Discussion Resources 

for book clubs, workshops, and other groups.


      The Achievement Habit illustrates how our self-image plays a critical role in how we deal with everyday situations, and how we can think and act in new ways. It tells stories, and presents a variety of exercises that show how to modify dysfunctional behaviors and relationships. Bernie's main goal is to assist the reader to achieve a more satisfying life. Here are some questions that will stimulate an interesting discussion:

1. Have you felt or acted any differently since reading this book. If yes, how have you changed? Summarize your biggest takeaways from this book.

2. Have you ever had an experience that speaks to the difference between trying and doing? If yes, what was it? In the movie Star Wars, Yoda says “Do or do not, there is no try.” Yet, the author says there is a try and there is a do, and they are both okay state to be in. Roth feels the only problem is when people think they are doing, and instead they are trying. Discuss the distinction between Yoda’s and Roth’s world views.

3. The book has built in exercises labeled with the heading Your Turn. One very useful way to experience this book is to do the exercises.  As a book group, each group member can take the role of facilitator for the “Your Turn” item that speaks to them most strongly.

4. The concepts in this book can be used to rethink almost every aspect of your life. Consider the following statements and use discussion of the chapters indicated alongside each statement to open new possibilities for yourselves:

  •  Your give everything its meaning (Chapter 1)
  • Reasons for your behavior are not functional (Chapter 2)
  • Reframing a problem is a good way to get unstuck (Chapter 3)
  •  Accept the invitation of these chapters and open your mind to new ways of thinking about familiar topics.


5. Use your group discussion to surface and develop your own capacities for organizing your life. For example, take the issue of working with other people. What are the issues that members of your group find when they deal with other people in their work life, their social life and their family life? In surfacing and discussing these issues, you'll learn much about the extent to which habit and unconscious behaviors influence what we do or do not do.

6. If you are a teacher or someone that leads groups you may wish to focus on the techniques of leadership presented in the various chapters. To raise some important issues, ask: How do you use the physical environment to support your work? How can an awareness of its importance assist you to use it more effectively?

7. What are the implications of mindfulness for your personal development? How can we become more mindful, and more skilled in its use?

8. For any of the following concepts that resonate with you: what does that concept mean to you? Have you ever had an experience related to that concept? Tell the group about your experience. Does your personal experience reinforce the author’s point?             

  • You give everything its meaning (Pages 18-20)
  • Make the familiar unfamiliar (26-30)
  • Reasons are bullshit (39-46)
  •  So what if the odds are against you (57-58; 120)
  •  The curse of networking (100-101)
  • Acting under pressure (114-118)
  • The gift of failure (121-122)
  • Context (137-138)
  • The hard conversations (145-146)
  • Giving constructive criticism (154-156);
  • Learning from the death of friends (209-214)
  • Life as chance (219-223)
  • The blessing of work (226-230)
  • Motivation (250-253)
  • Be cause in the matter (253-257).