Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Shifting Priorities

I've been at an emotional crossroads for a while and it's come to a head over the last few days. You see, I've been struggling with my membership in Toastmasters for a few years now and this year has really shown me that I can't avoid bowing out any longer. Toastmasters is a wonderful organization and it's made a hugely positive difference in my life but, when push comes to shove, it's got to go on the back burner.

This is a decision that I've avoided making. I joined Toastmasters in 2004 after a performance review at work, in which I revealed that I would like to become a corporate trainer. My boss observed that I was pretty timid when it came to talking to strangers, and suggested that I join him for a Toastmasters meeting. I went the following week, joined, and never looked back. As I improved and my confidence grew, so too did my involvement in the organization. I was a member of a few clubs, took on leadership roles, became a super volunteer at events, and I've met so many fantastic people, several who have become cherished friends. In short, I loved it.

"A Toastmasters meeting is a learn-by-doing workshop
in which participants hone their speaking and leadership skills
in a no-pressure atmosphere."
As my life and priorities have evolved, it's become increasingly difficult for me to participate in Toastmasters. It was easy when I was healthy, Jonas wasn't in school and my club met at work at lunch time. When Jonas started school and I left the corporate environment, things became challenging. I struggled to find a balance between my family, my health and my commitment to Toastmasters. Most clubs meet only once every week or two for a couple of hours, but even that has become a huge conflict. I've been very torn. I'd re-join, not go to meetings, stumble to volunteer deadlines and feel like I had short-changed everyone. Much like the New Years gym memberships, my participation dwindled to 2 semi-annual conferences and my annual Toastmasters dues became money thrown away, something we very much can't afford.

Let me be clear - the money hasn't been wasted because of what Toastmasters offers. Compared to other communication and leadership programs, Toastmasters is an excellent value, I've gained so much from it and I've more than recouped any money I've spent. Rather, the money was wasted because I haven't been able to take advantage of it. Toastmasters is a wonderful organization, full of amazing people. I would recommend it to anybody interested in improving their communications and leadership skills!

This crossroads is a familiar one. I've paused my involvement in Toastmasters before because I was burnt-out, in poor health, and needed to get healthy and re-balance. This time, my health is better but, my family needs more of my attention.  Between home, school, family, work and Scouts, there's not a lot of time left for other commitments. I know this decision is going to let some people down but, for the foreseeable future, Jonas and managing his ADHD needs to be our main focus. For now at least, that's taking a great deal of time and energy and that's a commitment that I will never regret making.



  1. J, I commend you on the next to last step in the TM learning curve. All of what you say is true, all good. It is difficult to say no when we are by virtue of the asking, flattered by the confidence those around us have in our abilities. The growth past that is in your commitment to the values in your life that TM trains you to support. You are a super volunteer who has learned to set boundaries. Yay! There will come a time when you may feel you can safely enter any arena with boundaries intact. I wish you the very best as you seek the balance in life. You are a remarkable woman, a valued comrade, and great inspiration. Hope to cross paths again and you are always welcome to come just for fun alone to my meetings.

    Lianne Snow, DTM

  2. Thank you so much Lianne. You have no idea how much your words mean to me. Thank you!