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If You Want It

Guest Blog: Janna Yeshonova


I am an ICF-certified life coach, a leadership trainer, and an author. Before I was any of those, I lived on the other side of the world, learning the lessons that would show up in my coaching, training, and writing. I discovered some guiding principles that would light my path and useful tools that move hope into action. Let's look at some examples.


Behind the Iron Curtain


Two forces have shaped my life: growing up in the Soviet Union and the impact of its collapse. Between the two, I lived the stories I have shared as an author and the lessons I share as a life coach and trainer. They have instilled a bias toward action that has shaped and saved my life.

I was born and raised in the Moldavian Soviet Socialist Republic, now known as Moldova. Moldova is blessed with beautiful land and fabulous weather. Ukraine and its spectacular Black Sea beaches were a couple of hours away by train, and travel within the country was unlimited. 


My father died when I was 10, holding my hand as we walked down the street. My mother coped with life in the Soviet Union during the height of the Cold War. Mom's wisdom shows in my life, work, and writing. She advised, "Janna when you want it, you do it," which I shared as a blog.


In the 1980s, terror gripped the streets of Moldova while the iron grip from Moscow shifted from military reprisal to bureaucratic inaction. Anarchists painted a Star of David, an urgent and biblical message, on my home's door. I had been marked. There wouldn’t be another warning.


I was swept into the great Soviet exodus; pressure from the West sent the message “Let our people go,” and a huge migration began. I needed an exit visa dated before October 1, 1989, which I couldn’t get without an invitation from outside the country. The invitation, which I didn’t have, could take years to get. I took action, and my exit visa was dated September 28. I made it!



When countries are torn apart, the choice is to stay and risk the chaos or leave and find somewhere to rebuild. My book Love Is Never Past Tense looks at life on both sides of the Soviet collapse. Doctor Zhivago was a romance framed by the start of the Soviet Union; Love Is Never Past Tense is a second-chance romance tied to its end. 


For me and my family, the choice was emigration. We spent the next several months as refugees, migrating first to Austria, then Italy, and later to the United States. Someone asked me: “What is emigration like?” “Emigration,” I said, having thought about it a little, “is like war without the bombing. People behave as if they ran away from the front line. Emigration is the same as evacuation. Not in the depths of the country, but from the country itself …”  


There are no second chances without a breakup in the middle. In this case, the protagonists in my book are separated for quite some time on different continents. Do they get together? The title is a clue.


Moving to America


Today, years later, I am a citizen of the United States. As a coach through my business at life-spark.com, I support clients as they clarify their relationships, build their plans, and take action. 

  • In 2014, Russian troops seized control of Crimea, raising panic in a divided but peaceful Ukraine. The world watched nervously, but my friends in the area were justifiably alarmed. Even then, When interviewed on TV, I knew it was a sign of more to come.

  • A teenage girl working as a shop assistant at a store I visited pulled me aside when she learned I was a life coach. Life coaching is helping a client find a vision and a path that she desperately needs. Coach/client conversations are confidential, but with her permission, I shared her story, which you can read here.

  • An elderly friend needed more than coaching when the war in Ukraine approached. She was living in an apartment complex and woke up to find it had been evacuated, and she had been left behind; I was able to call others nearby who helped her escape to Poland. There are few things more valuable than a good network, but you need to build it in advance.

There are few things as valuable as a good network, but you need to build it in advance.


The Right Tools


Many projects require teams, resources, coordination, and training. I view soft skills training as coaching for teams. With that in mind, here are three topics I offer frequently.

  • We Win When…® A Conflict Resolution workshop that fosters an awareness and understanding that most conflicts can be solved without competition or anger.

  • Can You Hear Me Now? A Listening Skills workshop that promotes active listening rather than listening with intent to reply.

  • Get What You Want! A Goal-setting workshop suitable for teams or individuals, where participants can move out of the armchair and into the driver's seat.

Extending My Reach


When I coach, I focus on one person or, at most, a few people with a common problem. The work is rewarding because clients tell me what worked and how their lives improved.

Training allows me to reach dozens or hundreds of people at once. Even if they aren't all working on a common project, I can see them improving skills that will allow them to leverage their lives. Even during a virtual event, I can get and give valuable feedback.

I write to help people beyond my physical reach. My blog reaches people I may never meet and introduces them to people they will never meet. I have included a few references for you to check out. Please follow the links to check out the remarkable people I have mentioned here.


Writing a novel was a much bigger project. Love Is Never Past Tense is a second-chance romantic adventure in which the protagonists see their world falling apart. It is also based on a true story, an example of the results of persistent action.


Your Turn


Do you want to change your life? Take action! What do you want most? What will you do next to make it real? When will you do it? If you need help, I’m available. Or perhaps it’s your turn to help someone in need. In the land of the blind, the one-eyed man is a life coach.


A Tip for You

It’s too late to go back and start correctly, but it's not too late to go forward and end correctly.


Janna Yeshanova, MA, MEd, PCC


Janna Yeshanova is the author of Love Is Never Past Tense, a life coach, a speaker, and a leadership trainer. Born in the Soviet Union, Janna now lives in the US.

Her book, Love Is Never Past Tense is a second-chance romance based on her true story of leaving the Soviet Union at the last moment with $126 in her pocket. The message of the book is its title, Love is Never Past Tense, but the story shows the process of addressing audacious goals that she uses in coaching today.



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Facebook Page: Love Is Never Past Tense

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