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.

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.

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.

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).

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.

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.

Time management

The day a big project or essay is due in class, my classmates always compare to see who got the least amount of sleep. This isn’t only true in schools because college students take these bad time management skills into their work life. I’ve decided to write an article that shows some techniques that I use in order to make sure I get everything done and have more time to do what I love.

Keep a calendar

Schedule all of your work, school and any other time blocks where you absolutely have to be somewhere onto a calendar that you keep with you all of the time. I use my cell phone, and many smart phones are even better at this type of management. Then if someone wants to schedule a date with you, you’ll know when you’re available.

Planning/Goal setting Day

Have one day a week where you schedule the week ahead of you. I put an inspirational quote or something that will keep me focused on achieving my goals at the top. Then I write down the habits I would like to form, and a to-do list for the week. You should start every day by looking at your weekly goal list, and create a to-do list of what you want to accomplish on that day. I’ll also create of vision of how I would like to see my day going. I’ll write everything in the present moment, and describe how I feel experiencing my day.

Complete Focus

For things like writing an essay, studying or paying bills, you should commit yourself to doing only that task for an alloted amount of time. No texting, cellphone, Facebook, or internet. Just focus on the task that you are doing. This doesn’t mean you should spend 3 hours straight studying, but it means you should commit yourself to doing 40 minutes of studying, and then taking a 20 minute break. You should keep repeating that cycle until you finish the goal you set to accomplish for that study session.

Develop Discipline

It takes discipline to follow through on your schedule and to accomplish goals. You need to slowly train yourself up from where you are now. I read a great article from Steve Pavlina that describes the 5 pillars of Discipline.

Acceptance — How strong is your discpline at this moment? which challenges are easy for you, which are virtually impossible? From here you will know what kind of results you can expect, and how hard to start training your discipline.

Willpower — Provides an intensely powerful, yet temporary boost. Use willpower to reduce the ongoing need for such a high level of sustained force. Alter the territory and replace distractions.

Hard Work — That which challenges you. Strong challenge is connected with strong results. The willingness to do what is difficult is like having a key to a private treasure room.

Industry — Tasks that aren’t necessarily difficult, but they collectively require a significant time investment. Things like cleaning, exercise, and organization.

Persistence — Ability to maintain action regardless of your feelings. Persistence of action = persistence of vision. Consistent clarity about what you want.

If you continue to train your discipline and take small steps you will find that you become more and more productive, and will have more time to spend doing what you love.

References: Productivity 33 Rules


Goals and Ambitions

Blog and Sharing Creativity I am writing a blog to express myself fully without fear of failure, and to help push me to succeed in my goals. I’ll be posting original music, short films, my philosophies on life, and sharing my interests and aspirations. I hope to encourage others to follow their goals, and connect with people who have similar interests. Waking up early I will wake up at 6am every morning in order to meditate, do yoga, play music, and visualize my day before I go to work or school. This gives me a productive start to each day and helps me with creating good habits. This also helps me to strengthen my discipline, because I will be waking up at 6am every morning, whether or not I have school or work. My habits before creating this goal were to wake up between 7:30am – 10:00am, depending on when I had to be somewhere, and I would just get ready and then surf the internet until I had to leave. The second part of this goal is to be asleep before 11pm. This is already a habit I have, I just used to sleep 10 or 11 hours, and now I’ll sleep 8 or 9. If I’m successful with waking up at 6am every morning for a month, I may try waking up at 5am. Exercise Stretching is essential for me in the morning. I have naturally tight muscles, and if I don’t stretch I get back pain. So now I will do Yoga and Stretching every morning. I will go to Group Yoga every Wednesday, and once on the weekend. I’ve also joined a couple hiking groups in Santa Cruz and San Jose. Later this month there will be an intense hike at Pinnacles state park which I am getting ready for. Play and Create Music I’m going to make a habit of practicing my bass guitar and drums every morning for at least half an hour. I will record both original and cover songs and upload them online bi-weekly. I’ll meet more people who play music and jam with them. Meditation I will meditate 30 minutes in the morning and 30 minutes before bed every day. I am signed up for a Vipassana 10 day meditation retreat in June. This will help to prepare me. I’ve also joined a meditation group in Downtown San Jose.

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