Category: career

Admitting that I’m a procrastinator and how I’m going to deal with it in 2020

So, I’m a little over a month into my reboot break. I’ve done a little soul searching, some reading, adopted a puppy from the local animal shelter, a few walks around Boomer Lake, tried to get back into a fitness routine, and so far have put off trying to draft a master plan/outline for the year.

One thing I will admit to is that I’m a procrastinator—if I don’t want to do something I will either find something else to do, or I will keep saying that I’ll do the task tomorrow (and depending on the task—keep saying tomorrow).  I’ve realized that the procrastination wasn’t that bad while growing up—there were deadlines for homework and things like that (and as a child—at least I couldn’t get away that much with the procrastination), but it started to develop once I hit college, and has gotten slightly out of hand since.

When it was time to think about going to college, I wasn’t entirely sure what I wanted to major it (I enjoyed numerous subjects in school), and I wasn’t sure where I wanted to go. I had an average grade point and had an okay score on the ACT—neither of which were going to get me very far if I wanted to go to school out of state. I already had the mindset that I wasn’t going to take out a loan for school (even if I was eligible for any that were halfway decent), therefore that meant going to the state college in town.

I had decided to go the science route (as at that time everyone was saying something along the lines of “major in what will pay the bills, and minor in what you enjoy”). I could have gone into business—but the thought of sitting behind a desk all day bored me, so I went the science route. I started off thinking wildlife ecology & management, but once I found out that the lab exams for one of the courses was out in the field looking at plants (that wasn’t so bad)—but you had to identify them by their scientific name (my spelling is bad at the best of times—I’m glad that there is spell check), I decided to switch to biochemistry and molecular biology.

I still took classes that I found interesting, and this resulted in me taking seven years to finish my undergrad—but I got two bachelors’ degrees (biochemistry & molecular biology, and biology), plus a minor in history (I was two classes shy of a sociology minor by the time I graduated). Throughout these seven years, I learned several things about myself—first and foremost the testing anxiety was still front and center. I did well in the humanity and social science classes, but the other sciences (where my majors were)—those were a struggle at times when it came time for the tests.

I’d found that certain areas of both degrees were more interesting than others—for example I enjoyed learning cell and molecular biology more than I did organic chemistry and physics. I also found that I could pull historical facts forward faster than I could pull the method and byproducts for an organic chemical reaction.

I remember that I was probably a year or so away from graduation and wasn’t sure if this was the direction I wanted to go—but was also unsure of which direction to go in. I therefore push onward, took the GRE (got an okay score—not great—remember I have huge test anxiety issues, especially if the test is all computerized—which the GRE was at that point), and applied for different graduate programs.

I decided that I should try to stretch my wings and I applied for several different programs that were out of state (plus at the last minute, decided that I would also apply to my alma mater as well—as the ultimate fall back). So I applied to four different programs out of state, and while I managed to get an on campus interview for one of the programs—none of them panned out. Either my grades weren’t high enough, or they didn’t think I could handle the PhD program and suggested that I should apply for the masters program instead (PhD programs pay you to learn, masters programs for the most part don’t)—so I was lucky in that I was able to get into my alma mater for grad school.

This wasn’t my first choice, but I was going to make it work. I spent a year in a structural biology lab, before I realized that wasn’t what I wanted to do with my life. I then switched to a plant molecular biology lab, where I was actually being challenged in learning. I hadn’t worked with plants that much before joining the lab hadn’t done any RNA work, and I found things enjoyable for the first time in a few months in grad school. Also it was nice to be told that within four years I should have learned as much as possible and it would be time to move on. The only drawbacks for those years in grad school—there was no real mentoring in how to “properly” write a scientific paper or proposal, and there was no real career mentoring.

After graduation I managed to land a post-doctoral position at one of the many universities in the Greater Boston area. While I enjoyed the time out in the area, I had ignored some red flags that I shouldn’t have and struggling since to figure out exactly what I want to do with my life and career. I’ve realized that one should never really take a position in a newly started lab unless they are willing to put in fifteen or sixteen hour days six days a week. I only learned a few new things, and started to slowly realize that I probably wasn’t cut out for academic life.

Coming back home, and bouncing around at my alma mater (first a postdoctoral position, and then two staff positions), has only highlighted the fact—I still haven’t found that position/job/title/occupation that is my “calling”. There have been things that I’ve enjoyed over the past seven years, but there have also been things that I really disliked over the past seven years as well.

So how does all this tie into my admitting that I’m procrastinator?

Going to sidetrack a little and give a little background on procrastination (see how I’m procrastinating?).  For years, it has been said that procrastination is a time management issue—and that definition is easy enough to see—we do something else to avoid doing what we originally needed to do. Now it is being toted as an emotion management problem (https://www.fastcompany.com/90357248/procrastination-is-an-emotional-problem). Basically, we procrastinate or put things off that we may (or may not) have attached negative emotions to.

So, I’ve admitted that I’m a procrastinator—which means that I’m admitting to having negative emotions attached to certain ideas or tasks. So which tasks/ideas/goals have I either consciously or subconsciously attached negative emotions to?

            Getting back into shape—I’ve been out of shape majority of my life (never was really big on sports growing up nor being all girly and dressing up/wearing makeup). I had managed to lose a good amount of weight twice in my life—first time was out in Boston (I was walking my dog at least twice a day, and cooking for one—though most of the time weekday dinners were a peanut butter sandwich), and then again about six months or so after moving home. At that point I joined an accountability group on Facebook that was being run by a old high school classmate—I lost probably about twenty pounds or so, but then after a bike accident (where I royally bruised my lower left leg) and job issues—I’ve put the weight back on (with added interest—I’m probably at my heaviest since college). Why do I have negative emotion attached to getting into shape? In part—I was picked on throughout school (or at least up to going to college) about my appearance and weight. So there are still those issues that I need to work through—basically I need to remind myself on a daily basis that I’m losing weight to live my best possible life—not someone else, and I’m not losing the weight to make anyone else happy either.

            Transitioning into an industry position—this is more tied into my anxiety, and the worry that I’m going to make another wrong turn (like I did with my first postdoctoral position). For the most part, I like to have a good idea of how things are suppose to go—I knew that with the postdoctoral positions, I had to work hard (though I did limit the hours to more or less “normal forty hour weeks”) and I would have to read a lot to brush up on the subject matter (as both were new to me areas). Going into industry—there are numerous different directions that one can go in, the job may or may not be totally steady (depending on if the company is bought out, merged with another, or if it somehow goes bankrupt), and about a hundred different other issues. Also it comes down to whom you know, and who is willing to put in a good word for you—and this is totally tied in with my anxiety.

            At times I have problems with trying to do small talk, and networking—it isn’t that I don’t want to meet new people and expand my network—I do, but I have this underlying fear from childhood that people are going to be interrupting me and correcting my speech. This comes from the fact that when we moved to OK from MA, I ended up in speech therapy for years because of the fact that I learned how to talk in MA. In case you didn’t know people in MA have a tendency to drop the “r” in words—so since I learned how to talk in MA, I had a northern accent. The teachers and school officials decided that I needed speech therapy to learn how to pronounce my “r”—I spent five years in speech therapy, plus had teachers correcting my speech in class. I then got into the habit of not really talking in public settings—and this is something that I’m trying to work on. I know it is a slightly irrational fear, but it is still there lurking in the back of my mind.

            Choices—there are so many different choices for what one can do in industry, it is almost like being a kid in a candy store. While I have several different options listed out about what I’m curious about—I have a fear that the one I may chose could be the wrong path. Though as I’m told—I won’t know if I like, unless I try it. This is also tied into the networking problem—I don’t want to feel like I’m wasting people’s time if I decide that their path isn’t the same one that I actually decide to go down.

            Needing to have everything planned out. I will admit that I do like to have an idea of all the steps, and any and all possible results and endings before starting something. I mean instead of picking just one area of Indian art for my paper for art history in high school, I wrote basically a thirty-page paper covering everything that could fall under the umbrella of Indian art.

            This is also coming from again my first postdoctoral position—I thought I had everything planned out, but then the rug was metaphorically pulled out from underneath me. It isn’t fun realizing that one needs to move back in with one’s parents in order to get out from the mountain of debt that one finds themselves in. So now I’m trying to figure out how to plan out every single step of everything and finding myself in motion paralysis.

So now that I’ve admitted to being a procrastinator and the two main areas (health/fitness and career) that I’m procrastinating in, how will I go about getting past the procrastination and making progress on each area?

As I was reading some different pages on procrastination and emotions I found the following three sentences to be profound:

            “Viewing the whole task (e.g. project or paper) all at once will only frustrate you if you have unrealistic expectations. Realize you must break the task into smaller pieces and you cannot do them all at once. The next key is just start whether you feel like it or not.” (https://socialanxietyinstitute.org/procrastination-wasting-our-time-and-increasing-our-anxiety).

Then I found the following ideas that had to deal with procrastination along with social anxiety:

            Make a list of tasks and prioritize what needs to be done

            Reward yourself for completing difficult tasks

            Use relaxation strategies to deal with anxiety about completing tasks

                        Some of the techniques include: deep breathing, progressive muscle relaxation, autogenic training, and guided imagery.

(https://www.verywellmind.com/procrastination-and-social-anxiety-disorder-3973931).

So now I’m going to name the two big tasks (relating to fitness/health and job transition). Then I’m going to brainstorm how to break those two big tasks into easier to handle tasks. In addition I’m going to brainstorm an award system for each big task. Finally I’m going to break down the tasks into monthly/weekly/daily goals—with the rewards being based on hitting the larger (weekly or monthly) goals. In other words—I’m going to be working on my long term plan (other wise known as five year (or ten, twenty year) plan.

Sites with their links have been included that I found interesting and used in the post.

No Comments careerfitnessHealthjob searchingPersonal Developmentprofessional developmentReflections

Update on Reboot Break

So I’m about a month into my reboot break, and am still trying to figure out the best routine. One thing I’ve noticed after going through notes that I’ve taken over the past couple of years—I need to try to find (or actually rediscover) my “voice” or who I am. I’ve realized that I’ve spent the past couple of years just drifting along, and when it comes to trying to answer personal/professional development questions such as “who are you” or “what is the difference between you and someone else for this role”—I can almost generically answer the first one, but can’t come up with answers of what makes me unique for roles. I realize that I’ve spent years blending in with my surroundings and trying to stay in the background unnoticed. This all comes from childhood and being a victim of bullying—not of which was physical, and I learned it was better to pretend to be invisible and blend into the background than draw attention to the situation.

While it is nice that I’ve identified the problem (my unconscious moves to blend into the background), now I need to work on breaking those patterns. I need to rediscover things that I enjoy doing (things that make me uniquely me), and then determine the best ways of weaving those hobbies into “transferable skills” for job interviews. I would say that I’m fairly confident that I should move R&D scientist down the list on interesting job titles (as it is more or less my comfort zone), and start trying to step outside of what I’m use to doing to see what grabs my interest in terms of the other possible job titles.

I’m thinking that the list is going to now look something like this:

            Health Economist

            Market Research Analyst

            Scientific/Medical Writer

            Market Communications Specialist

            Clinical Data Analyst/Manager

            Quantitative Analyst

            Patent Analyst

            R&D scientist (up to R&D manager)

Though the top seven are more or less fluid (I just rearranged a few from how I’ve previously listed them).

So this week is going to be spent getting back into a workout routine, spending some time practicing photography, puppy training (I adopted a puppy just before Christmas), reading, working a rough draft of everything that I would like to accomplish this year, and looking more into the above roles.

Once I remember (or better yet remind myself) of things I like to do, that aren’t related to work, I will be that much further on my path to finding the optimal industry position to transition into this year.

No Comments 101 Goalscareerjob searchingLifestyle Challengesno spend challengesPersonal DevelopmentPetsPhotographyprofessional developmentRebootBreakReflections

Decade in Review: 2010 to 2019

So most people were doing the decade comparison in pictures over various social media sites—I’m not going to do that, mainly because I let my health and fitness slide enough that I’m back to basically the same weight. But I can try to summarize the past decade and maybe that will allow me to try actually projecting ahead a few years (so that I can actually push myself out of the “weeds” or “quicksand” that I feel like I’ve been stuck in for the past few years).

I started out the decade by finally finishing graduate school. I had promised myself that I would be done with school by the time I hit my 30th birthday and I was (more or less). I managed to finish two out of the three requirements (the third was what held up my diploma another five months). But I walked across the stage and accepted the diploma holder for my PhD in May, I presented and defended my dissertation in July, and then dealt with rewrites of my dissertation that finally earned me my diploma in December of 2010.

I took a post-doctoral position out in the Boston area in July of 2010. This required me finding an apartment that was close to public transportation (since that was how I was going to be getting to work every day). I managed that, but then hired the worst possible company to move my stuff out there (luckily they’re now out of business)—to the point that I slept on an air mattress for a month before my furniture and things showed up. I also hired pet movers to move my dog (Chewi) and cat (Pancakes) out there, and I will use them again when I move for my next position (as I also hired them to move Chewi and Pancakes back home when the job folded under me and I had to move back home in 2012).

So from August 2010 to December 2012 (with a short visit back for Christmas in 2011) I was on the east coast. I did manage to visit Maine, NYC, and Connecticut; with drive-troughs of New Hampshire and Rhode Island (to get to Maine [New Hampshire—though I think it was also a brief stop] and then Connecticut & NYC [Rhode Island]). I didn’t do as much traveling in the area as I would have liked, due to 1) not having that much money—postdocs aren’t paid great, even in large cities [they don’t take cost of living into consideration], and 2) I didn’t feel comfortable always hiring a pet sitter (did that once for the trip back home for Christmas 2011).

But I did visit Salem and Rockport, in addition to wandering around Boston. The trips out of state to visit friends and family allowed me to see a little bit of other states—though if I move back there I would like to spend more than 24 hours in NYC playing tourist.

Being out in the Boston area was fun—I made numerous friends and enjoyed exploring the area. It wasn’t the greatest decision career wise though—I only learned a few new techniques, and the position ended on a sour note between my advisor and me. One thing I learned is that I should always try to listen to that voice that warns that there could be issues with the job—I ignored it, and found out that yeah, there were issues with the job.

Christmas 2012 saw me moving back home from Boston. While I could have tried to find something in the Boston area, truthfully at this point I was pretty well financially broke, and emotionally burnt out. I decided that it might be best to regroup, where I knew that I could save money, and maybe figure out what I was doing with my life. But of course, I wasn’t sure what I was going to be doing—I just knew that I really needed to find some job so that I could start paying off all the credit card debt that I built up living in Boston (see above note about how postdocs are paid).

2011 also saw my parents bringing another dog into the family—a Great Pyrenees/Bearded Collie mix that we named Boozer (she was fascinated by the sounds of cans opening when she first came into the house). She was also served as a transition dog for my dad, as we weren’t sure how much longer the St. Bernard had (though she lasted another three and a half years).

I managed to get another postdoctoral position within my alma mater department working with yeast. This meant that I was learning a new biological system (previously I’d work with plants, bacteria, insects, and cell cultures), and new techniques. Alas, the money for that position only lasted a little over a year (and the fellowship I tried for I didn’t get [in part due to being back at my alma mater and not asking my first postdoc advisor for a letter of recommendation]), 

Luckily I managed to find a one-month teaching position that paid well. It kept me busy during part of summer, and reminded me that I did enjoy working with students. I spent the next few months putting out job applications—I luckily managed to get another position within the department this time working directly with undergraduate students. I had to write my own job description after being hired as no one knew exactly what the position was suppose to entail. I coined the job title “senior research specialist/undergraduate research techniques instructor” as I was doing both—research and trying to teach students the basic techniques they would need to know for doing research in a lab.

This was a job that I really enjoyed for the most part—working with students, working on different projects and just generally not being bored (again for the most part). The only drawbacks were working with certain people (and you can have personality conflicts no matter where you go). So this position lasted from basically mid-September 2014 through July of 2017; it was terminated due to funding issues and I became unemployed for the third time. This unemployment period lasted longer than the other two (probably could be considered a sum of the other two), but again I managed to get another staff position within the department just after Thanksgiving in 2017.

2015 was also a slightly off year as it was the year that we had to say goodbye to our St. Bernard Speedbump. She was a loving goof ball that got along with all dogs, and was a cuddle bug.

Now this position taught me a few more things, and it was a paycheck. It was a yearly position that would be renewed if there was funding available for it—so always fun working and wondering if there would be another contract to sign or if you were going to be told sorry only ‘x’ months left. So after signing another contract in November of 2018 I decided that no matter what, this would be basically the last year at my alma mater.

2018 was also another off year as we lost three more dogs—we lost Spelunkers in February due to cancer, and then we lost two other dogs in October (within a span of four days) due to both old age and other health issues (heart problems and cancer). So to say that I was more than happy to see the tail end of 2018 was an understatement.

2019 was an okay year—we adopted two more puppies (my mom got her puppy in May—a boxer mix that we named Rolex (so she could say that she had her watchdog), and then I adopted a puppy about a week before Christmas (a male blue heeler/border collie/aussie mix that I named Chaos—because bring another dog into the house right before the holidays was to introduce Chaos). So yes, two new puppies with names that make a play on words.

This was also the year that I decided that I would quit my job and take a “reboot break”. Since I realized that I could truthfully say that I had no idea what I wanted to do with my life, I needed to take a break, regroup, and then focus on my career—I don’t want to say that going through college and earning a PhD was for no reason—I’m going to dedicate time to figure out what the best path for me is in terms of a career change that still will allow me to make use of the skills that I picked up over the past twenty plus years (yes, I figured out that my academic career reached the legal drinking age awhile ago—and since I wasn’t totally happy within that arena it is time to figure out what arena I want to be in).

Here is to 2020—the start of a new year, and a new decade. It is a blank slate and I am capable of writing whatever narrative I want for my life. I control the direction that my life goes—all I need to do is fix the oars, patch the leaks, and look up to the stars. I open myself up to what the universe will send my way.

No Comments careerfinancesfitnessHealthjob searchingLifestyle ChallengesPersonal Developmentprofessional developmentReflections

2019: A Year in Review

So 2019 has come to a close, and now it’s time to reflect back on the year (with its ups and downs, hills and valleys).

This was the year that I decided that I needed to do some type of major shakeup career wise—this wasn’t to say that I was totally unhappy with my job—something needed to change though. I had decided that I would hopefully either transition into an industry position, or I would resign my position, take some time off to re-center myself and then refocus on my job search. I ended up going with option number two—my “reboot break” started shortly after the Thanksgiving holiday.

I’ve realized over the past few months that I’ve more or less been in a “coasting” mode for the past couple of years—never really thinking of where I want to be in five or ten years, just focusing on trying to get through the day and the week to the weekend. It’s hard to figure out the next direction to go in, when you’re stuck in the weeds with nothing but a slightly broken oar to propel yourself—you don’t get very far.

I’ve also realized that I’ve been trying to focus on too many different areas at once (health/fitness, finances, moving my career forward, and trying to find time to do crafts to balance things out), that I’m going to try to focus on just two to four areas (health/fitness and moving my career forward are tied for number one, and then it will probably be personal/professional development (tied for number two, and tied into both areas at number one), and then some time for crafts.

This was I can probably set up an monthly calendar easier with just those “three” areas instead of considering them four to five different areas. This should also mean that I have more ideas for blog topics throughout 2020 as well (which is one area that I felt that I didn’t push forward enough throughout the year).

In terms of health and fitness—I’m slowly making my way back to a routine that works for me. I will probably stick with the workouts provided by Beachbody, but figure out the best nutrition plan on my own. I know that I have a major sweet tooth, and instead of depriving myself (and ending up binge eating sweets), I allow myself some sweets and try to balance it out with more fruits and vegetables throughout the day. I’m pretty sure that there will be more posts on nutrition and fitness throughout 2020 as well, as I work to get into the best shape of my life (I’m thinking of some trip later in the year that would require me to be in better physical condition than I am currently).

We also adopted a puppy back in May shortly after mother’s day. My mom decided that it had been long enough since losing her dog, that she was willing to get a puppy. So we adopted a boxer mix, renamed her Rolex and it’s been a crazy ride ever since. Then basically a week before Christmas, I decided that I really wanted a puppy (I know that I will never be able to replace Chewi), so I went with my brother to the animal shelter and adopted a blue heeler/collie/shepherd mix. Now we have a period of adjustment—Rolex is a little jealous of the puppy (mainly the amount of attention that I’m giving him)—but I chose the right name for him—Chaos (since I was getting him right before the holidays—I knew that I was going to be bring chaos into the house). Now, as I start looking forward again on my job search—the position/location will also need to be puppy friendly (nearby parks and so forth).

In terms of personal development I managed to read nineteen different books (though several of them were challenge books—where you pick a topic and try to work on it for a month or so). Several of the books related to finances (mine are okay—which is why I’m able to do the reboot break right now), decluttering (something that I really need to do—both for myself and ease my parents into it as well), and then just some good old fashion self-care (reboot break, and being reminded that I shouldn’t be waiting for others to give me a ‘permission slip’ to live my life). I’m hoping that in 2020, I double the number of books that read in terms of both personal and professional development.

I had gotten back into doing oracle/tarot card readings for a good portion of the year (quit doing them the last few months), and realized yet again my pulling back was due in part to me trying to fit in to molds that I don’t belong (worry about what prospective employers might think if they come across my instagram account). But I was reminded with reading a couple of books last month that I shouldn’t be waiting on a ‘permission slip’ from others—it’s my life and I doubt that I would be wanting to work for any company that doesn’t value everyone’s spirituality.

I had wanted to travel a little during 2019, but those plans never came to fruition—either due to not having enough vacation time earned, the weather (one major “fear” earlier this year was being stranded somewhere due to the weather and losing money since I wouldn’t be working & would have used up all my vacation time), or just not being able to decide where I wanted to go.

Hopefully in 2020 there will be more travel—both for mental health (since I’ve realized it has been over a year since I’ve taken a vacation) and networking/job search/hopeful job interviews, or a combination of the two types.

So while there was some change in 2019—there wasn’t as much as I’d hoped for—but I did manage to plant the seeds for change (namely in quitting my job) to occur in 2020. As we head into a new year and decade I need to remember that for 2020 I’m going to focus on “grow (th)”, “change”, “achievement(s)”, and “success”.

And remember: Progress over perfection. I’m also going to remember to “evaluate the people in [my] life; then promote, demote, or terminate. [I’m] the CEO of my life”.

No Comments careerHealthjob searchingLifestyle ChallengesPersonal DevelopmentPetsprofessional developmentYear in Review

Hiatus almost over

Well I’ve realized that it’s been probably a month since I’ve published anything on the blog. In large part due to trying to finish things up at work (and that stretched an extra two weeks), and then trying to figure out the best way of possibly restarting the photography challenge.

I’ve found that doing photography on the weekends relaxes me. I’m focusing on really nothing but trying to find another great nature shot–my only goal on the walk is to get at least fifteen to twenty good pictures out of the possible eighty to ninety pictures that I take. But I’ve noticed that with just walking at Boomer Lake, the poses of the birds change–but object of the picture doesn’t change that much. So now I’m trying to look for more song birds (and in the spring, summer, and fall–I’ll be looking for other things as well).

In other words–I’m trying to find more variety in the nature photography that I’ve been doing. One nice thing with starting my reboot break–I will have the time to try to do that (since I’m going to try to do a walk daily, though it may not always be in the morning). I’m also going to try to structure my time more so I can actually sit down and write more–blog posts (need to start drafting lists of different topics–have an idea (or possible request)–drop it in the comments), short stories, and then articles for linkedin.

2019 is going to be coming to an end soon (and where has the year gone?), and it will be the start of a new decade. I’m determined that this coming decade is going to contain better chapters of my life than the last decade has (yes I got my degree–but the career path has been bumpy to say the least). So here’s to making the goals and then breaking them down to a monthly/weekly/day plan to ensure that they’re achieved.

No Comments careerPersonal Development

Day 1 of Mental health/networking break: Travel from OK to MA

So yesterday marked the first day of my mental health/networking break in the Boston area. The day was spent traveling—I got up at the early, early hour of basically 3:30am and got to the airport by 4:15 and was through security and sitting at the terminal by 4:40—a full forty minutes before boarding was going to start. Both flights ended up being full, so I checked my duffle bag (with the hopes that it would make it to Boston on time—and it did).

Today was the first time that I’ve flown into Atlanta, Georgia (nice airport for the little that I saw of it—luckily I didn’t have to go to far for the connection to Boston).

                 Souvenirs from Atlanta

I did buy two little souvenirs—a magnet for the fridge, and then a quirky little shot glass. I was very lucky with both flights, that I didn’t have a center seat; I had a window seat from Tulsa to Atlanta, and then an isle seat from Atlanta to Boston. Also with the trip from Atlanta to Boston, I can now say that I’ve flown over most of the upper east coast to get to Boston. The most trying time was waiting to get off the planes (both seats were in the back of the plane), especially in Boston. I think that from the time the plane landed to when I grabbed something to eat it was an hour (that’s how long it took to get off the plane, get to baggage claim, get on the bus to the T stop, get my ticket, get into Boston, and then find something to eat). So I’m currently not that hungry as I’m sitting in my hotel room writing this.

So once I got to North Station to connect to the commuter rail to get out to Salem I noticed that my cell phone had basically died—which meant that I didn’t have my map to pull up to find my way to the hotel (needless to say I did walk probably a quarter of a mile in the wrong direction before asking for directions). Steps are better than yesterday—but still below my average goal (but that is just the way it’s going to be for the current weekend).

So—finally made it to the hotel, and it is a very nice one at that (though missing a few things—namely a microwave in the room (I can do with taking showers since there are no tubs). Since I was late on booking my rooms for this trip, I was very lucky that I was able to find a room for two nights, and decided that I would stay in “The Hotel Salem”. This is a very nice posh hotel basically right in the middle of anything one wants to do in Salem (in terms of sightseeing). There is even a restaurant connect to the hotel, which makes it very easy to go and order an sandwich and take it back to the room (only to find out that the door lock batteries died and you now get to use an actual key to get into your room). Their sandwiches are superb—I ordered the roasted turkey and it was more than enough as it also came with an order of fries. I now have half a sandwich to eat later this week at some point (luckily the room does have a refrigerator so that is where the sandwich is [and hopefully if I don’t eat it tomorrow—I won’t forget it when I check out on Tuesday]).

             Looking down from the loft

Tomorrow’s plans are just sightseeing around Salem, relaxing, and all the other fun stuff one does on a mental health break.

No Comments careerPersonal DevelopmentPhotographyprofessional developmenttravel

Bubble thought approach to job searching

So July is here, and that means that in theory I have less than four months to figure out my transition plan if I want to get a job in industry this fall. As many know this is something that I’ve been slowly trying to figure out since I started this blog last fall—hard to believe it’s almost been a year for that (but that is totally another post for a later date).

One of my biggest problems has been trying to decide if I want to stay within my comfort zone (which would be on the bench doing research) or if I want to start venturing outside of my comfort zone and try something else. Lately I’ve been thinking more and more of trying to venture outside of my comfort zone, but at the same time be “within” other comfort zones (i.e. not taking a job that requires a lot of travel time).

So I decided that I’d try a different way of looking at this—I drew a bubble diagram. You remember those times in English class, when you needed to try to write a story and you tried to connect different ideas together to see which direction you wanted the story to go?? Well that is what I did—I wanted to see if there any ways of trying to connect career paths with things I already enjoyed doing.

Bubble thoughts

So with having basically my hobbies at the bottom of the page, I noticed that I could potentially have more interest in the health economics and outreach research position (as I am trying to focus more on my own health and fitness right now—I don’t want to feel like a hypocrite going into that position (trying to help figure out how to help improve the health of others while ignoring my own); or trying to go into a policy position. If I wanted to try to do that—it would be a position that either helped within the field of conservation biology or science education. As much as I’ve been thinking of getting my alternative certification for teaching science in a K-12 atmosphere—I don’t want to have worry about the potential of school shootings so this one is still a potential, but it’s on the back burner for now.

I wouldn’t mind going into a project management position, as it would still allow me to be close to research, but not necessarily the one doing it. I’ve also decided that if I was going to stay within research, I should think of going into a different sector (background is mainly biomedical/basic life science) and go either agricultural (biofuel or GMO) or potentially into cosmetic or something of that nature.

I know that writing will become a large part of any new position (and probably data analysis as well), so I am going to be trying to post longer blog posts (or new pages) here to help get back into writing. I know that there is a huge difference between creative writing and scientific writing (and that is where my troubles lay) and therefore will be trying to see how many either different types of reviews or even mini articles I can get written and posted this site over the next few months.

In addition, I know that I really do need to start brushing up on the business/healthcare/clinical side of things with the potential of trying to switch to an health economics position. So I made another bubble diagram of things that would be beneficial for me to start trying to either learn or start brushing up on for my transition.

Things to start brushing up on and/or learning

I have already started online courses in both web page design and project management (I just have to finish both courses). The web page design will help in both a science career and also as a potential side business (building web pages for other people). The project management course and certification will help in trying to get into a project management position.

I know that programming will be useful to know (so again I have bought some e-courses; I just have to go sit down and watch all the videos and take notes). I also know that I need to take an statistics course (which I will probably do on-line), and then there are difference business areas that I should at least be familiar with, such as economics (with various sub-fields) and marketing. I’m also going to start trying to brush up on a foreign language or two as well. It’s time to push myself to continue learning and progressing if I don’t want to be stuck in the same place for years. Learning is a life long process, I’m now just trying to un-stick myself from the stagnation that I’ve allowed myself to fall into lately.

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Update on different areas of personal & professional development

So I’ve been working through some of the little courses from the ultimate library for business and personal development bundle that I bought through e-courses4you. So far I’ve gone through their organizational skills, goal setting & getting things done, and the job search skills courses. Things that I’ve learned from these courses:

 

I’ve learned that I truly need to get better at organization—namely getting rid of a lot of stuff from my bedroom so it doesn’t look like a mini tornado has gone through. I’ve read enough over the past couple of months to know that clutter can also ramp up one’s anxiety issues (which I know for a fact I have several), and also can make it hard to get anything done when you’re trying to work in a room that is basically screaming at you to straighten things up.

I’d been doing good for awhile at trying to get things par down and making sure that boxes weren’t overrunning the room, but know there are the little things over running the room like clothes that aren’t put away, my crafts that are here and there, and my desk/dresser that looks like an F5 tornado touched down on it (remember my 101+ goal list??). I managed to straighten it up a while back, and actually kept it that way for a while, but now it looks like the F5 tornado came through—so I need to straighten it up again this week. Plus I just need to organize my clothes and figure out a better system for them than what I have. Also I need to just start cleaning…………..

I also have to figure out a schedule/planner that will actually work for me. I’ve tried the bullet (and normal) journal approach. But that only seems to work for things that I know I can get done, and truthfully aren’t very high on the priority/goal list of moving things forward. I’ve tried using google calendar—but that doesn’t seem to work, since I never know exactly what I’m going to be having to do during the day at work (it is hard to plan your day/week when you have no idea how your day is going to be going until about 9 or 9:30 that morning). I’m thinking potentially of just going back and writing things down in a notebook as a massively long to-do list that I can continuously check things off of during the week. Read More

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Focusing back on a new job search

The New Year has started with a new job—though the job may or may not be there for the next year (have to love budget cuts to higher education). So I’m back on task for trying to determine what it is exactly I want to do within science (or outside of science), since I really can’t see myself slaving away to try to land one of the coveted assistant professor positions and then work my way up the academic ladder.

So now there are some key questions that I need to ask myself as I continue on this journey of professional development and transitioning into a different job in industry.

One of the huge questions that I need to decided on the answer to is—do I stay within my comfort zone or do I start edging out of my comfort zone. Now everyone has numerous different comfort zones when it comes to work and personal life. The one I’m going to be contemplating here is my professional comfort zone of doing research.

Being a research scientist is something that I love. I’ve always considered the role of a research scientist as someone who is slowly trying to put together a massive jigsaw puzzle without a picture or knowing how many pieces you’re suppose to be working with.  There are others helping you put together that puzzle, and over time they leave to work on other puzzles, or you might even get bored with that particular puzzle and head off to help other people with their puzzles. You might learn new skills by moving from puzzle to puzzle (or you might not).

With the way funding is going these days, if I’m going to stick with research—it will be within an industry setting. I picture those puzzles are a little bit more defined by the project managers and senior scientists—so at least when you come in there should be the frame of the puzzle already put together.

Going outside of my comfort zone would open up a lot of different doors for me to peek through to see which one would be a good fit. I’ll be talking more about those positions in later posts. But for now the other positions I’m thinking of include health economist, technology assessment & alliance officer, technology transfer officer, epidemiologist, or possibly quantitative research analyst.

Another key question I will have to ask myself, is do I want a job that I know may require long evenings or the occasional weekend? I know that scientific research isn’t just a nine to five job Monday thru Friday. But at the same time, I do like knowing that I can go home at the same time everyday and not have to take work with me (for the most part).

I know that any of the positions may require evening and/or weekend work (and even possibly travel), but I want to make sure that the work is worth having to “give up” some of the valuable “personal/me time” that needs to be carved into our days.

Another question is where do I want to live? I know that going into industry will require moving again (there just aren’t that many biotech type jobs in Oklahoma that I’m interested in). So then it is a matter of trying to decide: Where on the East Coast (NYC, Boston, somewhere else), the upper Midwest (MN or WI), or maybe the Pacific Northwest?

I have one major requirement when it comes to moving to a new city—there needs to be a good (or should I say decent) public transportation system. The reason for this is that I don’t drive (anxiety issues with being behind the wheel), and will be needing to be close to a bus or subway stop for getting to both work and various stores.

Now before you say anything—this is how I survived in Boston for my first postdoc. I lived near one of the subway lines, which gave me access to pretty much the entire city and the surrounding suburbs. Yes it took longer to get to work with the way I went—but that gave me time to wake up in the mornings. Going home at night was a pain, especially if there were sporting events in the city—and weekends getting to and from work were even worse (but I tried to plan my weeks to where weekend work was minimally needed).

Once I figure out comfort zone or not, which geographical area (city), and then which company I want to work for—I’ll start the next fun step of tailoring my resume and cover letter to fit each job application.

No Comments careerjob searchingPersonal Development

Level 10 Life

As I look towards the New Year, I’ve realized that I need to quit being a passive actor in my own life and I need to start putting serious work and dedication to certain areas to be able to get to where I want to be. So I’m doing things a bit different—I’m doing both a 101+ Goals in 1001 Day Challenge, and looking at my life from a level 10 view. Level 10 Life is a method that is described in Hal Elrod’s book “The Miracle Morning”; after seeing what the Level 10 life chart looks like and trying it myself—I’ve ordered the book and it is on my to-be read pile for this year—so look for a book review coming later (yes, I’m doing things backwards—but hey I never liked marching to the same beat as others). Below are the “10” Levels of life that we usually are giving some part of our life to, and the ranking (1 to 10) is how satisfied I am with each level as the calendar switches from 2017 to 2018; why I feel that way; then hopefully ten goals for each level that I can work towards over the next say three to five years to get everything up to a 7-to-9 ranking.

Here is a picture of what my “Level 10 life” looks like right now.

My current Level 10 life

Some of these goals will be overlapping with my 101+ goals in 1,001-day challenge that I decided to start this year as well (see that post-101+goals). Note—not all sections have 10 goals yet (and one has more), mainly because I’m still trying to think of ideas/goals for each area.

 

Level: Family and Friends (5): This is the level that I have the most satisfaction with, though it is only at basically 50%. It helps that I do live with my parents currently and my younger brother lives with in the state. I try to keep in touch with friends through social media, and the occasional get together.

GOALS for Family and Friends:

  1. Touch base with people (email/facebook/ in person) more often
  2. Sending Channing an postcard/letter monthly (start a pen-pal system with niece)
  3. Try to have a monthly lunch meet up with friends
  4. Send out a yearly Christmas letter/card to update everyone on how I’m doing (start a new tradition)

Level: Personal Development (4): This is a pretty good ranking, considering I’ve really only started to spend the past couple of months working on any type of development (personal, spiritual, or professional).

GOALS for Personal Development:

Read all the personal development books that I’ve currently bought (or pre-ordered) on my Kindle (roughly 56)

  1. Read the few autobiographical/personal/professional development books that I’ve bought on my Kindle (Roughly 3)
  2. Brush up on at least one foreign language (Spanish & hopefully German)
  3. Start doing more cooking (learning/trying new recipes and cultures)
  4. Tackle my anxiety of driving (find a place for lessons that has done some work with people that have driving phobias/anxiety)
  5. Take at least one vacation trip solo a year (either to a new state/city or to a new country/city)
  6. Listen to at least one podcast a day
  7. Write in a journal daily (make a hybrid of bullet journal and a normal journal)
  8. Set goals monthly (review daily/weekly/monthly)
  9. Develop a time management schedule and stick with it (i.e. planning out the day)

Level: Spirituality (3.5): This isn’t that high, but then I’ve never really considered myself to be a spiritual person (I vary daily between being a pagan and an atheist depending on my mood).

GOALS for Spirituality:

  1. Read the different spirituality books that I’ve got on my Kindle (4 right now) and possibly buy a few more
  2. Try to keep up with doing my new and full moon rituals (wishes)
  3. Mediate at least five minutes a day
  4. Do yoga at least twice a week
  5. Set up an altar for meditation/spell casting

Level: Finances (4.5): This is almost to 50% mainly because I do have a decent size savings account at the current time, though the debt could be lower.

GOALS for Finances:

  1. Get credit card debt down to less than $400 a month re-occurring
  2. Put 8K into a short-term CD investment
  3. Get savings account up at least another 20K
  4. Get a side hustle(s) going that can bring in at least $500/month (cover the re-occurring credit card debt)
  5. Have a monthly budget set up and stick with it; Write down everything that I buy (charge) for two months to see where money is going (and cut back accordingly)

Level: Career (4.5): This is almost to 50% mainly because I’ve realized that I really don’t want to be a professor in academia. Now I just need to spend some time trying to determine exactly what it is that I want to do, and work my way towards that goal.

GOALS for Career:

  1. Read the books that I’ve bought on scientific writing and presenting (7)
  2. Finish the CSA transition plan (mainly trying to rewrite my story to be short and powerful).
  3. Finish the CSA and SMBA modules
  4. Determine the best non-academia position that I fit and meet my criteria of balancing work and life
  5. Start networking with my linkedin connections
  6. Determine the company(ies) that I would like to work for
  7. Start reaching out for informational interviews
  8. Start reaching out for recommendations/referrals on linkedin
  9. Apply for key positions within companies
  10. Land dream(ish) job and start working my way up the ladder to the point that I want to get to.
  11. Finish the other online course bundles that I’ve bought over the past several months (programming, project management, Six Sigma)

Level: Relationship/Social Life (0.5-1.0): This is the lowest ranking. Currently I’m not in any relationship, and until I have my life somewhat figured out (i.e. what my career choice/goal is; location for said career) I don’t feel comfortable getting into a relationship with someone, that could end up having to be long distance. Also right now I don’t feel comfortable trying to meet people in the same town that I basically grew up in (in other words I don’t feel like potentially dating someone I went to school with (either public or college).

GOALS for relationship/social life:

Try to get together with friends on the weekends (lunch, or walking around Boomer Lake)

And more to come as I can think of them………….. Read More

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