It is that time of year when we question why we live somewhere so cold, when we struggle to stop writing the previous year while writing the date, and when many of us already have given up on our New Year's resolutions. Whether you still have a resolution, let me issue a challenge: Be the change you wish to see in the world.

That phrase is often attributed to Mahatma Gandhi. However, after researching, I found no conclusive evidence the influential activist from India spoke those exact words. Regardless of its origin, I believe adhering to this notion could positively impact us each individually and eventually our community as a whole. That is why I encourage you to consider how you can be the change this year.

We are a divided country. Diverging philosophies are constantly used to promote the virtues of one perspective or to condemn those of the opposition. Despite our perceived differences, I believe we all have the same basic desires: happiness, comfort, opportunity, and fulfillment, to name a few. We just have different visions for how we can realize those desires.

We often spend excessive amounts of emotional equity discussing issues largely beyond our personal control. It is our right to have concerns and reasonable opinions, but we cannot expect thoughts and words alone to bring change. Instead, let us live our proposed change this year in an effort to more significantly impact our world.

We each have an opportunity to influence people every day on a small scale with our actions and interactions. The great thing is, we do not have to be millionaires, famous, or have 10,000 followers on social media to be an influence. All we need is a reasonable change we would like to make and some discipline to hold ourselves accountable for personally making that change.

Once we lead by example, those around us will be more inclined to follow a similar path. Eventually, our personal change could be the catalyst that motivates our families, neighbors, coworkers, and possibly the entire community to change. That is definitely more worthwhile and effective than your standard Facebook posting.

I have three primary changes I pledge to make in 2019: live a slower life, unplug from technology and media, and strive to buy local. Addressing these aspects of my life will better help me realize my basic desires and will lead to a more positive existence for my family and me. I believe these changes also could do the same for the citizens of our community.

Living a slower life means striving to value each day; life is a journey, not a destination. The moments in life that exist between significant goals and accomplishments often go unnoticed. However, they make up the bulk of our lives and where our lives can be most enriched. I plan to take time to enjoy a casual conversation, a cup of coffee, a sunset, and a simple walk instead of rushing from one commitment to the next.

Unplugging from technology and media means striving to untether myself from my phone, computer, television, and internet obsessions. These things have become significant distractions that impact my conversations, relationships, health, and well-being. They truly are addictions that have become socially normalized and that negatively impact my life.

Finally, striving to buy local means doing my best to support my community and enjoy quality over quantity by buying from locally owned or based businesses. Studies have proven that buying local keeps larger proportions of dollars spent within the community. This benefits all citizens. Even if it costs me slightly more, I will vote with my dollars by buying local.

I encourage you to join me in this change challenge. What changes can you make in 2019? Will your influence impact the lives of millions as Mahatma Gandhi's did? Or will it simply influence those in your family? Whatever the effect, staying true to this notion will enable us each to live more fulfilling lives, while providing us a platform to promote reasonable change to others.

Enough talking; start being the change you wish to see in the world in 2019!


Blane Tetreault of Duluth works in college admissions, served in the U.S. Marine Corps, and has worked as a marketing professional and college football coach. He is an active community member who promotes the practice of sustainable living called "permaculture." He also recently began practicing the Danish concept of hygge.