Can one change change your life?

The year of dragon, out of all 12 Chinese zodiac years, is the most opportune for positive change in one’s life.

When I was a child, my grandmother told me that if I change just one thing that isn’t working for me in every year of dragon, I will get everything I want in life. As year of the dragon only comes once every 12th year in the lunar calendar, it seemed too easy to be true.

But I trusted my grandmother, as she was the wisest person I had ever known, and her advice always served me well.

Grandmother said that I should take a careful look at my life and think about what bothered me most. No matter how big or small, if something really bothered me and consumed my thinking, that something shall be my change.

So in 1988, year of the earth dragon, when I was nine years old and still lived in China, I decided to stop following the creative writing rules that my teachers gave us, and instead write about things that I wanted to write about, in a way that I wish to write.

My father, an editor, supported me wholeheartedly in this decision. The year after, a school talent scout submitted one of my essays to a national competition. My essay won third prize. Afterwards, many of my short stories were printed in literary magazines. When I think about it, I don’t know if anyone in the West would publish a short story about a sea turtle committing financial crimes, or the other even weirder stories. I guess it was lucky I wrote those stories in Chinese.

In 2000, year of the metal dragon, when I was 21 and lived in Copenhagen, I decided that since I have dated every man and his wife in this city, I would go to the world and find my spouse. I found my husband two years later, in Iceland.

In 2012, year of the water dragon, when I was 33, I meditated on what I disliked most about my life and came to the conclusion that it was the tyranny of PowerPoint. At that time, I worked in sales in the banking industry, so it seamed impossible to quit making PowerPoint presentations all together. But since it was the year of dragon, I gave it a go.

If you dislike PowerPoint as I do, I don’t have to explain it to you. If you like or love PowerPoint, I can’t explain it to you. If you are undecided about PowerPoint, I would leave you with this task:

Next time you are sitting at a PowerPoint presentation, notice what kind of information you are actually getting on the slides. Notice the connection between the speaker and the audience, or the lack thereof.

Notice how sleepy the audience is. Notice what you are taking away from the presentation. Notice how many times you find yourself thinking “What’s in it for me?”

That’s the point – the power point of it all. During every second of a presentation, the audience is thinking “What’s in it for me?” As a presenter, you can choose to abuse your power and talk about things that are either irrelevant or feels irrelevant for the audience, or you can choose to make a presentation that feels like time well spent for the audience.

So what happened to me after my PowerPoint cold turkey? For a start, my sales went up. Instead of doing a presentation during a sales meeting, I simply talked to people. Today I do a lot of public talks about many topics, all without PowerPoint, and no one misses the slides.

What is my change in the year 2024, the year of the wood dragon, you might ask? No more short lunches and quick coffees.

I have lived in Copenhagen for 33 years and am still not used to the so-called efficient use of time that the Danes practice. A short lunch or a quick coffee is the illusion of a social get-together. It’s the equivalent of a shag without foreplay and snuggle, no intimacy of any kind.

While Danes might be ok with those, I’m not. When I think about it, I have never had good socializing from a short lunch or a quick coffee. It always felt stressful and forced. I also never had a good business deal from a short lunch or a quick coffee, as people who are cheap with their time do not work well with me.

If I don’t feel like a long lunch with someone, why in the world would I meet them for a short lunch? A meeting or a phone call would suffice.

Do you also wish to make a change for your year of dragon resolution? Do it latest by January 28 2025, as it is the New Year’s Eve day before year of the snake.