YOP077: Step Into Your Bigness with Trevor Thomas

By December 24, 2015Podcast Episode

Bio: Trevor Thomas is the author of “‘Reminders’ From the Soul,” and creator of the Journey Inward Planner & Community, where you can find inspiring quotes and stories, share some of your most meaningful stories and sayings from your life, and find support from like-minded individuals and groups who are interested in self-discovery. He is also an International speaker and coach on Creating Support & Sustainable Change.


Zephan: What’s going on everybody. This is Zephan Moses Blaxberg, host of the Year of Purpose podcast, and today I’m joined by Trevor Thomas from the west coast. We’re hanging out today. So good that we can talk all the way across the country with each other. Trevor is the author of Reminders from the Soul, and creator of The Journey Inward Planner and Community, where you can find inspiring quotes and stories, share some of your most meaningful stories and sayings from your life, and find support from like-minded individuals and groups who are interested in self-discovery.

He’s also an international speaker and coach on creating support and sustainable change, and he’s hanging out with me for a little bit. What’s going on Trevor?

Trevor: Hey, Zephan, it’s good to hear from you. What’s going on?

Zephan: Yeah, man.

Trevor: It’s been great getting to read about your Year of Purpose podcast and just finding out what you’re all about, and I’m really glad that you’re having me on here today.

Zephan: It’s great to have you here, and it’s really cool to look back from this point in time because almost exactly 12 months ago from today, was really when my year started. I know a lot of people listen to the podcast and it started technically in January, but my story really started about a year ago from almost this day, when I bought my first plane ticket and originally made that one-way trip to California, which turned into a whole two months of travelling all over the country.

Trevor: Wow!

Zephan: A lot of time for self-discovery, which I know is a huge thing for you. You’ve really stepped into your greatness, or as you like to call it, stepped into your bigness, and so I’m excited to talk about that today. Let’s start off with, I know you just went on a trip relatively recently, a bit of discovery, adventure and learning more about yourself. Maybe share with me a little bit about what that was like and what that was and what it meant to you.

Trevor: I’m guessing the trip you’re referring to is the one I went on to Ecuador with a previous podcast guest of yours, Brad, Brad Finkeldei and it was an amazing, amazing experience. Actually the second in kind of a series of I guess, adventures that I’ve been on recently. The first one, we went to Liberia, which was just insane, transformative experience, but along the same lines as it was like a voluntarism type event and I went on it to help my friend who’s helping to put on the event. He needed camera people. He’s doing kind of an ongoing TV show about bucket list adventure events, and things like that, so he needed a kind of behind the scenes camera-person.

He’s someone in my life that’s been really encouraging me to, I guess, step more into the spotlight with my own messages. I’ve been doing web design for a really long time and been helping other people get their messages out into the world, and so he’s really been encouraging me to figure out what is my message, and what does that look like, to put that out there. That’s something that culminated in my Liberia trip and my Ecuador trip, partly just the nature of the trips. We were meeting these new cultures and having these amazing experiences and there were a couple of things that happened in both places that really embodied the whole concept of Step into your Bigness for me.

One of them was, being in Liberia, I’ like a really big white guy and it’s just filled with black people, kind of shorter black people. I assumed they would be larger people there, but they have this cultural thing where they worship big people.

Zephan: Wow!

Trevor: It was really weird, because not only were they all staring at me, but they were also wanting to talk to me, so it was almost like I was a star for something that in a lot of ways has been something I’ve kind of been ashamed of in the past, so I really had to step into this whole concept of being like, okay, well, I’m a big guy, I’m going to be seen no matter what. I can either e ashamed of that, or I can really rise to the occasion and just really connect with these people and try to show all of me and just really show up, basically. That started for me in Liberia, and the same kind of thing happened in Ecuador where I got to really just deal with it.

It wasn’t the same kind of thing, it was different kind of challenges. I actually got confronted with more of my limitations as a large person. I had to learn how to ask for help and to really get assistance and support from others, which has been part of my message with Stepping into Bigness and Journey Inwards, so it’s really a teachable moment for myself. Through all that also going over there and seeing how other cultures lived and meeting these amazing people and we handed out water filtration systems to villagers in Ecuador and Liberia and so it was a really giving type of event where I really got to also peel back the layers o myself and just see who I am in these kind of extreme situations, and how I can rise to the occasion.

Zephan: Has this been a theme that is kind of coming up, at least just for me, but also in a lot of the people that I talk to that have been travelling lately, is it’s, I feel like travel encourages you, or maybe provides you a better, whether it’s mentality or environment, for you to really strip way and figure out, who are you, regardless of any other outside influence. And so it’s been so interesting to hear. You’re not really the first person in the last few weeks of people that I’ve interviewed where there’s some sort of thing that happens when you travel outside of your home and really outside of your comfort zone that allows you to really see what’s underneath it all. It’s so neat. I’m wondering if maybe you could talk about just your experience with that and maybe what you learned about yourself as you’ve done this.

Trevor: Yeah, that’s actually something I’ve thought about a few times in the past. I’ve always felt like I’m the best version of myself when I’m travelling or when I’m doing service projects or things like that. I think that’s definitely true, but I’ also narrowing it down, what is the reason behind that? I think it’s because when we’re doing these things we’re outside of our regular world. We’re not worrying about the regular things that we normally worry about. For me at least, it was a really good way to get present. I couldn’t be distracted by movies and TV or whatever’s going on in my life, or the people; the responsibilities that I have and things like that.

In a lot of ways they’re distractions from being present, and being in this moment. I’m the best version of myself when I’m truly present, when I’m present when I’m talking to others, when I’m having these new experiences that bring me into this moment, then I really, truly shine. I think that’s what travelling and volunteer work does for a lot of people. Myself at least, being the example that I’m using in this case, it helps me get in the moment. It’s kind of scary meeting new people and new cultures and trying to figure out how do I navigate in this world, and having to do things throughout the day that I wouldn’t normally have to do.

I go to be like there all the time. I can’t go read a book, or go, just do something that I would normally do to escape from the everyday experience. For me, it’s a way to get back to presence, and that makes me be the best version of myself. That’s been my experience, at least.

Zephan: Volunteering has also been something for me, too. I sit on a board of directors for a non-profit that we’ve been working to get off the ground and I’ve also been with a youth group that I was in when I was a teenager. I’ve been volunteering with them for the last four or five years, and I’ve found that I’m at my happiest when I’m doing those things for others, and now you and I both know as freelancers, we’re in very similar fields, and how they function and operate, at some point it comes down to, you’ve got to have the money to fund the things that you want to do.

Where does that balance happen, because if I could travel all day every day for the rest of my life, I’m sure I’d be ecstatic and I’d have a good time, but I’d also probably have no money left after about two or three years. How do people find the balance? There’s people that are married, there’s people with kids. For someone like me it’s easy to just up and go, right.

I have no real obligations other than paying my rent, but outside of that, I don’t have a whole lot. Versus many people at least listening to this show, might have families, kids, things like that that are holding them back from fully diving into volunteering all the time, or travelling all the time. What do you think we could do to have those little bits and pieces of being present even in our every day? Is there anything that you brought back from your adventures and from your experiences that you can still deploy while you’re at home?

Trevor: That’s a good question. Some of that stuff I can’t necessarily—I’m kind of in a similar boat as you. I’ve been freelance self-employed for quite a while, pretty much my whole life. I’ve always kind of worked for myself. There’s a sense of freedom that comes with that, in that just do whatever comes along, and it’s not going to mess up my daily schedule or I’m not going to have to talk to my employers and have to be like “Okay, I’m taking the next week off. Will you pay me anyway?” Your main question seems like, is how do we continue that when we come back from these events?

Zephan: Yeah.

Trevor: That’s a tough one. I’ve dealt with that a lot myself. I’ve been finding, I was travelling for maybe four, four and half months over the summer just doing the Ecuador experience, doing bucket list bus events, all kinds of things down in San Diego and all over the place. When I came back from that I was just so happy to be home. I was like “I’m not doing anything for two or three weeks.” In a lot of ways I have an introverted personality, but I’m able to get around that by doing these trips and putting myself in the present moment and being able to do things like that, but at my heart, at my core, I miss my home when I’m gone for too long, and I miss that solitude and silence and just being able to be with myself.

It’s a bit of, I almost have to rebuild myself and my habits, and my techniques for staying in that while I’m back home. It takes me a few weeks to get back into eating healthy, because sometimes I’m eating crappy road food. And going to the gym and all these different things that help me take care of myself in my day-to-day life. It’s a struggle for me, as well. I’ve been really fortunate to have—I joined a men’s group a couple of years ago and it’s been probably the best thing that has happened to me because it lets me keep confronting all the stuff that I don’t usually deal with every week, like the things that I want to do.

I’ve got a support group that’ll help me work towards them, and they’ll help keep me accountable to myself and my own goals, and having that support every week that helps me step out of my comfort zone and keep pushing the boundaries of my own success and my own abilities and my own comfort has been one thing that has really helped keep me in that energy throughout the year. It’s really about presence, I think, in a lot of ways. It’s just about staying present as best I can, so continuing to do thing that are uncomfortable and continuing to just face different things that come up about myself so that I can deal with them and keep trying to move forward.

Other than that, I don’t know that there’s any particular set regiment, or thing that I would recommend. I’d just say keep doing things that you’re uncomfortable with. That pulls me out into the present moment, just as god as anything else, and that’s to me, really what the travelling is about; just staying present.

Zephan: I have gone on—I really have to go back in, and count for this year because I’m really curious. I’m about to book two or three more flights before the end of the year. I’ve been saying I’m somewhere between 20, and 25 flights over the last 12 months. I think it really has been—as long as I go somewhere two or three times a month, basically every two weeks as long as I go somewhere it really keeps me in check, and it kind of brings me down to a very grounded state.

I know that you’ve got a couple of things out there. You have this planner that you created. You’ve got The Journey Inward is a big thing of yours, and Stepping Into Your Bigness. Maybe share with us a little bit about—I’d love to hear what this planner is, where the concept came from, what inspired to make it. I’m a huge fan of writing, like everyday I always keep a pad of ideas, and things. There is always some moleskin notebooks in my bag when I’m going to the office. Just to be curious to hear from you, where did that planner idea come from? Tell everybody what it is.

Trevor: The planner—let me start with The Journey Inward. It’s kind of been my own experience of delving within, and try to find out more about myself, and who I am. It kind of started from the idea of the men’s group that I was talking about earlier. The biggest change in my life in that I’ve been trying to work towards specific goals like eat healthier, or take better care of myself, be more social, or things like that, like aspects of my life that I want to keep working towards. It’s been really hard for me to do that on my own.

As soon as I join this men’s group, and have this weekly group of people that help keep me moving towards these goals, like everything changed. It just became something that was sustainable, that I could work towards, but so much than when I was trying to do it on my own. The Journey Inward was kind of birthed out of this idea of, what happens after the event? Whatever it is, whether it’s a trip you’re going on, or a seminar, or treat that you go to, most people don’t have the support system in place to help keep you moving towards whatever you decided you wanted to do at that event.

I started trying to figure out, what would that look like? How would that support system look? The men’s group that I’ve been part of, I’ve thought “Well, what if there was some online global version of that, that anybody could just join a group, and get support around whatever they are working on, their personal growth—fnd other people that are working on health, and fitness, and other people that are trying to grow their business, and things like that, and just be able to connect with them every week, and get accountability, and support around whatever goals that they have.

The Journey Inward was kind of birthed out of that idea, the idea of ongoing support so that we can create lasting changes in our lives. The Planner was a sort of physical version of that concept. I’ve always had a hard time keeping a calendar, and dealing with that whole process. Most of my life it was like “I got to keep everything in my head.” I finally kind of turned the corner, and decided to start using a calendar system, and start writing things down. I found like a freedom in that, like a freedom in that sense of structure, and that I didn’t have to worry about what appointments are coming up later this week, and things like that.

It’s sort of like I recognized this was my weakness, and now I’ve been turning it into a strength, and realizing that it’s something that in all areas of my life I could be writing down goals, and breaking them up into smaller bite-size chunks, and pieces, and kind of recording that, and figuring out “What does that look like? What is working on that this week look like? What’s one thing I could do towards dating, or being social, or going to the gym, or something like that?” Before I know it, that is a lifestyle that I’ve created for myself. I’ve got a support system that helps keep me on track with it.

The online community which is TheJourneyInward.com, and The Planner which is a physical version that kind of connects with the online community, but also let’s you work it through on your own, something you can kind of carry around with you, and create goals for every week, and just keeping working it. They kind of work hand and hard. For people that want something more physical, they’ve got the planner, and they can just carry it around with them. Then there is the online support system which you can do by itself, or you can connect with the planner however you want.

That’s just kind of been passion recently. It’s figuring out how support works so well for me, and wanting to turn into a system that could benefit others in the same way.

Zephan: Very cool. I know how important it is to have that support system from—I’ve got mastermind groups, I have accountability partners. I myself, I have hired a coach now two or three times. I think for anyone listening in, a couch is a huge thing, and it’s a big investment. Yeah, it takes a lot of money, and pretty much every time I’ve hired one, I haven’t had the amount of money that it takes to hire them, but after I have hired them, what I’ve gotten on the other side of it has paid off very, very quickly.

I’m actually excited because I’m getting ready to start with a new mentor as well. That planner sounds really cool because it’s one thing to just have a notebook, and write down some things here and there. It’s another thing to have something that really guides you through looking at your week, looking at your day. What’s going to happen in the next hour? What do I want to do by the end of this month? I think that’s a really great way to just hold yourself accountable without needing someone to text you, or call you every 10 minutes “Hey, are you working? Are you getting better? Are you improving?”

Trevor: It’s such a simple process. I think people make it way more complicated than it needs to be. We don’t have to figure out why we do things the way we do. I don’t think it’s so much about psychology anymore. The psychology is important, but that’s more an obstacle. I think it’s just about doing it in whatever way you possibly can. Just take one step, break it up in whatever you can do. If you can keep doing that, it adds up, and eventually you’ve got a new lifestyle that was just created out of taking all these tiny little steps to get closer to whatever your goal is.

That’s what the The Planner is. It’s just simply writing it out, just being really practical about it “I want to do this,” what does it take to do that, or what does that look like? What can I do every week to get closer to that? Who can I find in my life that will help keep me on track with that? It’s just doing it. There is nothing psychological or bigger about it. You do it, and then that’s how you become it. That’s pretty much it.

Zephan: I really like that this idea came out of your life experience. I’m getting ready to launch a book that I just wrote, and i think that the best thing you can do is pull your own life experiences, and pull together all the things that you’ve learned from other people, or other mentors, anyone else who has been there. Even in my own book I’m quoting other people that I have learned from because it’s not about being original or different, it’s about just being you, and figuring out what you are at the core, and where it is that you want to go. Which leads me into asking, what does Trevor 12 months ago look like, and what does Trevor right now look like? What things have changed, and is there anything that you still really want to work towards?

Trevor: Absolutely. I’m not finished by any stretch of the imagination. I don’t think I ever will be. I think I’m always going to be working on myself in someway or another. I think that’s important. I think that’s kind of what life is all about. It’s about growth, and change, and just continuing to refine yourself. For me a year ago I was about halfway through my whole project with The Journey Inward. I was doing web design. I was starting to step away from my daily life, and start moving more towards Journey Inward. I was just starting to figure out “What could that look like as a career? What could that look like as an actual lifestyle?”

I had already gone to Liberia, so I’d had that experience which was just amazing. Hadn’t done the Ecuador thing yet. I think I was kind of fresh on the whole concept of The Journey Inward, and the whole concept of Stepping Into Your Bigness. It just—had just figured out that this is what I want to be doing. A year later, I’m like “I know what my message looks like now. I know what Stepping Into Your Bigness looks like for me, and how I can put that out there.” I have a really good idea about Journey Inward, and I’ve built The Planner. I’m still working on the community, and I’ve got—I can almost touch it. It’s like “This is what I’m working towards, and I can see it like right over the horizon.”

It’s been a crazy journey, just the whole thing. I came up with The Journey Inward a couple of years ago, and my friend Robert convinced me to get up onstage, and do my step into your bigness speech maybe three years ago. It was the first step, and I never had any stage experience before that, like just speaking in front of people, and large groups of people, and trying to put a message out there that might help them. He just threw me out there, and he said “Just make something up. We’ll put you on camera.”

And I was working his event at the time, so I didn’t have any time to prepare. I’m behind the camera doing the whole thing, and then I’m in front of the camera talking to a room of like 50-100 people just telling them about self-confidence, and just these random stuff. I’m like “I can speak to this because I’ve had experiences, but now I have to figure out how do I speak to this in front of a room full of people?” That’s crazy. I still can’t go back, and watch that video. I look like a wooden marionette doll. I have a hard time watching myself on video anyway until recently.

The Ecuador video that I have, I actually enjoy watching that. I’m like “Wow, I’ve grown so much just in terms of being able to speak to people, and being able to be comfortable on stage.” I do feel like I’ve gone through a number of transformations over the last few years. If you ask me where I was like four, or five years ago, I would have said I was totally stuck. I was just trying to figure out my life, and everything. I’ve gone through a lot of changes since then.

Zephan: I know that a lot of people both with video, and the audio have challenges. When I first started a podcast, I remember recording the first one, and hearing my voice. I’m a videographer by trade. A, me being on camera is nuts. I always tried to hide from family photos as much as possible growing up, but when you hear your voice—because it always sounds different being played back, then you hear it in your head. Most of that’s because how the sound vibrates off of your skull which is pretty kneed actually.

For everyone listening, fun fact, your voice sounds different in your head because it vibrates off your skull. I had so much trouble putting my voice out there. Look, we are on a podcast right now, and I think we’re like 52, 53 episodes in easily so this might be closer to like number 60 by the time it’s out. It’s so strange to see how things can change over the course of the year. It’s amazing to see how you can come to accept your insecurities, your downfalls, your highs, and your lows.

It’s really cool just to see how much one person can change over the course of a year, and how they go onto help others because that’s also something I’m seeing with you too, is you have transformed so much over the past few years that it has allowed you to help other people make that same difference too, and that’s really cool. Are there any sort of words of wisdom, or lasting words you want to end on just to share with the listeners? Some of them are 100% stuck where you were a few years back. Some of them kind of have an idea where they are going, but can always look for more.

I’m always improving. I don’t think that you ever set a bar. I don’t think you ever hit that because then the bar always moves somewhere else once you get there. Any lasting words of wisdom that you want to spread with everyone, whether it’s about Stepping Into Your Bigness, or conquering whatever it is to get you out of that stuck phase?

Trevor: I want to say yeah. I want to say two things. One is something I always love to leave people with, which is the answers are inside of yourself. I’ve always found instead of looking outside of myself for whatever answers I’m looking for, it’s inside. We’ve always had the answers. We just have to start learning to trust ourselves, and start listening to that inner voice that kind of guides us. That’s always been truth for me. I always say “Instead of following somebody else, or instead of looking to someone else to solve the problem for you, look within.” That’s been something that has really helped me over the years.

The other thing, you were just talking about your podcast. That’s such a prime example of exactly what we are talking about, just this whole idea of “How do we make lasting change in our lives?” It’s really just through repetition. We build something over, and over again until we become natural, and comfortable with it. You’ve done 50 something podcasts at this point, and like you said “You were totally”—like just the whole concept of being in front of the camera at the beginning of that time, and now you’re totally comfortable with it. I can see that you’re comfortable with it. It’s great.

It’s the same exact thing for anything. It’s just repetition. Just keep doing it no matter how you feel about it, or how uncomfortable it is, or what comes up for you, you just keep doing it. That’s it. It’s just taking things one step at a time. If it’s too big of a step, break it up into something smaller. Do something you can do today that starts to build that repetition, and starts to build that muscle. Before you know it, you’re like flying through, and it was just a part of who you are. I think that’s true with anything.

Zephan: It always me think back to—I’ve shared this story a couple of times with people on the podcast that when I first considered quitting my job, I was only making $30,000 a year. I had no clue how I was going to replace that, but when you start to break down the numbers, it was no longer “I have to replace 30,000 in a year, it was I have to replace $120 five days a week, every week for 50 weeks. It’s really not so hard anymore. We broke it down even to the monthly. It’s somewhere around like $2500. Once you break it down to a very small goal—I could probably go out right now, and figure out how to make $120 today, whether it’s sell something that has been sitting in my room for so long, or offer to cut a few neighbor’s lawns. There is so many things you could do.

I think you’re absolutely right. Break it down into the smaller goal. You might not be able to reach the goal itself today, but you can definitely get yourself part of the way there. It’s the best way to run off this episode. Trevor, what is the best way for people to find out about you, maybe check out a video of your talk, and to check the planner that you have on mind for Journey Inward?

Trevor: Go to StepIntoYourBigness.com which is website. It kind of talks about who I am, and there is my talk in Ecuador’s on there. There is couple of other links to videos, and things on there so you can find more about who I am, and The Planner is at JourneyInwardPlanner.com. You can actually buy it right now if you want to, but there is a whole bunch of information on there about how that works. How it connects with the online community, and how that works? Either one of those, and then you can reach me through either one of those sites.

Zephan: Trevor, it’s been great chatting with you. Thanks so much for sharing your message, and sharing your courage really to work on yourself, and to improve, and constantly look for better—it’s been great chatting with you, and I’m sure we’ll definitely be keeping in touch.

Trevor: Absolutely. Thank you for having me on this podcast. It’s been great.