Category: Lifestyle Challenges

Weekend Reflections: where I’m at in terms of my new twelve month plans.

**Disclaimer** I am not in the healthcare profession, if you are in need of medical (or mental) help—please see a licensed healthcare professional. The following are just my thoughts, feelings, and ways I think I can deal with my issues. Again—if you have issues, please see a licensed healthcare professional**.

Spent part of the weekend doing some serious reflection, and have come to the realization of several things:

            I need to get better at time management (especially on the weekends, when I really don’t have my day structured that much). I realize that I could have the traffic coming to the blog higher, if I actually got posts written and posted on a regular schedule—instead of the semi-regular, sporadic schedule I’ve been doing.

            Also having better time management, means that I could probably also be looking at different career tracks that are in the free-lancing and consulting areas (instead of looking for the just general nine-to-five jobs).

            I would also have the time to dedicate to crafts and other projects or things I want to get accomplished.

            I have also become my own worse enemy in terms of getting into the best shape of my life. I have allowed myself to use just about any excuse for not doing my workouts in the evenings, and before anyone comments that I could be doing them in the mornings—right now I’m barely getting my seven and a half hours of sleep, and therefore I’m not sacrificing that just to get a workout in first thing in the morning.

            This one is also tied into the time management need as well—there are only so many hours in the evening before heading to bed, that I probably could be making better use of them, then how I’ve been using them.

            I also need to find better ways of dealing with my stress and anxiety. I have found myself going to the little market on campus and buying several different sweets and candy bars (that will either last me the day, or a couple of days depending on my stress/anxiety levels).

            The stress and anxiety have been issues that I really should have been dealing with years ago. I have a pretty good idea where a lot of my anxiety issues (tests, driving, and to some extent social) have come from (childhood can suck at times), and the stress is due in part to internalizing how I feel instead of just letting it out (probably would have had more issues in school if I vocalized how I felt at times). So those two issues have probably lead to some health issues (indigestion and upset stomach) that I also need to find better ways of dealing with (then taking over the counter medications and trying to ignore them).

So how can I start to address and manage these issues (I won’t say overcome and get rid of—because I know that having that mindset can set me up for failure)?

In terms of time management—I need to ask myself what tasks/items am I doing (or can I be doing) that are (or can be considered) beneficial for the future me.

Also I probably should look into the different apps/web pages that allow you to block certain pages to help increase productivity (I know that I do spend way to much time on social media).

Also I should ask myself—what tasks am I doing during the day at work that are actually going to be helping me move forward (and not actually helping move someone else forward). This might be a little more problematic, as I’m sure that there are at least one or two people that won’t be happy if I start to figure out other things to do that I deem more important then they do. In other words—I really need to start working on my individualized development plan (or my reboot break/transition plan).

In terms of getting back on track in terms of fitness and nutrition—there are several things that I can do:

            Have my bedroom clean and the workout equipment off to the side. That way once I’m done with a few evening chores, I can put on my workout clothes, stream the workout program and get it done.

            Not compare myself to others. This has been a hard one for me (especially the last few years that I’ve gained the weight back and the negative mind set).

            If I need to take a walk at lunch (due to stress or anxiety), I will try to have my small digital camera on me so that I can practice my photography skills (instead of going to spend money on candy).

            Also when needed—take my journal and go for a walk; then find a quiet area where I can sit and reflect on what is potentially causing my anxiety or stress to occur. Sit and try to write for at least five to ten minutes and then head back to the lab. Hopefully this will help me get a handle on the stress and anxiety.

            Get back into the habit of trying to mediate for at least three to five minutes every night before reading.

            Try to pack my shakeology (and supplements) to take to work and have it as either part of lunch or a snack. This will help me work back up to having it as part of breakfast.

So I know what I need to do in order to get myself back on the correct trail—patch some things that weren’t working, and rework some other things. I’m now going to picture my journey moving forward in one of two ways: I’m hiking and I will need to look for things to help me on my way; or I’m on a boat at sea, and I need to find unique ways of patching little holes in the boat to ensure that I can make it to the next island/land formation.

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Book Review, and yes I think I need to reboot my life

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 months.

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One month into the 333 clothing challenge

So I’m trying to do the 333-project for April through June, and I’ve realized a couple of things so far:

I currently have over forty short-sleeve and sleeveless shirts. I also can’t totally put away the longer sleeve shirts, as there are still some cool days (though I could just wear a sweatshirt hoodie over a short-sleeve shirt), and I also don’t have enough hangers for my clothes. This is the one that is irritating—I actually bought a set of hangers last year, and it was a batch of 50 hangers, and I’ve taken a couple from my parents closet and that is in addition to the two dozen or so other hangers I have. Takeaway—I have too many shirts (since I’m not even counting the sweaters that I put into the dresser drawers or the clothes that I have in my storage unit).

I do cycle through the t-shirts, though I wear some of them more often than others. So far it hasn’t gotten warm enough to move to the totally sleeveless shirts (which I will probably do during summer (with a light jacket left at work for those chilly days). I’m finding this slightly funny to realize that I have a lot of clothes, as I’ve never considered myself a fashion person—I buy what I want, and I wear what I want. I just never really noticed how often I’d buy something that I would only wear maybe three or four times before it got lost in the closet.

I’ve also realized that since I’ve gained weight back after the purchase of certain shirts—they don’t fit as nicely as they once did. This means that I should probably spend an evening (or morning) trying on all my shirts and any that I don’t like the look and feel of—I donate or try to sell. I’ve realized that once I lose weight again—I can buy new shirts to replace the ones that will become hopefully too baggy to wear. But wearing shirts that aren’t comfortable isn’t doing much for my mental health either. Therefore hopefully by mid-May I can get the number of t-shirts down from over forty to hopefully twenty-five (a decrease of at least fifteen t-shirts).

The major goal of this challenge is to downsize the amount of clothes that I own to a degree (there are still the clothes in storage—which are being used as packing material and therefore I have to wait until I move to be able to go through those).

So the goal for the coming weekend is to go through my shirts and try on each and every one—and the ones that I don’t like how they fit, put them in a box to either donate or to sell and make a little bit of money.

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Book Review and list of different 30-day challenges together in one post.

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 chapters).

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 searching/transition).

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.

Doodle.

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.

Design tattoos.

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 jewelry

Make rubbing of interesting surfaces & textures

Make a sculpture from random objects

Bucket list of 30 things in 30 days

Revamp your garden

Learn copywriting

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 at home).

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.

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Decluttering Challenge: Going through the clothes

So one of the challenges I’ve been thinking of doing is the project 333. This is a minimalist fashion challenge that invites you to dress with 33 items or less for three month.

The 33 items includes: clothing (tops & bottoms), accessories (scarfs and such), jewelry (which can probably be considered an accessory), shoes, and outerwear (jackets).

            Items not included: underwear, sleepwear, loungewear, workout clothes, and sentimental jewelry that you always wear.

So I’ve realized that this is something that I’m going to be modifying as I go along. This modification is for several reasons:

I have pants, shorts, and capris in different sizes (mainly due to weight flux—losing and gaining) and I’m hoping to start it back in the downward trend. This means that I potentially could be dropping sizes and since I don’t want to have to buy new, I need to keep the different sizes.

I’m not including any business casual or business professional clothes in the challenge (since I’m also hoping to change jobs—I need the two types of business clothes for networking and interviews).

Winter clothes have been put away, and the rest of the shirts have been separated into four categories:

Long and three-quarter length sleeve shirts (these are basically early spring, late fall, and early winter shirts);

Short sleeve shirts (most of which are hung—though those that are either seasonal [look more like they’d fit a specific holiday—say Halloween] or are a little more political, have been folded and put away in the drawers. But of the shirts that I have hanging—there are forty-two short sleeve shirts. It will take me a while to figure out which ones I would want to keep (unless I want to cycle through them),

Sleeveless shirts, these have been divided into two categories:

The dressier tunic style shirts that are hung in the closet, and the more traditional tank tops that are stored in the dresser drawer.

I’ve also realized that this doesn’t even count all the clothes that I have in storage (which I wouldn’t be able to sort through until I get a new place and unpack). So I do have a clothing problem—I have way to many clothes. So the plan for the next three months is to determine which shirts (at least of the short sleeve variety) I wear the most often (though truthfully I remember wearing each shirt at least once last year), and then determining the best way of getting rid of the others (either selling for a little money or donating to charity).

When it comes to the accessories: I do like my jewelry—so this would be something else that would take me awhile to figure out which pieces I really want to keep and which ones I would be willing to part with. Other accessories that I have include a couple of hats (only three are winter, the other three are nice weather hats), and two scarfs (again one is more winter and the other can be considered seasonal—it could be worn with something in the fall as it is a brightly colored scarf). I also have several pairs of shoes (which in theory I should have down to say one or two), but some are seasonal (winter) and the rest are tennis shoes (so also workout shoes).

Luckily it doesn’t include workout clothes, as I have a good number of tank tops that I wear for both working out and sleeping. I’ve also realized that basically all of the tee shirts that I have all have some type of graphic design on them, so I need to decide which ones I want to keep and which ones I’m willing to part with.

So I’ve decided that for the most part I’m only going to currently concern myself with the short sleeve and dressy tunic tops for this challenge. If I cut the number of those shirts down—then I’ll move on to the longer sleeved shirts for a challenge come fall and winter. I’m also going to leave everything hanging—and what I don’t wear by the end of say two weeks (which is when I usually do laundry)—I’ll start boxing up and setting aside. It will be interesting to see if by the end of June if I can get the current number of t-shirts down from the over forty to say twenty five (in other words I’m going to see if I can get rid of twenty different tops within the next three months).

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