgery."

"No matter who they are and what they are trying to do, we find that successful people not only have confidence that they will eventually succeed, but are equally confident that they will have a tough time getting there.”

Do you believe that you can accomplish you goal?

Turns out that having the confidence that you can achieve the goal is a MAIN INGREDIENT in actually achieving them.. 

  • Rub that up against the fact that we're going to set BIG and challenging goals..  That means we need to have self-confidence! (not small goals).
  • Remember: "we find that successful people not only have confidence that they will eventually succeed, but are equally confident that they will have a tough time getting there.”

Alright..  So we've set our big goals!  Now what?

  • Step 1: GAIN CONFIDENCE look at things you've accomplished in the past..  Have any of them been similar to this?  How did you accomplish them? 
  • Step 2: REALITY CHECK look at the obstacles in front of you..  Do you think they'll be easy to get through?  Are you willing to COMMIT to get through them?

Necessity to Act

“Then what is the best way to set goals so that you will reach them, without getting stuck daydreaming?"  

"The optimal strategy to use when setting a goal seems to be to think positively about how it will be when you achieve your goal, while thinking realistically about what it will take to get there.

"Oettingen refers to this as mental contrasting—first you imagine attaining your goal, and then you reflect on the obstacles that stand in the way." 

"If you want to get a high-paying job after college, start by imagining yourself accepting an offer at a top firm, and then think about what stands between you and that offer—namely, all the other really outstanding candidates that will be applying for jobs. Kind of makes you want to send out a lot of applications, doesn’t it? That’s called feeling the necessity to act—it’s a psychological state that is crucial for achieving a goal."

"Daydreaming about how great it will be to land that job or fall in love with that special someone you’ve had your eye on can be a lot of fun, but it won’t get you anywhere. Mental contrasting turns wishes and day-dreams into reality, by bringing into focus what you will need to do to make it happen.”

Have you ever felt super motivated to 'achieve a goal'?

Gabriele Ottingen says that it's likely you were thinking less about the positive outcome and more about the obstacles in the way!

  • Mental Contrasting is her technique inside of 'Rethinking Positive Thinking' for getting people to ACT on the goals they set..  
  • This is a very powerful motivator because when you see the obstacles it brings forth a feeling of needing to act vs being complacent..  
  • *Mix this with a little bit of confidence to overcome and you have a really powerful potion of goal attaining juice!

Try this now!  What obstacles are in your way?  Remember the goal you set before!





Mine: Produce 50 more book videos by the end of the year.  (2 Books a week). 

  • TIME is my biggest obstacle..  These videos take a lot of work and I have other commitments!  I will need to fight for every scrap of time.
  • FOCUS and ENERGY are big as well..  If I don't have good energy I won't be able to put together a good video..  I need to preserve energy and focus for this task. 

When we see the obstacles for what they are.. 

  • Not only are we motivated to act but we can act in a well thought out manner!  
  • Remember self control and willpower?  The best way to make sure you'll overcome obstacles is to play offense vs defense!
  • Don't wait until you come up against an obstacle to plan what you'll do!  Plan what you'll do before hand. 

Not All Goals

“As I mentioned earlier, not all goals lead to lasting feelings of true satisfaction and well-being, and that’s because not all goals satisfy our needs for relatedness, competence, and autonomy." 

"Which ones do? In general, goals that are about making, supporting, or strengthening relationships do. So do goals that focus on personal growth, physical health, or self-acceptance— addressing your shortcomings or, if they can’t be helped, simply coming to terms with them. Goals that have to do with contributing to your community or helping others also fulfill these needs.

"Here are the goals that aren’t going to help you achieve lasting well-being: becoming famous, seeking power over others, or polishing your public image. Any goal that is related to obtaining other people’s validation and approval or external signs of self-worth isn’t going to do it for you, either. Accumulating wealth for its own sake also won’t lead you to real happiness (this is not to say you shouldn’t care about money at all, just that being rich isn’t a sure ticket to a happy life).”

Not every goal is worth setting.. 

When we set goals..  How do we decide what to accomplish?  Turns out that's important.

  • Goals that are about material things, status or power are in general unfulfilling! 
  • Not to say that some of those things don't have importance..  But that they are best left as by-products of our true goals!
  • “There are boatloads of very successful, very unhappy people all around us. That’s because they have successfully pursued goals that don’t actually fulfill their basic needs as human beings—the needs for relatedness, competence, and autonomy."

Where are you focusing your energy?

  • Developing fame, wealth or beauty?
  • Developing relationships, personal growth and making a contribution?
  • “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. If you have goals like these in your life, it’s time to rid yourself of them.”
  • Additionally only one option is truly fulfilling..  And only one leads to the other!
  • People at a high level of personal growth, meaningful relationships and contribution have access to money, material and status..  But not often is it the other way around!

Let's look at our goals!  Here are some journalling questions to bring forth what you might want to truly achieve

  • What areas of your life or the lives of others do you feel compelled to improve?
  • Who in your life do you want a more meaningful connection too?
  • How do you see yourself..  (YOURSELF) in 3-5 years?

Better vs Good

“My favorite piece of advice by far for dealing with difficulty is to make sure you think about your goal in terms of getting better, rather than being good."  

"As you’ll recall from Chapter 3, when we are focused on personal growth and development, on making progress rather than on proving ourselves, we deal with difficulty far more gracefully."

"We tend to see setbacks as informative, rather than as signs of personal failure. We don’t worry as much about the likelihood of success because we know that even if we never do it perfectly, we will certainly improve. (And getting better is, after all, the goal.)”

Are you focused on growth or validation?

When we set goals where we care more about validation than personal growth we put ourselves in a tough situation.. 

  • When we focus on validation it necessitates that we aren't currently valid..  Leaving us feeling less than!
  • Often when this happens, and then we encounter obstacles..  Our minds want us to quit the game!  
  • They think if we can't win it's not worth playing.. 

But what's the other side?  How can we keep playing no matter if we're winning or not!

  • “If you focus on growth instead of validation, on making progress instead of proving yourself, you are less likely to get depressed because you won’t see setbacks and failures as reflecting your own self-worth." 
  • "And you are less likely to stay depressed, because feeling bad makes you want to work harder and keep striving. You get up off the couch, dust off the potato chip crumbs, and get busy getting better.”

Don't tie up your own self worth into goals..

  • Failure isn't failure it's a chance to learn!  A wonderful prize for playing the game. 
  • When we do fail?  (Which is certain) let's do our best to be compassionate to ourselves..  
  • Find where we've learned and get back on the horse ready for another lesson! 


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