Do These 3 Things Differently, and Be a Success

What makes people who achieve their dreams from the rest of us? It's not just having a knack for making money or a talent for knowing what people want. It's a knack for doing a few things just a little bit differently than everyone else.

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Dr. Heidi Grant Halvorson, associate director for the Motivation Science Center at the Columbia University Business School, has written a book on the subject. Called Nine Things Successful People Do Differently, it explains why successful people reach their goals when others fail.

On Harvard Business Review's Blog Network, Halvorson gives an overview of the things we can all do differently to be more successful, including:

1. Be specific.

"'Lose 5 pounds' is a better goal than 'lose some weight,' because it gives you a clear idea of what success looks like," she writes. "Knowing exactly what you want to achieve keeps you motivated until you get there."

2. Be a (realistic) optimist.

Imagine the best possible outcome, but don't forget that success comes from hard work and planning. For instance, if you're going on a job interview, using positive imaging is just one of many tools you could use to get the job -- but it's not substitute for researching the employer and the job, and practicing interview questions. In any case, it'll be easier to project self-confidence if you've done your homework.

3. Be active.

Think about your goals in positive terms (e.g. asking for a raise, applying to X jobs a day), not negative ones (e.g. stop procrastinating, waking up late, etc.) It's easier to add a new habit than it is to break an old one, and arranging your goals around what you won't do sets you up for failure.

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