Change Anything: Book Review and Action Plan

I received a free copy of this book for review quite a while back. I’ve been meaning to post my review for over a month but kept procrastinating. Perhaps the habit I should change is procrastination.

The premise behind Change Anything: The New Science of Personal Success, is that by using science you can make it easier to change personal habits. The authors have studied what influences bad habits and give you strategies for helping to overcome them. In this review I will share some of their strategies and how I intend to apply them to help me lose weight.

The authors tell you to identify your crucial moments. These are the moments when you are most tempted to indulge in your bad behavior. For me I generally don’t have any problem eating right in the morning or the evening. When I eat bad it is usually in the afternoon. I need to be more active in the afternoon so I’m less tempted to eat junk food.

The next strategy is to create vital behaviors. These are rules that you create in advance so that you resist temptation during crucial moments. For example you could create a rule that if you were tempted to eat a pastry you would first eat a piece of fruit instead. A couple of the rules I have created are that I need to eat at least one fruit and vegetable a day and drink no more than two cans of Dr Pepper a day. Those are pretty modest goals but they are better than I do now.

The last strategy is to engage all six sources of influence. Their six sources of influence are: love what you hate, do what you can’t, turn accomplices into friends, invert the economy, and control your space.

For love what you hate I plan to eat more of the healthy foods that I do like. I have identified those healthy foods I like and will make sure that they are available to me. I also need to find a way to exercise in a way that I enjoy. I like running and hiking but that is not too enjoyable now because it is so hot. I need to find a way to make these enjoyable despite the heat.

Turning accomplices into friends should not be much of a problem. My wife supports my goal of losing weight and will help me reach the goal by preparing healthy meals and limiting the amount of junk food we buy.

Inverting the economy is something I tried before with my $500 weight loss challenge. The idea of inverting the economy is that it should cost you more to eat unhealthy than to eat healthy. The economy can be inverted both from incentives and loss aversion. I tried the loss aversion technique with my weight loss challenge but it didn’t work for me. I think the reason it didn’t work was because the goal wasn’t short term enough. I kept telling myself I had plenty of time to meet the goal until it was finally too late to reach the goal. This time I’m going to be setting a short term goal of losing one pound a week. To hold myself accountable I’m going to be sharing my weight each week. If I meet my goal I will reward myself (incentive) and if I don’t meet my goal it will cost me (loss aversion). I haven’t decided on what my specific incentive and loss aversion will be. I could do something similar to my weight loss challenge and pay the readers of this blog each time I fail to meet my goal. I am open to suggestions on both the incentive and the loss aversion.

For controlling my space I will be keeping junk food in the house to a minimum. I will also not do any fast food mystery shops unless I am receiving bonus pay. And I have looked over the nutritional facts of the fast food restaurants so I can choose the less unhealthy options on their menu.

I probably need to add a few more behaviors to reach my weight loss goal. I currently weigh 222.4 pounds and would like to get down to 170. At a rate of one pound a week it will be next year before I reach my goal but as long as I make steady progress I’ll be ok with how long it takes. My plan is to update my weight every Saturday. If you have any suggestions I’d be happy to hear them.

Although I wrote this review about using the book to help me lose weight the strategies in the book can be used to change many different behaviors. They can be used to help you stop smoking, get out of debt or to advance your career. Even with the use of these strategies it will still take work to change these behaviors these strategies just allow one to need a little less willpower to change their behavior.

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