Saturday, October 13, 2012

"Change Anything: The New Science of Personal Success" by Kerry Patterson, Joseph Grenny, David Maxfield, Ron McMillan, Al Switzler

262 pages

Why do 95% of diet attempts fail? Why do New Year's Resolutions rarely last more than a few weeks or even days? Why is it just so hard to change bad habits? This book attempts to answer those questions and, more importantly, teach readers how to use the brain chemistry that creates bad habits to make good ones instead. The authors present six "sources of influence"--personal motivation (what we want and why); personal ability (our natural strengths and weaknesses); social motivation (how others' beliefs influence us); social ability (how the things other people do affect us); structural motivation (how things motivate us); and structural ability (how our environment affects us). There are strategies for putting each of these sources of influence to work to create good habits instead of bad ones. 

I am usually skeptical of this kind of book, but I really got a lot of out this one. I even took some notes from it before returning it to the library. I like that it focuses on changing the way we react to our natural tendencies and things outside of our control instead of completely avoiding them altogether. It's a much more realistic approach. There are some things in here that I already knew, but I like the way they are phrased. For instance, every self-help book says not to beat yourself up for setbacks. This book says the same thing in a different way: "Turn bad moments into good data." The authors explain that without mistakes we would have nothing to learn from, and when we examine the slip-ups and learn from them, we are even better off than before we messed up. When you look at it that way, it makes mistakes seem almost helpful without accepting the behavior as a whole. There are lots of examples of these strategies being used for many specific aspects of life, such as weight loss, career improvement, friendship, etc. My only complaint is that there is more cheesiness than I like, though much less than most of the similar books I've read. Overall, though, this is a clear, well-organized book that gave me some motivation to take charge of my habits and routines. 

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