Mind-Shift: Valuable Lessons From This Year

Let’s have a small honest conversation.

Did this year go how you wanted? Mine sure didn’t. 

I didn’t get my way! People didn’t listen to my opinions! I haven’t changed the world!

And I’m better for it.

If I got my way all of the time, how would I appreciate the good things in my life?

I have a lot of good opinions, but I don’t know everything. If everyone always listened to my opinions, how would I learn from others (especially the quiet ones – who are my favorite #rocksolidadvice)?

And, I’d love to change the world, but I can’t be all things to all people. So, I take Mother Teresa’s advice, and I go home and love my family.  It turns out my family also includes my coworkers, my friends, my volunteer colleagues, and my community. And, everytime I meet someone new, my family grows and grows.

I’ve learned and practiced a few valuable, mind-shifting lessons this year that have helped me re-frame my thinking. Here are the ones I want to share with you:

Never let a kind word go unsaid. 

You know what? Life is hard and can get you down. I get it. And so, when I read the advice about “kind words,” I took it seriously. I often meet new people by complimenting them. And I’ll often go out of my way to share kind words with someone – it always makes their day, and it often makes mine.

Once we were at a restaurant, and I saw a woman with a stunning hairstyle. I didn’t know her or her group, but I had to say something! And I did. And she lit up with a joy that I haven’t seen in a while. You could see her sit a little straighter and beam from ear to ear. It made me smile. 

When I think back to every compliment I’ve ever paid someone, I often look like a crazy person when I tell my husband, “Hold on, I have to go speak to them.” But I haven’t regretted it a single time. Not even one time. I encourage you – start this today. You will – little by little – make the world a better place.

Turn your “Sorrys” into “Thank Yous.” 

Instead of saying, “I’m so sorry I’m late!” say something like “Thank you for your patience” – you see, when you say “I’m sorry” you are forcing the other person to say “It’s OK,” even when it most certainly isn’t OK. But when you say “Thank you,” you are instead sharing gratitude instead of negativity. I want you to try this one for a week with EVERY SINGLE TIME you want to say you’re sorry: turn that sentence into an appreciation-focused moment. You will see your perspective, your community, and your energy shift – and it will be a good one.

Learn from people older than you.

I spend a lot of my time at alumni events and work with alumni who have graduated 40, 50, 60 years ago. (Although when I was the fraternity/sorority advisor, one student said he was inviting “old” alumni by going back to 2002 grads, which is one year younger than me!) When I go to events with our alumni – many who are now my friends – to hear their stories,their life advice, and their perspective always gives me pause. By hearing stories of what they wish they’d spent more time on, it helps me remember what is important in my life now. It helps me learn what is valuable, by seeing how they spend their days. And it reminds me that – young or old – everyone has something valuable to share – students, alumni, people – and we’re all better for it when we spend time learning from others.

I hope this year brought you what you needed, and if not, I hope you have the courage to make next year your best year. Think about what you can do to make your goals happen and keep an open mind to learn from everyone around you.

Andrea Battaglia is an organization expert and wellness advocate that enjoys sharing her successful strategies for organization, healthy living, and innovation through facilitating workshops, streamlining processes and relevant solutions. Andrea is a proud Greek alum, former Greek Advisor and currently works in Higher Education Fundraising & Development in Springfield, Missouri and happily spends her days immersed in marketing, fundraising strategy and volunteer management.


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