Goals? What are those?

Here we go – day two of my writing challenge! So what’s today going to be about?

Goals.

Everyone talks about the importance of setting goals. Lots of people read books about goal-setting, some write lists, and others even make detailed plans about how to achieve their goals. If you’re really into it, there are even workshops and classes you can attend about this very topic.

It’s clear that there are many resources available to those interested in setting (and hopefully achieving) some goals. So why do so many people still struggle with this? (Or is it just me!?)

When I returned to South Korea in March to try my hand at another year of teaching English, I’ll admit that I secretly had some other motives as well. Yes, I wanted to save money. Yes, I wanted to travel. Yes, I wanted to experience another culture. I also wanted to try new foods, meet new people, and perhaps even attempt to learn a new language. (That last one hasn’t worked out as well as I’d originally envisioned). I guess these motives are really not-so-secret after all. I would imagine that many people in my position had similar ideas in mind when they decided to embark on an adventure to The Land of the Morning Calm.

There is one thing, though, that I didn’t tell many people about before I left. Something I promised myself I would do during my second year abroad – something that, unfortunately, I have not honoured.

That thing is writing.

I had so many writing “goals” for this year, almost none of which I’ve actually met.

I remember sitting in my living room at home in Canada a few weeks before flying back to Korea. I thought about all the things I wanted to do this year, and made mental lists of my writing goals. There were many. Some were personal; keep a daily journal, blog at least twice a month, communicate better with friends and family, send frequent updates by email.

Others were more professional. I wanted to explore the idea of a future career in writing and try out options like travel writing. Specifically, I wanted to write and pitch an article to a travel magazine at least once a month. It didn’t matter so much whether they got published or not, or how many I got published. It was more about getting some practice and experience to see whether I enjoyed this type of writing or not.

As I said earlier, most of these things didn’t quite pan out. For one reason or another (none of which are very good ones, of course), I put off writing in favour of doing something else. Probably something that required less time and effort.

What I’ve discovered this year is that the word “goal” doesn’t mean much, unless you plan to actually do something about it.

That’s where this writing challenge comes in. By accepting this challenge, I have officially set a new goal for myself: to develop a daily writing habit.

And this time, I’m going to achieve it!

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The challenge begins!

So, here I am on the first day of this new adventure. For the next 31 days straight, I’ll be writing at least 500 words every single day. About what, you ask? Who knows! It’ll be a surprise for you and me!

I didn’t get up early this morning like I had planned – but, I got up. Here I am, typing away behind my computer screen. That’s the most important part. That’s what counts.

I’ve already accomplished the hardest part of this challenge – actually starting.

So now that I’ve done that, what will I write about?

Well, I want to begin by talking about the hardest part – the part where you actually start writing something. It seems silly when you think about it. How can simply writing be the hardest part of a writing challenge? It doesn’t make much sense.

But, it really is true. This is something I’ve struggled with for months. Maybe even for the last few years. Believe me – if I had an answer for you, I’d tell you. There’s something about writing, especially for the web, that’s intimidating. For a writer, it can be hard to share your writing with others. What you write can be very personal at times, and you’re afraid that if you put your thoughts, ideas, or feelings out there for the world to read, somebody might take it as an opportunity to pounce on you. Somebody might disagree with you. Someone might tell you you’re wrong. Someone else may hate what you write.

These are all major concerns for someone who cares a lot about what other people think of them. In fact, it’s a recipe for an ego-squashing disaster.

You want to post an emotional story about that amazing thing that happened today, but in the few moments that your mouse hovers above the “Publish” button, an anxious string of thoughts arises. What will people think if I post this? Will they think I’m lame? Will they think it’s stupid? Will they even read it? What if NO ONE reads it!? Then I will look even more lame!!

If I’m being honest with myself, these kinds of thoughts are probably the worst enemy I’ve met along my writing journey so far, not the angry mobs who hate my writing that I imagined in my head.

For many people who want to be writers (myself included at times), the fear of how others will perceive them is what holds them back the most.

This is something I’ve been working on. It’s not easy to put yourself out there. It takes courage to share a big part of yourself with someone else, let alone offering it up to the world! But, that’s what writers do. They write – and regardless of whether they write fiction, fantasy, or an autobiography – those words come from their minds. They reveal a big part of who they are.

It’s time for me to fully embrace what it means to be a writer, and to give myself the opportunity to find my voice. It’s time to stop worrying about what other people will think, and just let myself be free to write, whatever and whenever I want.

I’m finally ready to make a change.

That’s why I signed up for this challenge. How can I call myself a writer if I don’t write?

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Are you ready to make the leap, too? Join Jeff Goins‘ 31-day writing challenge, my 500 words!

Categories: My 500 Words, Writing | Tags: , , , , , | 3 Comments

My 500 Words

The other day, I came across an article that made something in my brain “click.”

Jeff Goins, a writer and writing coach, has an excellent blog geared towards people who want to be writers. I’ve checked out his blog many times and always enjoy reading his writing advice. I usually find his writing to be very helpful, and often motivational.

In his article, The Secret to Developing a Regular Writing Habit, he writes that most people fail at becoming writers simply because they don’t actually write. “They talk about writing, think about writing, even read about writing. But they do not write,” he says.

This really hit home for me. It struck me how often I do all of these things, except for the actual writing part! All of a sudden, I realized how ridiculous this really was. Luckily, there was something I could do about it.

In this article, he encourages writers to try a 31-day challenge called “My 500 Words.” Every day for 31 days straight, you must write at least 500 words, regardless of whether you publish them or not. Every single day, you have to get up, put your fingers on the keys, and write something. It doesn’t matter what you write about, or even what you write. You just have to write.

When I had finished reading this article, I knew something was different. Rather than just reading the words on my screen and trying to log away snippets of his advice for future use, this time, I felt compelled to act. This idea was the motivation I needed. I knew I was ready to accept this challenge!

After all, what do writers do? They write.

Starting tomorrow, I’ll be tackling this challenge one day at a time.

I have no idea what the next 31 days of writing will bring, but I’m looking forward to finding out!

Categories: My 500 Words, Writing | Tags: , , , , , | 7 Comments

YCI Celebrates International Volunteer Day!

Dec. 5th is International Volunteer Day!

To celebrate, YCI invited their volunteers to respond to the question: What inspires you to volunteer?

I did my best to keep my answer short, but it was difficult to sum up such an amazing opportunity in just a few sentences. Scroll down and you’ll find my picture and blurb!

My experience volunteering in Guyana in 2012 is something I’ll never forget. It opened many doors for me, and unlocked in me a passion for travel and learning about the world. I came to see how possible it is to make real connections with people who seemed, at first, to be completely different from me. The people I met and friendships I made while living in my village were one of the best parts of my volunteer experience. This adventure is where I first got “itchy feet,” and I’m so thankful I did!

If you’re thinking about volunteering somewhere, whether it be locally or abroad, GO FOR IT!!! I’m fairly certain that a unique experience like this will never end up on your list of regrets. (Hopefully you don’t have one of those, anyway!)

Happy Volunteer Day!

Youth Challenge International

Today is International Volunteer Day! This is a chance to recognize and celebrate volunteerism, honoring those who give their time to make a difference.

In celebration of International Volunteer Day, YCI wants to honour our amazing volunteers! Read on to learn what inspires them to volunteer abroad.

Aleatha Bedard-Poole Ghana 2014 “I volunteer to invest in others and empower individuals to do the same!”Aleatha Bedard-Poole Ghana 2014
“I volunteer to invest in others and empower individuals to do the same!”

Ali-Chuma Tabaro Koforidua Ghana, 2011 “What inspired me to volunteer beyond my desire to make a difference for others less fortunate is the opportunity to do so with the guidance and support I receive volunteering with YCI.”Ali-Chuma Tabaro Koforidua Ghana, 2011
“What inspired me to volunteer beyond my desire to make a difference for others less fortunate is the opportunity to do so with the guidance and support I receive volunteering with YCI.”

 Allison Burney Guyana, 2012 “I see volunteering as an opportunity to learn about the world by experiencing aspects of another country, including the culture, food, language, and lifestyle. I want to meet the people there, exchange ideas, and learn from each other.”Allison Burney Guyana, 2012
“I see volunteering as an opportunity to learn about the world by experiencing aspects of another country, including the culture, food, language, and lifestyle. I want to meet the people there, exchange ideas, and learn from each other.”

Stephen Cornish, Executive Director, Doctors without Borders Canada CRIV and CRV 1993/94 “Volunteering allowed me to gain experience, grow as a person and to begin what has become a life-long vocation in overseas assistance. I continue to serve as a board member for YCI thus giving back in a very small way; for what I received as a young YCI group leader many years ago.”Stephen Cornish, Executive Director, Doctors without Borders…

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Travel Map

I’ve got a start, but there’s still so much more of the world to see!!!

 

                       ALLISON’S TRAVEL MAP

 

Allison has been to: Antigua and Barbuda, Canada, Guyana, Hong Kong, Japan, Macao, South Korea, Thailand, United States

I made this map using Matador Network‘s #Travelstoke World Map template. It’s a super easy and fun way to keep track of your travels.

If you’d like to make your own map, click here and you’ll be map-building in no time!

Happy travels!

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8 Things I Won’t Regret Learning Abroad

8 Things I Won’t Regret Learning Abroad

Blog #10 is about some of the things I’m most happy I had the chance to learn while in Korea this year.

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The Hardest Things About Living Abroad

The Hardest Things About Living Abroad

With adventure, comes sacrifice.

Blog #9 of my series for Verge is all about balance, and the realities of a life overseas.

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Homesick in Korea

Next Verge blog is up!

WARNING: This one might get you!!! Can’t say I didn’t tell you…. 😉

Homesick in Korea

 

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The 11 Best Things About TEFL

My 7th blog for Verge is up! I think this might be my favourite one yet…..

The 11 Best Things About TEFL

Hopefully, it will make you smile, too!

Alphabet practice!

Alphabet practice!

Categories: South Korea, Travel | Tags: , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Adventure

I am starting to agree with this quote more and more…

From Verge‘s photo collection on Facebook.

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Allison Burney

"To live will be an awfully big adventure." - Peter Pan

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