For the month of June, I’m combining a couple of different challenge ideas from CGC (Conscious Growth Club) to do every day. Every day before 3PM, I want to avoid using YouTube, playing PC/phone games, streaming services, movies, shows, TV in general, and social media (mainly Instagram). I have a few exceptions to the challenge, such as watching a video to meditate or exercise or promoting a song on social media. But otherwise, it’s pretty straightforward. I also want to intentionally do an activity (either from a list of activities, or an inspired activity) every day, while also reflecting on the mantra, “I am intentionally living my life.” This will hopefully also help me make a dent in achieving some of my goals for the year.

The reason I chose 3PM is because I think that gives me enough time to do something meaningful each day. At the same time, it’s not so strict that I will feel tempted to give up. If I was avoiding YouTube, gaming, or social media all day every day, that would be pretty difficult as I would have to find ways to fill up all my time. It’s easier when you already have some activities going for you, such as a class, or a hobby. I think I’d have to work my way up there though. It’s not impossible. It’s just been a while, and I tend to have a lot more free time compared to most people. I do remember though when I was living in Korea, I hardly if ever watched YouTube or played PC/phone games. I think I still used social media, but mostly for posting, not really consuming.

The other day, I was talking to a group of people and this idea of “lucid waking” came up. It’s a pretty new concept to me. From what I understood, it relates to intentional living or mindfully being conscious. There’s lucid dreaming, where you become conscious in your dream and decide what happens in it. But in the waking world, people don’t really think too much about what they’re doing day-to-day. Most times, you’re on autopilot. I don’t want to be that way when I start off my day. I want to deliberately choose to do something meaningful. It’s easy to mindlessly engage in a time sink. So, I hope to engage in my lucid waking while going through this challenge. (I don’t know if I’m using the term correctly, but a simple Google search shows more results of lucid dreaming than lucid waking, so I’m treating it like a new subject/idea in general. 😂)

I don’t think this is on purpose, but sometimes I feel like I go on YouTube/play games/browse social media as an avoidant behavior. It prevents me from taking on something more challenging. Some activities require more mental energy, and sometimes I just give into these easy activities so that I don’t have to think so much. It also gives me an easy dopamine hit. I’d like to exercise my brain more, especially to learn or create. I also want to rewire my brain so that it’s not always going for the easy short-term rewards, but to build up for the long-term.

Most of the activities I came up with for the challenge are mental, such as meditating or reading. I tried to include some physical activities too, such as going for a walk or decluttering my desk. I also wanted to make sure that some of these could be done without a screen or a device, such as nail care or journalling. It’ll be interesting to see what activities I end up doing. I also want to see how many days I go without following an exception.

I’m not really framing this challenge as a way to improve my productivity or to reduce my procrastination. I think it’s more important to create alignment in life. There’s no point in being “productive” if it’s making you miserable. And, there’s no point to avoiding “procrastination” if you’re not replacing it with something meaningful/enjoyable. For me, YouTube/games/social media are not “distractions” per se. I’m just not consciously spending that time. I don’t have anything I feel obligated to do. So, it’s really just an experiment.

I also feel like there’s certain things that I want to do, but haven’t really been making time for. One of those activities is blogging. I wrote a few drafts of blog posts, but only published one this month. I’ve been pulled to do other things instead. So now that I’m deliberately carving out time every day, I should (hopefully) be blogging more!

I can’t say for certain, but maybe this will last long-term. Or, maybe I’ll decide to do something different, like create reaction videos or stream myself playing games. It could be something I share in the future rather than just consume alone. Or, maybe I’ll pick up an entirely new hobby. We shall see!

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.

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.)

I remember enjoying coloring books when I was a kid. And even now, as an adult, it is still just as enjoyable. It’s relaxing, and a good way to refocus your attention. It can be especially helpful for people who experience negative thoughts or hear voices.

Coloring is a great coping skill. It doesn’t require much effort. You could search for coloring books on the web to buy. Nowadays, because adult coloring books started to rise in popularity, you can find them in local arts and crafts stores, or even places like Target, Walmart, or CVS.

You don’t even need to buy a coloring book. If you have a printer, you can print out coloring pages online. I’ve printed out a few Christmas ones myself from websites like JustColor.Net.

You could even repurpose your coloring pages. After you finish coloring it all in, you could make envelopes out of them, greeting cards, giftwrap, gift bags, and more. That’s partially why I chose Christmas-themed coloring pages, so I could use them for that specific time.

I started coloring a page I printed from the internet last night. I bought a set of felt tip markers. The markers I got bleed through the paper onto the other side. I guess that’s expected with most markers. I thought about getting colored pencils, but I just like the vibrancy of markers.

Personally as someone who hears voices, I found coloring to be meditative and fun. I didn’t have any particular thought while coloring. I was mostly focused on figuring out which colors would go well together and staying within the lines. I didn’t experience hearing voices during this activity. So, I’m experimenting with it as an evening activity before I go to sleep, to help me to relax and to give me something fun to do.

Some other activities that are similar to coloring may be painting, drawing, or doing puzzles such as word searches, crossword puzzles, or sudoku. I’ve tried painting before, but I stopped because I had difficulty always coming up with an idea for it. Same for drawing. Plus, it requires some skill. Of course, you can practice the skill. Coloring is more accessible to people though, because you don’t have to draw a picture to color. You can find plenty of images online to color, or a book full of coloring pages.

There are apps on your phone or on your tablet that you can download that involved coloring/painting by numbers. I haven’t tried a painting or coloring app. Personally, I like the motion that’s involved with coloring with a marker against a sheet of paper. It requires some hand-eye coordination. I think it’s more fun that just tapping a screen and producing colors. Though, it’s worth a shot for anyone who doesn’t feel like spending money on buying art supplies.

Taking up coloring as a hobby is pretty inexpensive, though. I spent less than $10.00 on a set of 34 colored markers. So even if I found out I didn’t like coloring the first evening, oh well, it’s not more than a movie night, or a dinner out. I could give the markers away to my nieces. No big deal.

Compare it to other hobbies. It’s cheaper than playing a musical instrument, or buying a bike to ride, or even some sports.

So if you’re thinking about getting into the hobby of coloring, I’d say go for it. The risk is minimal. And, it could be good for your mental health.

It also can take a while to do. I thought it’d take me 15 minutes to color in half a page, but it took more like an hour to fill a quarter of the page because of how carefully I was trying to color in between the lines. So, it’s a good time sink for sure.

By the way, I already started my 30-day challenge to read, but I think I’m going to add coloring to the challenge as well. Reading is more challenging that coloring, because you’re processing the words in your head and trying to make sense of the text. But with coloring, you’re focusing on just moving and watching I guess. It’s pretty mindless. My real challenge will be to focus on reading 20 pages without fail each day. Coloring will be my reward in a sense.