Life in Vietnam, Meeting Connor Grooms, & How To Juggle

Hope you’re doing well on this mighty fine day! 🙂 Have you ever wondered what it’s actually like to travel alone to a foreign country? I recently wrote a guest post on my first week in Saigon and adjusting to life here, meeting Connor Grooms (a digital nomad and awesome blogger in his own right), and how to learn to juggle within an hour (as well as improve more quickly at any skill). You can read the post on Connor’s blog.

Also, if my post has gotten you interested in juggling you NEED to check out the new course I’ve recently launched on juggling. It has more than 30 videos on how to go from being unable to juggle, to stringing together the 25 tricks you’ve learned in an exciting fashion to entertain any audience. Want more reasons you should learn to juggle and why I’ve invested an estimated 2,500 hours of my life into juggling? Check out my most recent blog post answering your questions here.

In short, juggling can help you:

  • Improve your physical fitness.
  • Impress people at parties.
  • Alleviate stress and clear your mind.

Are you ready to start juggling yet? As a thank you for reading my blog you can pick up the course 50% off (and help cover the blog’s monthly maintenance cost) using the coupon code “BLOGLOVE.” Get your discounted course now and be juggling before you know it. 🙂

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Why I Juggle & Why You Should Too

I can’t remember how it all started. It may have began a few years back after Thanksgiving lunch. I remember everyone else was sluggish because they’d had a huge meal, but I was filled with energy because I was vegan at the time and had eaten fruit salad for lunch. Actually I don’t think that’s when it all began.

I really don’t remember a specific moment when I began learning, but I do remember where a surprising amount of my skill development began. The classroom was my inspiration to practice, but I’m not talking about reviewing multiplication tables. I’m referring to juggling.

I’ve always found school extremely boring so during my freshmen year of high school I began practicing to juggle in a particularly boring English class. I’d had enough of listening to my reacher rant about Zeus and Odysseus so whenever she’d turn her back to write on the chalkboard I’d grab my tennis balls and make a few throws. At first I’d often drop and I couldn’t tell you how many times I got my balls confiscated by her 😉

Juggling had finally given me a little excitement in school. Soon I was practicing during class, between my classes, and even during lunch. Juggling definitely didn’t make me popular, but man did I get good at it.

Within a month I was already learning four balls and I loved juggling so much that I’d often practice 4-6 hours per day! After about a year or so my wrists could no longer take the repetitive stress from 6 hours of throwing per day so in late 2012 I had to cut back to “only” two hours of practice per day. I’ve maintained that practice routine since and I estimate that over the years I’ve invested almost 3,000 hours into juggling.

Why Juggle?

That’s probably the question you’re wondering now. Why would anyone ever invest thousands of hours of their life into such a strange hobby? I sometimes ask myself the same question 😉

In the beginning I juggled simply because I found it fun. There was nothing else to it. I wasn’t making money from it, or trying to impress people with my new skills (ok maybe I was at first, but I quickly learned juggling doesn’t work on girls). I juggled primarily because I enjoyed the learning process practicing allowed me to engage in.

That’s why I continue to juggle today. Although juggling is not as stimulating to me as it once was it’s still something I thoroughly enjoy because it helps me fulfill one of my fundamental needs as a human being. Juggling allows me to realize the need to grow.

Regardless of how you’re attempting to grow and develop yourself there’s nothing more fulfilling than seeing yourself slowly progress each day. That’s what juggling represents to me. It’s a path to mastery and by consistently showing up to strive for improvement everyday I’ve built up a considerable amount of discipline and resilience in the process.

Of course, there’s other benefits of learning to juggle as well. It’s a light form of cardiovascular exercise, it’s a “cool” party trick, many people find the repetitiveness of juggling meditative and good for alleviating stress, and it’s fun enough that you’ll actually do it and be able to reap these benefits!

Now, I’m not saying everyone needs to drop what they’re doing and start juggling (hmmm… that was pretty witty though). All I’m saying is that if you haven’t found a path to mastery for yourself why not give juggling a shot? Or, alternatively if you already have a passion project you’re working on juggling could be a fun little diversion for you to recover from the seriousness and exhausting energy exertion that often accompanies pursuing your goals.

With the thousands of hours I’ve invested into juggling the past few years of my life it’s been difficult for me not to write a post about it, but I’ve tried to avoid talking about juggling here because the focus of this blog has always been self-improvement. However, like I’ve said, juggling had played a huge role in my personal development and it’s not inconceivable that it could contribute to yours as well. If juggling doesn’t change your life it’ll at least be a silly hobby to help you recover from the daily grind.

That’s why I’ve recently gone through the effort of creating an online course teaching others how to juggle. I’ve taken everything I’ve learned about juggling over the years, and created a package of 30+ videos that guides you from being a complete beginner learning how to juggle 3 balls, to stringing together the two dozen tricks you learned throughout the course in an engaging routine to entertain an audience.

I get that you don’t often get sold products on juggling, but that’s exactly why I made my course. I think juggling represents a fun activity that teaches you how to learn and I want you to be able to enjoy some of the same benefits I’ve gained in learning how to juggle (regardless of if you ever decide to perform).

Anyway, if I’ve gotten you interested in learning how to juggle and you’d like to support me (and help cover the blog’s hosting costs) you can find my new juggling course here. I’m selling it for $39, but as a thank you for reading my blog you can get it 50% off using the coupon code “BLOGLOVE.”

P.S. If you’d like to see me take someone else through the process of learning to juggle (and use the same steps to be juggling within an hour!) check out my recent guest post on Connor Grooms’ blog.

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How Much Should You Practice?

As a juggler a topic that often arises when talking to other jugglers is the amount and frequency one should practice. Of course, most of the community here doesn’t juggle, but I think it’s an interesting topic nonetheless so today’s post will focus on general guidelines that can be applied to ANY field.

Think Assimilated Information

I know many jugglers that practice for 4-8 hours per day. According to the 10,000 hour rule this would mean they’re on the fast track to mastery right? Wrong. At least in most cases. Something people often forget when discussing the 10,000 hour rule is that time spent practicing only counts if it was spent deliberately.

The amount of information your brain is able to assimilate is much more important than the amount of input you take in. When done properly deliberate practice is exhausting and because of that most elite performers practice for only four hours per day. Going through the motions is a waste of time at best, and doing so potentially risks ingraining bad habits.

(Also, for jugglers or others pursuing excellence in a fine motor skill physical pursuit; in general, once your muscles are fatigued it’s time to be done. Occasionally you’ll want to ensure that you’re capable of performing even when you’re tired, but at the same time practicing with exhausted muscles will only lead to the practicing of poor technique.)

Though your ability to focus is a muscle and can be increased over time, as a general rule it’s in your best interest to stop practicing when you can no longer do so deliberately.

Come Back Tomorrow

Another frequent problem is people beginning practice routines too rapidly. They practice several hours per day for a week or two and then are never to be seen again. Or, the more disciplined among them continue practicing several hours per day, but resent the activity and as a result are not fully engaged (thus they’re not practicing as deliberately as they could be).

Either way I’ll make a simple recommendation. Practice just enough so that you’ll still want to come back tomorrow. Our lives are too short to be spent doing things we don’t love. If you’re trying to logically rationalize why you need to spend more time practicing there’s a good chance you’re settling for an activity that’s not the ideal fit for you (at least at that time).

Take Breaks

I recommend a standard routine of six days of practice per week. If you love the activity you’re practicing (and you should if you’re seriously pursuing mastery in it) then you’ll be happy to practice this often.

The reason I don’t recommend practicing seven days per week is because I’ve found that having a full 24 hours each week where you can step away from your craft is extremely beneficial.

Although practicing seven days per week may appear to be the ideal practice routine, many people progress faster when practicing six days per week because they’re able to be more enthusiastic about their training and thus be more engaged.

Having a regular break from practice each week can also provide you with additional scheduling flexibility and make adhering to your practice routine easier.

Finally, your day off will allow your brain to assimilate the things you’ve learned over the last week using the incubation effect. Overall it’s a matter of personal preference and the field you’re pursuing mastery in, but consider 6 days of practice per week as a baseline to experiment from.

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My Current Campaigns (And The Future Of This Blog)

I’ve had a lot going on lately, and have had a number of epiphanies over the last couple weeks so I thought I’d write a post about what I’m currently working on, what I’ve learned this summer, and what you can expect from cameronchardukian.com in the near future.

Socializing

After a lifetime of being an introvert I decided to take part in The 90 Day Social Challenge. I planned to get out of the house and do at least one social thing per day. The goal of this challenge was to develop my social skills, do some crazy stuff while I’m still a teenager, and build a social circle.

The results of the challenge?

June: 14 Social Days

July: 16 Social Days

August: 14 Social Days (Thus far)

Overall: 44 Days Out Of 88.

Obviously things didn’t go according to plan, but I like the direction I’m moving in here. In previous summers I’d only leave the house once or twice per month so there was definitely a lot of progress here. I may not have achieved my goal of going out every night, but I definitely had a lot of fun, developed my social skills, and have a better social circle than ever before (though it still needs some work).

I also had some key epiphanies in regards to socializing this summer. Perhaps most importantly the idea of classifying yourself as an introvert.

While it may be true that some people are “introverted” and have a less of a need to socialize than others it’s also true that we all have a need for some amount of socialization in our lives.

Your results may vary, but I’ve found that when I socialize less than three times per week there’s a noticeable buildup of stress in my body, and I also feel a lot more in my head and socially awkward.

On the flip-side, when I’m hammering away every night for a week things become less fun and my relationships feel less genuine. People begin to feel like objects that I’m using just to get things from, and I view reality through a distorted lens where girls are numbers rather than people.

I’ve found that ideally I need to be going out 3-6 times per week. This seems to be the ideal amount to maintain social momentum, while at the same time maintaining realness in my relationships and having fun.

This is definitely something to consider experimenting with, especially if you consider yourself an introvert. Going forward I plan to continue going out three nights per week (likely Fri-Sun during the school year), and I’ll also likely write a future blog post on specific social calibrations and lessons I’ve learned.

Blogging

I’ve had a blast this summer. I’ve written almost everyday and published nearly 70 posts (I think this is post 69 wink wink). With that being said I plan to take a different approach to blogging in the future.

Several of you have commented that the quality of posts have really gone up lately. Well, it hasn’t been a coincidence. I thought I was doing a good job before, but after writing The Ultimate Guide To Turning Your Life Around And Living Your Dreams I realized there was a whole ‘nother gear I could kick into.

In addition to the natural skill progression that comes from writing consistently I’ve also been putting a lot more effort into the blog posts here so I’m glad you guys have been able to benefit from it.

Higher quality posts take a lot more time to produce so if you’ve also noticed my posting frequency drop off a bit that’s why. From what I’ve seen though this decreased frequency isn’t actually bad though because I think many felt overwhelmed with trying to keep up with a blog post per day.

However, with summer vacation coming to an end blog post frequency is likely going to drop even further. In addition to school wasting eight hours of my life everyday, my actual writing time is now going to be split between writing blog posts for cameronchardukian.com, guest posting on other blogs to help new readers find us, as well as attempting to write my first ebook.

All in all, however, I think I’ll still manage to be able to post 2-3 high quality articles per week so don’t worry about me falling off the face off the Earth. 🙂

Rapping

My idea of “rapper swag.”

The recent introduction of rap into my life has been really interesting. I’ve tried to establish rapping as a hobby several times over the last couple years, but I never really enjoyed it much.

However, I tried it again a few days ago, and something inside my head just clicked. I was rapping to the beat, and I got completely lost in the music. I was completely dialed in, and similar to when you’re in a really deep meditation I was just vibing for several minutes until a funky beat came on and snapped me out of it.

I was able to get in that zone several times, but even when I wasn’t I enjoyed rapping more than ANYTHING ELSE I’ve ever done. I’ve only put maybe 50 hours of practice into rapping in my life so I still suck at this point, but even though my rhymes were whack I was having the time of my life.

Like seriously, I think this rapping business may be my passion. I’ve done it for 3-4 hours the last several days, and no matter what I do I’m unable to stop thinking about it.

It’s funny because a couple days ago I posted a thread in the community section of Tynan’s blog about The Dip and how to make the biggest possible positive splash on the world. I joked about rapping, but I think this could be it!

I was more passionate grooving out the last couple days than ever before. There’s a perfect niche opportunity for a positive, intelligent rapper among the (vast majority) of negative, idiots rappers today.

Of course, I may be jumping to conclusions as I’ve only been in love for two days, but I honestly think this could be what I’m meant for. If I dedicate myself to this completely there’s no doubt in my mind I’ll be able to get past the dip, and make it big.

I’ll still have the personal development blog here too, but then I’d be able to positively impact a lot more people, and not have to worry about social media marketing, guest posting, or trying to monetize this blog in any way. I could spend all of my time producing valuable content to help others grow.

I’ll see if this initial enthusiasm dies out, but I don’t expect it to. I think I’ve finally found my niche. Which brings me to my next point…

Juggling

Although I enjoy juggling and recently made an epic juggling motivational music video, I don’t believe becoming the best in the world is my goal anymore. Spending two hours everyday is a huge time-sink that I’d like to invest into writing, and rapping.

Juggling is kind of like writing. I enjoy it and it’s fun to look at the things I produce, but since juggling doesn’t (significantly) help others or make me come to life like rapping it’s not something I’m going to dedicate myself to.

However, I also don’t feel comfortable giving juggling up completely at this point either. This incredible rapping passion came out of nowhere so until I’m sure this fulfillment is somewhat sustainable I’m going to spend time practicing more technical tricks, rather than doing 360’s (spinning with high numbers of objects).

Under this new practice regiment I don’t think I’ll improve as quickly, but I’ll be able to at the very least maintain my skills while being able to practice freestyling as well.

This whole idea of no longer striving to be the best juggler in the world is really strange to me, but I’m beginning to come to terms with it.

Twitter, Lifting, Veganism, Video Editing, Meditating

Figured I’d lump these all into one as none of them are particularly significant.

  • I’m now active on Twitter so if you’d like a more personal connection with me, or you’d appreciate interesting insights, and motivational tweets be sure to follow me!
  • Although I hung up the cleats for soccer I’m actually in the best shape of my life. Current stats: Bench 160×5, Hang Clean 160×5, Squat 235×5, Pull-ups/Chin-ups 10-12, Plank varies, but typically 4.5-5.5 minutes. I’ve found a cyclical training approach where you temporarily deload on your lifts when you plateau is HUGELY beneficial!
  • I’m still a vegan. I don’t take any supplements, and I have no identifiable health problems. However, I’m likely going to begin taking Vitamin B12 not because I feel anything less than optimal, but purely because I imagine if I don’t begin taking B12 at some point it’s going to catch up to me.
  • During the process of creating Back 2 Life I enjoyed editing the video. I think the process is extremely lengthy, but it’s definitely an interesting medium for self-expression.
  • I meditate everyday for about 15 minutes. Sometimes I get off-track during the school year, but there’s definitely a noticeable chill factor and relaxation I begin to miss out on when I neglect this for too long.

Conclusion

If you’ve made it this far I’m impressed. 🙂 I’ve said more than enough so I’ll give you a chance to chime in now. What are you currently working on? How can we help?

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Picture is of me amusing myself during Algebra freshmen year (2011).

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Back 2 Life (Motivational Juggling Music Video)

It’s finally here. My motivational music video for juggling. I haven’t kept an exact count, but I estimate I’ve spent 1,500 hours of my life methodically throwing stuff around over the last 20 months. I’ve put a lot of effort into this so I hope it inspires you. For some general background information on my life and where the video’s coming from be sure to read this post.

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Walnut Grove

Today I performed a juggling show at Walnut Grove, an assisted living center.  I had a great time, and the residents seemed to enjoy it as well.  After I finished my show I stuck around for a while and chatted up perhaps a dozen residents.

One of them was a frail old man who was there because he had had what appeared to be a stroke.  He had trouble talking, but he managed to communicate to me his love for cars.  He showed me his photo album from the 60’s.  I couldn’t believe it.

He was once a muscular man who was clearly DA BOMB.  I couldn’t put my finger on it, but he seemed to have had such a strong personality, he seemed to have been so cool that I was able to feel it through the pictures.  Now, he was alone, frail, and scared.

Just looking at him filled me with sadness.  I could see the frustration in his eyes every time he was unable to express his thoughts.  I saw his hands tremble whenever he tried to grab his fork.  The worst part was the frightened look in his eyes.  It sent chills down my spine.  I wanted nothing more than to help him, but I knew there was nothing I could do.  At least not directly.

I wasn’t about to let his suffering go for naught.  Seeing this man made me think.  It’s only been a few hours since I left Walnut Grove, but he’s been on my mind constantly.  Regardless of how well I’m doing now, one day I’m going to die.  Guaranteed.

One day I’m going to be on my death bed looking back on my life.  What am I going to think of my life?  What will I care about having accomplished?  What will I regret?  What can I do now to prevent myself from having those regrets?

I’ve got a lot of questions, but few answers.  One thing is for sure, I’m disgusted with how little the average person is grateful for.  Maybe if we were a little more grateful we’d be happier.

Stop worrying about what you don’t have and start being thankful for what you do have. You only get one life. Cherish it.

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Cameron Chardukian’s 2013 UGHS Variety Show Performance

Cameron ChardukianAs promised, here’s a video of my first public juggling performance. The performance was a lot of fun and a great experience. I’d like to thank you guys for helping hold me accountable, and without further ado, here’s the video proving I actually got myself on stage.

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Public Acountability

In less than 24 hours I’ll be on stage performing my juggling act in front of hundreds of people. I have no prior performance experience aside from a brief volunteer show at a local nursing home, yet I’m not nervous. I’m excited.

In the past I’ve had lots of opportunities, but failed to capitalize on them. Too often I’ve backed away from things that would be a great opportunity for growth simply because I feared their unfamiliarity.

No longer will that be the case. I’ve told everyone I know about my performance to prevent myself from trying to back out at the last minute. It’s easy to cheat yourself when nobody’s looking, but when you have a whole world watching you, it becomes a lot easier to do the right thing.

Anyway, I’m not sure of the theatre’s policy on recording acts, but I’ll have someone in the audience filming me. If all goes well I’ll have my performance on youtube this weekend and will post a link to it on here as well.

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It’s been a hectic week so I apologize for not posting much recently. After this variety show I’ll return to 4-5 posts per week.

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Looking Great vs Being Great

When filming juggling montages I have a personal policy of never spending longer than five minutes on a given trick.  Spending longer than that is a poor use of practice time, and I feel that if I can’t get a trick within five minutes I have no business showing that trick off to the world anyway.

I know jugglers who spend hours filming each trick and while their videos are great, they just don’t live up to the hype at conventions and performances.  I see this a lot in other areas of life as well.

Take fitness for example.  Most people spend more time trying to look like they’re in good shape instead of actually getting into good shape.  The same thing applies in social situations.  Most people put more effort into looking cool, instead of becoming the type of people who actually lead interesting lives.

Maybe we should spend less time trying to look great, and spend more time trying to be great.

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