Change It Up: Looking Differently at the Change You Want and the Change You Don't (Hardcover )(edit)
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Why do we love the change we choose (think makeovers and remodeling), but not the change that’s chosen for us? Why do we limit ourselves to embracing only the changes we are wise enough to give ourselves?
Change can be scary. It can even be painful. Change takes us out of our comfort zone and moves us somewhere we haven’t been before. So how do we embrace it? How do we experience it without so much pain and maybe even with a little pleasure?
Author and popular radio personality Amanda Dickson offers simple suggestions for integrating change in our lives. Included are tips for making easy changes that will help us get comfortable with the concept of change, suggestions for looking at our lives in new ways, and liberating perspectives on the changes we get to choose. For anyone struggling with change — or fearful of change — this book provides practical ideas to make that change easier.
- Pages: 128
- Published: October 2009
About the Author
Amanda Dickson’s boundless energy, infectious laugh, and passion for life have made her a well-known personality as a radio morning show co-host in Salt Lake City, Utah. She graduated from the University of Utah with a B.A. in English and a Juris Doctorate. After practicing law for a few years, she realized it simply wasn’t in her nature to be a fighter. She felt very fortunate to return to KSL Radio and her passion for serving the community. Over the years, Amanda has been, among many things, a waitress, lawyer, college instructor, disc jockey, restaurant manager, receptionist, pizza maker, and author. She is the author of Wake Up to a Happier Life and her latest, Change It Up. Amanda is the mother of two and stepmother of three and resides in Salt Lake City with her husband, Aaron.
“You Look So Great. Did You Change Your Hair?”
Let’s start with the easy stuff.
I am a believer in starting slow and building. I hate to fail too much up front for fear of getting discouraged and never returning to the task. It’s like skiing: start on the bunny hills. With change, let’s start with the superficial, simple things you can do without any discomfort. Stuff you might even enjoy doing. I know this first chapter may seem shallow and unnecessary to some readers. Bear with me. Once you develop the skills to change, you can apply them to even the most difficult challenges thrown at you.
So, let’s begin, literally, on the surface—with the way you look. Have you noticed how people tend to compliment you when you’ve changed something?
“You look so great. Have you lost weight?”
“Did you do something to your skin? Come on. Tell me what you did—you look so young.”
“Have you been working out? When do you find the time?”
Have you ever noticed that people often compliment you on one thing, say losing weight, when it’s actually something else you’ve changed, maybe your hair color? What’s at work here? What is it about the change that inspires the compliment? It might not be that the person actually looks better. The old hair and the old clothes may have been just fine. It’s the change that does it. Why?
Change wakes you up. Change enlivens you, enthuses you, brings energy into your being. You may not be aware of it, but other people certainly are. They feel it. That’s why they compliment you.
Why not bring the energy of change into your appearance more often? Who knows, the energy may leak into other areas of your life, perhaps into more important areas. The changes don’t need to be big, hairy ones. They don’t even need to be changes you should make, for health or other reasons, like losing weight or cutting back on caffeine. Sometimes it’s fun to just make changes for change’s sake.
Women tend to first think of their hair. Sure. That’s a good one. Try another color or another cut or even just a ponytail. I started straightening my very unruly hair a year or so ago, a latecomer to the copycats of Jennifer Aniston. I love running my fingers through my long, straight locks now, always amazed that they are on my head—mine! My hair feels cleaner and more professional, when, in effect, it’s neither—it’s just straighter, changed.
What about for men? I don’t know a man who thinks about changing his hairstyle, but he could, even if subtly. Try a different setting on the shaver—go 5 on the top and 3 on the sides—live dangerously.
The next easy change to try is wardrobe. I’m not suggesting anything drastic. You may not have much to choose from in your closet, and that may suit you just fine. I have one suggestion here—color. I don’t know if you’re like me, but I tend to wear black or cream T-shirts and turtlenecks under everything. My husband is even worse. He owns ten T-shirts, and all but one are black. He looks so good in color, but he doesn’t wear it. He doesn’t think he looks good in it. (He’s wrong, of course.) But the point is, if he wants to embrace change, he’s got to try out some color.
A year ago, a girlfriend of mine bought me an orange sweater—a color I can honestly say I have never purchased and would never purchase. (Who wears orange? What, is it Halloween?) But what sweater do you think I get the most compliments on every time I wear it? Yep—the orange one. I need to think outside the black.
So add some color. Go buy T-shirts in different colors. Buy some with different fabrics. If you usually do V-neck, try crew neck. If you usually do white, try gray. Put aside the white Keds just for a day and put on a pair of red hightops. I’m not an image consultant, but I know what happens when you try something that feels different to you—you wake up. And if it also makes you look better or makes you think you look better, then you’re in the bonus. But I’m not all that concerned with that part of it; I want you to have an easy experience with change. Trying a new look with your appearance can take the fear out of change.
Hmm. I thought I was going to look terrible with short hair, you think as your hairstylist twirls you around to see the back side. But I look so cute. You wonder why you didn’t try it sooner. I wonder the same thing.
What things should you have tried sooner?
Maybe you have finally started taking the stairs instead of the elevator at work. It’s not a full-blown workout, but it gets your body moving. You wonder why you didn’t try it sooner. Maybe you wonder why you didn’t start treating yourself to a carwash every week in the winter when your car is covered in salt and snow and slush. It’s a few bucks, not more than you’d spend on lunch, and it makes you look forward, on some small level, to getting in the car and driving to work. Why didn’t you try that sooner? What are the things bugging you right now that you wish were fixed?
You might think fixing the garage door or touching up the paint or calling the plumber is going to be such a pain, so you put it off. While you’re putting it off, it’s eating at you like a mental mosquito, buzzing around your consciousness, irritating your every waking moment. You wake up, and what’s the first thing you think of? “I wish someone (not me) would get this garage door fixed.”
Just do it. Make a small change. It will comfort your everyday life.
Other easy changes can bring the same energy into your life. One of my favorites is decluttering. There is nothing as easy and empowering as getting rid of stuff. Oh, how I love to give stuff away! I go through my closets regularly and pull out things I think I won’t wear anymore. Sometimes I’m wrong and wish I had it back, but only once every ten or twenty years. I give away shoes and belts and pants and coats. I do the same thing to my young boys’ closets, and I would to my teenagers’ closets if they’d let me. I give away books and knickknacks, presents that I know I’ll never use (that’s not re-gifting, is it?), dishes and vases and everything I truly don’t need. I do it all the time. It’s a beautiful thing.
The opposite idea is to buy something, to bring something new into your living space. I like this change less, but I still like it. It can give you some great energy if you do it right and you can afford it. (Note: a new thing can never bring good energy if you can’t afford to pay for it.) I bought my husband a new piece of art last year, something he loved (and that I happen to love too), and I felt the light in the room change. The spirit of the room, the way people feel in the room, is now altered. With one piece of art. The same thing can happen with pillows or a picture of your family, or even just cheap flowers from the grocery store. (My sister taught me that one. Thank you, Connie.) Five bucks of flowers can fill a room with life that everyone benefits from, whether they notice the flowers or not.
Do You Mind If I Change the Channel?
I’m not talking about channel surfing—that disengaged flipping through endless channels and not really seeing anything that appears on the screen (although I know my husband would argue there is real value to that kind of browsing). I’m talking about changing your habit. If you always watch ABC News, try NBC. If you always watch Good Morning America, try the Today Show. Watch something different than you usually do. Listen to something different than you usually do. Try a different radio station. (It hurts to suggest that, since I’m a radio announcer. Forgive the self-interest, but if you live in Utah, you can try other stations, but you must come back to KSL.) Listen to different music. Listen to each other.
If you always drive to work by taking one side street to the same entrance to the same freeway, try something else. Take an entirely different route and forget about which is closer. See different stores, different neighborhood restaurants. If you always stop at a certain gas station to fill up, try a different one. If you usually never go in, walk in, look around, and buy something small. If you’re like me, I always sit in the same chair at the dining table for every meal at home. My husband sits across from me and the kids sit all around, however many of them are there. Let’s change that. I’m going to sit where Ethan usually sits and move everybody one seat to the left! They’ll never get over it. It will be a blast. (I would consider asking my husband to sleep on the other side of the bed, but you can take this change business only so far!)
The energy of change is exactly why the change-up pitch is so successful in baseball. The pitcher throws a pitch that looks exactly like the fast ball he just threw, same angle, same position of hand on the ball, only it’s ten miles an hour slower. Just that little bit of change throws everything off, messes up the batter’s timing, and often leads to “Steeee-riiiiike!”
Oh, the power of change—in sports, in closets, in life. It’s the influence on your whole being that comes from shifting the smallest thing.
I know such things may seem too small to be significant. Don’t judge right now. Just ride a bike somewhere, anywhere, and see how different everything looks from that seat you may not have sat on for years.
Remember the powerful movie, Dead Poets Society? There is a scene near the beginning when Robin Williams’s character invites his class of young male English students to come to the front of the classroom and step onto his desk, one at a time, look out over the class, then step down. He invites them to do it because the view is different from there.
Playing Out the Worst-Case Scenario
What will happen if I cut my hair or change my wardrobe or my job . . . or my life? I may hate it. I may love it, mind you, but I may hate it. When we’re afraid of the unknown that change can bring, we go to worst-case scenarios in our minds, and those scenarios scare us off. Many a dream has disappeared in the fog of “what will happen if . . . ?” followed by horror stories. There are a few fallacies at work here in these worst-case scenarios.
1. If I don’t change, nothing bad will happen.
2. If I do change, the worst thing will happen.
3. I won’t like the worst thing.
Let’s look at each one.
One, there is the assumption that if I don’t choose change, no change will come, and then everything will be hunky-dory. If I don’t seek change out, it won’t find me. I’ll be in control. I’ll always look and feel the way I do now. Nothing bad will happen to me or to anyone I love. If I fear change, then I must feel pretty comfortable with the status quo.
I want to keep it, preserve it, get away from this talk of change. While my life may not be perfect, at least I understand this set of challenges. I know how to do this.
But change does not ask our permission before it enters. And often, change isn’t a gradual process. It gives us no time to prepare, no time to adjust. Our husband leaves, or our mother dies, or our child is diagnosed with autism. You aren’t afforded the opportunity to worry about these events. They just happen. If you are alive, there is no place where you are safe from change. Whether you seek it out or not, it’s coming.
The second and most obvious fallacy of the worst-case scenario is believing that the worst thing will, in fact, happen if you embrace change. Let’s be clear about this—it might not happen.
It might, mind you, but it might not. If you sign up for swimming lessons at age forty-seven, you might feel so mortified that your whole body turns red for the first five minutes, until you meet the other three women and one man who decided that they, too, wanted to learn what their children had known since they were three.
If you trust your daughter with the car, she actually might drive safely and come home on time (and feel more self-worth because you trusted her). If you write the book you’ve always wanted to write, maybe no one will want to publish it. You just might spend years writing and editing and sending query letters to agents who will, if you’re lucky, take the time to turn you down. Or, you may meet someone who sees the value of your words and wants to publish them. It could happen! When you get in the car in the morning, do you think about how someone might run a red light and smash into you, leaving you paralyzed for life? I hope not.
We’ve got to get our energy away from worst-case scenarios which, after all, might not happen, and meanwhile are robbing us of the energy we need for life.
The third fallacy of change, and of the worst-case scenario specifically, is that you won’t like the change. You believe that if the “worst” thing happens to you, there is no way you’re going to like it. (“That’s kind of obvious, Amanda. How could I like the worst thing?”) It’s not possible you’ll like your hair after it’s “ruined,” your life without your former “best friend” in it, taking the bus because you lost your car, being without the job you’ve had for twenty years. How could you? How could you like being alone or suffering or not having any money? What could be good about any of those states?
This is the most counter-intuitive fallacy of the three. But go with me for a moment. Have you heard of people who have said cancer saved their lives? They were walking around dead to themselves, to their families and their own spirits, until they were jolted by a life-threatening diagnosis, and now they are grateful for their bout with cancer. I’ve known people who feared getting fired, who went into work every day with the thought that “today might be the day they blow me out,” only to realize their worst fear: they got fired, and then they found their dream job. Haven’t you known someone who is terrified that her boyfriend will break up with her, and then he does? Your jilted friend is distraught for a day, a week, a month, and then meets the man she always wanted to be with, a true soul mate, the man she would have missed had the jerk not dumped her in the first place?
The worst-case scenario is just a change, and sometimes it’s a change for the better, a change you’ll be grateful for one day. It’s a different route to work, a different color of sweater. That’s all. It is the unknown. We fear it because we haven’t experienced it yet. The future frightens us for this very reason. We don’t know what it will hold. It may be paradise, but we haven’t seen it yet, so we’re afraid there won’t be enough parking spaces. In Charles Dickens’s A Christmas Carol, Scrooge was most frightened by the Ghost of Christmas Future, the spirit whose face he could not see within the black cloak. He wasn’t frightened by the pain of his past. He knew that pain. And he wasn’t frightened by the suffering of his present. He was familiar with that. It was the unforeseeable in his future that this toughened old man could not face. The future did him in (and therein blessed him).
This is how we are with change. We hide from it behind cloaks and jobs and bad relationships, but we only need remember to get up on the desk and see the room differently.
If this guy dumps me, and I wind up being free to make new friends and fall in love with someone more deserving, I am blessed.
If this boss fires me, then I am free to find my passion and earn a living in a more fulfilling environment—so I am blessed.
If I lose something about my health that I have taken for granted, then I will cherish life in a way I never have before, and I will help others to do the same.
And I am blessed.
Things people often wish they had tried sooner:
1. Any form of exercise
2. Seeing a movie alone
3. Introducing themselves to someone
4. Learning any new technology (I love facebook!)
5. And the biggest one of all, forgiveness of anyone for anything
Five simple things you can change today (Why not?)
1. Get up a half-hour earlier (or later—it’s the change we’re going for here).
2. If you usually brush your teeth before you get in the shower, do it after.
3. Switch the place you park—with your spouse at home, or at work.
4. Change your flavor of gum.
5. Change your perfume or deodorant—get a new smell going.
Five more small things you can change:
1. Read in a different chair in your house.
2. Buy a different kind of bread.
3. Play music when you normally have silence and have silence when you normally play music.
4. Put on different comfy clothes when you get home from work.
5. Once a week, always on a different day, wake one of your kids up early just to have breakfast with him or her.
The three fallacies of change
1. If I don’t change, nothing bad will happen.
2. If I do change, the worst thing will happen.
3. I won’t like the worst thing.
We never think about the best case scenario. Ask yourself, “What is the best thing that could happen to me if this happens?” Think about three changes you’re experiencing right now and ask yourself that question for all three.
What is the worst thing that has ever happened to you? How has it made you who you are today? What has it taught you? In what ways would you not be you without that challenge? In other words, how has it blessed you?
Start Your Personal Revolution!
by B - reviewed on February 08, 2010
I love this book. Amanda's smart and witty wisdom make this book fun and life changing. She has helped me learn that in order to see and enjoy change, I have to see it from a different angle. Even though some of life's differences are still challenging, I have learned to love and smile through it!
by Mary - reviewed on March 07, 2010
This is a well written book.Each chapter builds up and supports the main premise . The chapter that deals with habits and the truth about them is simple and profound. It was a "That it " moment for me ! This book is well worth the price and should probably be read by everyone. Thank you ,Amanda for taking the time to share your heart and life in this book.