CHANGE: A Simple Formula for the Life You WANT

change, success, New Year 2022, New year Resolutions, goals, Kristen Lamb

‘Change’ is a pretty big buzzword about this time of year. New year, new me and all that jazz. How many of us, year after year after year make lists, draft resolutions, and vow THIS time we’ll not only change, but change for good, but….

*insert sound of deflating balloon here*

There are many reasons why we might not be getting the results we want. Maybe we are trying to alter the external symptoms instead of searching for the internal causation. Perhaps we are trying to change and we aren’t the actual problem. We might be taking on too much too quickly.

Yada yada yada…every New Year’s post ever. Right?

I hope not. I’d like to (hopefully) take a different approach. What does change really mean? Let’s look to the word.

C-Catalysts are Necessary for CHANGE

change, success, New Year 2022, New year Resolutions, goals, Kristen Lamb

I get most of you have probably slept since Chemistry class, but this is simple enough. If I’m in a lab, and I want to change one substance into a different substance, then what is one necessary ingredient?

A catalyst.

I must add in another ingredient that shakes things up, that forces one or more elements to give up, add, share, or exchange electrons. The catalyst fundamentally alters the original substance and a byproduct of all this change is—drum roll—HEAT.

What can we take from this? Well, 2020 was a Dumpster fire and 2021 wasn’t that much better. Why did we moan and groan? CHANGE.

And trust me, most of us FELT the HEAT.

Yet, how did a string of seriously inconvenient/terrifying/world-altering events change us for the better?

Maybe we learned patience, how to be kinder, the importance of self-care. We might have become keenly aware of just how much we’d taken for granted (family, concerts, travel, dining out, shopping, going to a workplace with real, living people).

All great changes that never would have happened without a catalyst.

H-Help is Available

How many times do we try to change but we try to do it on our own? We are embarrassed, ashamed, or maybe just underestimate our own abilities. Hey, I am as guilty as anyone.

I used to LIVE in the gym…then COVID happened and my gym shut down for months. THEN, I went to a specialist and found out I had Hashimoto’s Disease. I eat crazy healthy because of all my food allergies. But, between stress, illness, numerous deaths, being sedentary, and my regular doctors ignoring a serious thyroid issue? I put on weight.

Aaaand that is why I go to the gym when no one is there.

It’s silly. I KNOW. But I’m too embarrassed to attend my old group classes or go to a trainer because I’m ashamed. In this instance? HELP would probably be a good thing.

However, if I can’t set aside my ego and ask? I’ll make reaching my goal of not having to live in yoga pants forever much harder to reach.

A-Action Matters

Some people say starting is the hardest part. True. When it comes to a LOT of things, I say FINISHING is the hardest part. Yet, when applied to how we live our lives? We won’t be ‘finished’ until we’re dead.

So starting it is!

Too many people underestimate the power of small actions every day, day after day, week after week, month after month.

We all want the HUGE change. I mean, I don’t get it. Most of the time, as I mentioned, I eat ridiculously healthy. But I have two pieces of pizza and it feels like I grow an extra @$$ overnight. Go four days eating holiday food and it is a HUGE difference. So why shouldn’t eating four days super healthy be the same?

It isn’t. We all know it doesn’t work this way, and yes I am bitter about it.

But it is what it is. Instead of fixating on an entire lifestyle overhaul, pick a handful of actions that would get you where you want to be…then do that over and over and over.

Wanna lose weight? Drink water, get to bed at a reasonable time, set a timer and move throughout the day, etc.

When I was pregnant, I did two-a-days the entire 10 months. I swam a mile in the morning, then did weights in the evening with Hubby. How did I do this? I told myself all I HAD to do was walk into the gym and do FIVE minutes. If, after FIVE minutes, I felt ill, weak, tired, horrible (which when you’re pregnant is legit), then I could leave.

In all ten months I only left TWICE.

Instead of setting a goal to work out three days a week, try setting a goal of just checking into the gym three days a week. Why? Because once you’ve gone that far, usually you’ll at least do SOMETHING, which is better than nothing.

Same with writing. Set a goal of 250 words. That is A page. Once you finish 250? If you have to go? Go. But do this day after day and soon you’ll have a first draft and then a novel.

N-Nerve Can be a GOOD Thing

Nerve can be defined as, “the power of endurance or control.” Obviously, this is critical for generating and maintaining change. Yet, nerve also has a negative connotation that means to be presumptuous, to have the audacity or gall to do X.

I grew up in a rather toxic family, and I imagine I’m not alone in that. Did you have members of your family who shamed you for wanting, for dreaming, for daring to forget your place? ‘Friends,’ colleagues, acquaintances who mocked, undermined or sabotaged you for wanting to do something different or to dream big?

Those negative messages can feel all but impossible to erase.

For example, I was largely reared by my Great Depression grandparents. In ways, this was great because I am frugal, I save, I’m an excellent money manager. But, at the same time? I deprive myself and feel guilty for taking a break, a vacation and GOD FORBID…buying myself something nice.

TRUE STORY About CHANGE

My grandfather helped me buy a used Mazda for college. Back in the 90s, however, there were no Lemon Laws and you really had no way of properly vetting a car. My grandfather had a unique talent for picking the biggest lemon on the lot.

I spent thousands of dollars on repairs, and even learned to do many repairs myself because poverty is the mother of innovation. Finally, I was tired of going to school full-time and working two jobs only to have most of my income go to yet ANOTHER stupid car repair.

By some stroke of fortune, I happened to date a guy who did body work. He took one look at my Mazda and told me the reason I had so many problems was the car had been in a major collision. Whoever owned it had done the superficial body work, but the internals were a mess.

What did I do? I went out and bought my first new car…the most embarrassing car possible. But, it was cheap. No electronic locks or windows (fewer things to break), and it was a stick shift (cheaper than an automatic).

Funny fact? I had ZERO idea how to drive a stick. My dad had taught me, but I’d slept since I was ten (it was the 80s).

Meaning, I very literally bought a new car then TAUGHT MYSELF how to drive the darn thing on the back roads behind the dealership.

It was a Geo Metro.

FANCY!

My car was basically a highway-ready lawnmower that almost shook to pieces if I went over 65 mph.

Though it was technically a Chevrolet, I knew it had a Honda engine and it got up to 45 miles per gallon. My car payment was $200 a month and my insurance dropped to like $60. Not only that, but the dealership gave me a $400 gas card with purchase…which lasted at least SIX MONTHS (including long road trips).

I rushed home to show off my “new car” expecting my grandparents to be proud. Even though I went to a fancy private school (scholarship, of course) where most kids drove BMWs and Range Rovers, I’d chosen to be responsible. AND I was willing to proudly park my pregnant roller skate next to any Mercedes.

But what happened?

My grandparents shamed me and berated me for having the NERVE to buy a new car. Didn’t matter that it had a warranty, no damage, was super reliable and cheaper than repairing a used car over and over and over. No, I was out of line for daring to buy something that wasn’t used.

To this day? I struggle. I’m learning to trade in the toxic nerve for the good kind of nerve. Learning I can have nice things and feel GOOD about it.

E-EVERYONE has Same 24 Hours…is BULL SPRINKLES

change, success, New Year 2022, New year Resolutions, goals, Kristen Lamb
Me homeschooling and being self-employed.

For more on this, refer to a previous post Advice: The Great, the Bad & Good Intentions Turned Toxic Dogma.

I see this idea all over social media and quoted in books and it is total and complete horse $#!&. But, how many of us run out and buy motivational books? Books on goals and reaching our dreams, and what do many of them do?

SHAME US for not trying HARD enough.

No, I call bull sprinkles.

Leonardo DaVinci did NOT have the SAME 24 hours unless he was doing laundry, bills, dishes, homeschooling, answering emails, and forced to attend pointless meetings about why no one is being productive….while paining The Mona Lisa.

I don’t recall Einstein having to drop the chalk and set aside The Theory of Relativity, to run and pick up a kid who was puking at school.

Did Walt Disney pioneer animation WHILE taking care of young children and elderly parents and also working 40 hours a week in retail hell? NO.

And Arianna Huffington? I won’t go there. If you want more, feel free to read Shame on You AOL/Huffington! NO More Literary Booty Calls.

So help me, if I read one more motivational book written by someone who can afford STAFF who then berates regular working people for not using their time wisely? I WILL have a book burning.

And yes this last one has me ranty, but we have to ditch the lies.

Comparing Apples and Unicorns

change, success, New Year 2022, New year Resolutions, goals, Kristen Lamb
Do we REALLY HAVE SAME 24 HOURS AS BEYONCE?

I love motivational books, but frankly? A lot of them are a formula to fail.

Let your mind rest, play, and ignore people who tell you if you aren’t working a gazillion hours a week, you suck. Because, you know, famous workaholic CEO Marissa Mayer is a fabulous role model.

She enjoyed working 100+ hours a week! Go her. But she also expected the same level of dedication from employees. Of course, what’s missing? She built a private nursery next to her office after having her child. Did all the Yahoo employees have private nurseries next to their cubicles?

Going out on a limb, but I’m pretty sure they didn’t.

My point being…it’s a double-standard and learn to recognize and reject when a certain level of expectation is absurd. People who can build private nurseries and have a shower in their office have a very different 24 hours, and GO THEM!

You don’t think that I wouldn’t LOVE a full-time housekeeper, trainer and personal chef? No shame on people who have that, just don’t act like we all have the same day. I believe it is critical I use what time I have WISELY, but the amount of TIME is going to vary from person to person.

Change for the Better

In the end, I wish everyone a wonderful, fantastic and life-changing (in a good way) 2022. Expect there will be heat, ask for help, remember small actions ADD UP OVER TIME, believe you deserve your dreams, and maintain healthy perspective.

What are your thoughts on CHANGE?

I hope y’all feel empowered. Some of this advice is probably old but tried and true. Hopefully, however, I’ve offered some fresh perspectives.

If you have any tips or suggestions to add, I love learning new tips and tricks.

But do you feel defeated? Shamed because you are never DOING enough? Especially now that people are working from home a lot more. Are you crushed under the weight of ridiculous expectations (whether from yourself or others)?

Do you struggle with asking for help? Is it hard for you to relax without feeling lazy Do you feel guilt if you buy yourself something nice? Selfish if you dare to dream big?

I love hearing from you, and I am NOT above BRIBERY!

What do you WIN? For the month of DECEMBER, for everyone who leaves a comment, I will put your name in a hat. If you comment and link back to my blog on your blog, you get your name in the hat twice.

What do you win?

The unvarnished truth from yours truly. I will pick a winner once a month and it will be a critique of the first 20 pages of your novel, or your query letter, or your synopsis (5 pages or less).

***New 2022 classes will be listed next post. HAPPY NEW YEAR!

20 comments

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    • dorotheavop on December 30, 2021 at 2:23 pm
    • Reply

    BRAVA. Once again — BRAVA. You go, girl!

  1. This is exactly what I needed to read today. Thank you. I just bought a new house and moved, and the boxes are pretty overwhelming right now.

    • Roger L Nay on December 30, 2021 at 4:50 pm
    • Reply

    Thought provoking post, Kristen. We share some similarities except my dysfunctional family didn’t care what I did or where I went as a teenager. I learned a lot about how not to parent or treat your body. You’re right, no one has the same twenty-four hours. Our youngest daughter’s health declined after we moved to Texas in 1997. I quit an interesting job in Highland Park to care for her. At the end I was doing almost everything for her except spooning food in her mouth. My attempts at writing fizzled with the need to bring in some money, coupled with plain old physical and mental exhaustion.

    How much do you charge for the unvarnished truth? I’ve used someone who did a great job, but is working on her own projects and isn’t available until May.

  2. Happy New Year to you, Kristen. Thinking about change and action and how they apply to my WIP. Thanks for this post.

    • Anna Erishkigal on December 30, 2021 at 8:55 pm
    • Reply

    I burst out laughing at your description of the Geo Metro as a “highway ready lawnmower.” Yeah, pretty much… And it was a much more sensible choice than MY first car (a little red Pontiac Fiero 2-seater which I was forced to trade in 9.5 months later when I got pregnant and gave birth to a child … no room for a car seat).

    You’ve inspired me to get off my proverbial assets and get back into writing JUST 250 words a day (which is more than I’m doing right with my chaotic “I used to write 7,000 words a day” wishful thinking.)

    • Jean Lamb on December 30, 2021 at 11:45 pm
    • Reply

    I so hear you on self-help books! I read the Four-Hour Week and then I realized–he had a wife. Guess who held down the fort while this guy jetted around the world telling people how special he was.

    Ok, I waste time on Fishdom and FB and Quora…but having a wife? That’s a major game changer.

  3. I don’t struggle so much with change anymore. I’ve been through enough of them by now that I know there’s no time to debate whether the universe saved this one just for you; just look for a solution. I’ve also found some changes really can turn out to be for the best even if they look bad at the start. Now if I could only see more of them coming in advance…

    • Ann June Smith on December 31, 2021 at 4:14 am
    • Reply

    It was an Inspirational blog. I used to work long hours while looking after a home and family. I could pack all sorts of projects into my minimal leisure time while keeping the warring factions well fed and apart. In those years of toil, I wrote and self published two novels, produced numerous poems and short stories, and wrote almost every day. I have now retired and have all the time in the world to write, but don’t. It seems to me that the pressure to fit everything in was the push I needed. Now that has gone, and I hear myself saying, I will do it tomorrow.

    • Rachel C Thompson on December 31, 2021 at 7:46 am
    • Reply

    I read many self help books and you are right, mostly BS. Pop psychology can’t supplant books on actual psychology of which I read many more of. Knowing what makes people tick is good for fiction. I learned change amounts to the force of will–you have to want to change, and if you don’t want to, you don’t. Where you apply that force is what matters. How much force does the gym deserve? I was a gym rat too, until I crashed a motorcycle and got run over by a truck and set on fire. That sort of thing changes one’s priority perspective. I still work to keep healthy but now I work much harder on writing. Ask what’s most important, doing it all half-ass or doing a few things really well by giving them your full undivided attention?

    • Ann Goldberg on December 31, 2021 at 9:49 am
    • Reply

    Fun facts: 1. Everyone has the same 24 hours. 2. You can’t have everything.

    My reality: I chose to be a writer rather than a wife/mother. I chose low-stress/low-pay jobs/modest studio apartments so I could write. I chose to get up three (3!) hours before going to work so I could write. I chose to use weekends and vacations to write.

    I’ve written a novel and part of the next one because of the way I chose to use each 24-hour day. And, btw, none of this was easy as I’ve had the same life struggles as everyone else.

  4. But… but… the most beautiful vacation spot in the world is “Didn’t Ask For Directions Park.” If you have to ask for help, the whole journey is missing the point, right?

    –In the words of a great American, bull sprinkles.

  5. Life/time is change. Kirsten, your point is so well taken, we can either participate in the change or just go with the flow. If we WANT, we must participate. Reaching out for help is not easy for me, but I’m going to take your wisdom to heart and reach out this year and participate. Thank you for your frank discussion.

  6. “you’ll at least do SOMETHING, which is better than nothing.” Something is better than nothing is the philosophy of my life. 🙂 Happy New Year!

  7. I really enjoyed reading your post. I am just now at the age of 77 discovering it’s ok to buy myself something I WANT but don’t NEED. I am also learning self-care after spending 57 years of keeping My Better Half healthy and killing myself in the process. Fortunately, he is putting up with the changes I’m demanding. I’m just now getting the ides that change is a GOOD thing and that it often announces growth. I guess your post spoke to me; I just hope it’s not too late. LOL

    1. Never too late, Hon and GOOD FOR YOU! (((HUGS))) Happy New Year and we will BOTH work on that self-care and the whole “I can actually buy something pretty or ‘frivolous’ thing just because it makes me happy” thing together.

      1. It’s a deal.

  8. I didn’t know about the HuffPo not paying for work and about the Revolva letter to Oprah also wanting people to work for free. That’s become rampant hasn’t it? Quite a contrast to the smaller number employers who pay a fair wage and benefits to the people they want to work for them. I hear about this kind of thing at some festivals. When I used to volunteer for a non-profit related to kids books, I got so many requests for illustrators who would work for free or next to nothing because the writer “had a very limited budget”! If you have a limited budget, you can’t afford to have illustrations for your project. So even among creatives, the idea of asking other creatives to do free work for exposure or peanuts is engrained!

    Great advice to pick a few small but significant changes to make and keep doing them consistently is for the new year. I learned that somewhere else in the last year, to pick a change that would have the biggest impact, for example, going to bed on time or drinking water consistently every day, and work on it for a period of time until I had it down, and then pick the next change to focus on. The trick is to keep going even when there’s no immediate, tangible result, like you said, trust the process, trust that the delayed gratification and long-term benefits will be the worth the consistent effort. Thanks for this post, Kristen and Happy New Year!

  9. Lots of tuth there – especially about the motivatrional stuff and how a coach can ensure you hit the beastsellers list – without reading you masterpiece!

  10. I love your blogs. They always leave me thinking in new directions.

    1. That IS the goal, so at least I know I am doing my job. Happy New Year and all my best. I love hearing your feedback so thank you!

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