April 2011
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TD Magazine

Can You Keep the Change?

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

April is upon us, and as life springs anew in many a flower bed and planter box, it's perhaps a good time to also consider some changes we'd like to make in our own lives. A time to reflect on how those New Year's resolutions from a few months ago are shaping up. What were those again anyway?

For anybody ready to introduce new good habits, break the negative ones, or just make a few general course corrections, Patterson et al (Crucial Conversations, Influencer) of VitalSmarts offer up a pretty accessible methodology. And although the book is based on research, much of the "science" piece of Change Anything is based largely on the observations and discoveries of the person who understands you best: you.


The book begins in fact by shattering some of the myths and assumptions we make regarding willpower and its importance in whether we can or cannot meet those personal finish lines. The authors then move directly into a how-to for being both your own scientist and subject. This first section focuses on A.J., a longtime smoker who has had enough of her old ways, and decides to dispense with cigarettes for good. She looks deeply into her smoke-enabling behaviors and discovers her crucial moments (times when she feels the need to light up). A.J. then creates vital behaviors, or rules to follow to help make kicking the habit more successful - a process of experimentation, trial-and-error, assumption testing, and adjustment.

Our hero then harnesses the "six sources of influence," which comprise the essence of the book and are explained in detail throughout part two. The final step in the process is to "turn bad days into good data." This is important since many times we are tempted to figuratively self-flagellate when we cave in to pressure or fail to follow our own rules. No need, says the guide. Continue to learn from the back-slides and make them a strategic part of your success plan.

In the final part of this quick read, the authors incorporate several examples of common hurdles, applying the material to individuals taking up career, weight loss, personal finance, addiction, and relationship change efforts. Change Anything works great on a personal level, and could also help trainers to assist employees looking to turn over a new leaf for better performance and a more successful work-life. I gladly give it three cups of French roast.

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