Sunday, March 24, 2013

Exam visualisation relaxation exercise

I am going through some old files and found something a former teacher shared me to help me during my school exams. It is a visualisation exercise that helps you relax.

Please read this first and see if you like it before visualising it, as it can be a bit confronting to start.

You imagine yourself in the water. It feels heavy with lots of pressure on you.

You can't breathe properly. You can't even move.Your body is full of water.

You can now feel that the water is going down slowly through your arms towards your finders and out.

The water does the same thing through your chest, stomach, legs and toes, and through your neck up towards your head and through your ears.

Each time you feel lighter and lighter and you can breathe much better. You can now feel the fresh air and energy in your body.

Your mind is clear and you can remember everything.

Pick me up poem for when your hopes are down

Just a poem shared with me a while ago that you may have already heard of, but it's always a good read when you may feel like your hopes are down.

When things go wrong as they sometimes will,
When the road you are trudging seems all uphill;
When the funds are low, and the debts are high,
And you want to smile, but you have to sigh;
When care is pressing you down a bit -
Rest if you must, but don't quit. 

Life is queer with its twists and turns,
As every one of us sometimes learns;
And many a fellow turns about
When he might have won, had he struck it out;
Don't give up though the pace seems slow;
You may well succeed with another blow.

Often the goal is nearer than
It seems to a faint and faltering man;
Often the struggler has given up
When he might have captured the Victor's cup!
And he learned too late, when the night came down,
How close he was to the golden crown.

Success is failure turned inside out,
The silver tint of the clouds of doubt.
And you never can tell how close you are
If may be near, when it seems afar.
So stick to the fight when you are hardest hit,
It is when things seem worst,


-Edgar A Guest

Saturday, March 23, 2013

Lions Australia Day 2010 speech for the Lions Club

I presented at an Australia Day breakfast back in 2010. I thought it would be nice to share some of the key messages that  I shared that day with you. If you're reading this on Australia Day, I hope it inspires you a little more on Australia Day!

Australia Day speech - ‘Inspiring young individuals in Australia'

Greetings all,

I am Vu Long Tran, here representing the Altona Lions club and discussing to you all about ‘inspiring young individuals in Australia’ and it involves creating opportunities for them and through doing so hopefully inspiring each and every one of them.

I became involved in the community work that I do now because someone gave me an opportunity many years ago. I was probably 8 or 9 then, yet that day still stays in my memories as of the greatest days of my childhood.

This day was a fun day out at Luna Park which was organised by the Lions Club. Rides, food, drinks and even prizes were given out to myself and many others. I still remember the creepy skeleton from the scary ghost ride that frightened one of the other kids on my cart... It was no doubt an experience that I will cherish and remember forever, and I have...

As what those fellow Lions and I didn’t realise then was that I would I want come back years later to create an experience like that for others, and in this pursuit, I have volunteered with many community groups and created those opportunities for others to experience, including the Lions Club, YMCA, YVC (Hobsons Bay) Youth Voice Committee), etc.

So I ask each of you to think about how you too if you haven’t already done so might be able to inspire and create opportunities like mine for others, and perhaps one day you may find that they do may do the same as me and find volunteering as a great way to make a difference for those around us...even if you inspire one person, that one person can inspire so many others...a bit like a ripple effect...

Great opportunities
Now I know when my parents arrived here in twenty odd years ago they probably would not have envisioned me here standing before you all presenting this speech, nor did I.

As I see this as a great opportunity offered to me, in this land, this land that not only offer many opportunities to all the individuals within it, but welcomes each and every one of us - regardless of race, gender, etc.

I have seen and been given many great opportunities in my life and through my experiences and participation in various youth and community programs including those with the Lions Club, Rotary International, NAPCAN, YMCA, etc. where I have been able to see the strength and mateship within the people of Australia. And so, I would encourage all of you, particularly young individuals like myself to look for the many opportunities that are available to you and make the most of them as I have.

Taking a challenging and turning it into an opportunity
As sometimes being young, you can feel as though you may be powerless to do this and do that, when in fact, you can make a difference in this world.

You will no doubt encounter challenges in your life it is at times only through challenges, and turning these challenges into an opportunity that you able to seize the day. Even perceived failures can be seen as challenges and it is always something that can be overcome.

Transcend yourself
I believe Australia is a place, where as Hilary Clinton said in her speech at a university, where "people can forge an identity that transcends yourself and from that, you will find yourself". 


Ideas for Distribution and Communication Channels for your Youth Group

Here are some ideas that I would like to share that were a result of some youth work I believe will be useful starting point for anyone looking to work on a communications/ marketing plan for their group.

The example below is more for a youth group that is supported through a local Australian council, so please view and adapt it from how your group is organised and the main goal/ objective of your group.

So here are some ways to promote your group in your community. Use:

Traditional Media

  • Editorial in local newspapers
  • Interviews on youth radio or youth related programs on community radio
  • Editorial in school and community newsletters
  • Youth Services mailing lists (hard copy)
  • Channel 31 (cheaper channels) – other cable/TV
  • Outdoor real estate boards
  • Brochures in cafes etc

Electronic and Social Media

  • Information on Council Website
  • E-flier to all local Council workers
  • Llen newsletter
  • Arts & Culture e-flier
  • Information on Youth Related websites (eg Youth Central, info xchange/youth)
  • E-flier to electronic mailing lists and online networks
  • Information on youth agency websites
  • Facebook – update regularly, increase local ‘friends’, connect with other global, local, national youth committees/groups
  • Myspace - update regularly, increase local ‘friends’, connect with other global, local, national youth committees/groups
  • You-tube (and other social networking sites)
  • Online ‘TV’ sites – for events, arts, youth culture etc

Other Community Networks

  • All local community Youth groups (Recreation, Arts, Cultural etc)
  • Local Agencies (Baywest)
  • Local secondary schools
  • Tafe/Tertiary Institutions
  • General Community Groups (eg Rotary, Lions Club)
  • Youth Services in neighbouring councils
  • Cross promotion with Youth Foundations
  • Job Agencies/Youth Pathways
  • information to all holiday program participants, young people list(youth services)
  • e-flier to youth peak bodies (eg Foundation for Young Australians, Oxygen, YACVic etc)

Action Plan

  • Compile contact lists (both Youth Services and your group)
  • Make appointments/telephone calls
  • Media release (through Council & through your group)
  • Finalise Marketing Materials (your group, then Council approval)
  • Create online & printed versions (including e-flier, billboard, posters etc) & (if possible – short film/footage/promo)
  • Online overview for youth workers (paragraph for council website, youth orgs, other youth worker websites)
  • Online overview for young people (paragraph) for myspace, facebook, social networking sites, event sites etc etc
  • Distribution of all information to channels
  • Update information as needed – when more acts are booked etc

Finding that first graduate job

Finding that first graduate job, by Vu Long Tran*

So you’ve just graduated or about to graduate from your educational institution, whether that is from TAFE or uni, but where does that leave you now?

For most of us, we may be uncertain or unsure of exactly where or what we want to do, since we might have spent the last three to six years studying, although some of us may have been fortunate enough to have worked within the workforce in some capacity already. For those that haven’t it leaves us thinking of what skills, knowledge and experience we possess and looking at ways to find and obtain that perfect job that makes use of those in the best way possible.

Indeed, it’s a difficult decision trying to find out what it is that we should or could be doing, however as I have found when I was graduating, having a focused and structured approach can work well.

First of all, ensuring that your CV is all set to go is one of the first steps I took. Utilising your careers and advice centre at your TAFE or uni is the best place to start. It’s not only free (or at least should be) but they help you in other areas such as interviewing, writing cover letters etc. Everything you need to know to get that first job. I visited my careers centre at least half a dozen times to perfect my CV, and learnt from them how to create my own personalised CV – as everyone is different and has their own style for their CV as it represents you. It will provide all the information a prospective employer needs.

Secondly, you would need to identify your own needs and personal preferences and ‘know what you want and what is important to you’ as to where and what area you think you would like to work, these include:
  • Which company you would like to try work for (i.e. their business, values, mission, objectives)
  • Which industry the company will be in (e.g. private/public, education, mining, banking, etc)
  • Where you would like to work (e.g. in your current State or somewhere else in Australia, even overseas if that’s what you’re looking for)
  • What sort of roles, responsibilities and department would you like to work in?
  • What sort of training and professional development opportunities we want? (This includes graduate training programs, mentoring, buddies, etc.)
  • Do I live travelling? If so, how much travelling would I like?

You need to be realistic with what you do note as being important to you, and once you have listed everything you can think of, what I found it useful to rank these in order of preferences.

I personally ranked the roles and responsibility, training and type of company as something very important to me, in doing so, I didn’t mind moving interstate to work provided I was working in a role I’d enjoy and had the support and training to support me. Knowing that I was working for a organisation that benefited the community in some way was important to me also. For you, these preferences may differ.
Thirdly, once you’ve determined what it is you want, look to visit company websites, check out graduate and career resources such as the following:,, and  to help you identify information about various companies, industries, roles on offer, application deadlines, qualifications required, etc. Make a list of the companies you want to apply for keeping an eye out for deadlines.

Fourthly, apply, apply, apply, and make sure you tailor your CV and cover letters to each company you apply for. Be sure to keep a record of your job applications as you’ll be applying for many companies so you’ll need refer to that for when you progress to the next stage – the interview!

Different companies process applications in different ways and timeframes so you may need to wait or follow them up from time to time. Inevitability there will, as in my case, rejections from companies, but please don’t take it to heart. At times there may be only one or two positions available and someone else might be just that little bit more suited than you are. Seek to contact the company to try learn how you can improve or might do better next time, as more often than not they’ll offer you advice and tips that you’ll be able to use to help you score that next potential job.

The key is to be persistent and open-minded. I applied for over 20-30 jobs over a 6-7 month period before I finally got my first offer. But I’d say it was well worth the effort. The entire process gets you thinking about what it is about you that makes you ‘you’ (i.e. more self aware), and knowing more about your strengths and weaknesses which ultimately helps you to promote and sell yourself.

Good luck!

*I posted this a while ago on a Youth into Action website but that seems to be missing now, so I wanted to make sure that these tips don't go to waste. So here's a repost. This is tailored to Australians graduating but the information in terms of the approach should be applicable all around the world.

Sunday, March 3, 2013

The Five Jars Saving Concept

A concept was shared with me recently that may be useful to help you to conceptualise and group your income in a way to help you save for those important things in life. It is called the, "Five Jars Concept".

We all have our everyday expenses, your leisure/ entertainment, your holidays, education tuition fees, medical costs, etc. So the Five Jars Concept is based on grouping those expenses into "five" categories ("jars") to help you manage them. 
The five categories that were shared were:
  1. Domestic needs - everyday expenses
  2. Education - tuition fees, self-education, etc.
  3. Special purchases - a new tv, lounge set, etc.
  4. Leisure - holidays, nice fancy dinner, anniversary outing. 
  5. Untouchable/ investment/ medical/ protection - savings/ investment for the future, medical and travel insurance, income protection, etc.

So basically you would organise your income and expenses into these five areas and ensure that you always have money set aside for each category. That is, if you have been saving to go on holidays then once you have spent all the leisure funds for the year then you wait until you build it up again. All other funds will stay untouched as they have been allocated for other activities. 

And it's up to you what percentages you want to assign for each of these categories. One would also consider where you are in your life, if you're planning for children, a big holiday, etc. 

I would go the step further as well and even think about having more than one jar, but you'll be the best person to judge that for your personal situation. 

I hope by sharing this, this helps you think about how to organise and ensure you can save for those important things in your life. Enjoy! ;)

Success is achieving the goals that you have set

The other day I was at this seminar, talking about things and here there. One comment that particularly caught me was on the definition of success.

It's always been something on my mind, as my mind wonders between what I want to do in life, and what others are expecting me to do. Being successful in whatever I do, forms part of this. 

Success, was defined as: 
"achieving the goals that you have set."
So as long as I achieve the goals that I realistically set, I am successful. And it doesn't matter what other people say, I am successful as I have accomplished what I have set out to achieve. 

I was also reading over a book by Sarah Edelman, “Change your thinking” where she quotes from Dr Bob Montgomery, how sometimes we can be too harsh on ourselves that we won't admit to ourselves that we have done well. Sometimes it is the perfectionist traits we may have, but when we are able to accept that we can only do our best, given our available resources, we can be kinder to ourselves and feel successful more often.

This is summarises in  Dr Bob Montgomery's quote: 
Success is having ‘done your personal best at this stage, given your genes, past experiences and present situation’
So I will leave you to think about "what does success mean to you?" and whether you feel like you have personally achieved it - as I am sure you have; you just need to believe it yourself ;)