how to be successful

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Unspilled Beans
Say you have a goal—to lose your love handles, go to law school, pen the next Fifty Shades of Grey. Bravo! Now keep it to yourself. When others know your grand plans, especially when those plans have something to do with defining your social identity, you're much less likely to carry them out—so found a study led by psychologist Peter Gollwitzer at New York University. (After making their career plans public, volunteers showed less resolve to, say, study or seize an opportunity.) Problem is, once others know your goal, you get a premature sense of having accomplished it—and on a subconscious level, that reduces your drive. A better strategy, advises Gollwitzer, is to come up with a concrete "if then" plan. For instance, if your goal is to cut back on sweets, you might tell yourself "If my boyfriend orders dessert, then I'll order espresso"—a reward system that relies on an external cue, not on how others perceive you.