“It’s so easy to mistake success for a one-time accomplishment,” says Peter. “But habits always creep back in. I realized that success is only measured by continual improvement. You’re going to have bad days, but you have to learn to ‘turn bad days into good data.’ The Six Sources of Influence and principles in Change Anything really work. I’m a living testament.” – Peter Dawson
After steadily, imperceptibly gaining weight following college, Peter Dawson of Springfield, Missouri, found himself nearly one hundred pounds overweight, and not happy. He reached out to a counselor at his local congregation to ask for advice. The counselor recommended Peter read the book Change Anything. So he did. And he was immediately struck with the idea that he could “be the scientist and the subject.” It was just what Peter needed to get started. After telling his wife about it and getting her on board to help, he set out to accomplish his goal: lose one hundred pounds within a year.
Peter started his change plan by selecting three vital behaviors that proved instrumental to his success:
1. Weigh himself each day
2. Log his calories each day
3. Identify his triggers
He incorporated the Six Sources of Influence to help him enact these behaviors, paying special attention to social and structural ability. “I learned pretty quickly that people overestimate the effect of what they’re doing and underestimate all the outside influences,” he says.
For example, Peter put unhealthy snacks far out of reach, and tacked up signs such as”Don’t eat after 8″ and “Do you really want to eat this?” He learned the different between hunger and boredom, posted a number of motivational notes in strategic locations, and used the
motivation from his wife and coworkers as backup support.
After working steadily on his three vital behaviors every day, Peter did indeed lose one hundred pounds. And it didn’t even take a year. It took nine months. What’s more, he’s kept the weight off now for three years.
People often ask him what’s made the biggest difference. “It’s not about willpower, it’s about skill power,” says Peter, quoting the book. “I was amazed at how small some of these skills were. Really small things-like the size of your plate-do add up and make a big difference.”