Recently, I finished listening to module 1 of Amplify (by Steve Pavlina) for the first time. I went through all the workbook exercises for those lessons and tried to come up with short answers in my journal. So, here are my thoughts on the course so far.

Module 1’s theme is “The Frame Game”. I am familiar with this idea as I have worked with experts in removing limiting beliefs or with CBT (where you examine your thoughts, actions, behaviors, responses, etc. and you explore alternatives). So, this concept is not new to me. I understood it right away. I think even if someone did not know about these ideas, they could easily learn them through his presentation on the topic. Sometimes, I feel very limited in my thinking when it comes to trying alternative frames. That’s probably normal because we’re used to seeing things a certain way. But, I know I could always ask someone else for their thoughts to find new frames that I haven’t yet explored.

The workbook gives different exercises for you to do to explore new frames. For example, there’s one about your relationship with your inner muse. There’s another about personifying threats in your life and examining your relationship with those threats. Even if it seemed external, I felt like a lot of these were just a reflection of myself.

Though, one that seemed external/unknowable to me was figuring out life’s intentions. I have a distant relationship with life outside of myself, so I don’t normally think about what a higher being wants from me. I used to think life was positive and that the seemingly negative events were guiding me to a greater path. But after a particular hardship I faced, I wondered if that were really true. I wondered if life had good values or if it could be secretly hateful at times. I wondered if it were just neutral and that it would just allow the worst things possible to happen to you. I still don’t know what life really wants, needs, or desires. But through the last call we had, Steve mentions how the flow and resistance you feel can be indicators of what life intends.

The course focuses on creativity, but it made me think about my experience with hearing a command voice. Basically, this is an experience where sometimes my body moves without me controlling it, or something will make me talk out loud without me controlling it, or will say something in my head similar to a thought but more like conversation. At first, I found it to be an interesting experience, and I thought “Universe” was trying to guide me and help me with achieving my goals/dreams. And, I’d often say, “Hey, I am Law of Attraction! Let me do it on my own!” And then when the command voice stuck around, I tried to be friends with it, and for a while I was on this high of life. And then eventually, it became very negative and suicidal. I didn’t understand why this was happening at all. Why would a higher being want something to encourage me to kill myself, when I was trying to spread positive messages with the work I was doing?

Recently though, I thought, what if this experience were to teach me about the struggles of suicidal people or people with mental illnesses in general? I used to think that it was so simple to remove limiting beliefs and to change your thoughts and that this same idea could be applied to the content that I was hearing from the voice. But when I tried to do see if the voice had limiting beliefs and if I could remove them, it didn’t seem to follow logic or emotion. Sometimes, it actually became worse. It can be like an unexplainable physical illness. Sometimes, your body fights against you. Some people are allergic to water, for instance. Some people’s intestinal tracts tear or rip up when consuming fibrous vegetables or fruits. Some people function at a high level for years, and then suddenly develop hearing a suicidal or threatening voice.

A while ago, I came up with the possibility that perhaps the voice has no limiting beliefs. It might be open to any possibility, even the possibility that we can willfully live a life of negativity, so why not explore that. It’s possible, but I’ll never really know what motivates the voice to act in a particular way. It often blurs the line between truth and what I label as storytelling. I don’t know when it’s telling me something it actually feels or when it’s making up a story, or if it simply has no feeling at all.

I’m not trying to spin hearing voices into something positive. It’s something I would never wish for anyone. Some people experience hearing positive voices. Psychics sometimes claim to hear spirit guides. Personally, I never wanted to hear voices in general, because I don’t want it to hold so much power or influence. But, having a command voice taught me more about mental illness in general, and how it’s not always so straight-forward. There are probably other reframes that I haven’t even considered yet.

I don’t have a favorite lesson from module 1 as of now. All the lessons are useful. I do think I will have to return to some of the lessons, particularly the one about social, individual, and life-level intentions. I want to expand on what I came up with for life-level intentions and see if I can come up with more. So far, I’ve come up with life wanting to express itself through me, and life wanting to destigmatize mental health/illness.

So far after enrolling in this course, I’ve signed up for BMI (performing right organization) for my music, I’ve set up my original song for release in less than a month, I’ve created lyrics videos for my song for both YouTube and IGTV when it releases, I’ve released some merch for my music (something I’ve been wanting to do for a while but procrastinated on), I’ve livestreamed, and I’ve created a worksheet that focuses on habit change through identity. I don’t know if these are directly related to enrolling in the course… I would think so because you can be influenced by the people you interact with, and since it’s a creative group, I guess I would be inspired to create more in general.

In terms of my music in general though, I still have ways to go. I haven’t worked on music production for the past week. I got sidetracked focusing on health goals such as exercising or reaching my food goals. Though, I have been actively trying to find a new music producer to work with. I’ve been leaning more into the idea.

Module 2 has 11 lessons, so it will be another 3-4 weeks before I review that if I’m keeping my current pace (3-4 lessons a week). Module 2’s theme is “Opportunity”. I think this is what I was interested in learning more about before signing up for the course, find opportunities to share your art or music with more people, or finding golden opportunities in general. So, I’m looking forward to it.

When I was in my early 20s, I remember hearing about how we all have the same 24 hours in a day, therefore we make time for what we want. I used to look to this idea as a way to motivate myself to plan out my day in a way that I can reach my goals. But in recent years with my new experiences, I’ve learned that not everyone has the luxury or ability to do what they want in those 24 hours. It’s actually quite ableist and classist to assume that people choose to live a certain way. I’ll explain why.

Some people are accustomed to living with certain luxuries in their life. We may feel as if everyone should have access to clean water, heating, healthy food, a loving home, etc. But realistically, this is just not the case. Some people live in areas where clean water is lacking, and they don’t have access to technologies such as cars, delivery, computers, etc. You and I may just access clean water by turning on the tap, or we may even drink out of bottled waters that we bought from the store. But, some people have to walk miles barefoot just to access water, which might not even be clean. They may spend a whole day going back and forth collecting water for their family to use over the next few days. And, there may not really be an easy solution for them. These people may not have good education where they are living, and they may not have good opportunities to earn money or to barter in general. They may not be in a position to move, because of citizenship, of war, of no means to do so, etc. I mean, what would you do if you were in this situation? It’s not like you can start a GoFundMe when you have no computer, no literacy, no knowledge of what that even is, no bank account to even receive the funds… What if you didn’t even know you could access these things? What if you didn’t realize that tap water even existed?

There are also people who face illnesses every day. Some are visible, some are not. Some illnesses require a lot from a person every day. Some people have to sleep a lot more than the average person because of their medications or their illnesses in general. Some people have to see doctors, nurses or therapists on a regular basis to maintain their health. Some people spends hours filing insurance claims for their health expenses. Some people are unable to work a regular job because of their condition. Do you think that these people wouldn’t want to spend their time in a different way if they had a choice? Who decides that they want to get bloodwork done every week just to make sure their meds aren’t messing up their white blood count? In one sense, yes, they want to make sure they’re alright. But, the ideal situation would be not to have to worry about these things at all. Some people don’t want to sleep 12 hours a day, and yet they find themselves doing this because of their new medication, or because they have some type of disorder. If you don’t have to worry about tending to sickness in general, honestly, you are privileged. Not everyone is as lucky as you. I’m not saying this to make you feel bad. It’s just you have to recognize that not everyone is in the same position to choose what they do in a day.

The point I’m trying to make is to not just assume that people choose what to do with their time. You never really know. Of course, I’m all for helping people to realize their potential. But, I never push someone to do something unless they make it clear to me that it is something they want and are ready for as well. Everyone has different priorities depending on where they are in life and what they value. I’ve always wanted to start my own business or to basically be self-employed, but I realize that this kind of lifestyle is not for everyone. Some people actually like having a job or being part of a company. We value different things, and there’s no point in judging each other. It’s not like one of us is doing something harmful. (Well, unless you’re working for Monsanto I guess…)

I hate to say it, but sometimes, I look at how others are doing in similar fields to me and use that as a way to gauge my own abilities. They say comparison can kill, but honestly, sometimes it motivates me. Sometimes, I get inspired by what others do. Sometimes, I even get envious or judgmental. I always acknowledge it, and I tell myself, “Hey, if they can do it, so can I, if that’s what I really want!” I wish I wasn’t envious or judgmental of other people at all, but I figured if I’m feeling this way, I might as well spin it into something beneficial. And you can too!

Sometimes, it may be a person you know in real life: a friend, an acquaintance, a family member, a bully... Other times, it could just be some random person online, or that you may only know by name (e.g. a celebrity, an influencer, an author, etc.). It doesn’t really matter who. The point is, sometimes they do something that you’ve been dreaming of, and you see their success. You see them doing well. And then deep inside, you’re like, “Wait, that could be me.”

And uh, no offense, but sometimes, you feel like you could do a much better job than the person in question. I’ve had a few acquaintances who have started businesses, started blogging, published books, created merch, and so much more, and I’m like, “Hey wait a minute, that’s what I’ve been wanting to do!” And then out of curiosity, I look into what they’re doing. I read their blogs, check out their social media, and view their merch designs. When I read it or view it, I’m thinking, “Wow, this is really average or bad quality. Do they seriously make money this way?” Hey, maybe it seems brilliant to them, just as what I’m creating seems brilliant to myself. And you know, maybe their advice actually works for some people. So rather than scowling at their work, if I think I have much better ideas, why don’t I create something of my own and put it out there?

Most of these people who write books or start businesses have no clue what they’re doing when they start. Even after they execute the idea, it’s imperfect. There may be many flaws. But you know, that’s how you get started. And, I guess the reason I get so critical of others is because I’m constantly trying to make sure that what I put out is of good quality. I’m a perfectionist in a way. But today as I was tuning into Steve Pavlina’s 5th Amplify Zoom call (I know I’m rambling, bear with me), I shared the realization that it’s better to share an imperfect creation than not at all. Who is going to benefit from your creations if you keep it all to yourself?

Plus, usually you improve over time. I say usually, because it does take some conscious effort. You have to be aware of where you’re at, what your strengths are, what your weaknesses are, what’s landing with people, etc. I’ve dealt with so-called professionals, I’m talking about people with PhDs or who have been working in a field for 25+ years, and they continue to give outdated advice. They don’t really learn anything new. One example is a psychiatrist that claimed to have had training in CBT. She really only knew the basics and thought that that was sufficient enough. I received treatment from her for a couple of years. She shared a lot of ideas that I just couldn’t see eye to eye with. I couldn’t understand some of her suggestions. Well much later, I went to an expert on CBT and he was able to help me make significant changes in my life with what I had been struggling with. And a few times even, he would say the complete opposite of what my psychiatrist was suggesting. I could rant about this in a whole different blog post (or maybe even a video), but anyway…

The reason I’m rambling about this is because honestly, it takes little to no effort to be ordinary, to do what everyone else is doing, to be average… So honestly, if someone else is able to do something with such low effort, imagine if you were the one doing that. I’m not saying you should strive to be average. I would hope that you would try to become better. But, I’m just saying, there are so many average singers making song covers on YouTube who have thousands of followers. There are so many average life coaches making hundreds or thousands of dollars a month with their coaching business. There are so many average merch designers making hundreds of sales every year. If they can do it, why can’t you?

Also, you don’t have to do all the work yourself. Don’t know how to set up a website? Ask someone. Don’t know how to create quote posts on Instagram? Ask someone. Honestly, I’m working on this myself because I get a little nervous to work with other people. I tend to do most of my creative work by myself (blogging, setting up a website, creating Instagram posts, creating a bio website, producing music, putting my music on Spotify/iTunes, etc.). But, I have a friend who helps me with music artwork. It started with her approaching me and asking me if she could make artwork for a song I was covering. We have a good friendship in general, so I feel comfortable going to her continuously for help. I’ve collaborated on a song in the past with someone I knew, though we weren’t particularly close, and I felt awkward trying to push for the project to be completed by a certain time. So, I’ve learned I like working with friends, or at least have that openness to be transparent/honest about what your expectations are. You don’t necessarily have to be friends though. You could find someone to help you in whatever area so that you can focus on what you do best / what your interest is.

It took me a while to start my “music career” on YouTube. I was haunted by this memory in 7th grade when a boy, who I considered to be a good singer, heard me singing with friends, and commented that I sounded terrible. I was so embarrassed that I was shy about singing in front of others if it was by myself. Honestly, thinking back, I realized that my style of singing was different, much softer. I was in tune. I was in choir. I didn’t have a “pop” vocal, I had a choral voice at the time, and I didn’t know how to sound like people did in pop songs.

ANYWAY, long story short. Eventually, I got into K-Pop, and I remember putting out my first cover (2NE1!). A while later, a couple of friends heard it and encouraged me to post more. It took another year or so, but I started posting more bad quality covers. I thought it was so cool that I could figure out some songs by ear. But oh my goodness, the instrumental quality was horrible. Anyway, I received feedback from random internet strangers that it wasn’t that great either… >< (I set those videos to private, haha.)

But then, I would go see other YouTube cover artists who were not even producing their own instrumentals, who had terrible English translations (I thought I could do so much better), and with poorly edited vocals. They had thousands of followers, and hundreds of likes. I was wondering, how on earth were they doing this? And how were they not getting the terrible feedback that I was getting?

I kept going, and eventually, some of my song covers were landing (though admittedly, improving in quality too as compared with my previous covers). One was even shared by the original artist! In my head, I was like, “How’s that Bob?!” (That’s not his real name, but I’m referring to the boy who told me my singing was horrible back in middle school.)

Even now, I consider myself an average singer. I’m not a good belter. I don’t have this dazzling tone. My head voice sounds weird when recorded. Heck, I use pitch correction on my vocals. I hardly sing live to people. But I told myself, if others can do it, so can I! I don’t need to be the best. It’s not like I’m doing brain surgery where it’s life or death. And hey, you don’t need to appeal to everyone either.

I don’t want to throw names, but there are a lot of people for example in the personal development field who I consider to be quite average. They talk about very basic concepts and share these ideas as if they’re the most profound ideas ever. And you know, for people who are learning these ideas for the first time, it can seem groundbreaking. But I’ll be honest, I consider myself an intermediate in terms of what I know in the self-help field, and I feel like I know just as much or even more than some of these “experts”. Truthfully, I don’t like that I’m being so judgmental about these people. They’re probably just trying to help others. If I feel like I can do so much better, then I should just do it.

Some people make a living out of criticizing others. It can be funny or entertaining honestly. There are vegans who analyze non-vegans’ “what I eat in a day” videos. There are film critics, reaction videos, and course/book reviews. Some of these can be done tastefully. Though, some can be outright obnoxious, so I would tread carefully into this path if it seems like something that interests you. Personally, I want to do reviews/criticisms of my own, though I’m trying to find a tasteful way to accomplish this. I’ve tried doing this in the past in college / post-uni, but it came across as harsh, and I didn’t like that. I wouldn’t want to receive such harsh criticism myself so publicly, so I’d like to tone that down.

I went on a tangent, but my point remains. If someone else can do it, why can’t you? They might not even be as talented, as skilled, as experienced, as knowledgeable, as smart, as clever, as whatever! But if they can find a way, surely you can too. Sometimes, this is what motivates me to get started. This may seem petty at first, but honestly if it inspires you to do something for yourself, then that’s great! Eventually, you may even find those feelings of jealousy and envy and comparison go away as you begin to focus on accomplishing your goals or dreams in life.

I had been planning to join Steve Pavlina’s Conscious Growth Club (CGC) for 2021-2022. It opens in the end of April, but recently, he launched a new course called Amplify. From what I’ve read, it’s beneficial for conscious creatives. I wanted to joined, but since Amplify would be free for CGC members, I didn’t want to pay extra. The only benefit to joining early would be to join the live calls. But today, I received an email from Steve saying that anyone who joins Amplify would have the course fee waived from the CGC membership for 2021-2022. So, I ended up taking that deal. I missed the first call, but you know, I would have missed them all if I just waited to join CGC. So, it’s not too bad.

I previously joined DAI (Deep Abundance Integration) back in 2018. It was only $97 at the time of offering. I joined maybe half of the live calls. I never got around to finishing all the calls. Steve even added a lengthy eBook as an addition to the calls, but I only read it for Day 1. I mean, you can finish it at your own pace. But honestly, I really should go back and make the most out of the course.

For Amplify, I figured I could at least join in on the live calls before CGC starts. I’m not crazy about recordings because they can be long. He said that the first call was 3.5 hours. I have a short attention span these days, so the only way I could make it through is to break it down into small chunks that I could listen to throughout several days.

Honestly, I’ve never really finished any course online that I’ve signed up for outside of university. The most I’ve gone through is the Success Triggers course by Ramit Sethi. It started with me blogging my progress with it summer of 2020 when revisiting it. And then, I just kind of left it. I’ve gone back a couple times, but I still have 25% left to go.

With DAI, I’ve attended maybe 40% of the calls, but I don’t remember a lot of it. I didn’t really take notes, just engaged in the chat and tried to follow along. And, I definitely didn’t read much.

I really should restart the habit of completing a part of any course I’ve signed up for at least maybe 5 minutes a day. I tried building other habits like reading books every day and exercising. My exercise habit is still going okay, considering I exercise for at least 10 minutes 5/7 days a week. I mean, it could be better, but considering I was doing nothing before, that’s a start. For reading, I started off ambitious, so I have to restart the habit and really start small. Same with courses.

I just recently checked out that book by James Clear about habit-building from my local library. I only read the introduction. But, maybe I’ll learn more about habit-building that I haven’t tried myself yet. I’m hopeful…

Anyway, back to the Amplify course. The regular price is supposed to be $497. I said it would be worth it if it could double the highest amount I’ve made in a month with my music. So, that’s my goal with this course. I’ll only know after a few months since with music income, payment is delayed by 2-4 months. And, it’ll probably be 1-3 months at least before I release the original song I’ve been working on. So basically, I won’t know until summer/fall.

I tend to dabble into different activities, courses, hobbies, etc. So, I hope that I actually stick to checking out the whole Amplify course and implement what I’ve learned from it into my life. My hope would be to actually be paid decently for my music. And also, to create more without feeling burned out and actually finishing what I’ve started. (I tend to leave drafts, and then think they’re not good enough to finish.)

After years of avoiding investing due to beginner mistakes in my early twenties, I decided to give investing a shot again. When I first started investing, it was after completing my internship in uni. I took $2500 and put it toward a Roth IRA, trying to take advantage of the savings since I didn’t owe any federal taxes from my limited income that year. I thought this was smart because I was essentially depositing after-tax income into an account that I could later withdraw from tax-free without losing any money at all (until later, which I will explain soon).

Back then, I thought investing in the stock market was all about picking the right stocks and profiting it. I looked into a stock with dividends and bought a bunch of shares without really knowing what I was doing. And months later, the stock price doubled! I thought this was amazing. And then, I became busy with planning to move to Korea and living there. When I looked over my account a year or so later, the stock had plummeted and I was no longer receiving dividends even. I had no clue what to do. I couldn’t recover the money. So, I just bit the bullet and left it as is.

From then on, I would be scared to invest in the stock market. I never really read about how to invest in the stock market. I just avoided it from then on, thinking I could just make passive income later on, and that would be where I would invest.

Fast forward to earlier this year. I remember a financial advisor tweeting something about 8% returns on investments vs. the situation that was going on with GameStop stocks. And then I thought, “Huh, 8% returns? Is there such a thing? Is it actually that reliable?”

And then, one of the eBooks that I was waitlisted on from the library was available to me (by the same advisor). I was absorbed and read the first two chapters. He didn’t even talk about investing yet, but I realized if he could simplify financial concepts for people regardless of age and make it simple and easy, surely I could figure out investing in the stock market in a way that I can make 8% returns too.

I had a chunk of savings in an account that also had different investment options. But, I always thought the investments were either risky, or I would lose money to fees. As I was reading more, I realized that there was a relatively small fee. And as history would show, the return rates were high, even surpassing 8% on the most aggressive option.

I also learned that the market does go down at times, but as long as you keep your money there, it eventually goes up again (for index funds). And you know, I was scared because I invested in an individual stock only to lose money, and it never went up again. I’ve heard of index funds, but I never really knew what they were. And, those index funds have a proven track record of interest gains. I don’t have to be monitoring anything. The work would be done for me essentially. I never realized making money through investing in the stock market was this easy.

Though, I just started re-allocating my resources today. I’ll only know for sure if it was a good idea months or years from now. I’m just glad that I took the first step in investing, and that I have a better idea of what I’m doing now.

This morning, I was browsing my second Instagram page, wondering how I could monetize it with over 5800 followers. It has a pretty good engagement rate, I would say 5-10% these days. So, I was wondering what I value I could provide in return for passive income.

Well, it’s not exactly passive depending on how it’s run. However, I could find myself enjoying being part of a community, depending on what it is. I’ve been part of several online communities in the past. Currently, the only one I’m really in is this Facebook group for Grant Cardone’s Launch 2021. Though, I find the content (aside from Grant’s webinars) to be pretty low value in general. I wanted to upgrade from that (and probably delete my Facebook since I get such low engagement from it).

So I thought about it. What exactly would I want from an online community? Do they have to fit a high standard? Do they have to align with certain values? Do they have to have a specific interest?

I didn’t want it to be super ambitious like ideas I’ve had in the past. I’m not looking for a mastermind group necessarily. To me, a mastermind group is laser-focused on achieving a set of goals and meeting those goals through accountability. For me, I’d rather focus more on mindset. I thought I could create something with the idea of achieving an ideal lifestyle. The lifestyle would be different depending on the person.

Originally, I wanted to create it for females. But then, I couldn’t really think of a reason not to include males too. I thought I would target women, but include men too. That’s what Marie Forleo does with her B-School, and I like that idea.

I feel like focusing on an ideal lifestyle makes sense to me more than focusing on goals. When you feel aligned with your core values, you are able to achieve meaningful results. And, I want to be in a community that supports each other in creating that ideal life, whatever it looks like to them.

Taking ideas from other online communities I’ve been in, I would probably do a Zoom call once every two weeks. I would take questions from members and probably go with the flow. It would be maybe 45 minutes or so. And, then I would check in every day (except for when I’m away) on whatever platform or forum we end up using.

I mentioned passive income earlier, as I was thinking it would definitely be a paid group. If you want quality, you have to charge to filter out all the trolls or abusers. And, I’d set rules too so that if anyone violates those rules, they get the boot and they’re not welcome back. I’m trying to figure out a good amount to charge. If it’s too low, people will have a reason to flake and fizzle out. And, do I want a monthly commitment or a yearly commitment?

I think to start with, I would set a monthly membership. I think I could charge $25/month. Honestly, even that is low. But, I think it’s not too high so people will check it out, and not too low that the non-committal people don’t flood in. It’s pretty much like gym membership, but more for the mind. 😄

Most paid communities I’ve joined have included bonuses. I don’t think that’s necessary, but maybe would be useful for initial traction. I could include PDFs of activities for achieving the ideal lifestyle and maybe some wallpapers for phones and desktops. And, I could add more to it as the months go by.

The more I’m talking about this idea, the more I’m realizing its potential. I can create it to be something that I enjoy, so it doesn’t feel like “work”. I’m reminded of Steve Pavlina, who created workshops and own online club to attracted the types of people he would like to interact with. That’s mostly where I’m getting the idea from.

There’s also Leo Babauta, who runs one on habit change. I thought about a habit change program, but I think lifestyle change is more appealing to me. It’s like forming your identity. Instead of making the habit of running, be the runner. Instead of making the habit of writing, be the writer. I could still talk about habit formation. It’s just that my focus is a little different.

I think I’m leaning towards this idea. I just have to figure out the execution. I’ve never done this before. It’s completely new to me. I don’t know how to build such a website. But, I’m sure I could learn if it’s something I really want to do. I wonder if people would even be interested.

For January 2021, I planned on hula hooping 5 minutes a day. That ended up not working as planned because the weight hula hoop hurt my abs after 15 seconds, and I couldn’t imagine continuing with that pain. So, I attempted to build up to 5 minutes a day. Though, I didn’t hula hoop every day. I hooped maybe 3-4 times a week. By the end of the month, the most I could hoop at once was 2 minutes before the pain would set in.

Then, I thought maybe I could make use of the set of dumbbells I had. I thought I could alternate days of hooping with reps of exercising with dumbbells, maybe even do squats, every day for 30 days starting February 1st. And, I could start with just 1 minute a day for the first week. Week 2 would be 2 minutes a day. Week 3 would be 3 minutes a day. You get the idea.

So today, I hooped for 1 minute with the weight hula hoop while watching a 1-minute timer video on YouTube. I hope to keep up the momentum. I tried to make it as simple and as easy as possible for myself. It’s a small start, but it’s more than what I’ve been doing. You have to start somewhere.

The hula hoop and dumbbells are in plain sight in my office room, where I go every day. And with COVID-19 still raging on, I doubt there will be a day that I will miss going to my office room. I have no travel plans. I’m in this room every day. And, one minute is not hard. You know, even if it seems hard, it’s doable. I can talk myself into doing it, like rationalize, “Well, it’s only one minute!”

I decided to do these activities because I stopped going for walks outside ever since the weather dipped in temperature. I’m still not motivated to go out for a walk, especially today when snow is still fresh on the ground.

I haven’t gone to the gym in over two years. And, I don’t intend to during this pandemic. Though, I will consider going back when times are better.

I considered other options such as planking, pushups, or yoga. But, I feel like I have to push myself to do those things. I wanted to do something that I could do with little willpower. I kind of enjoy hooping, and lifting dumbbells doesn’t seem so hard when it’s right there and it only takes a minute of my time.

It’s quiet sad because of how bad my fitness level is. I mean, I’m not crippled or anything, but I barely have arm strength. My abs are pretty much non-existent. I guess the only thing I have going is that it can only go up from here, right? 😂

In the past, I got frustrated because I would go to the gym frequently and feel tired or gain weight. I couldn’t even tell if I was gaining muscle. It seemed like fat to me since my body pretty much looked the same, with my round tummy going nowhere. I hope I don’t coincidentally gain weight and think that it’s related to this. I talked about it in a previous post, but I really don’t want to reach a situation where I’m over 160 lbs. That would be my breaking point. I would truly wonder where I went wrong. I mean, I wouldn’t complain if I had a toned belly and weighed more. But if I still have a round belly and somehow push beyond 160 lbs, I would feel so angry, confused, and betrayed. Like, somehow my body turned against me and decided, “Welp, now you’re going to be officially overweight according to BMI!”

Technically where I stand now, I’m in the upper normal range for my BMI. But, I definitely feel as if I’m already overweight. My stomach is not toned at all. I honestly wouldn’t care about the number on the scale if I had a toned belly. But if I want that, I know, I have to actually take steps to get there considering where I am now. And my first step is getting into the habit of being active, no matter how little it is!

In November, I did a 30-day book reading challenge (20 pages or more). In December, I learned a new word every day. This January, I was planning to hula hoop 5 minutes a day. But unfortunately on Day 1, I realized that this goal was too ambitious for my level of fitness. 😅

You see, I haven’t hula hooped for three years or so. So when I first attempted to hula hoop on January 1st, I could only get through 15 seconds before the sore stomach pains really got to me. So instead of doing 5 minutes a day, I thought it would be nice if I could work up to 5 minutes gradually over time.

Well, today I was able to do 2 minutes straight without stopping! That’s progress. It’s not even halfway to 5 minutes, but considering how I would only hula hoop 3-4 times a week, that’s something. I felt a little soreness towards the end of the 2 minutes. I thought I could keep going, though I wouldn’t have a timer. (I was watching a 2-minute timer YouTube video with music, so I didn’t have my actual start time from the clock to follow.)

I was planning on buying a regular hula hoop so that I could comfortably go through 5 minutes a day. Plus apparently, you can burn as many or even more calories with a regular hoop versus a weighted hoop. So I thought, what’s the point of extra pain when you can burn extra calories anyway with something less intense?

I thought you could find regular hula hoops for cheap in places like the dollar store or Walmart or even Amazon. But, a lot of hoops go for $20 or more, and they tend to be weighted. Or, they’re in bulk. Or, they’re kid sizes. I’m not sure why it’s so hard to find a cheap basic adult hula hoop.

So, then I thought maybe I should just continue with my weighted hula hoop. I don’t have to do any 30-day trial or anything, but just gradually work my way up to 5 minutes by hooping 3-4 days a week like I’ve been doing. I mean, I can already do 2 minutes, and I think I could have pushed for another 30 seconds or so. So, it’s possible.

I’m curious to know what long-term hula hooping would do for me. I’m talking about hula hooping every day for 10 minutes or more a day. Would my belly tone up? Would my abs be stronger?

Aside from hula hooping, I thought about also trying to jump rope again. Though, I don’t really have much space at home to do so. If I did jump rope, it’d be easier to do it outside. I’m not really motivated to work out in the cold. I know you can warm up by working out, but I tend to avoid the cold whenever I can. 😅 I think when it gets warmer, like during the springtime, then I will buy a jump rope and time myself doing that. Maybe I’ll even do a 30-day experiment with jump roping.

I wanted to get into some sort of physical activity that’s fun. That’s why I decided to try hula hooping again. We had a hula hoop for a while, but I didn’t know where it would fit in the house. I ended up being able to make space for it.

I eventually want to join a gym again and try some classes, probably zumba. And if I do take classes, I’ll make sure to only do as much as I can handle. If the class is an hour long and I can only handle 20 minutes in the beginning, I’ll do that. I don’t want to burn myself out like I did in the past when I would attend intense workout classes.

Anyway, I still have a prominent belly. My body is not toned at all. Some people think I look skinny, just because of the way I dress. Like obviously if I were wearing a crop top or a tight shirt, you’d see my round belly. I mean, I don’t have the most overweight body or anything. It’s just obviously, I could be healthier and do better.

I don’t really watch what I eat. I’m trying to cut down on sugar though. I usually have breakfast and dinner, unintentionally intermittently fasting out of convenience. I used to eat cereal every day, which is funny considering I used to condemn cereal, again out of convenience. And then, I tried having healthier breakfasts with vegetables or fruits for the past month or so. I didn’t realize how much sugar was in the cereal, or how much sugar I’d consume outside of breakfast and dinner if I just felt like having a snack. If it’s fruit, it’s fine. But, it’s usually not fruit, so that’s no bueno.

I know people have been gaining weight during the pandemic. But, to see my weight constantly going up for years was so frustrating to me. I remember when my goal was to be less than 120 lbs, and now I’d just be satisfied with being less than 150 lbs. I’m scared that it will somehow go beyond 160 lbs. It’d be one thing if my belly were toned and it’s just muscle weight, but to reach that weight and still be out of shape, that’s just my limit. I’d be so angry.

I don’t really believe in dieting unless it’s part of a lifestyle. For example, eating vegan makes sense because it’s about not exploiting animals. And, cutting out foods that you’re allergic to makes sense. But otherwise, I don’t think restricting calories is the way to live. Or only eating green foods.

Aside from eating vegan or vegetarian during parts of my life in the past, I’ve never considered dieting. I’ve always eaten as much as I felt like eating. And before, that worked fine. I was generally around 120 lbs or so. Sometimes, even less. And then after I had been put on meds, I consistently gained weight. It didn’t matter the dosage. I’m actually at the lowest dosage, but pretty much at my highest weight. So if it’s not the meds, I don’t know what else it could be, because my weight in the past was not really an issue.

I thought about returning to a vegan lifestyle one day, for ethics and for health. Like honestly, there’s no reason for me not to be vegan. I’m not lacking any nutrients, and it might even help me to lower my bad cholesterol.

Anyway, I’m thinking about what I should do for my next 30-day trial, if I should do one at all. It’d be nice if it were health or fitness related. I just don’t know what. I want it to be simple so that I will actually do it every day. Even if it’s not health or fitness related, that’s okay too. Maybe I could try a songwriting challenge, or a journaling challenge, or even another blogging challenge. We’ll see…

2020 was a relatively stable year for me. It wasn’t my best year, but it definitely wasn’t my worst. And if anything, it was better than the two years prior to that. Admittedly, I didn’t achieve much, but it went a lot better than I expected despite the pandemic still going on here in the United States.

In 2018/19, I didn’t use a planner or an agenda. I kept reminders of my appointments on my phone’s calendar app and I’d keep notes in my Evernote app. But this year, I wanted to try using a planner again just to see if it helps me in any way.

I bought my planner from Five Below. There’s a note page in the beginning followed by monthly calendars. Each monthly calendar is followed by a page where you can write lists, notes, events and priorities. And then after all that, there are weekly spreads. After each spread is a page to write more lists, notes, priorities, plan for the upcoming week, and a weekly habit tracker. There are a few more blank pages at the end followed by stickers that you can use to remind you of days when you have appointments, birthdays, lunches, etc. I wasn’t sure exactly what I was looking for when searching for a planner, but this seemed good for me.

At first, I wasn’t really sure what to write in my planner. So, I marked important events/appointments. I wrote a list of states I’ve traveled to, though I’m not really sure why since this will probably be an odd year to travel. And today, I wrote a list of possible goals I could work on. I came up with more than I expected actually. And, I didn’t really create stretch goals. I tried to keep them reasonable, something that I felt like I could easily achieve. For example, I read 3 books last year (towards the end of the year, and one book was really short). I haven’t really kept up with the habit of reading, so I thought 5 books seemed achievable.

Here are the list of goals I came up with:

– See what it’s like being off meds completely and continue if sustainable.
– Consistent body weight of under 150 lbs.
– $1K+/month in passive income through music streaming/downloads.
– One year in Conscious Growth Club.
– Read 5 books.
– Grow my one Instagram account to over 10K followers.
– Release 2 more songs on Spotify.
– Finish Success Triggers, an online course.
– Finish DAI, a webinar series on living an abundant life.

The goals I came up with are within the scope of the current circumstances I inhabit. I have other goals in mind, but I’m not sure if I’ll achieve them this year. For example, I would like to move out to someplace with relatively warmer climate. I would like to lose weight, but I’ve been consistently gaining over the past 3+ years while being on antipsychotics. So, even losing 5 lbs this year would be amazing for me.

I thought about learning another foreign language, or continuing to learn Korean. But, I don’t know if I’m really interested in that. I did purchase a cheap Udemy course on Spanish, but I’ve only dabbled into it here and there. I’m not entirely opposed to learning, just kind of on the fence about it.

I thought about doing more 30-day trials of various habits. One idea would be to make music every day for X amount of time with the goal of coming out with a song at the end. Another trial would be, if I find myself drawn to the idea again, to spend 5 minutes learning a foreign language. I mean, it is only 5 minutes, so it wouldn’t be so hard.

This month, I was actually going to hula hoop 5 minutes a day. Unfortunately, I could only last 30 seconds the first day because it hurt more than I expected. I used a weighted hula hoop, that’s why. And, I haven’t hula hooped in forever. However, I’m tracking it as a habit to see if I can build up to 5 minutes. I haven’t been doing it every day though after realizing how painful it is starting off. 😅 I mean, that happens. Sometimes, you have to reject an idea when it doesn’t go as planned.

I want to do more 30-day trials this upcoming year. It will take me some more brainstorming to come up with some good ideas. I could even repeat previous 30-day trials such as blogging every day or reading books every day. I just thought it’d be more interesting to try new habits.

Steve Pavlina did a few 365-day challenges. He exercised every day for 365 days, and he blogged every day for over 365 days. He said it serves as a positive reference point. It sculpts your character. I’m not even used to 30-day trials, so I think I’ll hold off a few more years before I attempt a meaningful 365-day challenge. It’d be interesting to try one time though.

Beyond 2021 (after COVID-19 subsides), I thought about traveling to each state in the United States. I’ve been to 19 of them for sure. Though, some states I just stopped in for maybe an hour before moving on to the next state (such as when I went by bus to Florida with family for a cousin’s engagement). I want to spend at least a week in each state. That’s achievable in a year, though I thought I’d want time in between to just chill at home. So, I thought in the future, I could achieve this goal within 2 years. I imagined vlogging/blogging about it or sharing pictures to capture the experience. Maybe I would go with a friend or with family.

I don’t know about this year, but eventually I would like to try to become vegetarian again and then even vegan. I stopped just because I thought maybe I’d stop hearing voices if I ate animal products again. I thought maybe I was missing something. But you know, it’s been over a year of me eating meat again, so that definitely did nothing for me other than blending in with my family more. These things happen when you get sick, so I’m trying not to be hard on myself. But, I’m realizing that I don’t have a real reason for eating meat other than it just feels convenient now. The reason I say I want to work on this goal beyond 2021 is because hopefully by then, I’ll have moved out and it’ll be much easier to work on as a goal living by myself vs. living with other meat-eaters.

I thought about writing a book a few months back, but I’m not really sure about the idea now. I could write about my life experience with hearing voices / being possessed, whatever you would like to call it. Maybe I could do this in November with NaNoWriMo. They challenge you to write a novel, but I could just write a non-fiction. I’ll hold off from the idea for now.

I think once I join Conscious Growth Club, maybe I’ll be able to come up with some more aligned goals. I was briefly in CGC back in 2017 when it started, and I opening myself up to new ideas I never thought of before. I had to quit shortly after unfortunately because that was the year I became “sick”. But now that I’m feeling relatively stable, I’d love to give it a shot again and see what I could learn.

I think buying the $5 planner was worthwhile. Right now, I have a tab open for Success Triggers. So after I publish this blog post and drink some water, I’ll watch the next video and review the study questions. I only have 9 more lessons to go, so if I continue doing this every two days, I can finish by the end of the month. And then finally, I’ll know if it was helpful or not.

I think if COVID-19 subsides by this year, I’d like to travel downtown and try going to a new place once every week with one of my friends. I was doing this at the beginning of the year. My friend and I went to Reading Terminal, then Chinatown, and then suddenly we heard the news about COVID-19 and we cancelled our plans. But if things turn around, I’d like to visit as many places as I can downtown.

Anyway, those are my plans for 2021. It’s not anything crazy. Nothing super ambitious (at least I don’t think so). Just simple goals, aligned with what matters to me, and that will benefit me both in the short-term and long-term. Most of my goals are experiential in nature. I don’t know if I’ll have materialistic goals this year since I’m trying to build up my assets first. Maybe in the future, I’ll have a goal of buying a car or buying a house. But, I don’t see a real need for it now.

Recently, I completed my challenge of reading 20 pages or more of books every day for 30 days. It wasn’t always easy to stick to the challenge, but I made it through. I’m not going to mention any particular books I’ve read, because I don’t really recommend them. They were just okay.

The first week was fairly easy. I used a tablet. I chose a book that I thought about reading for a while, and I guess because of my curiosity, I was able to read a fair chunk of the book in the first week. Each chapter was roughly 15 pages. So, I would read two chapters every evening usually. I figured it would be better to complete a chapter rather than read a third of the way through and then have to refresh my memory of what I read.

By the second week, I was getting bored with the book. I thought I’d find some interesting insights by then, but the story seemed to be dragging for me. So, I’d read one chapter, and then would switch to another book to finish up my 20 or so pages.

Eventually, I finished the first book (thank God). I mean, it wasn’t a bad book, but it wasn’t as great as all the hype I’ve heard about it. And, I was just glad I could finally say I’ve read it, and could decide whether it was good, okay, or just plain bad.

The second book was more interesting to me. It was a self-help book. I didn’t really learn anything new about myself per se, but I thought some of the exercises in the book could help me in the future if I ever decide to embark on ambitious goals or dreams again. It helps you solidify plans and take action. And also, the chapters were longer, so I could finish my goal of reading 20 pages easily by just reading one chapter. So, that was a relief.

And then eventually, I started on my third book. There was one particular day that was stressful for me. I was feeling tired earlier in the evening, but I didn’t want to go to sleep yet. I knew I had to finish reading 20 pages. I really struggled this day. As some of you know, I experience something like hearing voices, but more intense. Basically, the voice kept distracting me from the text. I would read a sentence, and not even comprehend it. And at one point, I was reading each word one at a time, really emphasizing it in my head. But the next second, I would literally forget the last word and would not correlate any connection between the words. It was horrible.

But still, I didn’t want to fail just because the voice was getting in the way. So, I soldiered through. I hardly understood the text, but I kept going and finished the 20 pages anyway. And no, I didn’t go back to re-read. I don’t really find that necessary, unless you’re studying something, or unless you think that you will gain some valuable insights.

Speaking of not comprehending the text, there were some times when I would read the first book (an autobiography) and would either zone out or just not really absorb what I was reading. I didn’t go back to re-read those parts either, for the most part, unless I felt like I missed something interesting. I like to just power through and move forward. If it’s a text I really enjoyed, I might re-read it. When I just continue reading the next thing, I feel like it might teach my brain to focus and if it misses something, oh well. Maybe that’s not how the brain works… But anyway, that’s just how I read. I’ve heard others advise something similar, of not going back to re-read something, but just to move on.

After the 30-day reading challenge, I think I read the very next day, and then missed like two days of reading. The first day was because my hearing voices experience felt intense and I didn’t really feel in the mood to try to concentrate on reading. So, I didn’t push myself. The next day was Thanksgiving and we were out, so I was tired and didn’t feel like reading. I thought this was strange because I thought the habit would stick, right? Why wasn’t I in the mood, even if I was tired? Like, I didn’t even have a thought of, “Ooh, maybe I should read, even just a little bit.”

Well, I guess it had to do with the tiredness because the next day (Black Friday), I felt the urge to read. I felt pretty stable, not tired or overwhelmed by voices. It’s still too early to tell the overall effects of this reading habit and what it has done for me after, but I’m hoping it’s like a habitual urge or something. Does that make sense? I mean, I just hope that I feel more inclined to read than to just play games or to just watch videos in the evenings.

I’ve mentioned this before, how if I could re-do the challenge, I would read less pages, maybe 10 or 15. Even 15 is ambitious, considering I was barely reading a book a year. 5 pages is an easy goal. Maybe that would have been nice. Though, I did finish 2 books within the 30 days by setting a higher target. I don’t even think I would have finished a single book if the target was a measly 5 pages. I might have just gotten bored with the first book and abandoned it altogether. But because I was reading at least 20 pages a day, I thought, “Well, I might as well finish another chapter.”

I’m not officially doing another 30-day or any kind of challenge for reading. But, I think on days when I’m doing fairly well, or even if I’m feeling a little tired or overwhelmed by voices, I can set a soft goal of reading 5 pages a day. It’s not a lot to commit to. I remember pushing through, struggling to understand what I was reading when the voice particularly distressed me one day. So, I think it will help me build up strength and power through, doing a task despite how I’m feeling. And, maybe it will teach the voice, “I’m not gonna give in just because you’re acting out.” I think of the voice as a child. So, maybe reading like this every day despite how it acts will discipline it. That’s my wishful thinking.

I’m not a disciplined person or anything when it comes to these 30-day trials or challenges. I try to make them as simple as possible. I actually tried to tag coloring to my reading habit, which I did do successfully for I believe 24 or 25 days in a row. But then, I had a bad day of just feeling tired and overwhelmed by the voice the next couple days (after finishing reading for 30 days). I added coloring days into my challenge, so I thought I’d spend a few extra days reading and coloring together. It didn’t pan out that way. I should have just stuck to reading. That was me not keeping things simple, which I should have done.

I recommend, even if you think you can do more, keep a baseline. Don’t push yourself to do more. Don’t tack on more goals needlessly. I thought I was being clever by planning out evening activities to distract me from hearing voices. But, it became a checklist of things to do in the evening before sleeping. And, it kind of took the fun out of those two activities (reading and coloring). I think it’s better to stick to one goal or one habit at a time. Because then, even if it doesn’t seem fun in the moment, you eventually grow to enjoy it or learn more about it or just naturally do it anyway. But when you’re juggling two or more goals, you never fully focus on doing your best with just one. Eventually, you could build up to do more. But when you’re first starting off, it’s better to choose one goal to focus on.

I was trying to read every day as a coping skill, and also I guess as something “productive” to do. And honestly, it worked pretty well for me. The voice didn’t bother me most days. Though, the voice still bothered me when I was tired. In my head, I’m thinking, “I don’t want to fail my goal.” But, the voice will play devil’s advocate and say, “Sleep is a priority!” I hate when the voice tries to justify doing things differently. Neither option is wrong per se, but if I want to read, let me read in peace. I take a while to fall asleep anyway, even when I’m tired, so I might as well accomplish my goal. That’s my line of thinking.

I want to do more of these 30-day trials or challenges so that I can build up some discipline, and also assert my power over the voice. I want to show it, “I’m gonna do this thing, and whether you agree or not, it’s gonna happen.” I’m so tired of the voice influencing me just because I don’t want to deal with it. It’s my body, my mind, let me do what I want.

Honestly, I don’t really feel accomplished after reading for 30 days. I mean, it is something because I have had trouble sticking to habits and goals in the past. And, I finally completed an intentional 30-day challenge. I feel satisfied that I read a couple of books and will probably finish one more by the end of the year. But, it’s not anything great. I don’t feel elated or surprised. I’m more so like, “Yeah, that’s a thing I did.”

I am glad that the voice did, for the most part of this challenge, calm down in the evenings. Though now the challenge is officially over, it tries to convince me that I don’t have to read. And yeah, it’s true, I don’t have to read, but I still want to read. I still want to have a long-time habit of reading, so that I can finish reading all those books I was curious about or will be curious about in the future.

December is approaching soon, and I don’t yet have a 30-day challenge set in stone. Maybe I will research a few ideas. I did think about writing a book about myself and my experiences with hearing voices, so I thought of doing something like NaNoWriMo but for non-fiction and in a different month. I thought though that maybe I should give myself more time to plan it out. Some other 30-day trial ideas include some form of exercise, practicing piano again, producing music, livestreaming, drinking more water, and blogging (again, because I did do this last August to September, but it’s no longer on the web). I’m not really leaning toward a particular goal. I do want to do something though.