So one of the books that I’ve finished reading this month is
“Reboot your life: Energize your career and life by taking a break” by
Catherine Allen, Nancy Bearg, Rita Foley, & Jaye Smith. I actually bought
this book sometime last year (I think because the title of the book grabbed my
attention), but I actually sat down and read it over the past few weeks.
I’m starting to think that once we start listening and
trying to tune into the flow of the universe, little things start to happen for
a reason (picking up the book last year, but actually sitting down to read it
this year). This is one book that I will be going back to over the years, as I
take reboot breaks as needed.
The authors call these breaks, reboot breaks but they can
also be referred to as gap months (or gap year) or a sabbatical. During the
time I read the book, I’ve realized that since earning my PhD back in 2010
there have only been about eight and a half months (in total) that I wasn’t
working. But I also realized that I never really spent a large amount of time
during those times to try to figure out what I wanted to do with my life. I’d
started to do that a little with the last “break”, but was also still caught up
in the “need a job/need to earn money/need to get off unemployment” mindset.
The authors walk you through the steps that are necessary
for planning and taking a reboot break in one’s life—and with the way society
is going, we all need to unplug and reboot to make sure that we are actually
doing what makes us happy and not just what is earning us a paycheck.
The book talks about everything from planning your reboot
break, to how to fund it, talking with others about your break (current
employer, family, friends, and others), and what they consider the different
stages of the reboot break; as well as a few other things. I also didn’t
realize how many different companies were actually on board with their
employees doing a reboot break (and some of them might even still pay you while
you’re “rebooting” your life).
I’ve realized over the past few weeks that I probably really
need to do a reboot break—I’m not happy in my current position (it’s a dead end
position, limited pay raises, and slightly limited opportunities for
personal/professional development. Noticed I said limited—there are
opportunities, but one has to make sure that they don’t take away from the main
job—which may mean having to do “overtime” but without the benefit of earning
the overtime pay).
Job searching is difficult right now, when I’m still
undecided on the path(s) I should be investigating. Also I’ve realized it’s
hard to search, when I feel like I’m living in a fog—therefore I also need to
be focusing on my physical and mental health as well.
One thing the book does try to stress is that one should try
to plan out their reboot break about a year in advance (though they claim that
you can condense the timescale if you need to). If I decide to do a reboot
break, I’d be doing it in roughly seven to eight months (more or less when my
current contract is up), though I’ve also thought of possibly trying to find a
part-time job during the holidays for money and then starting my reboot break
at the start of the new year. So far
I’ve only gotten as far as acknowledging the fact that I need to take a reboot
break—how long it will be, or when I still haven’t decided—but the break will
happen within the next eighteen months.
I strongly recommend this book for anyone who is burnt out,
beginning to burnout, or ones who have no idea of what they actually want to do
in life. I wish I’d found this book sooner (or actually read it when I
originally bought it), that way I possibly could have already done a reboot
break and have figured out part of my life.
I will keep you posted on how my reboot journey goes (from
the planning, to execution of the break, to then finding the type of industry
position that I really want) over the next (let’s say) eighteen to twenty-four
So one of the books that I finished in February was “The 30
Day Challenge Book: 500 ideas to inspire your life” by Clare Hudson. This book
was divided in to different areas such as intellectual & educational 30 day
challenges, social, relationship & kindness 30 day challenges and then self
improvement, inner life and meditation 30 day challenges (just to name a few
So one thing I decided was that I’d go back through the book
and list the different 30 day challenges that either I found interesting or
would be helpful to try. I know that there are certain ones that I currently
won’t be doing (such as running, following a specific eating trend [vegan or
vegetarian], or going to a religious service), or that I’ve already been doing
(hitting 10K steps/day, watching the sun rise, or bird watching). But the
following is a long list of different challenges that I will slowly start
incorporating into my life:
Dance every day (for 10 minutes); I can do this in the
privacy of my room. Just turn on the ipod and dance freely without anyone
watching or judging.
Celebrate small accomplishments. I use to do this with my
fitness/nutrition—I’d break things down and once I reached a milestone there
would be a certain reward. I need to get back in the habit of doing it again
(will probably work wonders for the fitness/nutrition and also the job
Keep a general diary or journal. Again this is something
that I use to be good at doing, but feel out of habit doing daily. This will
probably help with the anxiety and stress more if I plan to sit and write at
least once or twice a day in a journal (either paper & pen or digital).
Create a new daily routine for yourself.
Give up waiting around for the ‘right’ time. I know that I’m
guilty of this (especially in terms of the job search/transition). So this is
something that I need to continuously work on.
Try free drawing.
Spend 15 minutes a day coloring. I actually started this one
a couple of months ago, but then got busy with life and quit. But I do enjoy
coloring, so I may pick this one back up again.
Keep an idea book for 30 days.
Write a blog post daily (and it doesn’t always have to be
published right away).
Teach yourself photography.
Photograph one beautiful thing a day
Photography theme for a month
Create an online course
Film the progress of your 30-day challenge
Make rubbing of interesting surfaces & textures
Make a sculpture from random objects
Bucket list of 30 things in 30 days
Revamp your garden
Recycle your stuff
Read a poem a day
Learn how to say common phrases in different languages
Learn a new word a day
Research prominent women throughout history
Learn about a different historical person each day
Learn about politics
Learn about a new country a day
Put a pin on the world map & learn about that place
Find out how different cultures express themselves through art
Use the Khan Academy
Teach yourself economics
Learn about prominent scientists throughout history
Learn the periodic table (I had at one point memorized most
of it as an undergrad—but that has been quite a few years ago). J
Learn computer programming (I’ve actually bought several
different little e-course bundles to learn how to do programming—I just haven’t
gotten around to sitting down and going through them yet).
Do Sudoku or crosswords. I use to do the Sudoku puzzles all
the time, but haven’t done one in awhile. This is something else to get back in
the habit of doing.
Read an article on a different subject (or different
articles on the same subject but with different points of views).
Pick a subject you’re interested in & develop really
niche knowledge within that subject
So these were the ideas from the book that I’m going to
slowly start working on (probably just one challenge here and there), in
addition to the ones that I’m already doing (steps, bird watching, working out
So in terms of 30-day challenges—I am slowly teaching myself
photography. I am trying to get out on the weekends to take new pictures, and
if I spot something during the week, which catches my attention I’m going to
snap a picture of it with my iPhone. I’m coming to the realization that
photography today means more than just using a camera—it means using both a
camera (can be either digital or one that actually uses film), and the camera
on the phone. It also means learning how to use different programs to process
and edit the pictures as well. In other words—it is a challenge that will take
longer than 30 days to master—it will take years. Luckily it is something that
I’m really enjoying doing.
So the books that I’ve finished so far this month all have had one thing in common: they focus on creating new habits or breaking bad habits. I’ve recently reviewed the two volumes of the 30-Day Productivity Plan by Damon Zahariades. Here I’m going to focus on the one of the books that focused on creating new habits.
The first book is “The Big book of 30-Day Challenges: 60
Habit Forming Programs to live an Infinitely Better Life” by Rosanna Casper.
The book contained seven different chapters that basically
had seven to ten different 30-day challenges within them. If someone really is
ambitious they could do all sixty challenges—it would take at least five years
to do the entire book.
The seven chapters include: Fitness, Food, Self-Care,
Mindfulness, Organization & Productivity, Networking & Relationships,
& finally Creativity and Learning.
Reading through the book, I’ve realized that there are some
challenges that I’m already doing, for example the step challenge. The American Heart Association has a
recommendation that you try to get at least 10,000 steps a day, which depending
on your stride length should be somewhere around 4 to 5 miles of walking a day.
My current challenge for myself is trying to get to 14,000 steps a day. The
reason for that number is that if I manage it all year—I would end up with a
little over 5 million steps for the year. This year, I’ve already had several
days where I’ve been below 10K. This is usually because I haven’t had the
greatest night sleep, it’s the weekend/holiday/snow day and I just don’t feel
like getting the steps in. I am trying to break myself of that bad habit this
But out of all the exercise challenges, there are two that I
know I probably won’t be doing—the run every day (I have never enjoyed running,
and while at times I picture myself running a 5K—I don’t actually see that
happening any time soon), and the stairs workout. With the stair workout, the
only time that I would have access to stairs would be at work currently, and I’m
not going to go in even earlier just to make use of the stairs for this
challenge. I do try to take the stairs when I remember (but I will admit that
I’m lazy and I usually head towards the elevator).
But the three challenges that I am going to be putting on a
list include: the 30 days of exercise, 30 days of yoga (for me this could mean
actually doing the PiYo workouts from Beachbody which combine yoga &
Pilates), and 10 minutes of stretching.
While I read through the different food challenges, the only
two that I’m currently doing include: drink 8 to 10 glasses of water a day, and
eat a healthy breakfast every morning. There were other challenges that
included fasting, eliminating sugar, and keeping a food journal. Since I’m
trying to re-establish a good relationship with food, I’m only going to focus
on the types of challenges that would work with that major goal. Those would be
the two challenges I mention above, plus trying to eat more fruits and
The third chapter dealt with self-care. I am trying to get better
sleep (the fitbit alta does track sleep somewhat—it tells me how often I’m
tossing and turning, or having to get up to go to the bathroom; but doesn’t
tell me if I’ve reached REM sleep). I really don’t like cold showers (unless
it’s a really hot and humid day or I’m slightly overheated & I need to cool
off). Currently I don’t “dress up” daily—mainly because I work in the lab, and
I don’t want to be having to put on a lab coat to ensure that nothing is spilt
on my clothes (though technically I should be wearing a lab coat anyway—I just
sweat way to much and therefore only put on the lab coat when it is absolutely
necessary). I’m not sure how well I would do on a no complaining challenge
(mainly because of the state of the world and everything in it)—though I do try
to make it through the day without complaining, gossiping, or judging other
people. I also try to spend some time outdoors (though it may not be a half
hour, but I do try for at least a total of 20-30 minutes if not more a day).
Also at times I find it difficult to think of things that make me laugh (so
this is something that I could work on improving as well).
The fourth chapter dealt with mindfulness. This is something
that I have been trying to get better at over the past year or so. When I was
initially laid off from my job last fall, I realized that I really need to do a
lot of self reflection, and I realized that one thing that I didn’t do nearly
enough of was taking care of my mental health. So the goals that are included
in this chapter include: meditating for 10 minutes, writing down affirmations,
10 minutes of visualization, seeking daily awe, higher power challenge, daily
journaling, keeping a gratitude journal, keeping a dream journal, and
practicing lucid dreaming.
Out of those challenges, I do try to meditate nightly (though it may only be for two to five minutes; sometimes I can get closer to 10). In addition I do try to journal daily, though sometimes I’m so tired at the end of the day that I forget to do it—so this is something that I know that I need to work on. I haven’t tried keeping a gratitude journal or a dream journal, nor have I tried lucid dreaming. So if I were to pick two challenges, I think I’d stick with the ones that I’m currently trying to do: the daily meditation & journaling. At some point I will work in the gratitude & dream journaling and even writing down the daily affirmations—but baby steps first.
The fifth chapter dealt with organization and productivity.
So these challenges have more to do with doing digital “detoxes”, cleaning out
the email in-boxes (if you have more than one account), tracking your spending,
and just general things to help make your life a little more streamlined.
I am in the slow process of trying to get rid of clutter in
both my room and storage unit (this is slow because I don’t have a lot of time
to focus on the storage unit right now & at the same time I’m not sure of
what I would need that I have packed away in there). I have been trying to
track my expenses and aiming for no spend days to expand into no spend weeks
and then expand into a no spend month (so far I’ve managed to almost have a no
spend week this year so far). Making my bed daily is something that I manage
about 10% of the time, and getting up at 5am is difficult when you have a poor
night sleep anyway. But there are challenges that I am working on.
Chapter six has to deal with networking & relationships.
Challenges include: 30 minutes of family time, love through everyday
interactions, reach out to friends, have lunch with someone new, create daily
delight for others & the rejection challenge.
I have been
trying to reach out to friends that I haven’t talked to in years via social
media. I also spend time with both my parents and younger brother (when he
comes to town), in terms of spending time with other family members, that will
require planning a trip out to visit people (since other than my parents &
younger brother—no other relative lives in the state). Having lunch with
someone new will probably be a challenge for me once I move—since I take my
lunch to work daily, there is seldom a chance to sit down with someone new at
Chapter seven has to deal with creativity and learning. The
challenges in this chapter include: learning or brushing up on a musical instrument,
learning a foreign language, take a photo every day, learn a brand new skill,
write down 10 ideas every day, cook one new recipe per day, read 20 pages a
day, watch a TED talk every day, write a novel in 30 days, listen to audiobooks
or podcasts, perfect your pitch: videotape yourself, and exercise your brain.
At some point I may try to brush up on my skills in terms of playing the flute (that way I can banish the bad memories of playing it in school and build better memories of me learning for the fun of it). I am also going to be trying to refresh my memory of both my Spanish & German skills (I’ve figured that it would be a good thing to be able to speak at least one foreign language). I’m also in the middle of a photo challenge already. I’m also trying to keep up on my reading at least 10-20 pages of a non-fiction book (in addition to reading (or re-reading) fiction books as well). As much as I would love to
cook more—this is something that I’ve fallen behind on and will pick up more on
once I’m back on my own.
So there are literally five years worth of 30 day challenges
presented in this book. I’ve realized that I’m currently working on a number of
them already (trying to turn them into daily habits). But there are several
others that I’m going to slowly start working in my daily routine as well:
Writing down 5 to 10 ideas a day (I know the original
challenge was 10 ideas—but sometimes you need to work up to the challenge).
Watching a TED talk every day.
Listening to podcasts (I use to do this daily, but I’ve
fallen out of the habit—so it’s something I’d like to get back into doing).
Working suduko puzzles (again this is something that I use
to do daily, but have again fallen out habit on).
Getting better at keeping a daily journal (and start to
incorporate gratitude & dream journaling as well).
Try to spend more time outdoors
Eat more fruits & veggies
Start practicing more yoga
Work on perfecting my plank
Spend more time stretching.
I do recommend this book if you’re looking for ideas on different 30 day challenges. It covers different areas of life, and with the number of challenges per area–you can pick and choose the ones that you think will be most beneficial to your life.
So to continue the theme from yesterday, today’s book review centers on the second volume of the 30-Day Productivity Plan: 30 more bad habits that are sabotaging your time management and how to overcome them one day at a time by Damon Zahariades.
The second volume continues in the same light as the first
volume, it talks about another thirty bad habits that people may (or may not
have), and then gives several tips on how to slowly start over coming the bad
habits. The additional 30 bad habits that are included in this book are:
Clutter Accumulate in Your Life
receptive to others’ negativity
negative self talk to kill your momentum
to unplug for extended periods of time
immediately to email, texts, and voice mails
yourself to be easily distracted
emotionally dependent on others
Letting money stress consume you
Spending time with toxic people
Being satisfied with mediocre performances
Neglecting to prioritize tasks, projects, and
Taking too long to make a decision
Quitting bad habits cold turkey
Trying to make too many changes at once
Letting a lack of motivation prevent you from
Refusing to commit to your goals
Seeking instant gratification
Constantly switching between tasks
Drowning yourself in information
Working without clearly defined goals
Waiting for the perfect time to act
Using unnecessary productivity apps
Trying to keep everything in your head
Letting nonessential tasks creep onto your
daily to-do lists
Assigning too much gravity to email
Allowing yourself to get derailed from your
So if I had to list the number of bad habits from this book that I have, I
would have to say that I’m guilty of the following: 1,2,3,4,5,7,8,9 (to a
slight extent), 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 18, 19, 20, 22, 23, 24, 25, 27, 28,
and 30. So it would seem that I have more of these bad habits (25 out of 30)
compared to the first book, which was 21 out 30. So in total of basically 60
different habits that can limit one’s productivity I would say that I’m more or
less guilty of 46 out of 60. Not good, but at least there are a few that I’m
not guilty of doing.
So in terms of the twenty-five bad habits from book two, what in theory is
my issue with each of the habits?
I will admit that I have way too much stuff (bad habit number one), but I
am trying to slowly get rid of some of it. I am trying to go through and par
down on things that I don’t need. This will take time, since most of my stuff
is still in storage, but I’m going to try to par down what I have at my parents
so that I’m not adding a large number of additional boxes to what is already in
my storage unit.
In terms of negative energy, negative self talk, and being around toxic
people—these are all things that I am trying to work on. I’m trying to limit
the interactions with people who either have negative energy or are toxic—but
it’s difficult when it’s people you work with. The negative self talk will take
longer to deal with, as those thoughts are the extremely quiet ones that you
don’t really hear and have to work harder at identifying so that you can start
to correct them.
I am trying to do weekly reviews, but at the same time I will admit that I
not really prioritizing tasks, projects, or relationships that well right now.
These are two things that go hand in hand, if I can get better at doing one, I
will probably get better at doing the second.
I do respond immediately to emails (at least work wise), but that is part
of my job so it required, but at the same time I only get a small number of
emails that requires an almost immediate response. Other emails I may respond
too within a few hours. I respond to text messages as soon as I can (but if I’m
busy it may be twenty or thirty minutes before I respond). In terms of voice
mails, that is really only again at work, and I get only a few that I need to
do that with.
I will admit that I allow myself to get distracted from certain tasks (and
that is because I really haven’t developed a liking for that task or I consider
to be a repetitive one). Mainly this is with cleaning, and at times working
out, or trying to sit down and write.
I don’t consider myself to be overly emotionally dependent on other people.
Everyone wants people to like them, and we also want to make sure that at times
we have family support for certain things (such as career changes, moves, and
so forth). So I have more or less reached a point, where if people don’t like
me fine—I’m not rude, but at the same time I’m no longer hiding who I am
(liberal, wicca/pagan/atheist, firm believer in science, and so forth). People
can either take me for who I am or not, but I’m no longer going to lose sleep
over it. Family approval is something we all strive for, and I think since I
had to move back in with my parents, I’m probably striving for it a little more
than normal just so that hopefully when I make the next move I don’t have to
worry about moving back in with them.
Currently money is only a stress issue in terms of the following: 1) making
sure that I have enough to cover a move to wherever my new job is, 2) making
sure that I have enough to cover getting a lease on an apartment; and 3) making
sure that I have that 6-12 month emergency fund saved up. At the same time I
want to make sure that I also have money that I can travel if I want (and
travel, especially international travel isn’t cheap).
In terms of being satisfied with mediocre performances, fearing failure,
and fearing success—yes I have issues with all of them. I’ve already had one
job end on a bad note, which has made me probably a little too cautious in job
searching (but it’s that once burned, twice shy attitude). Therefore I’ve
allowed myself to become somewhat complacent and being satisfied with the
status quo of my current situation (even though I’m not happy in my current
position). In terms of fearing success—I think that is one reason why my weight
loss journey has been so up and down, and why it has been hard for me at times
to commit to a program—I know that I can be successful in it, but at the same
time I’m worried about what close friends and family will say and act.
In terms of neglecting to prioritize tasks, projects, and relationships;
taking too long to make a decision, and trying to make too many changes at
once—yep, again. I know that I’ve been
taking too long in terms of trying to figure out the next job direction, and
that I’ve also been neglecting to prioritize the tasks within job searching to
make it a little easier to handle on the day to day basis. In terms of
prioritizing projects—I have so many personal projects that I would like to
start doing, that I usually look at everything and go “there is always
tomorrow”. I’m trying to spend more time with friends, and getting in touch
with ones that I haven’ talked to in awhile. Then in terms of trying to make
too many changes at once—I’m guilty of this as well (namely in terms of fitness
and nutrition). I will ideas of things that I would like to get better at (or
start learning more on in terms of the business side of industry) that I get
overwhelmed and I then neglect everything.
So, one thing that probably is hard for anyone to admit to is refusing to
commit to your goals. The human mind is a wondrous thing, and there are parts
of it that fear change, and if they can convince us that the path is foolish—we
change directions and leave the goal. Also there is the problem of setting too
many goals at once, and the problem of making goals that really aren’t for us,
but we make them based on societal ideals and standards. For example, I had it
as a goal over the years to take up jogging and then run a 5K—the only problem
is that 1) I’ve never really been a jogger or a runner; and 2) it isn’t
something that I’m not sure I’d enjoy (mainly because I’ve never tried to)—but
I made it a goal, as it’s stated that jogging or running is one of the better
ways of losing weight. Also the fear of committing to one’s goals can also be
linked to the fear of both failure and success. So at times it’s easier to stay
with the status quo than it is to try to do something that you may or may not
be good at or enjoy.
Switching between tasks is another problem with today’s society—we’re
expected to juggle everything all the time and that is the only way to get
ahead in the world. I do try to limit doing that at work when ever possible (as
I’ve learned that it’s better to wait until something is in a “waiting stage”
(i.e. the reaction is going for a specific time period) before trying to do
something else. Though at home I will admit to switching between things on a
fairly regular basis. This is especially true when it comes to try to write something
for the blog, or working on a book review. My mind will think of something
else, and then I’ll put what I’m currently doing on hold and try to start
We are in a world of massive information. As technology advances, and more
and more information is available at the click of a button it can become easy
to get swept away with all the information. Currently I only find it a problem
in terms of job searching and trying to narrow down exactly what it is I
possibly want to do within industry. I will admit that I am a very curious
person by nature (I think that is one of the many reasons why I went into a
science field for both my undergraduate and graduate degrees), so I can usually
navigate the massive amounts of information fairly easily. Though when trying
to figure out what it is I want to do life—that is where I find myself cast
adrift in the massive amounts of information.
So to go along with some of the above issues—there is also the problem of
working without clearly defined goals. I know that I want to transition into
industry—but until I have at least one or two basic titles (or companies)
chosen it will be difficult to figure out the best course of action. So this is
something that I’ve been slowly trying to work on getting better at.
I’ve also realized that at times I have been trying to “wait for the
perfect time” before doing something. While it is basic common sense to realize
that the perfect time will really never fully materialize—it doesn’t stop the
human race from waiting for it. This along with other issues is something that
I’m going to be addressing this year, especially in terms of my industry
So as far as the last three items (trying to keep everything in your head;
letting nonessential tasks creep onto your daily to-do list & allowing
yourself to get derailed from your goals), I’d have to say I’m guilty from time
to time of trying to keep things in my head (especially when I was tracking
what I was eating) and not writing it down right away. I do try to write things
down as soon as possible for certain areas, but I need to work on trying to do
that for everything. In terms of letting nonessential tasks to creep onto my
daily to-do list, this is again occasionally (and only because at times I’ve
forgotten to write a to-do for the next day before I leave). The biggest thing
that I think I need to work on this year, is not allowing myself to get
derailed from my goals. In that aspect, I know that I need to have a short list
of goals, and an equal list of anti-goals (see my previous book review on
Anti-goals: Find Success by Knowing what to Avoid by Kevin Wagonfoot).
Over all these are
both extremely good books to read, if for no other reason to see how simple
things that we do on a daily basis can impact your productivity both in your
personal and professional life. The more we aim at being conscious of how we
spend our days, and focusing on things that truly matter to us, we can find
more enjoyment and pleasure in life. Work is a necessity, but at the same time
so is enjoying life—because if we don’t enjoy it, we just struggle to get by.
It’s time that each of us figures out what is best for ourselves (and family if
necessary), and realize that we can only live life for ourselves and not for
others. I highly recommend both books, as they have made me realize that there
are still numerous things that I can strive to be better at, and that by
working on certain things, it will also help me achieve my goals and dreams.
So I’ve realized that with the books that I’ve managed to finish this month–they all have had a central theme of thirty days. Either talking about bad habits (such as this particular book and the second volume) daily, or as thirty day challenges.
The first two book reviews are covering the aspect of learning about different habits that could be sabotaging our daily productivity and how to go about correcting those habits, and the other two books are filled with different 30-day challenges.
So this is the start of a two part book review series. One
of the books that I’ve had on my electronic to-be read pile was “The 30-Day
Productivity Plan: Break the 30 Bad Habits that are Sabotaging Your Time
Management One Day at a Time” by Damon Zahariades. Then a few weeks ago I
noticed that there was a second book out, and I went ahead and purchased that
one as well. The basis of both books is to read them, and then pick a “bad
habit” to break, and slowly work on increasing our productivity again by not
doing (or limiting) certain things.
So with the first volume, the “30 bad habits” that were
covered in the this book included:
1) Checking your email more than twice a day;
2) Trying to be perfect;
3) Creating overly ambitious to-do lists;
4) Giving yourself too much time to complete tasks;
5) Kicking yourself over past mistakes and failures;
6) Saying “yes” to everyone;
7) Working overtime;
8) Being a control freak;
9) Eating unhealthy foods;
11) Postponing taking action on hard tasks;
12) Checking social media throughout the day;
13) Neglecting to take breaks;
14) Binge-watching television shows;
15) Neglecting to create systems for recurring tasks;
17) Refusing to take responsibility for your choices;
18) Telling yourself you’re not ready;
19) Neglecting to organize your day;
20) Feeling sorry for yourself;
21) Working against your body’s natural rhythm;
22) Refusing to get enough exercise;
23) Worrying about what others think of you;
24) Keeping up with current events;
25) Focusing on the 80% that doesn’t matter;
26) Getting caught up in unnecessary drama;
27) Working without concrete goals;
28) Letting your phone run your life;
29) Working until you burn out;
30) Allowing stress into your life.
I would have to say that I’m guilty of the following: 1, 2
(in certain circumstances), 3, 4, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 15, 16, 18, 19, 21, 22,
23, 24, 25, 27, 29, and 30. I almost added in #7, but with being told that I
have to “ask permission” to go over 40 hours a week, this makes sure that I don’t
go over the hours. So in theory I have 21 “bad habits”, and I’m trying to
correct the following already: 9 & 22. I will admit that I do check my
different email accounts several times a day (but at least for two of those, I
delete more than I read) and with my work email, part of my job is responding
to clients so I need to do that in a timely manner.
I will admit that at times I create overly ambitious to-do
lists, though they probably wouldn’t be so overly ambitious if I had them
separated into the different aspects (work, home, personal development) of my
life instead of as one (or two) major lists that seem to be never ending.
I probably also give myself way to much time for certain
tasks (say writing a blog post), or finishing a personal assessment
project/assignment. There are times when I realize that I don’t feel like doing
an introspective task, so instead of putting it on a different to-do list or
calendar, I’ll just tell myself that I’ll complete the task tomorrow (and then
repeat that story the next day….).
I know that both my nutrition and fitness routine need to
polished. Right now it is actually easier to focus on my fitness routine then
trying to totally change my eating routines. I’m trying to be more mindful of
what I’m eating, and also not eating as much processed sweets as I usually have
done in the past—but at the same time I’m not going to devoid my life any
treats either; it all about balance.
10, 11, 18, and 27 all go hand in hand right now. These
could all refer to how slow I’ve been going in my job search & transition.
I want to move from academia to industry, but at the same time there is the
fear that I could be making the wrong move (i.e. choosing the wrong company to
work for). These are all things that I have been working at over coming (though
it has been slow going).
In terms of keeping up with current events, I think that one
should keep up with current events in order to be a well-informed person, but
one doesn’t need to be checking the news constantly. I look at BBC news several
times a day (but that is also to see if there are any new science stories up;
if there doesn’t look to be any I get off the page). I also only check the news
to make sure that there isn’t some huge catastrophe happening somewhere in the
In terms of number 23, I have slowly started to care less
about what others think of me—yes I know it’s important to have a good personal
and professional brand, but at the same time I know that there are people who
don’t like me and there is little I can do about it. If others judge me based
on other people’s opinions without getting to know me—that is their problem not
mine. I’ve realized that I’ve spent too much of my life trying not to rock
various “boats” that I’d almost forgotten that the only opinion that really
matters at the end of the day is mine (as long as I can look at myself in the
mirror & I’ve tried to be a good person that day, that’s all that matters).
I’m still trying to figure out the different twenty percent
that yield eighty percent results for different areas of life. I know that in
terms of my job transition—I need to spend more time networking & setting
up informational interviews (those will hopefully lead to an actual job
interview and possible job offer); changing my eating habits will yield larger
results in terms of getting into shape and getting healthy & fit. Areas
that I’m probably still focusing on the wrong things could include personal and
professional development (I need to narrow down what I want to focus on this year
that can lead to my goals quicker), and this can also tie in with #27 as well.
In terms of working until I’m burnt out and allowing stress
into my life—these are two areas that I’ve always struggled with.
In terms of working until I’m burnt out—I’d almost say that
I’m there. I do show up to work, and try my best daily (though at the same
time, if something is going slightly wrong I now have the tendency of shrugging
it off. An example is when I have to repeat a sequencing run & it works the
second time but not the first, now (and actually before as well) I’m like well
at least it worked; whereas others claim that I’d made a mistake previously and
I need to pay more attention to detail so that it doesn’t happen again).
This is one reason why I want to move from academia to
industry and at the same time going to plan at least one (if not more) trips
this year (both personal & professional). I’ve also gotten to the point
where I’m willing to take time off without pay just to have a break.
In terms of stress, I’m still working on different ways of
trying to manage it. I meditate at night, use an acupuncture mat & pillow,
journal, and will start taking walks at work as well when I feel the need.
This is a good book for introducing things that we all do on a daily basis, but showing how they can negatively impact our productivity in everything that we do. Reading it has helped open my eyes to the ways I have been harming my productivity, and now that I know things that I’m guilty of doing—I can slowly start correcting those habits and start having more productive days.
I highly recommend this book to anyone who is curious to know if they are unconsciously sabotaging their daily productivity and how they can go about correcting some of their habits. Bad habits can’t be changed over night, and admitting that there could be numerous ones is a step in the right direction, and all one has to be is willing to start making a little progress in different areas. Once it starts to get easier, one can go to another habit and so forth. Stay tune for my review on volume II of the 30-Day Productivity Plan.
So I just finished reading “Anti-Goals: Find Success by
Knowing What to Avoid” by Kevin Wagonfoot as part of my big push again into
reading more personal/professional development books in 2019. This book struck
several chords with me, and therefore I want to share with you.
So anti-goals are basically things that you want to avoid
(and we’re talking things other than death, taxes, and getting sick—because
really those are three things that no one can avoid forever). But the book also
informs “you cannot know what you want, until you know exactly what it is you
That quote right there basically sums up my life for the
past eight years for different areas of my life—namely in terms of work and
health. I’ve been slightly struggling with my job search/transition because I
don’t know exactly what I want to do—though I have some ideas of the type of
jobs I don’t want to do (now I just
need to narrow it down in terms of company culture to determine the companies
that I don’t want to work for).
Another two line from the book that resonated with me were
“You’re not going to know what you want until you taste it. You might not even
know your own preferences yet, even if you’re 30+ years old”. All I have to say
is—Yes, yes, yes—I have no idea of what all my own preferences are yet. Right
now I’m still learning the things I want to avoid (mainly in terms of
personalities of people to try to avoid being around).
Also there was the addition of phrases to avoid, which
mainly leads to self-doubt, negative self-talk, and procrastination. Those
phrases include: “I’ll start on it tomorrow”—I will admit guilt to using this
phrase. I am now going to try to be better at starting projects on time (even
if they’re something I rather not be doing). “We’ve never done it like that
before”—if I’ve used this phrase it usually is in a lab setting and would be
followed by ‘how is different from our current method’ or something similar. “I
don’t know what to do”—I’ve only said this to myself when I’m in the middle of
an anxiety attack thinking about all the different possible job directions I
could go and the ways I could get there. I will try to get better at not
thinking (or saying out loud) as I work on transitioning into industry. The
phrase that is suggested that you also avoid using is “this is in my way”. Now
that particular phrase can be mentally thought when looking at anything or
anyone; while I probably do mentally use the phrase—it is so subconsciously
that I truthfully can’t remember the last time I thought it in a negative way
against someone. I probably mentally say it around things at home or when
looking at a calendar and wanting the next break.
So getting back to the setting of the anti-goals, you can
pick as many different parts of your life to look at and list out the things
you dislike and would like to avoid in each area, and then list ways that you
could possibly avoid doing those things (while realizing that some anti-goals
may still crop up in life and you will then just have to face them head on).
I then realized that this could almost blend in with the
Level 10 life—here you always want to raise the level of different areas of
your life, and with the anti-goals you want to avoid hitting zero. I think that
they could almost be a balance of each other (in certain areas).
So if I were to list out different areas of life and the
things I would like to avoid they would probably look something like this:
long work days.
paid what I’m worth
amount of credit card debt
in the retirement account
to survive month to month
Health and Fitness
overweight and out of shape
good night sleep
stuff than I need
“cluttered and disorganized”
Friends & Family
touch and not staying connected
So my anti-goals would then be for each area:
that would only require occasional long day (or weekend) but with compensation
(days off in return)
Move into a
job sector that will pay people with high level of scientific training what
they are worth
credit cards when ever possible & keep the debt low enough to be paid off
different ways of being able to get more money into a retirement account (safe
alternatives to the stock market)
Have a job
with a company that pays what you are worth, and also one that takes into
account the cost of living in that particular city/area
financial responsible and realizing that less is actually more.
Heath and fitness:
workout at least three days a week.
at least 14,000 steps/day
more at home, and trying to cook healthier versions of different meals
7 to 8 hours of sleep a night
checking the news/social media before bed
counting calories/macros & giving up the word “diet”
back movies that I haven’t watched in years (this should be fun, since I technically
haven’t watched any of the movies in my storage unit in the past 6 years)
clothes that I don’t wear that often
realize that less is actually more and get rid of stuff that I don’t need (or
Set up a
cleaning schedule and actually try to stick with it for once
Friends & Family
Keeping in touch
via social media (if I don’t have their telephone number or email address)
get together for coffee, or a walk, or something sort of social event
accepting invitations to social events and then actually showing up to them.
friends/family know when I’m in the area on vacation/work so that maybe can get
together for coffee or dinner
All in all, this was a good book with some very good points (and the sad thing is—is that all the points were basic, common sense points that as a society we’ve seem to have lost connections to). I would highly recommend this book to anyone who is looking to figure out why they’re stuck where they are in life, but also remember that change doesn’t happen over night and that like anything in life slow, sustainable progress is better than quick, fast changes that you might not be able to maintain over the years.
While the anti-goal list seems lofty and extensive-I’m not going to be doing all of them every day of the week. I may try to focus on one area one week, and then maybe another area the next week, while still incorporating some of the previous week. Small steps will still get you to the finish line–and life shouldn’t be a race, we will all get to our own finish lines at the correct time.
So I just finished reading The Four Tendencies, and all I have to say is that I wish I’d known about this book years ago.
have been on a journey of intense personal/professional development for a little over a year, and with reading this book I’ve managed to find the answer to a question that has been eluding me for over a decade—“why I work better with some people than others and why I never figured it out sooner”. This book goes over “Four Tendencies” or broad personality types (and if you’ve taken other personality quizzes you can work those results in and fine tune your tendency even more).
With this book I’ve realized that I’m a questioner (someone who can honor personal expectations/obligations but resists outside [external] expectations/obligations) that leans more towards a rebel (someone who has the tendency to resist both internal and external expectations/obligations) tendency at times. I’m in a science discipline, and other than my undergraduate years I’ve ended up working under upholders and by the end of the job period—ending up clashing with them. I would find the work in the lab to be fascinating (or at least somewhat challenging), and that would be the main reason for me joining the lab. Then problems would start creeping up—my hours, my writing, my interpretations of my results, and so forth. With reading The Four Tendencies, I can see now that most of my former supervisors fell within the Upholder tendency (with some leaning towards the Obliger and maybe one leaning towards the questioner). Now I don’t have a problem with rules—if they make sense, but being told that basically that I have to change my writing voice because it doesn’t sound like “a scientist” has always propelled me towards not caring (or as I see it now the rebel tendency). After awhile I never cared if a proposal was turned down (because they weren’t critiquing “my writing voice” but someone else’s voice).
I’ve also realized that my tendency has the tendency of getting me into a little bit of trouble as well. This is due mainly to the fact that after awhile of not getting either a clear answer to a question, being overly questioned for how I do things, or how I respond to things—I quit asking questions and tend to do things as I think they should be done.
One thing I wish is that somehow this book becomes required reading for high school and college students, and that once someone gets into a manager type position (no matter the industry or field) they have to read this book at least every other year. I think that if more people read this book, it would help mediate a lot of the problems that we currently have within both school systems (students not doing work, so forth) and as adults (different tendencies tend to work better with one or two tendencies but not all). I know that if I had read this book years ago, I might not have accepted my first postdoctoral position (as I can clearly see know that the professor was an upholder, probably leaning toward the obliger; and at least this particular questioner doesn’t seem to work very well with upholders (at least those who don’t take the time to try to explain things).
Highly recommended book for anyone on personal/professional development journey or anyone who just wants to learn a little more about the subject.
I have always struggled with my weight, and have probably bounced between the “overweight” and “mild obese” weight-range my entire life. I’ve tried numerous different diets (from slim shakes for lunch/snacks) to following an plan that told me exactly how much and what to eat daily (this one I remember that on day seven all you were allowed was ½ a grapefruit and a cup of yogurt for your meals—it was the most restricted calorie day). Now I’m just trying to be sensible—more fruits and veggies, less processed foods (sausages, fries, things like that), and more water. I’ve been getting better over the past couple of years (though my weight has gone from the “overweight” category back to the “mild obese” category), so I decided that I would also start reading a few books on different aspects of weight loss, to try to find some additional “tools” that I could add/use when it comes to trying to lose weight sensibly.
“Mini Habits for Weight Loss: Stop Dieting. Form New Habits. Change Your Lifestyle without suffering” by Stephen Guise is a wonderful tool to add to your “tool belt” when it comes to sensible weight loss. This book gives both a history of the weight loss industry (including a good background on the low fat vs. low sugar diets), and then goes into sensible ways of slowly changing both nutrition and fitness habits to make them long lasting. There are now quick and easy fixes, but ideas and suggestions for how to make changes to your nutrition and fitness routines that one can actually stick with.
There were numerous different parts of the book that stood out to me, but one in particular: “Calorie restriction has been shown to drop your metabiolism and make your body prone to store fat” (pg. 50_kindle edition). This is opposite of everything that you see and hear in the news (where you’re told to lower the calories to force your body to start burning fat), but at the same time it makes sense due to how the human species has evolved over tens of thousands of years. I use to try to restrict my calories, but then I started to pay attention to how it made me feel—I was usually in a fairly bad mood (and it was all due to the fact that while I thought I was losing “fat” I was in fact starving myself and now we know that there is a direct correlation between our gut flora and our mental health—so my gut flora was sending signals to my brain that they were stressing, and in turn my mood was usually bouncing between grumpy, tired, and irritable. Read More
So I’m still trying to find balance between reading different personal and professional development books, with other books. So far this month I’ve managed to finish a book that I think falls into both categories: “Small Talk: An Introvert’s Guide to Small Talk—Talk to Anyone & Be Instantly Likeable (How to small talk, Talk to anyone, Lasting relationship, People Skills) by Gary Allman.
I bought this book for a couple of reasons: 1) the title caught my attention, and I figured that as an introvert, it wouldn’t hurt to see what an “introvert’s guide to small talk” looked liked; and 2) this is an area that I know I need to work on. I know for a fact that some people either think I’m extremely shy or standoffish—and I will admit to being shy, but for the most part I have trouble striking up conversations with other people, but once I’m past that problem—I can almost be considered too talkative.
The book really focuses on overall communication, not just small talk. The author mentions the fact that you should also be caring about your appearance (whether its on a date, or a job interview); that you should be on time (even a little early—but not too early), do your research (if it’s a job interview or networking event), and be mindful of your body language. Another thing the author mentions is not to be staring at your phone all the time. So how am I doing in these areas: dressing, timing, doing research, being mindful of my body language and staying off my phone? Read More
So one of the books that I just finished reading was “Find Your Passion: 25 Questions you must ask yourself” by Henri Juttila. This is a book that I considered to fit in both the personal and professional development areas. One reason is that, trying to figure out what type of industry position that I want—I’ve been told to figure out what I’m passionate about science wise and go from there. I’ve also been told to try to go outside my comfort zone, and go for the job that I really want. The only problem with both of those suggestions, is that I’m not sure what I’m absolutely passionate about science wise, and I’m not absolutely sure what position outside of research I really want either. So I’m slowly going through different books (some have these exercises, and some don’t) to try to get a firmer grasp on what I’m passionate about (science wise) and what type of job outside of research I’d be happy in. This is a book that I highly recommend. While it is a short read, if you take the time to answer the questions as you go through it, or come back to them as I’m doing–you will probably be surprised about what you learn about yourself. So there are going to be several posts over the next few weeks that might seem slightly rambling, but they are all around a central theme: “What am I passionate about within science, and what other jobs does that relate to outside of research”.