Saturday, March 17, 2012

Book Review: Change Anything

Change Anything: The New Science of Personal SuccessChange Anything: The New Science of Personal Success by Kerry Patterson
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

As the subtitle suggests, Change Anything is about applying what we know from science to changing things we're unhappy with in life. The case studies pointed to emphasize certain areas of life that people commonly want to change--getting ahead at work, diet/fitness/weight loss, substance abuse, personal and professional relationships--but the real idea is to get to the underlying forces that help us to change, well, anything. Although willpower and building it are a part of the book, willpower is far from the central concern. In fact, they talk about "the willpower trap," believing that our failures to change come primarily from weakness of will. In fact, what's central to all of the successful change talked about in the book is making decisions to alter one's environment to achieve the desired outcomes. It is the people, places, and things that surround us that have the greatest impact on our behaviors and habits--and our ability to change them.

Not only does Patterson bring together a number of things that we've learned from science (and I should add that most of this isn't really new--you may very well, as I did, find quite a few of the studies and insights familiar. But Patterson does do a good job of bringing them all together and offering examples of how people have applied these principles to making changes in their own lives.

Science finds its way in not only through the research, but also in the overall approach--Patterson stresses that while we use these insights to craft a change plan, that we may very well encounter failure initially. Much like a scientist forming a hypothesis, we make our best effort to match the insights of the book to our own lives and needs, but failure just means we need to go back to the drawing board and that we've learned about something that didn't work.

For better and or worse, the book is an entryway to a website, so that besides offering you what information it does, you also have the opportunity to tap into a community of people and some on-line tools to help in your own changes. Of course, the site is only free for the first month, so it may be worth weighing the costs and benefits of taking advantage of that particular service.

Regardless, Change Anything has a lot of good material in it and should be a go-to for anyone looking to make change or to help facilitate change in others.

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