You Can Do It!

Author: Lisa Ellen Niver, CAS’89

Reading Atul Gawande’s Better reminded me of several New Year’s resolutions I have and the challenge I face in trying to keep them.  He advises that “the core requirements for success are diligence, to do right, and ingenuity.”

His five suggestions for how one might make a difference are:

  1. Ask an unscripted question.
  2. Don’t complain.
  3. Count something” “if you count something interesting, you will learn something interesting.”
  4. Write something:  “you should not underestimate the effect of your contribution, however modest.”
  5. Change: “So find something new to try, something to change. Count how often you succeed and how often you fail. Write about it. Ask people what they think. See if you can keep the conversation going.”

I do think this is a great plan to create the change you want to see in this world. I hope you will make a resolution to adopt one or more of his ideas for how to make a difference and share it with someone!

As inspiration, here is my resolution for 2012:

  1. To find a literary agent for our book about our story of meeting online.
  2. To get a new job.
  3. To travel to Asia for one year.
  4. To get engaged underwater.
  5. To lose sixty pounds (and keeping it off for at least two years).

Often, I wonder who would be interested in our personal story about finding love after the age of 39 or the dramas of online dating when you don’t realize you are more than thirty or fifty pounds overweight.  Sometimes, I think no one will read our blog or our stories or come to our travel events.  But, at our last event, we had over one hundred people attend, so maybe someone is listening…

In an effort to connect, I looked on QuakerNet to find Penn alumni with knowledge of books and publishing. I searched about 200 profiles and wrote to about 18 alums. I have had many long encouraging phone conversations with several. With their permission, I am publicly thanking them here for their willingness to support an unknown alumna!

I give you these words from Ralph Waldo Emerson to inspire you to live a better life, starting January 1, 2012 and continuing throughout your life:  “Whatever course you decide upon, there is always someone to tell you that you are wrong. There are always difficulties arising which tempt you to believe that your critics are right. To map out a course of action and follow it to an end requires courage.”

If you’d like to read my blog, you can view it here. I was also recently awarded the title of “Most Enthusiastic Alumni Blogger” by Penn Alumni Relations for my writing for Frankly Penn. Feel free to contact me at and share your own New Year’s resolutions! Or list them below in the comments…

Here are just a few people I’d like to thank for helping me out over the last year

Some helpful Penn Alums I would like to recognize:

Dennis Drabelle

Barbara Magalnick

Joel Goodman  

Please check out the 55th international conference on “The Positive Power of Humor and Creativity” that will take place on June 1-3, 2012 on Lake George in upstate New York– honoring Gabby Giffords with the “Survive AND Thrive” Award.

I wish you all the courage to make your dreams come true in 2012.


1 Comment

Filed under Alumni Perspective, Lisa Ellen Niver

One response to “You Can Do It!

  1. Deirdre

    Wonderful! Thanks for the inspiration. I will definitely check out your blog and your upcoming book! And will you read mine (as yet to be written)?

    I really loved Gawande’s “Checklist Manifesto” and found it applicable in so many areas.

    Deirdre C’93, GEd’94

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s