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The Only Way To Change Your Life Is To Change Your Life

Can you believe that the title of this blog post has never been published before?  Seems like a simple enough idea, something that Deepak Chopra or Oprah Winfrey or Wayne Dyer or Napoleon Hill or Anthony Robbins or any one of the thousands of self-help gurus would have titled a book over the years.  But a Google search reveals that the words have never before appeared in that exact formation until now!  This of course doesn’t take into consideration that I am probably using Google the wrong way.  I’m looking on the page where they have the maps.  In any case, I was surprised that this wasn’t a more prevalent idea; that if you want to change your life, you need to change the way you are living it.

I’m no stranger to that concept.  Anyone who’s followed my life via podcast or blog the past few years knows of my struggles with health and productivity and living the life I want.  I epitomize the all-or-nothing mentality, the addictive personality that goes full bore on both sides of the spectrum.  The last 6 months have been particularly exemplary.  In August 2013 I decided to stop drinking the booze for a few weeks, started hitting the gym, meditating regularly, and it was no coincidence that I was extremely productive during that period.  The spell lasted 3 full months, and by the end of October I was in one of the best creative zones I’ve ever been in.

Enter November.  November has always been a slippery slope for me.  My birthday is at the start of the month, coming at the heels of Halloween and just a few weeks before Thanksgiving.  The past few years I fall into a trap of splurging (read: binging) during the Halloween and birthday times, which undoubtedly affects my drive to eat healthy and exercise, and hell, why not just “treat myself” through Thanksgiving break.  Then December comes, and it’s the holidays, and well, what kind of person in their right mind would start taking care of themselves with January 1st around the corner?  That would just be stupid!

It’s not simply that I am unhealthy during these periods.  It’s that within a matter of weeks it affects my moods, my energy levels, my confidence, and most importantly my output.  I feel like shit, and cope with it by making more and more poor choices to avoid thinking about those very poor choices.  It’s a pretty lame cycle, and what makes it even more frustrating is that I know how easily I could pull myself out of it because I’ve done it before.  Like 845 times.

Most years I am back in action come the first of the year.  Resolutions are set, and it’s go time.  Maybe it’s age, maybe fear, or just plain laziness, but this year the streak has lasted into February.  I’m out of shape, unable to focus, and lost.  I look tired.  I am tired.  My mind is locked in a pattern of big ideas with zero follow-through.  Granted I am hard as hell on myself, a good and bad trait I suppose.  I do work a full time job that is mentally taxing.  But I’ve been productive and happy in spite of that before, so I hold myself to that standard.

This past weekend I decided that time was of the essence and that it was imperative I get back on a healthy and positive path.  And come Monday morning I woke up feeling healthy and positive.  This was before I’d exercised, before I’d gone a day without a drink, before I’d ate a healthy meal.  Testament to how much how I feel is psychological.  A choice.  This is something I’ve experienced dozens of times now.  The empowering part is that I have that ability at any given time.  We all do.  Obviously it’s easier said than done.  MUCH easier said than done.  But it’s a subtle but world changing shift that I believe we are all capable of.

Today is Friday.  Five days into this new plan.  I’ve been exercising, eating well, abstaining from alcohol, meditating 20 minutes daily.  And less than a week into it, physically I feel like a new person.  I doubt I’ve lost any significant weight, and my body is still getting used to the change in routine.  But I look in the mirror and already see a new person, someone I like a lot more.  Someone that cares enough about themself to take care of themself.

So what’s going to make this time different than every other?  I’ve been through the ups and downs enough times to realize I shouldn’t make any bold predictions.  Every time I claim “I’m back!” when the going is good, there’s the inevitable “I’m back… (sigh)” when the going is bad.  But in an effort to mitigate the all-or-nothing mentality, I am going to do my best to adhere to an 80% plan.  Instead of cutting the “bad” things out completely, I am going to allow myself the flexibility to indulge when I want.  80% seems like a fair compromise  and gives me a handful of days a month to do as I please.   Time will tell how it works.  Yet another experiment in my ongoing pursuit for happiness and productivity.

But I know now after endless trials and experiments that to change my life into the one I want, my only choice is to… change my life into the one I want.  I want to be a healthy, creative, productive, positive person, and so I am going to be that person moving forward.  For the 846th time.

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4 Comments

  • Val |

    I’ve been on again and off again probably just as much as you. I’m sure a lot of people are. We can feel silly that this is the 846th time we are turning things around but I’m positive past attempts weren’t in vain. We learn something each time. We bounce back. We try again. An endless bouncy cycle of ups and downs and maybe the ultimate goal is to just be up more often than down and down for shorter and shorter periods of time. It’s gonna happen but like you said, if you build flexibility into the plan there’s no need to say “fuck it!” and throw the whole thing out the window if you have one bad day. You don’t need a do over or a new plan or a “starting right now” moment because the shitty 20% was already part of the plan. “Jamie Flam, you are a genius.” (Feel free to use that quote as a testimonial)

  • Noah |

    I love the second to last paragraph and I think it could be a key. Someone who never “slips up” is not real. It’s totally possible to have high aspirations while still allowing yourself to be human. How would a rigid extremist living in constant deprivation even have any friends?
    I think you might actually gain health-wise if you occasionally allow for some “unhealthy” choices because stress and feeling like you failed are unhealthy and this approach would mitigate those feelings.
    IMO, being ourselves is the closest to perfection we can ever be.
    Great stuff!

  • John Hatch |

    Jamie Flam,
    You Sir, are an inspiration. Yes, you are. I listen to the LoShoPo, and I get it. It’s great stuff, a great crew, and you are an integral part of it. More on this later.
    Regarding your ups and downs, please bear in mind that everyone is a unique individual, and you have to hold yourself up to YOUR OWN STANDARDS. So you might be on a “health kick” and feeling pretty good. It might last for months, and then you slip up and get drunk or high or whatever. Does that mean that you have to dive in, all the way? Does that mean that you have to eat poorly, drink heavily, etc. for months at a time? I see nothing wrong with going to a Hallowe’en party and getting high or drunk. Then your Birthday roles around. More drinks. But so what? Do you really feel like once you lose control for a few days, that you might as well start binging, (read: splurging)? Only you can decide.
    Just be aware that as you get older, it gets harder and harder to get back in shape after you let yourself go for a few months. Also, do you really want to be a 40 year old man that gets drunk just because it’s Hallowe’en?
    Finally, I think your listeners “get” what you’re doing when you do a Johnny Carson impersonation, along with a throw-away line. I think, and this is just my take on it, I think that you are doing a sort of Bill Murray/Nick Winters shtick, where you know that you’re making a lame joke, and so you don’t want to just deliver it in a normal way, you want it to be taken as a funny/goofy aside, so you use the trope of the lame JC imitation to deliver it.
    Then again, I could be totally wrong. Who cares? Take care of yourself. You’re good.
    JH

So, what do you think ?

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