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If you are hoping to improve your career development and become more successful at what you do each day, you may wish to consider doing a little extra homework. Many business blogs, professional development newsletters, books, and even free podcasts address the topic of increasing personal effectiveness.

A recent free podcast from the Harvard Business Review blog featured Heidi Grant Halvorson, a research psychologist who wrote Nine Things Successful People Do Differently. Her new e-book, based on the highlights of decades of research into motivational psychology, outlines easy personal effectiveness tips and motivational strategies. Improving your career development is easy with Halvorson’s straightforward ideas in both her book and her interview, a few of which are summarized below:

3 Career Development Tips

1. Be Realistic

You will have better performance if you focus on getting better at something rather than being perfect at something from the beginning. The ideas of gradual progress and developing skills over time are important to successful performance. Research shows that those expecting perfection perform difficult tasks far less successfully that those with a more realistic attitude. Indeed, unrealistic optimism can actually hinder success.

2. Be Persistent

All human skills can be learned. In order to learn or develop a skill, such as leadership, self-control, or creativity, you must persistently work to change your mindset and your habits over time. If you are persistent and expect a learning curve over the long term, then you can develop and strengthen new intelligences in a similar way that you can exercise your muscles.

3. Make a Plan

The best way to succeed at reaching your goals is to think realistically and have a specific plan in place for the problems you might face. If your goal is to lose ten pounds, then it can actually backfire to think, “I will not eat donuts in the breakroom.” Instead, you are more likely to succeed if you think something along the lines of, “If I am hungry at work I will eat a banana, a handful of popcorn, or some mixed nuts” (or whatever healthy snack you prefer).

Implementing these basic psychology-based career development ideas into your life could make a big difference in whether or not you succeed at your goals. Instead of listening to the latest trend, try these principles backed by many years of research about the human mind and human motivation.

Career Development Psychology 


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