"Do you know where your New Year Resolution is?"
That is an often asked question in the days and months that follow the new year. Statistics show that the majority of resolution-makers eventually abandon their pursuits. During the past five years, as I have studied and practiced what works and what doesn't work, I have encountered scores of passionate people who do persist day-after-day. I coined the word 'Resolutionista' for these folks and the 'resolve' they patiently display: Resolutionistas make resolutions, keep resolutions and enjoy the journey! Borrowing on my years as a working journalist, I am launching an inspirational series of interviews with ordinary folks who do extraordinary things. They breathe life into their dreams, resolutions and daily goals, one small step at a time, one day at a time over the long haul. Though they may be statistically in the minority of resolution-makers (the ones who succeed), I want to highlight 'what works', and give them credit for their accomplishments!
I met Trish Ayers earlier this year in my travels around Gather.Com, a Social Networking Site for the over 30 crowd, and also the home of my Gather I Resolve To . . . Group. Trish is a wonderful essayist, workshop presenter and an award winning poet and playwright from Kentucky. She originated and leads the Kentucky Women Playwrights' Seminar, which twice has been funded by the Kentucky Foundation For Women. Her plays explore social issues such as breast cancer and have been presented throughout the United States and Japan, including venues such as Live Girls, Hedgerow Theatre, Iowa State University, Western Illinois University, and Berea College in Kentucky. [UPDATE: Read Trish's 2009 Year End Essay.]
1. Kim Simpson: Do you make New Year Resolutions, or use another method of consistently achieving your dreams and fulfilling your passions, day-to-day?
Trish Ayers: The first of each year I compile a list of over 100 life-dreams and write them in a notebook. The list includes big and easily achieved dreams. There are dreams from previous years and new ones. I adjust the list every year because I believe it is important to recognize the changes in direction and desires in my life. As a way to keep the life-dreams in my mind throughout the year, I collage each dream using pictures and words I cut from magazines. I also record my monthly, weekly and daily goals in my journal; my daily goals, I journal each night before I go to bed.
2. Kim Simpson: What is your primary passion? Is it a lifelong passion, or a more recent interest? What is the focus of your current goal(s)?
Trish Ayers: Writing plays as a way to encourage positive change is my passion. I committed to writing as my lifelong passion on my 40th birthday, which was over 10 years ago. One of the ways to achieve this is to have my play LUMPs (which deals with breast cancer) published and produced nationwide. Another dream I have is for Kentucky to become known for powerful women playrights. As part of this dream, I lead a yearly seminar - The Kentucky Women Playrights' Seminar - to encourage strong Kentucky women writers to explore the genre of playrighting.
3. Kim Simpson: What key techniques, or strategies, do you attribute to your success in making your dreams, resolutions and daily goals a reality?
Trish Ayers: I tell people about my dreams; sometimes they can help me achieve them. I've found that when I'm asked about my work, my passion can't help but show through. I've been told my eyes sparkle when I talk about writing plays. The yearly, monthly and daily goal lists help keep me on track. I am a list-maker and enjoy marking off completed items on my lists, so that is a definite strategy. Daily I write affirmations in my journal. During my 40th year I wrote, "I am a writer and I will be published." By the middle of the year I was published.
4. Kim Simpson: What are your primary obstacles and how do you overcome them?
Trish Ayers: My primary obstacles are my chronic health issues. I live with a hole in my neck for breathing. My energy and ability to function is affected by things such as weather changes and exposure to chemicals, perfumes and smoke. I've found I am more successful if I create my own deadlines earlier than the real deadlines. This way if I hit a bad day I still have a few extra days. I also can set up my office downstairs if climbing the stairs is an issue on a particular day.
5. Kim Simpson: How do you stay motivated, enthusiastic and on track with your plans?
Trish Ayers: I find each success fuels my motivation and enthusiasm. For several years now I have committed to submitting at least one piece of writing for publication, or to a contest, each month. There have been tough months when I've been tempted to not meet this goal, but there is something inside me that propels me to follow through on my promise to myself. It seems when I most need a 'win', one shows up for me. I also surround myself with 'creatives', like Kim, who are determined to meet their goals. My creative friends are crucial. When I'm around them I feel energized and move forward with my goals/dreams.
6. Kim Simpson: How do you keep yourself accountable?
Trish Ayers: I create self-challenges as a way to motivate myself and to keep myself accountable. Right now I'm looking at the need to submit several pieces of writing and the days of the month are slipping away. I also check my monthly list to see what I can do, so I will be able to mark off each item. As a list-maker, I find great joy in marking things off the monthly list. I also have friends, family and fellow 'creatives' who keep me on my toes with their questions about my latest piece. That's one thing about plays: people see them during different stages of their creation and often ask about their progress.
7. Kim Simpson: Do you think resolution-setters would achieve more success if they focused on their passions - things that they enjoy - rather than a list of bad habits?
Trish Ayers: Absolutely! Who wants to face negative things, or put negative thoughts in their minds? I try to find a positive way to work on things that I might otherwise consider negative.
8. Kim Simpson: Does pursuing a passion (dream/resolution) bring a sense of joy, accomplishment and reward?
Trish Ayers: I've experienced joy, accomplishment and reward as a result of following my passion for writing and sharing that knowledge. The first time I saw one of my plays it wasn't hard to pick me out of the audience. I was the person glowing. This positive energy fueled me forward in my writing. It keeps on building. A similar thing happens when I introduce a writer to the genre of plays. This joy expands with each accomplishment.
9. Kim Simpson: What is your most significant achievement, and/or most memorable outcome of the journey so far?
Trish Ayers: I think my most significant achievement has been to change the attitudes of individuals about proper breast care. Once before a performance, an actor in my play LUMPs pulled me aside and told me that, thanks to my play and his nagging, his mother had scheduled a mammogram. I've heard a variety of positive comments from actresses, actors, directors, and audience members about how they are changing their actions with regards to proper breast care. My mother, a three-time cancer survivor, sat in the audience for one performance and I felt like I won the Tony Award that night.
10. Kim Simpson: Any advice for someone who is thinking about pursuing a dream?
Trish Ayers: Don't be afraid to write down your dreams, then share with people, people who you trust to help you in achieving your dreams, or goals. Once you've had the courage to put your dreams, or goals, in writing, break them down into achievable steps. If you desire to write a play, write a page-a-day, and in three months you'll have one done! Or start out writing a 10-minute play. Nine 10-minute plays can be combined to create a full-length play.
Remember: I Resolve To . . . Achieve My New Year Resolutions, One Resolution, One Day At A Time For One Year. It's your choice. Do it today. Turn your resolution into reality in five simple, common sense steps: Dare To Dream, Decide, Define, Develop A Plan, and Do It Daily. Make your resolution a permanent Lifetime Resolution, something that's with you for good! Above all, Be A Resolutionista, someone who makes resolutions, keeps resolutions, and enjoys the journey! Let's Go For It!
Need More Inspiration? Wear Your Resolution By Visiting The I Resolve To . . . Shop At CafePress: I Resolve To . . . Resolutionista Gear And By Joining The Official I Resolve To . . . Group At Gather.Com.