Archives for category: Achieved my goal

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What do we gain from effective communication?

The quality of our life is determined by the way we communicate with others. What we get from life is also determined by how we communicate with others. That is what I have learned from my five years of consistent personal development.

Those who are blunt with their communication rarely get what they want because I was blunt too, until I learned to communicate differently.

My relationships with my three sons, parents, friends and others improved dramatically when I adopted a more effective way of communication.  I have been getting more of what I want nowadays from my brilliant and effective communication skills.

I had a strong vision to become a public speaker whilst recovering from the sudden lose of my big brother. I read about joining Toastmasters to realise my dream that I had written down as my long term goal at the beginning of this year.

I was very fortunate to have found Toastmasters after reading “Make a Great Speech” by Jackie Arnold. I picked up the title from visiting the huge book store named Foyles in London with my sweetheart back in November 2015.

I attended a number of Toastmasters meetings on a weekly basis at the beginning of January.  I finally decided to join The Clyde Communicators Club at the end of February which was set up in January. I knew that joining a new club would be more beneficial for me as I could relate to our new members more compared to the other more established club which I had attended. The more established club had many advanced speakers whom I could not relate to and that meant I was unable to build a connection with them.

I quickly settled into my Toastmasters club and felt I had found my niche after losing a huge part of myself after losing my dearest big brother who was my one and only lifetime companion. I took on weekly roles to help run the club smoothly and I learned many new skills within our club and found my self confidence on stage.

I loved the educational system that Toastmasters has in place to help and support their members to make slow yet great progress as they work through their two workbooks when they join as members. Members work at their own pace and they have the support of a mentor within the club who is there for them from the beginning.

We are sent regular updates about our club’s meetings via emails and this is a great way to stay in touch. We are also sent a monthly magazine to keep us up to date with what is happening at Toastmasters worldwide.

I attended our area speech contest back in April and picked up many valuable skills for delivering the best speech ever. We have national and international speech contests that we could attend too. I am seriously considering attending the November one in Ireland to continue learning and meet new people who have similar goals as me.

I took the opportunity of delivering my first prepared speech in March,  when a club member was unable to deliver their speech due to unexpected circumstances.  I had only one day to prepare for my speech yet that was no problem for me. I knew what I wanted to talk about and what to include into my speech. The speech has an allocated time of seven minutes and it was my first experience ever of having a group of people paying full attention at what I was about to share with them.

I was fortunate to have gained many valuable skills during my personal development that helped me to be confident on stage and I received great positive and encouraging feedback from all the members who fills in a evaluation form. This allows us to see what we did well during our speech and what we could do to improve.

For my second prepared speech, I worked on it for three months as I wanted to put more effort into it. I found it rather difficult to talk about the important things in my speech and what to leave out. I also needed to organise my speech which was my project objective that we follow from our Competent Communication Manual.

Three months of planning, preparing and practicing yet only seven minutes of allocated time to deliver our speech. There is a Chinese saying that goes something like this “one minute on stage, ten years off it”. I realised what it meant after I delivered my second prepared speech last Tuesday evening.

There are loads to remember whilst delivering a speech and our nerves can and does get the better of us when we are not aware of how to handle them constructively.

I felt rather calm and collected as I was about to deliver my first prepared speech back in March. However, I was feeling so nervous as I was walking to our meeting last Tuesday evening. I used affirmations to calm my nerves. I also used deep breathing to gather my thoughts.

I missed out on a few sentences that I had practiced at home for over a month yet it was not important because I felt I had achieved my objective from our manual. As it was my second speech, I was willing to forgive myself for the tiny mistakes and errors. I am still a baby learning to walk on the stage at Toastmasters. Being too harsh on myself would only have a negative impact on my future speeches.

I thoroughly enjoyed being on stage for the time I took to deliver my speech which was just over six minutes.

I had inspired my audience with my speech and I felt so proud of my huge achievement!

Every member who delivers a prepared speech gets their feedback from the person who evaluated their speech on the evening. The evaluator fills in a section of our Competent Communication manual in relation to the speech project. There are ten speech projects for members to work through and when we complete all ten projects, we are presented with a special name badge.

The exact same happens when we take on roles within our meetings to help run the evening smoothly. Our leadership skills develops from taking on different roles to help our Toastmaster of the evening get the meetings off the ground.

Everything we do at Toastmasters is evaluated and this helps us to improve and become a better Toastmaster.

We learn by doing and the only way to know how well we are doing is by receiving feedback from our fellow club members.

My third prepared speech is scheduled for the beginning of August and I entered into our Humourous Speech Contest which takes place at the beginning of September. There are lots of planning, preparing and practicing to get on with and that excites me!

Our club was chartered and we had a celebration dinner this month with our members to celebrate our success. The first twenty members who joined received their Charter certificate and I was fortunate to receive mine!

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I am excited about my future at Toastmasters as I am learning so much and making consistent progress. I have been so blessed to have found such a supportive club to help me realise my long term goal!

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Woo hoo!

Another goal achieved this week and I am feeling so proud of myself!

I had never stepped inside the Tennent’s Training Academy in our city until Thursday even though I drive past it so many times before. The site is humongous and we got a mini bus to take us to our training room! Wawwww! What a room it was! Full of display for lager!

Our trainer Michaela was ever so friendly and approachable, she helped us to feel at ease as soon as she introduced herself to us. We got a little briefing as to what our day would look like. Then we got a talk about coffee, watched a YouTube video on where coffe comes from, got a quiz to answer about coffee and then……..the exciting part………Making coffee!

I had never drank so much coffee until Thursday and what a day it was! I was feeling mega hyper by the end of tasting our attempts at making different types of coffee at the coffee machine.  We all got to make an Expresso, Americano, latte (with latte art), cappuccino and hot chocolate (with latte art). The Expresso was the strongest tasting coffee of them all and I found it far too bitter. I definitely shall not be drinking that any time soon. My favourite was the Americano as it was just the perfect taste for me. The latte and cappuccino was drinkable for me yet I am not a fan of milk so I would only drink them if Americano was not available. Making the latte art was tricky and takes much patience and practice. I could have finished the whole cup of hot chocolate if it was made with hot water yet it was made with 95% milk so it put me off.

We all got to learn to use the coffee machine and it was certainly a great lesson for all of us. I was scared of the steam wand as it makes such a tremendous amount of noise for the size of it. It took me a whole day to feel at ease with using it.

Now I know why it’s ever so noisy in a coffee shop and what each noise indicates. How interesting! I also learned how much time and effort it takes to make a cup of coffee so it is a great insight.

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There were five in our group so each of us made five drinks and by the end of it all, the counter at the bar was filled with cups of coffee and my taste buds was too!  I loved smelling all the different coffee drinks because that is what I do with any new drinks or food to get better knowledge of what I am getting myself in for. We even got to have a small handful of coffee beans to smell, look at and I broke a bean to see what is inside then I chewed on it. Yuck!

At the end of the Thursday, we were taught how to clean the coffee machine from top to bottom and then we were divided into two groups and did it ourselves. I had never seen so much effort going into making coffee as I had this week and now I understand why coffee costs the price that it does.

I had a cup of cappuccino from the Academy on Friday morning before our training started as I felt exhausted from the training on Thursday and from my disturbed sleep.  I didn’t enjoy it as much as I had with the Americano the day before due to the large amount of milk for me yet I still drank it to lift me up.

We all made more coffees on Friday morning to help us practice and master the art of using the coffee machine. I was getting nervous by now as our assessment was due to take place in the afternoon. I had made a few mistakes with the steam wand as I was using the coffee machine on the other side of the bar for the first time and I felt very uncomfortable and ill at ease.

I felt much more calmer after lunch and I handled the written assessment better than I had anticipated. Then it was the practical side of our assessment and we were asked to leave the training room to allow each of us to complete our practical assessment in private. I volunteered to go second as I wanted to get it over and done with as soon as possible and head home to rest as I was feeling the exhaustion from my disturbed sleep the previous night.

I was asked by our trainer when it was my turn to make one: Expresso, Americano, latte, cuppuccino, hot chocolate, tea and smoothie in sixteen minutes.

I had a list written out of what drinks to make in my preferred order prior to entering the training room to give me a strategy and it helped to calm my nerves. I put the list onto the counter before I started on making my beverages.

I made my Expresso at the same time as the Americano then I made my tea. Next, it was my cappuccino and latte which was the most challenging for me due to using the steam wand for both to heat up the milk and the milk needs to be at 120 degrees Fahrenheit in order for me to get a pass. By the time I had made these two drinks, I knew I was over the hill and about to cross the finish line with only the hot chocolate and smoothie to go. I was making great progress now and I attempted to make a latte art for my hot chocolate and I was more than impressed with my effort. Last, it was the smoothie and I had made so many smoothies at home that was no problem for me. Yet this time, the blender is totally different to the one I use at home so I had a challenge in my hands. Closing the lid was time consuming and the clock stopped as my trainer came round to help me with it. I managed to complete my task in less than thirteen minutes and my trainer told me that is a fast time!

My score for my practical assessment was forty one out of forty five so I was feeling so proud of my efforts! Well done me. Then later on Friday evening, I received an email from our trainer to notify me that I passed my written assessment too with a score of seventeen out of twenty!

By the end of our two day training course, we had probably made enough coffee to fuel the whole of Glasgow’s population and they would all be mega hyper just like I was on Thursday afternoon! Even the smoothies that we all made would have helped our city to poop more smoothly! Haha

So now I am a qualified barista and I shall receive my certificate within the next few weeks! Well done me!

There is now more for me to talk about with others when I am out and about so it is a great bonus! Woo hoo!

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If you know what you want and you want it bad enough you will find a way!

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I had many challenges to get through from my ongoing whiplash symptoms yet I got through them with determination, hard work and consistency. My goal was to plank for five minutes way back in 2014 yet life threw another set back my way.

I was involved in a minor car accident as a back seat passenger, in early May 2014, where my son’s car was hit from behind when we were stationary awaiting for the traffic lights to turn to green. The whiplash came on that evening and it has been a huge struggle to fully recover since that sunny afternoon as we were heading out for a family lunch. I had severe headaches during the first six months of recovery. I was tired very easily and just wanted to sleep the pain away during the first three months. My shoulders and neck was hurting me so much that a car journey on the Saturday afternoon in July 2014, from Loch Ness, Scotland back home to Glasgow on the A82 had put me in bed for the entire Sunday to recover.  When I woke up on the Sunday morning,  I felt my whole body was so weak and my headache was coming and going I was unable to get out of bed.

Almost two years on and my left arm has been extremely weak from going swimming with Calvin, my youngest son, so I needed more physiotherapy. It has been a long and painful journey to recovery. It’s a hit and miss, trial and error adventure for me. I have felt so frustrated and annoyed with the weakness in my neck, shoulders and left arm.

I have learned what my body is capable of when I push it that bit further yet I listen to it when it feels pain and stop pushing it until the pain subsides. Then I push it again and see where the pain is. Doing the physiotherapy exercises has been a very slow journey to recovery. I received private physiotherapy sessions during the first twelve months yet they were less effective than the ones I received from our NHS.

In 2014 after the minor car accident, I would plank then feel pain in my shoulders so I would stop and let them heal then I would plank again. In 2015, I was beginning to feel stronger so I went swimming every week with Calvin. In September 2015 I felt a strong weakness in my left arm and my shoulders was beginning to hurt again. So I went to see my physiotherapist on the NHS. The exercises she gave me to do was very helpful yet it was such a struggle to gain my strength back on my left arm. My shoulders was feeling stronger so much faster than my left arm which was such a nuisance to me as I needed to take it slow. I stopped swimming altogether and I missed it and much as Calvin did.

I set myself a new goal to plank for five minutes before 2016 began and I worked my way through the challenges that I faced. I slowly built up my time by ten seconds on the plank every second day. My back would hurt the most during my plank then it was my tummy and arms. I felt my left arm was becoming stronger from my daily physiotherapy exercises I did yet the numbness and weakness could still be felt most of the time.

I was consistent with planking every second day and increasing my time by ten seconds was working for me. The pain in my back straight after my plank was somewhat excruciating yet in a good way! I was becoming very aware of when I would slouch and my body would automatically straighten up my poor posture. My whole body is benefiting from this amazing exercise and it takes me to a new journey. I have many interesting stories to share with others from the start of my planking to the end of reaching my five minute goal.

As I was doing my five minutes last night on my plank, I felt my back was becoming so weak and my arms was about to give in at the last ninety seconds. It felt like the longest ninety seconds of my life and keeping it up was working up a huge sweat for me. I could feel my face getting hot, red and I was feeling like as if I was in the labour ward about to give birth from my heavy breathing!  Oh what fun!

My physiotherapist said I am strong enough now to get back into swimming and just slowly build up my time like I did with my plank.

I want to continue with my plank and I am seriously considering setting myself a new goal of reaching for seven minutes. I shall continue to reach for five minutes for the rest of this month then begin on working to achieve seven minutes next month.

I am feeling ever so proud of myself for my biggest physical goal of 2016 so far! Well done me. Patting myself on the back!

The major reason for setting a goal is for what it makes of you to accomplish it. What it makes of you will always be far greater value than what you get. By Jim Rohn