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Kicking the Clutter: Without persistence, there is no progress

“Venturing into unknown territory was frightening and liberating at the same time.” ~ Ranka Burzan

My life journey to change started 25 years ago. Before that, I was one unhappy human being. Every area of my life was a huge struggle. My low self-esteem, anxiety and depression were always present.

I had a desire to change but didn’t know how. After many months of therapy and searching the internet for help, I stumbled on the site of Toastmasters.

My goal was to improve my lack of confidence. The very next day, I signed up, not knowing what toastmasters are all about. Venturing into unknown territory was frightening and liberating at the same time.

My first opportunity to speak was to tell 60 people my name and profession. With sweaty hands and my heart racing uncontrollably, I managed to stumble through. The fear of failure and not being good enough was my constant companion.

Deep in my heart, I knew my skills and passion could help somebody who is struggling in life. But procrastination snuck in and my dreams became my nightmares.

Despite making progress, I wanted to quit. I had a well-established pattern of quitting when things went well. It’s called sabotage and many people were affected by this habit. Maybe many of us feel undeserving of success and a good life.

Toastmasters’ members were my biggest supporters, encouraging me and challenging me at the same time. Each time I was with this amazing group of people, my confidence grew.

I gave my two-minute speech about challenges I overcame in my life. They saw in me somebody who was willing to learn and work hard to help others.

The day I graduated from Toastmasters was a day my life changed forever. After receiving a certificate of completion, I was qualified as a public speaker.

A week after I graduated, the local high school hired me to present my first public workshop. They paid a deposit, so I felt obligated to show up. I also was contemplating cancelling the presentation, claiming my death.

When I entered this three-storey building, my heart raced, my knees buckled, and I was ready to throw up. All kinds of negative beliefs entered my brain. The first was “nobody in my family did what I’m about to do.”

Because English is my second language, were people going to ridicule me, or worse, walk out?

I assumed all of these bad things were going to happen. It never occurred to me that I had something to offer. I had two large groups of people eager to learn something new, cry if they wanted and laugh with me.

At the end of that life-changing day, I received my first standing ovation.

After that, I presented over a hundred workshops, but that first one was a pivotal break from the destructive life I was living. Fear of change was present in me for a long time. But doing new things, making new connections and learning how to motivate myself was a full-time job, one worth doing.

Without persistence, there is no progress.

This month, I am celebrating 20 years of helping others to achieve the life they desire. Helping others is the way to grow and enrich your life.

Life coach Ranka Burzan owns a professional organizing company based in the qathet region and has written several books on reducing clutter and becoming more organized. For information, go to