"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 running 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 statistically be 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 Jan Beaver Coad 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. Formerly a community college instructor and administrator, she is a delightful creative soul, multi-media artist and author. Jan has Undergraduate Degrees in Respiratory Therapy and a Masters Degree in Community Health Education. She left full-time employment to pursue an art and writing career. She and her children face many obstacles, including Asperger's Syndrome, attention deficits, learning disabilities, Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD), and Tourette's Syndrome.
Jan is the author of 'Why Don't They Come With Instructions?', a collection of personal essays about a Mother's journey raising special needs children and how it lead to the creation of a non-profit organization, The Lavender Door Foundation (the book will be available in August of 2010). Jan is currently working on a memoir about the importance of setting goals and following your dreams. She and her husband, children, cat, and dog live in the Seattle, Washington area. [UPDATE: Read Jan'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?
Jan Coad: I do make resolutions - but instead of doing them once a year in January, I set small manageable goals throughout the year and complete them one-by-one, then reassess and come up with the the next small goal toward achieving my dreams. By doing this I am able to see small successes to keep me motivated on my journey. When I used to make New Year Resolutions, I had a long list that seemed so daunting that I was overwhelmed and gave up more easily.
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)?
Jan Coad: My primary passion is to support at-risk youth and their parents in navigating their way through this challenging world. I accomplish this through my non-fiction writing, mentoring, and my non-profit organization. Art is one way I ease my anxieties and I have found it works for my children, as well - my art foundation goal is to assist at-risk youth in decreasing stress associated with their Asperger's, attention deficits, learning disabilities, OCD, or Tourette's.
3. Kim Simpson: What key techniques, or strategies, do you attribute to your success in making your dreams, resolutions and daily goals a reality?
Jan Coad: My biggest strength is my patience, understanding and creativity. I also have an incredible husband who is supportive of my dreams - together we created, ran and later sold a Victorian Tearoom. My best friend tells me I have the patience of a saint and that my way is paved into heaven by the calm patience I have in working with my children and other youth with disabilities. My philosophy is that being disabled doesn't mean one is unable! I know what it is like to grow up feeling like you don't "fit in," so I can use this knowledge to help others to learn to reach their dreams.
4. Kim Simpson: What are your primary obstacles and how do you overcome them?
Jan Coad: My primary obstacle is my negative self-talk - not allowing myself to be successful. I had to learn to write positive statements, or affirmations, when I was first in college. I was hysterical about speaking in front of anyone. I took and dropped speech class many times before completing my Bachelor's Degree. If you had asked me when I was younger if I would teach for a living, or speak publicly, I would have laughed. Now I share my goals with my husband and others, so I can visualize the dreams as a reality. In order to achieve our dreams, we must believe.
5. Kim Simpson: How do you stay motivated, enthusiastic and on track with your plans?
Jan Coad: My husband is my biggest supporter who encourages me and enables me to go after my dreams. My best friend and I also work together to encourage each other - we are better at seeing successes in each other, rather than seeing our own. She and I meet once a week to talk about our progress and to support each other. It really helps to have cheerleaders! This is the role I see myself in working with youth - their cheerleader.
6. Kim Simpson: How do you keep yourself accountable?
Jan Coad: I write my goals down and read them out loud. I share them with other people - by telling them to others it helps me to talk about my passions and thereby believe that they will happen. I have a daily mantra, "I am going on Oprah." I want to share our family's story about Asperger's and special needs, and increase awareness of the challenges these children and adults face. Being different isn't bad - it is just different. I believe in a world where people aren't judged for their differences . . . where all can live together in peace.
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?
Jan Coad: Absolutely - I have discovered, in order for me to be successful, I have to love what I do and do what I love. Earlier in life when I made New Year's Resolutions, I created a long list of things I wanted to change - often these were bad habits that I hoped to change. Now I break the resolution into smaller, more manageable steps toward the ultimate goal and complete the little steps one at a time (baby steps). This is the way I have been able to be more successful.
8. Kim Simpson: Does pursuing a passion (dream/resolution) bring a sense of joy, accomplishment and reward?
Jan Coad: I get much joy out of seeing myself achieve my dreams - most of my dreams (other than personal rewards like swimming with dolphins) are oriented toward serving others. It really is a blessing to be able to help others see that they are not alone. While waiting for my daughter's hair cut, I met another Mother sitting next to me. She had a son 13 and a daughter in her early 20's (three years older than my son and daughter). I mentioned that my son had told me "real Mom's" don't have short, spiky hair, so I was letting mine grow. I explained that my son has Asperger's, so he tells it like it is. She asked how I got a diagnosis for him . . . it turned out that her children were almost the mirror image of my two, only a few years older. I can't tell you how many mothers I meet like this - not sure how to help their children. This is why I wrote my first book - to let others know they are not alone. It is my hope that my stories will offer some measure of comfort to other parents.
9. Kim Simpson: What is your most significant achievement, and/or most memorable outcome of the journey so far?
Jan Coad: Raising my children and seeing them become independent and not NEED me has really been an achievement. The two have a combination of Asperger's Syndrome, attention deficits, learning disabilities, Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder, and Tourette's Syndrome, yet they are 'dreamers and doers' just like me and are amazingly inspiring. Second, would have to be finding the courage to write about our journey and then finding a publisher for the book. I still can't believe that my book will be available in August 2010.
10. Kim Simpson: Any advice for someone who is thinking about pursuing a dream?
Jan Coad: Write your dreams down . . . no matter how impossible they seem. To achieve dreams, you must believe in them. You must be a 'dreamer and doer'. If you write the dreams down and share them with others they become more real. My daily mantra is, "I am going on Oprah to talk about Aspergers', OCD and Tourette's." My husband affirmed this when he said, "I heard if you say it enough and believe in it, you can make it happen." I smiled, "See, you've got it! We are going to make it happen." I used to laugh when I first began telling people that I wanted to go on the Oprah Show . . . now I don't think it is ridiculous. I'll make it happen.
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.
Kim M. Simpson - July 22, 2009
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