Challenging myself: Joining Toastmasters

This week I’ve joined toastmasters public speaking group. I’m scheduled to give an icebreaker speech on February 1st.

Challenging myself

Naturally I’m very introspective. Writing is much easier than speaking for me, and I’m more comfortable socializing in a group of 2 or 3 than a party of 30 or 40 people. Now I’m taking a stand for the new year. I’m doing something that is difficult for me, so that I will be better prepared and more able to express myself to the world.

What do I hope to learn from Toastmasters?

I hope to learn how to be more open and talk freely and confidently while describing myself, my habits, and my services. I wish to be able to creatively and concisely share lessons with the world, using my public speaking skills to help give yoga and qi gong classes. I want to learn how to clear my speech of the filler words that come up when my mind busily tries to find the correct word to express myself. I also wish to meet new people in the process, being able to teach and learn from each other.

How will I use these skills for this website?

I plan on making my website a lot more personal. I want you to be able to listen to the passion in my voice when I talk about things I love, to become motivated by watching me teaching yoga and qi gong, and to experience who I am on more than a textual basis. You will see a lot more videos that will accompany the blog posts. You will listen to interviews and Dharma lectures by Travis.

How will you challenge yourself this year?

If you’re already extroverted, try going to a group meditation. If you spend a lot of time at the computer, living a sedentary lifestyle, try going to a yoga class. If you eat out frequently, meet with a friend who cooks and learn to cook a new meal with them. If you’ve always wanted to write and share yourself with the world, start a blog.
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How to Overcome Disappointments

This week I discovered that the yoga teacher training program I planned on doing from January through April is cancelled. I had already bought a ticket to see their open house, but when I arrived no one was there and the door was locked. This was disappointing for me, as it’s less than 3 weeks before classes would’ve started and now I have to re-envision my winter months. What’s the best way to react to such undesired changes? *Allow yourself to be upset/sad/angry Feel the emotions and write out all the reasons you are unhappy about the change of events. Journal about why you’re angry and allow yourself to vent for a few hours. Acknowledge the feelings, and feel them for as long as it is still serving you. It’s probably not helpful to stay angry for more than a few days. *Observe the hidden meaning “When one door closes another door opens, but we so often look so long and so regretfully upon the closed door, that we do not see the ones which open for us.” – Alexander Graham Bell After learning that my yoga program was cancelled, I researched all of the yoga schools near Denver and Santa Cruz, where my two homes are. Any time I found a school that interested me, it was either too far from my home, or didn’t work with my schedule. I interpreted this difficulty in finding a yoga school to be the universe telling me I should be studying something else this winter. I’ve been practicing Qi Gong the last few months and I’ve found a few synchronicities around learning that. I found a book at the studio where I practice Qi Gong. I was able to borrow it and I found out that the author of that book lives near my home in Colorado. *Envision, Write, Imagine Create as many alternate situations as you can think of. After you’ve written all of the possible outcomes, read each one, and compare how you feel after reading it. Once you read a vision and you feel a bright, energizing or passionate sensation in your heart you can begin to follow that path. Take the first few steps, and see if you receive a positive response from the universe. Possible options for me include focusing on webdesign or photography at the community college, studying Qi Gong/Tai Chi, developing strength/flexibility in my body, and/or networking and meeting people in Colorado. This list will continue to change as the weeks go by, but I can start by researching teachers who teach Qi Gong in my area, and go to their classes. If I find someone I connect well with, and our schedules work out, then I know that the universe is sending me a “green light” on that path. If you find yourself continually being shot down with your requests, keep trying until something works out. At the most unlikely time you may meet a stranger who connects you with the perfect situation/job/school. *Share you experience If you had a bad experience with an employer/school/business, express it. You could write a review on yelp, email the business owner, and/or tell your friends who might be interested in working with them. Write factually about your experience, try not to criticize or call people names. Write about what happened to you, what you didn’t enjoy, and how it could’ve been better. *Let go and allow your new future to manifest Once you’ve allowed yourself to feel disappointed, shared your experience, and found an alternate path, let go of the past disapointment and look towards the new direction you’re heading in. It’s easy to complain about how things could’ve been different, and how “only if” that had worked out, but let it go and see what is possible and desire-able in your current situation.
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Confident being Vulnerable

In order to accept positive change into our lives we must become confident being vulnerable. When you are comfortable with the vulnerability, you are able to do what it takes to achieve your goals, even if the short term results might be negative. If you dislike your present reality but are unable to make yourself vulnerable your fears will stop you from achieving success. Some fears are more rational than others, like a fear that you won’t be able to feed and house your family if you quit your job, but irrational fears of public speaking, and social rejection have no physical impact and hold you back. You must realize which fears are irrational, and overcome those fears gradually. At the Conscious Growth Workshop I went to last July we had courage exercises where we were asked to perform awkward social interactions with people we didn’t know. The list of interactions included asking for phone numbers, asking for a free drink, asking for a job as a stripper, and giving hugs and dancing with strangers. The idea was to make us more comfortable with a situation that previously would’ve had us hesitant and timid. To learn that the fear of social rejection is only created in our minds and that rejection can do nothing to harm us. That weekend workshop was an intensive for blasting away fears, but you can gradually do this by creating weekly goals that increase in difficulty each week. In terms of social rejection, the first week you could meet someone new every day. Then you could join a stranger for lunch, invite someone you found attractive to a date, assert your special diet(Vegan, no sweets, gluten free) in a situation with social pressure, speak in public at a toastmaster’s meeting and continue performing the exercises until you feel you’ve overcome that fear and move on to the next one. Other ways to overcome fears are to talk to people who have already done so, and exchange ideas on how you can do it as well. If you have a fear of rejection, talk to someone who’s very sociable. If you are afraid of quitting your job, talk to a successful entrepreneur who left his employer to start his own business. You can also create a list of all of the long and short term positive outcomes of the feared action. Be open to the change, visualize how you want to be and take steps towards it. After practicing and becoming comfortable being vulnerable, your desires will manifest quicker and easier because you will be willing and able to do what it takes to achieve your dreams, despite the initial discomfort.
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CGW Weekly Goal List

Weekly Goal List (Truth/Love/Power)

This goal list is inspired by the Conscious Growth Workshop I went to in July and is based off of Steve Pavlina’s Book. There are 7 universal principles to his book, and you can read more about that here. The concept of my new weekly goal list is to create goals and habits for each of the principles (Truth, Love, Power, Authority, Oneness, and Courage) and to accomplish at least one goal or habit from each principle every day. Being strong in each of these principles helps to consistently bring positive changes to your life. When I review my entire week, I can see which areas I need help with and how I can balance my days. I can then use these ideas to create the next weekly goal list. I create this list every Sunday, journaling about what I desire and where I want to focus my attention on. Then every morning during the week I predict/visualize my day going exactly as I want it to. Then at the end of the day, or the next morning I will critique the last day, and compare it to my prediction.

Example of a day using this goal sheet

I wake up at 5am and go to Bikram yoga at 6am (Power). I introduce myself to someone new at Bikram (Courage) and mention my massage career (Authority). At 8am I meditate for 20 minutes (Oneness) and critique my last day and create a vision for this day (Truth). I go to massage school and learn a technique for Swedish massage and trade with a classmate (Love). After class I practice on a friend who’s a massage therapist and he shows me his personal technique (Love). We go to the beach and practice Yoga and Qi Gong (Oneness). I meet someone new and find out their greatest passion and fear (Courage). I return home and read for anatomy and do Anatomy arcade game (Power). I email friends from CGW and update them on my week and let them know what challenges I’m having and what’s working for me (Truth). This day is very balanced with 3 power, 3 truth, 2 Love, 4 Oneness, 2 Courage and 2 Authority. This is how I write my predictions/visualizations for each day.

Other Examples of Habits and Goals

Truth Journal/Discover how you truly feel about a section of your life (career, relationship, body, ect) Evaluate how you could make one area of your life better Ask someone close to you – “How can I be a better friend” Ask someone who knows you well – “What am I avoiding in life?” or “Where do I need more responsibility in my life?” Have a group of friends where you share the truth about how you’re doing with your goals (the good and the difficult) Love Host a game night/potluck/social event and connect with friends through sharing each other’s company Tell a friend an aspect of their personality that you appreciate and enjoy Barter with someone to share services (Hair cuts, massage, yoga class, web design, photography, teaching music, dance lessons, ect) Interview someone who’s successful in a career you’re interested in Have a weekly group that goes to yoga/surfing/dancing together and gets lunch afterwards Power Wake up at 5/6am every morning Follow through on habits you’ve decided to create Write 500 words a day for blog (ideas, posts, ect) Exercise daily Clean the house Finish a project you’ve been neglecting Do a 30 day challenge with a friend and keep each other accountable (Make a bet) Authority (Truth+Power) Give a business card to a prospective client Introduce yourself to professionals in your business (Networking) Go against the flow (wear your shirt inside out, wear two different shoes) Discover a habit that would help you and follow through on it Oneness (Truth+Love) Go to the beach/nature and breathe, silently enjoying the present Meditate 10/20/30/60 minutes daily Qi Gong/Tai Chi/Movement meditation daily Play music, paint, draw, get lost in the creativity Give someone a massage Receive a massage Courage (Love+Power) Do something you’ve always wanted to do, but were afraid you’d fail Commit to participating in a contest (speech, film, open mic night) Assert what you want (where to eat with a group, what to do with a boyfriend/girlfriend) Introduce yourself to someone new You might see that this is only 6 principles. The seventh principle is Intelligence, which is a combination of the other 6 principles. For me I don’t have an Intelligence section on my goal list, because the combination and balance of the 6 principles creates this naturally. I’ve been enjoying this new way of creating weekly goal lists, compared to what I was using a few months ago. It has been a more holistic approach with balancing the productivity in my days, instead of just trying to accomplish the most I can every day.  It also gives me more variety to choose from because I’ll have multiple habits and goals for each principle. If I don’t go to Bikram yoga one day, I can decide to go biking instead to fulfill the power principle.
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Traveling, Visions, and Planning

This month I’ve done a lot of traveling in airplanes. I’ve gone from Santa Cruz to Colorado, to Orange County (for a libertarian seminar), back to Colorado, and this Saturday I’ll be going back to Santa Cruz. In July I’ll be flying to Las Vegas for a Conscious Growth Workshop. I’ve found these travel days to be perfect for evaluating my life, planning and goal setting. Traveling is a natural transition period. I see these times as an opportunity to prepare to do my best in the following weeks. While traveling on an airplane I’ve enjoyed reading and listening to Philosopher’s notes, which are 20 minute mp3 summaries of one hundred of the most popular self-improvement books. After reading or listening, I’ll often have a flash of inspiration of how I can apply the wisdom in the books to my own life, and I will get out my journal and write. Today I had my weekly goals in front of me, with my to-do’s for the day, but I was still feeling unmotivated. I decided to envision myself at the airport, ready to leave for Santa Cruz. I asked myself: “How do I feel after achieving everything I wanted this last week?” I came up with this list: I am physically fit, having done cardio, yoga, abs, and upper body weight training. I feel closer to Jim, having connected with him while in Colorado. I have clarity on what I desire, having written daily in my Journal. I have published another blog, and have started writing three other rough drafts. I have made connections with yoga teachers and massage therapists in Breckenridge, having interviewed them about their career. I feel inspired to create, having journaled ideas for videos and other content for my website. I feel refreshed, having gone hiking in nature and enjoying the fresh mountain air in Colorado. I feel excited to start massage school, having researched and read blogs about the massage profession. Now I have more clarity on what I desire, and I feel more motivated to accomplish my goals by the time I’m on an airplane again. This new perspective of envisioning myself at the airport, or this place of transition, has given me another way of creating goals and visions for myself. Not only do I create goals when I’m at the airport, but when I become bored or lazy I can reinforce them by envisioning how I would like to feel when I’m at my next “transition point”. On your next flight, see if you can envision how you will feel at your next transition point (when everything goes as you desire).
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Weekly Goals

Here’s a follow up to my time management article to show personal examples of my weekly goals sheets and time management sheets. These were two of my busiest back to back weeks in May. I was editing and finalizing a basketball training DVD, I had 40 hour work weeks at the event center with three 13+ hour work days, and I had to study for finals on top of that. This made me very busy, but I was able to stay relaxed and calm. I still had enough time to eat healthy, exercise, and have some time in meditation. My social interaction became limited to people who were focusing on achieving the same goals, which came in the form of coworkers discussing work and study groups with class mates.



This month I’ve had a focus on creating a vision for myself. These two weeks I had a focus on visions of my future career.

I also color code my weekly schedule, blue for work, green for personal growth activities(yoga, meditation), yellow for school, and orange for studying and tests. Then I can quickly scan my week and see what days I’m working, and which days I need to add a little more green 😉

My weekly to-do’s and habits were essential to my success. Every morning I would look at my goal sheet and work schedule and figure out what I could accomplish that day. I also made sure to fit in meditation and yoga time so that my body and mind would stay rejuvenated.

My habits of meditation and creating daily to-do lists worked out perfectly these weeks. I started putting a + or a – each day based on if I accomplished the habit or not. This gave me more responsibility to follow through on what I planned.

My habits are things that are very important to me, like reading, yoga, and meditation, but that don’t have short term practical application. My To-do list is comprised of things that are urgent, but not necessarily important to my growth. This is a similar way to looking at time management as shown in the 7 habits of highly effective people.

I hope you found this read to be a good use of your time.
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Visions for Clarity

In my weekly goals I’ve been making for myself, I’ve started trying the daily habit of creating a visions of my future. Each week I’ve had a different focus, like career, education/learning and peaceful life visions. These have been great at allowing me to feel what it would be like to be a massage therapist, to live in Hawaii on a farm, or to go to the perfect college. This helps open my mind to different options, and then I can have all my visions in front of me and ask myself: “What do I want to make true next?” For me it is going to massage school in July and August and becoming a massage therapist in Santa Cruz. So here’s an example of my yoga teacher/massage therapist career vision. I am a role model for physical health. I do yoga daily, I eat a healthy raw/vegan diet and I receive massage at least once a week. My clients are mostly gay men who are interested in being healthier and have goals and visions for all aspects of their lives. I show them yoga routines and give massage. I also hold a weekly meditation group with friends and clients. I have a blog where I share my goals and experiences in finding my purpose and improving my self. I join a vegan cooking group and have pot lucks with them. I create or join a support group of massage therapists who discuss business, personal, and life issues around being a massage therapist. We have topics on how to create a welcoming atmosphere at your studio, how to build a good website, ect. I give a short lecture on the topic and we have a discussion group afterwords. I have a small group of close friends and many business associates. I have plenty of time to myself for journaling, meditation, reading, music and relaxation. I take periodic vacations and spiritual retreats in nature by myself or with others. I made sure to include social activities because I want to create a close social circle of growth minded friends in the summer. My class size in massage school will be between 5 and 15 students, so I will be able to get to know them all pretty well. I also made sure to allow time for myself for meditation, yoga, journaling, because my alone time is very important to me. So now I have this vision statement, and even if only half of these visions come true, I’ll be a much happier and fulfilled person. If I ever look at this vision and notice it isn’t bringing up a great feeling of passion and motivation for me, I can change it, add different aspects to it, or throw it out and make a whole new one. If your visions don’t inspire you and leave you feeling good after reading them, change them. It’s also essential to keep an open mind and heart when reading and writing your visions. When writing don’t limit yourself to what you accomplish in your vision. Don’t say “oh well, that would be nice, but I’d never have enough money” or any other excuse, then you are using your own power to stop yourself from achieving your goals. If you’re passionate, persistent, and self-disciplined you’ll eventually reach your goals and manifest your visions.
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