New Year Reflections & Results

What can be accomplished in one years’ time?

Many people make New Years Resolutions - working out, eat healthier, stop smoking, get new job etc. Making goals is the easy part, keeping them is another thing. I recently found a new year resolution goal list from 1998, sadly and somewhat comical I had things on there that I still have not accomplished 15 years later! Luckily there were other things I did accomplish and even moved way past. Writing down my goals helps me focus on specific things and viewing these in writing makes them feel more real, instead of floating around in my head and me telling myself, well maybe someday… I keep my list in a place where I’ll see it, so I am reminded of the new goals.

Amber and Zack Collie

Here are some past pivotal years in my son’s life: 2010, Zack becomes quadriplegic. Our goal that year was to survive it! Which was a huge accomplishment. I remember how Zack set the tone for a positive mindset and goal focused thinking. We were 7 months post-injury Christmas morning, and our family was opening presents. When it came his turn, someone set a wrapped gift on his lap, he just looked at it, in that moment, I realized he couldn’t open it with his weak amount of hand function. I wanted to cry, but then Zack picked up the wrapped gift and used his teeth and opened it. It made me laugh. In that moment I saw the different ways that situation could have gone. I was feeling tears well up and I had viewed not being able to open his present as another loss, but Zack chose humor and creativity and made the whole morning swing in a positive direction. This incident made me see that being intentional about certain things, setting positive goal markers could help my son to keep moving forward.

Another big New Year resolution was 2013 - Zack graduated from high school with his friends and peers. He was three years post-injury. Zack even stood up to receive his diploma with the help of two physical therapists. It was a special moment and a goal we had set earlier in the year. He also applied to college, something he may not have done pre-injury.

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2015 after completing his first year of college, my goal for him was to move onto his college campus. It seemed like an impossible task, but one step at a time things came together, and Zack was able to move out for the first time with the help of a live-in caregiver. He got to experience college life on living on campus. This move taught Zack a whole new level of independence.

Learning to drive was next. Zack had completed his drivers permit test and one behind the wheel training when he broke his neck. It took nine years for him to get to a place where he was mentally and physically ready to try driving. The process was long, and again the goal seemed unattainable but with patience, research and training Zack accomplished this goal in 2019.

This past year 2023 was an eventful year for Zack. He graduated in June with a master’s degree in counseling. He found a job that is close to home and has room for growth. In his personal life, he proposed to his girlfriend while in Hawaii this summer and was married 3 months later.

Having goals set, I have witnessed how they have come to pass. I believe there is something about making specific detailed goals for the year. Don’t forget to add fun goals too like travel plans, music, or dance lessons etc. It’s your life to create so go ahead and make those new Year Resolutions! See what happens.

About the Author - Amber Collie

My life has had many parts, I could write a book just on that section but let's fast forward to when I married Adron Collie. Two weeks after turning 20 (yes, very young!) I had Zackery at age 22, Levi at 24, six years later Kaden, and 18 months after that daughter Laila, making me a busy mother of four. At that time, I also ran a photography business. The year Zack was injured, I had a child in preschool, elementary, junior high and high school. Four kids in four schools! I thought I was so busy, just getting their drop off and pick up times correct was a challenge. I have to laugh now thinking back on that because little did I know my life was just about to turn upside down.

Amber Collie

The opinions expressed in these blogs are the author's own and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Christopher & Dana Reeve Foundation.

The National Paralysis Resource Center website is supported by the Administration for Community Living (ACL), U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) as part of a financial assistance award totaling $10,000,000 with 100 percent funding by ACL/HHS. The contents are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily represent the official views of, nor an endorsement by, ACL/HHS, or the U.S. Government.