Column: Is this the year for change?


Commentary by Lorene Burkhart

If you could change one personality trait about yourself, what would it be? Now, here is the hard part: Do you have the courage to do something about it?

I’ve never done well with New Year’s resolutions, so I’m not going to make one to address the change I hope to make. But if writing it down or telling someone else helps you to stay on track, do what works for you. Some like to start a new journal every year finding that writing about their day and experiences clarifies their life.

Maybe I’ll just buy a copy of the revised book, “How to Win Friends and Influence People” by Dale Carnegie. It was recently updated after 40 years. Here are a few suggestions from the book:

  • When you disagree, lead with curiosity, not conflict. Try saying “tell me more” before you state your own ideas.
  • There is always common ground – try to find it. Refocus the topic onto something you share.
  • The only way to get the best of an argument is to avoid it. Just gracefully walk away or keep responses on a high ground.
  • Always offer sincere gratitude. There is a shortage, so make it a goal to say thank you when you receive service or a favor from a friend and make it specific to that person. Watch their surprised smile. You’ll both feel good.

In an article I recently read in the Saturday Evening Post about acknowledging and learning from missteps, the author advised to back off from the situation and take another look. It’s called self-distancing. Supposedly, it will deepen wisdom and enhance problem solving skills. That’s a good explanation for retreating. Or just find a quiet spot and think about it.

Finally, just choose a song like The Beatles’ “Let It Be” or from the movie, “Frozen,” “Let It Go” and be on your merry way. Instead of having a word for the year, have a song, and keep smiling.

Change is difficult, and the older we become, it seems the more we are set in our ways, whether they work well for us or not. Maybe this is the year for self-examination and working on change. Think about it.