How to Change Anything

I ran across VitalSmarts — a corporate training and research behemoth — when I was teaching a course on social marketing at Tufts University. Their book Influencer: The Power to Change Anything quickly made it onto my syllabus, as they detailed innovative strategies from across the globe that had successfully reduced HIV transmission in Thailand and reformed gang members in San Francisco.

Now they’ve turned their sights inward — after all, if we can reform society, shouldn’t we be able to change ourselves? In the recently-released Change Anything: The New Science of Personal Success, Kerry Patterson and his compatriots have created a roadmap for individuals to gain mastery over their weight, their careers, their exercise habits, their interpersonal relationships, and more.

This is a book you can put to immediate use at work. My top five takeaways:

1. Identify Crucial Moments
Sometimes you’ll finish a day and feel completely unproductive. You know you worked 8 or 9 or 10 hours — but what did you actually accomplish? Patterson and company encourage us to identify specific “crucial moments” where we may have gotten derailed. Perhaps it’s our obsessive e-mail checking (which can quickly lead to putting out random fires) or getting too caught up chasing an article citation online (when we could have simply asked a colleague). Noticing these moments is key to controlling them in the future.

2. Find the Right Team.
Some people truly want you to succeed, giving you sage advice and encouraging your efforts. And others may be dragging you down the path of extended coffeebreaks and carping about the boss (see my recent BNET article Are Your Friends at Work Holding You Back?). It can be a challenge, but you’ve got to cut the naysayers out of your life. We respond to our environment, and you don’t want them polluting yours.

Read the rest on the Huffington Post.

Dorie Clark is CEO of Clark Strategic Communications and the author of the Reinventing You (Harvard Business Review Press, 2013). She is a strategy consultant who has worked with clients including Google, the National Park Service, and Yale University. Listen to her podcasts or follow her on Twitter.