You Can Change

Chapter 11 of the book Self-Help Stuff That Works

by Adam Khan

STANLEY SCHACHTER WAS PUZZLED. A researcher at Columbia University, Schachter was well versed on the studies of weight-loss and smoking-cessation programs. According to the research, only 10 to 30 percent of the people who participate in those programs are still slender or nonsmoking one year later. Ten to 30 percent. That isn't much.

These studies prompted some researchers and therapists to assert it's nearly impossible to stop smoking or control one's weight permanently.

What puzzled Schachter was that most of the people he knew who wanted to lose weight or quit smoking had somehow been able to do it successfully. He conducted some interviews of his colleagues and friends, and it confirmed his hunch: Those who had tried had succeeded.

He has now spent over twenty years doing research on this, and he has concluded that the key to success in changing long-standing habits is practice. According to his research, people who have successfully quit smoking have tried and failed a number of times before they finally succeeded. The same was true about losing weight. Apparently you have to learn how to keep the change, and after you learn how, it begins to become a new part of yourself that eventually requires very little active effort to maintain.

That's why the studies of weight-loss programs and stop-smoking studies look so bleak: Each is a study of only a single attempt. Schachter found that the more times you go through one of these programs, the more likely the change will be permanent.

So if you have tried to change and failed, try again. And keep trying. You can change...and you can learn how to keep the change. All you need is practice.

Keep persisting until the change you want happens.

For more information, check out our section on:
Making Changes Stick

Do you want to be strong? Would you like to remove a good portion of fear, shyness, and awkwardness from your life? Check out the chapter called:
Refuse to Flinch


Trying to get rid of negative thoughts? Think again! Learn how to do it here:
Think Positively Positively

An extremely important thing to keep in mind is that judging people will harm you. Learn here how to prevent yourself from making this all-too-human mistake:
Here Comes the Judge

The art of controlling the meanings you're making is an important skill to master. It will literally determine the quality of your life. Read more about it in:
Master the Art of Making Meaning

Here's a profound and life-changing way to gain the respect and the trust of others:
As Good As Gold

What if you already knew you ought to change and in what way? And what if that insight has made no difference so far? Here's how to make your insights make a difference:
From Hope to Change

next: The Neutralizer

APA Reference
Staff, H. (2008, October 30). You Can Change, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2024, July 13 from

Last Updated: March 30, 2016

Medically reviewed by Harry Croft, MD

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