Heidi Grant Halvorson has been instrumental in creating some of the leading research on developing effective habits and behavior change.

Heidi Grant Halvorson is a student of Carol Dweck’s and she has developed some of her own theories on how we are motivated, how we can adopt effective habits and change our behaviors for the better. She came out with an article that was originally published in the Harvard business review and it was on the topic of 9 things successful people do differently. She went back and did a lot of interviews, looked at research and pulled in a lot of information from a variety of different sources and tried to distill down nine things that successful people do differently from everybody else.

9 things

This is the Book that is written and published by Dr. Heidi Grant Halvorson

This article was posted on the Harvard business review website and I believe it’s still the most popular read article on the Harvard business review website. So then she took it to the next level and she made it into a very short book which is a very nice easy-to-read and I find well supported based on the research and her insight. One of the key things we need to think about is ‘What do you need to do?’ So we need to be thinking in terms of how we can take away these nine factors and apply them to your specific situation. They can help you with changing your behavior as well as changing the behavior of other people.

One of the things that she highlighted was ‘Get specific and try to be as specific as possible.’ There’s many reasons for that. One of the main reasons is that you get something that you can work towards and you know exactly when you have either met that target or not met the target.

So here’s an example. If you’re looking at how you want to lose weight and you set yourself a goal, being that I am going to lose weight. You haven’t specified exactly what that looks like. Do you want to lose 20 pounds? Do you want to lose 1 pound? From setting a goal of ‘I want to lose weight’, it’s very hard for you to gain feedback of whether or not you’re on track. Are you meeting your goals? Are you not meeting your goal? VS a more specific goal will be ‘I want to lose 5 pounds in 30 days.’ Now you’ve got something that’s measurable, you have a deadline and you can know whether or not you’re on track. 30 days divided by five and now you’ve got a target for where you should be losing weight on a smaller scale. It gives you an idea of whether or not you are going to hit the target and when you hit the target, which is something that you can celebrate. You know specifically that you set out that goal, you hit that target, and you succeeded versus ‘I want to lose weight’. That doesn’t necessarily give you anything to go from to let you know or give you feedback whether or not you’ve hit the target.


Set your goals and decide when and where you will take each action you want to take. Photo Credit: www.globerunner.org

When we’re thinking in terms of a farming situation and you want to encourage someone’s behavior to be safer around the equipment. That’s extremely general. You haven’t laid out what the specific elements that are required for them to be safer. It’s very subjective. Someone could feel that they are being safe around equipment when from someone else’s perspective, they are absolutely not being safe. So it’s not clear enough for providing direction for someone to apply it to the given situation versus ‘Every time you use the grinder, I want you to use your eye and hearing protection.’ That’s something very specific. That’s something that can be tracked. That’s something with an immediate feedback mechanism of whether or not someone is actually following it. They’re either wearing their protective eye wear and their hearing protection or they’re not. So that is something that you can reward as well as encourage when someone is not following the behavior.

Another key factor is that you have to seize the moment to act on your goals. So what you need to do is you need to take advantage of opportunities that present themselves so that someone has the ability to apply their tasks.


Check your progress frequently — weekly, or even daily, depending on the goal.

A good way to do this is to set up time frames if you’re thinking if terms of ‘You want to lose weight and you want to go to the gym’, what you need to do is you need to set aside time frames for when you should be going. Looking at going on a regular schedule, Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays, and making those times blocked off and ensuring that nothing else is going to have an impact on that. So that you’re using the opportunity that that day presents to work towards that goal. You’re making it smaller and you’re not setting yourself a goal that you want to lose 5 pounds and you’re not going to work out for 30 days and then what you’re going to do on day 29 is you’re going to work out for 12 hours. That’s not a very realistic goal. What you need to do is you need to break it up more and if the opportunity presents itself for you to get some exercise, take it. Once that time is gone, you can’t get back. The more opportunities that you seize on to take advantage of that, then you can build on that.

Also Read: Heidi’s Book on Nine Things Successful People Do Differently (Part 2) 

When thinking in terms of encouraging safe behavior on the farm, what you want to do is you want to have regular meetings that are talking about the safety requirements for you and your operation and for the employees and what you expect of them. Do that on a regular basis and set aside that time so that everyone knows that at that time, you are supposed to be having that meeting. Maybe it’s at the start of the day before people have gone off and have gone in their different directions, maybe it is at coffee break or it is at lunch break. But what you want to do is you want to set aside that time, make it consistent and don’t lose that opportunity when you have those people together to talk about things that are important for encouraging safer behavior.