Category: Reflections

Three Books that have helped me start my burnout recovery journey

So this is an semi-extension of a post I did on LinkedIn earlier in the week. The reason why it is ‘semi’, I’m only including three out of the six books I had in that post.

I quit my job at the end of 2019 because I was burnt out on the whole academia route, and I had no energy to try to figure out my transition away from academia at the time. I would love to say that I spent all of 2020 self-reflecting, taking different courses, networking, and figuring things out–but I only did a little of that. I did do some self-reflection, I bought numerous e-courses, but I didn’t network that much and I still haven’t totally figured things out (though I’m getting closer).

It wasn’t until early this year (2021), when I read “Burnout: the secret to unlocking the stress cycle” by Emily Nagoski and Amelia Nagoski in addition to having a zoom call with a coach, that I’d realized while I had made some progress–I still have quite a ways to go.

Burnout talks about what burnout is, what causes it, and the best ways of dealing with it, not to mention how to try to ‘head it off’ to begin with. Without going into super detail, I will mention a few passages that stood out to me as I read the book.

There were three passages that really stood out to me and they were:

“We are built to oscillate between work and rest. When we allow for this oscillation, the quality of our work imporves along with our health.”

“The idea that you can use “grit” or “self-control” to stay focused and productive every minute of every day is not merely incorrect, it is gaslighting and it is potentially damaging your brain.”

“Wellness is not a state of being, but a state of action.”

The first two passages were stark reminders of why I left academia–I couldn’t handle the hours (even though as a staff scientist I was on a ‘normal work week’), and the idea that I had to be busy basically the entire eight hours of every day.

The final passage was just something I realized I needed to strive at–keeping in mind that any type of change takes time and it shouldn’t be seen as an end goal but a process.

I’ve come to ‘terms’ with the fact that I’m still semi-burnt out. I can now describe the feeling as being at teh bottom of a very deep hole/well/pit with very little illumination. Once I managed to find a lantern (or a torch), I was able to see my ‘pit’ with new eyes.

There is a staircase that meanders up the inside wall of the pit–I know that this is the way out, and that it won’t be a fast climb. I also notice that there are ‘slides’, some are short (seeming to connect different levels), but there is a long one that seems to come from the top–the one I hadn’t realized I was on, until it dumped me at the bottom. Also it seems to be connected to the othesr–possibly as a stark warning that lingering too long in certain areas can also lead to ‘burnout’.

The stairs and slides are a stark reminder that there will be no easy path for ‘recovering’ from burnout, and it brings to mind a quote/passage from the book ‘Joy of Missing Out: Live More by Doing Less’ by Tonya Dalton:

“You have to take this journey; you have to do the work because it is your path. The good, the bad, and the ugly. It belongs to you. So own it.”

The author talks to you about finding your ‘north star’ (or what you want to be doing) by using herself as an example. It was how to deal with ‘burnout’ without calling it ‘burnout’.

As much as I would love to brush everything under the rug and “pretend” to be on an even-keel, I know that I’m not there yet–and I’m both owning that fact and figuring out the work that needs to be done to move forward.

You might have noticed that there aren’t a lot of comments on my posts–in part I haven’t figured out the optimal key words to be sprinkling through everything, but also because most have been some type of spam comment. There had been one individual who had basically commented on a couple of posts that it seemed I liked to ‘whine’ more than I liked to ‘take action’. While I deleted those comments, looking back now maybe I should have taken a screenshot and used them as momentum to move forward faster.

Though the past couple of years haven’t been exactly a cakewalk–losing several dogs in 2018, dealing the depressive fallout throughout 2019 (not to mention the burnout), and then the pandemic last year–I’m actually ready for a ‘mild’ year (and hopefully that will be 2022?).

Though thinking back to those comments, I’m reminded that there are things I can’t control: basically how others read and intrepret my writing styles, but the one thing I can control (and I’m trying to get better at) is how I react to those comments.

There isn’t a quick and easy path for getting over anxiety and self-doubt. All I can do is to try to show up each day, and try to do something that pushes me slightly out of my comfort zone and into the stretch or risk zones.

There were two other quotes from ‘Joy of Missing Out’ that also resonated with me and they were:

“We need to stop treating each day as its own scorecard to be balanced. Look at your week as a whole and see if maybe you are spending more time on your priorities than you realize.”

“Productivity should be customized to you and the life you want to live.”

Again, both were a stark reminder that I made the right choice in leaving the academic world behind, and that I am slowly figuring out how to move into either the industry world or the freelancing world.

Seeing those quote reminded me to look at this passage from ‘How to be Everything: A Guide for those who (still) don’t know what they want to be when they grow up’ by Emilie Wapnick:

“When you lose interest in something, you must always consider that you’ve gotten what you came for; you have completed your mission. […] That is why you lose interest; not because you’re flawed or lazy or unable to focus but because you’re finished.”

This statement has resonated with me for quite a while, and truthfully is probably the one reason why I’ve been having such a hard time figuring out my transition: I’ve been afraid of losing interest in the project/company/sector/subject and becoming bored.

To combat that ‘fear’, I’m starting to generate ‘brain dump lists’ and ‘mind maps’ of anything and everything that has ever caught my attention over the years–with the end goal of figuring out how to turn all those ideas into a self-sustaining freelancing/online/remote career.

As I’ve made it up the first staircase, I glance around me and notice there is a table with a stack of books, a pad of paper with pens, a cup of coffee (or is tea?), along with a computer–I’ve made it to the first level: Self Reflection.

I will make myself at home for awhile among these books, papers, and computer. I will have my coffee and tea and contemplate on the routes that led me to the bottom of the pit, and up that first staircase towards burnout ‘recovery’.

I would highly recommend all three books and give them all five out of five stars (listed here again for reference):

Burnout: The secret to unlocking the stress cycle by Emily Nagoski and Amelia Nagoski

The Joy of Missing Out: Live More by Doing Less by Tonya Dalton

How to be everything: A guide for those who (still) don’t know what they want to be when they grow up by Emilie Wapnick

So I am still on my journey to heal from ‘burnout’–I’ve made some good progress over the past few months, but I also know I have quite a ways to go until I feel that joy and other happy emotions when thinking of another job–though I do feel those emotions (along with fear) when I think of doing freelance, so maybe I’m further on the path than I originally thought.

Have you read these books? What did you think of them? What are some of your favorite personal development books?

No Comments Book ReviewsBooksHealthLifestyle Challengesno spend challengesPersonal Developmentprofessional developmentReflections

Time to brainstorm, mindmap, and plan for the future

So, it looks like I didn’t set any goals last June for the Gemini new moon. That isn’t surprising since I was in a rather foul mood (from about April through mid-June), due to the fact that the SARS-CoV2 virus was getting out of control and was close to being called a pandemic (which we’re still in a year later, though numbers are falling in some parts of the world). So the moon is transitioning through the Gemini constellation today, as it marks yet another new phase–it was also a solar eclipse (but it wasn’t visible from Oklahoma). We’re a third of the way through the month, and I’m truthfully ready for say November or December.

So what are some things that one can focus on during the Gemini new moon?

Think about how you communicate with others.

Meditate.

Socialize more.

See your siblings.

Read more.

Well, we’re still in the middle of a pandemic (and yes, I have gotten my vaccine–but I’m still playing it safe), so I won’t be socializing more (besides, I’m an introvert who prefers minimal socialization anyways). I do see my younger brother every so often (he now lives in town), but my older brother and his family live out in CA–so no visits for quite awhile. I’ve been getting better at meditation, and I always like to read (trying to get better at expanding the genera though).

I’m also looking to the house that Gemini new moon is transitioning through–and for me it is my eighth house, or the ‘sex and shared finances’ zone (also referred to as the money and relationship zone). So what are some of the things that one can do during this time in regards to the eighth house?

Pay off a loan (or take one out)

Open a savings account and make your first deposit

Cancel a credit card you know you can’t afford

Ask for a raise (but really only if you believe you might get it)

Refinance your mortgage

Talk dirty to your partner

Try a sexual position for the first time

Looking back at what I wrote two years ago (since I didn’t post anything for new moon last year), there isn’t much I’d change–other than noting we’re still in the middle of a pandemic and I still have no desire to enter the dating pool. I find it slightly amusing that two new moons in a row have aspects that deal with relationships–and I’m determined not to be in one currently. Basically to restate what I’ve said in previous posts (about relationships): I currently don’t have the time or energy to put into the dating scene and finding someone. In terms of relationships and being with someone–I’m one of the odd ones that doesn’t mind being alone and unattached.

I also find it fitting that they also both mention finances as well–something that I’m going to be focusing on a little more as the year progresses.

So in terms of things that one can do for the eighth house:

I currently have a savings account (with money in it), which I’m going to be working on trying to increase the balance

I only have two credit cards that have ‘high’ balances, but both should be paid down/off within a few months

I don’t own a house–so no need to try to refinance something

I don’t have any loans (and currently not thinking about taking one out)

No pay raise–as I’ve been on my ‘reboot break’ for over a year now (unless I either find the ‘dream job’ and/or I get my own business up and running)

And finally, I’m still not in a relationship, so the last two items aren’t even on my radar.

So my goals for the Gemini new moon will include:

The creation of a financial plan (coming back onto the list). I have ideas bouncing around about how to start earning money–I just need to get them on paper, and broken down into monthly/weekly/daily goals. Plus, I’m not getting younger and therefore should really be trying to ‘plan’ for the second half of my life.

Continue with my daily intentional movements, improving my relationship with food, and nightly meditations/sitting quietly moments.

Continue with my personal/professional development board game, work on writing up some things, and as always reading

Through quite a bit of self-reflection over the past year and a half, I’ve realized that I have the tendency to ‘sacrifice’ my mental health in pursuit of other things (such as my career), therefore I’m going to be focusing a little more each month on maintaining and improving my mental health (through daily meditation, intentional movement, journaling and so forth). Financial health is back on the list–mainly because I’ve slipped (for several months) back into the habit of being an impulsive e-book/e-course buyer.

Being repetitive in goal setting until they become habit is a good thing (as long as you’re making some type of progress on the goal). That is why most of my goals (that are repetitive) focus on personal and professional development–my progress is slow (even microscopic at times), but it is there. Others might not see it, but then I also don’t share everything all the time.

Curious to know–what goals are you repetitive with?

No Comments careerfinancesHealthmoney saving challengesNew Moon Goalsno spend challengesPersonal Developmentprofessional developmentReflections

Future travel plans need: mindfulness and purpose moving forward

So June is ‘National Outdoors Month’, and everyone is looking to head out on vacations, travel, and meet up with friends and family that they weren’t able to see last year due to the pandemic.

This ‘opening back up’ is due in large part to the fact that numerous companies are rolling out different vaccines against the SARS-CoV2 virus, and no–it wasn’t rushed. As a small aside–scientists had started working on a vaccine for SARS when that epidemic eased on its own, so when once the SARS-CoV2 virus was sequenced, scientists figured out how to make the platform for the SARS virus vaccine troubleshooting platform work for the SARS-CoV2 virus.

Some areas are doing better than others (we’re seeing both the dichotomy of wealth–where the ‘wealthier’ countries are vaccinating at a ‘higher’ rate compared to the ‘poorer’ countries, due to the ability to ‘purchase’ the vaccines; and the influence of anti-vaxxers [and I’m not going to ‘touch’ that subject right now]). I truthfully don’t think that there should be a ‘price’ tag on the vaccines–companies should be giving them (and the technology) away. Yes, it would ‘hurt’ the bottom lines for companies–but there shouldn’t be a price on human survival.

Since traveling is slowly starting up again, I’ve been thinking on all the plans I’d been slowly starting to make before the pandemic hit and forced a total change in plans.

I’d been planning on taking at least one international trip that would have been a mixture of recharging and possibly networking as I slowly tried to figure out what I wanted to do with the second half of my life. Since the pandemic started (and halted travel plans)–I’ve invested heavily in personal/professional development books and courses (and have been slowly making my way through them)–but it has eaten the money I’d ‘tentatively’ set aside for travel.

The SARS-CoV2 virus is here to stay (sorry to say), and that means that any travel plans I now make need to be both mindful and purposeful in nature–meaning I’m not just going to head off for a week (or two) vacation just because the experts say we can (if we’re careful and follow the rules).

I need to be mindful of the fact that there can (and probably will be) small ‘outbreaks’ of the virus, some areas may not want travleres showing up during certain parts of the year, and if I really want to travel (especially by plane)–I have to be willing to have a swab stuck up my nose (for COVID testing). Therefore I’m going to set some ‘criteria’ for traveling, and then really think/debate on any and all future travel plans.

My criteria for traveling will include:

Is it something to see (or possibly do) that I can’t see (or do) closer to home?

What is that something (park/zoo/landmark)?

Can I combine reasons for the trip (enjoyment/work/mental health break)?

Then the major factor/question: Can I afford the possible international health insurance (if I’m traveling abroad), and do I have enough money to also possibly afford ‘quarantine’ periods (if unable to return home quickly enough during another outbreak)? Or do I now someone in the area that I could possibly ‘bunk’ with during a ‘shutdown/quarantine’ period?

I do want to travel–but at the same time I know that my ‘new normal’ isn’t going to consist of constant travel (I do have a couple of pets to consider), but if I plan accordingly, I should be able to do a non-local trip every couple of years once things are better under control (more countries being able to vaccinate their citizens), and I feel safe leaving the house again.

While I have a nice ‘bucket’ list of places I’d still like to visit–if you’ve been to a zoo or an aquarium, where is you favorite?

No Comments Day TripsHistorical SitesNational ParksNature PreservesoutdoorsPandemic2020PhotographyReflectionsState ParkstravelZoos/Aquariums

Turtles & throwback photos: celebrating national trails day

Did you know that June is the ‘Great Outdoors Month’?

It started as the ‘Great Outdoors Week/end’ in the late 1990s under President Clinton, and was expanded under the presidents that followed. It has only been the past two years (since 2019) that it was officially designated as the ‘Great Outdoors Month’ by Congress.

It was designed as a way to get people outdoors and being active, plus showcase how outdoor activities are economically beneficial as well for everyone.

Within the month, there are also ‘specific’ days that get celebrated as well, such as:

National Trails Day (1st Saturday of the month–so for 2021, that would be today), and National Get Outdoors Day (2nd Saturday of teh month, so this year it will be on June 12th).

So, today is National Trails Day which was established to promote awareness to the massive trail system in the country that is maintained by the local, state, and federal governments.

Luckily, I live just a few blocks from a great walking trail–Boomer Lake (the trail goes all the way around, plus there are mini-paths that branch off from some of the sidewalk). While there are still areas that I haven’t really explored (during the summer there are ticks to be worried about, and the the cold temperatures in the winter), but I do try to get out on the trail at least once a month (if not once a week). I’m also going to try to get to Sanborn Lake and see what type of wildlife is around there as well sometime this year.

Red-eared slider seen sunning itself at Boomer Lake

There are other hiking trails that are nearby at one of the larger area lakes, but not within walking distance. Plus, walking/hiking the trails at Lake McMurtry requires you to be on the lookout for rattlesnakes. At least at Boomer Lake, it is only water snakes (and I don’t get close to those either).

When we managed to get up to northern Minnesota for vacation, there were always numerous hiking trails on the north shore of Lake Superior, and then just walking the roads around the area lakes also allowed for nature photography and watching. Depending on the time of year that we would go up there–it would either be in time to look for waterfalls, or take pictures of the different wildflowers growing.

Following the river (which I’m pretty sure was in Temperance River State Park)

One nice thing about hiking along the rivers, you could see where they entered Lake Superior:

Temperance River entering Lake Superior

Sometimes you can even follow the trail all the way down to the mouth of the river. Then you are able to see all the rocks that have collected over the centuries.

Smooth rocks in the river

I do like trying to find agates on the beach–on the rare occasion I’m successful, but most of the time I’m not (though since I’m not a geologist–I may have missed quite a few of them).

Wildflowers

I’ve managed to do several other small hikes over the years (these will possibly be their own pages under the travel section–coming soon[in addition to possible pages for the these hikes as well]), and hopefully will be able to do a several more in the future.

Where is your favorite hiking trail located, and is it an easy, medium, or hard hike?

No Comments fitnessflowersHealthnatureoutdoorsRandom Celebration DaysReflectionsState Parkstravel

Books, and more books, plus some e-courses: Update on the limited spending challenge

So it is that time again–for a check-in on my year long limited spending challenge.

In case you’re new to the blog, here is a brief recap–I decided at the end of 2020 that instead of trying to do ‘no-spend’ months (and splurging), I would ‘limit’ the spending and items would fall into one of two categories: needed and splurges.

I did really well in January on the challenge, and then slowly started slipping since, and hopefully May will be the last ‘major’ sliding month for the year.

So yes–I splurged. On what? Well–mainly books, I think I mentioned it last year (or maybe in 2019) on a book review–I’m an impulsive book buyer. So the books I bought were:

2021: Webmaster Series by Dr. Andy Williams

A couple of books on SEO

Hope River series by Margaret McHeyzer

The Guardians series by Victoria Paige

25 ways to work from home by Jen Ruiz

Wildfire Hearts series by Savannah Kade

Bad Karma Special Ops series by Tracy Brody

Linear Tactical series by Janie Crouch

Authentic: How to be yourself and why it matters by Stephen Joseph

The Lt. Kate Gazarra series (books 1-3) by Blair Howard

Guardian Hostage Rescue Specialist series by Ellie Masters

So, I think that I have enough books to get me through the rest of the year, in addition to the books I splurged on last month, all the free ones I downloaded in March & December, plus the pre-orders I still have set throughout the year.

I also bought a couple more e-courses as well. While I stated at the beginning of the year that I was aiming at not purchasing any other e-courses, I did buy one or two earlier in the year (there is an copy writing course I’m going to be starting soon). Also once I created my ‘personal/professional development board game’, I decided that I wanted to get a couple of art history courses if possible (as it is a subject that I’ve always been fascinated with and any books I have on the various subjects are currently in a storage unit). In addition to those courses, I found several others that could be beneficial moving forward as well.

So the e-courses I recently purchased included (and they’re all from Udemy):

How to Awaken & Connect to Your Spiritual Higher Self

Learn Bioinformatics from Scratch (Theory & Practical)

How to become a freelance editor

Kick start a freelance editor & proofreader career on upwork

Art history: prehistory to the renaissance

From Caves to Cities: Prehistoric art history

Gods & Kings: The Art History of Mesopotamia

Ancient Art of South Arabia: The Himyarite Kingdom

Olmec Art

Islamic Architecture

Computer Vision Masterclass

Luckily I purchased all these courses during various ‘sale’ periods (so they were only $9.99-11.99 a courses in stead of $99+). The goal is to now try to bounce between some ‘professional development’ courses and some ‘personal development’ courses throughout the summer.

I realized that I spent way more money that I meant to during May, and therefore am aiming at a totally limited spending month (only pre-orders and my automatically monthly order from Amazon). I’ve figured if I make use of the time management app Self Control, I can stay off Facebook, Instagram, and Amazon during the day, and that is usually when I ‘splurge’–mindless scrolling though social media.

This is the ‘experiment’ for June anyway–stay off social media for majority of the day, and then have a ‘plan’ in place for teh rest of the time and start reading the books I’ve bought and working through the e-courses I’ve bought.

I realized when I started this challenge, I wasn’t going to be perfect, and I have ‘slid’ a lot in terms of book buying–but recognizing the signs is the first step, activating the self control app is the second step, and then the third step is going to be ‘creating’ check-sheets for being on Facebook (responding to comments, commenting on posts, posting in certain groups), to help limit the ‘social media’ time that way.

Here is to June being a much better (and money controlled) month in terms of the limited spending challenge.

If you’re an impulsive book buyer–who are a few of your favorite authors? If you buy e-courses, what sites do you use for continous learning?

No Comments financesmoney saving challengesno spend challengesPersonal DevelopmentPersonal Development ChallengesReflectionsUpdates

May Goals: Time Management Improved, onto increasing daily productivity

So we’re entering the final month of the first half of the year–I guess with the vaccines rolling out to deal with the pandemic, time seems to be speeding up again (at least for me). I’m slowly figuring out my productivity ‘cycle’ as I’ve realized that I’m more productive/aare during certain months compared to others. This shouldn’t have surprised me–everything is basically cyclic, from our days to our habits–we have good days and bad days. Therefore I’m working on not ‘beating’ myself up if I don’t hit all the milestones that I set for teh month (and I have been in the habit of setting a lot of goals lately).

I’m still planning on self-isolating for at least the summer and early fall (I want to see what type of numbers we’re going to ahve wtih summer and everyone heading out on vacations and traveling).

The news is still irritating/disturbing (but what else is new?)–The republican senators blocked the passage of the bipartisan commission to look into January 6th, and everyone who voted to block it should be voted out of office next year (fingers crossed, but not holding out too much hope). It has been 100 years since the Tulsa Race Massacre, and I think the event is just making its way into Oklahoma history books. I grew up in Oklahoma, and part of the curriculum to graduate is taking a semester class on Oklahoma history, and this event wasn’t covered (and it wasn’t covered in high school American history either), I think I first heard about it in college.

I’m still liking the fact that we have an administration that is actually listening to science, as we’re still slowly getting the virus under control. When I published ‘April in Review’, I noted that the US was just a little over 33.1 million cases, and now the US is at a little over 34.1 million cases (so an increase of basically a million cases, and I think this has been one of the lowest increases since last summer). This is probably due to more people getting the vaccine and listening to the experts. Now we’re just going to have to wait and see if there are any spikes this summer/fall due to summer breaks, vacations, and the experts saying that if you’re fully vaccinated (and without underlying health conditions) you don’t have to wear a mask or really social distance (I’m fully vaccinated & I plan on still doing both of those things for quite a while).

Though before jumping into June with both feet (and becoming more productive), I need to look back at the goals I set for May and see how I did with each of them.

The goals for May included:

At least 135-155,000 steps

Finish up 21-Day Fix Live & start 21-Day Fix Extreme Live

Finish reading the three books I started in April

Read 3 fiction books

Finish up the Clinical Research Coalition program, the writing/editing assignments for MWO, and the first two modules of the Regulatory Affairs Council program

No spend days/No spend weeks/limited spending month

Time outdoors & meditation/sitting quietly

Craft time (make/design 1 necklace/bracelet set)

Finish (or start) at least two other e-courses

Manage at least 30-45 minutes a day of Spanish

Activate the time management app: Self Control

So how did I do with each of them?

  1. At least 135-155,000 steps; I managed to surpass the minimal number of steps, and actually got 187,855 steps for the month. This included several walks up at Boomer Lake, and at least two to four walks through the neighborhood with Chaos.
  2. Finish 21-Day Fix Live and start 21-Day fix extreme live; Well, I finished the first week of 21-Day Fix Live, then concentraetd more on intentional movements for a couple of weeks, and then started my 3rd round of LIIFT4 at the end of the month.
  3. Finish reading the three books I started in April; I did manage to read (and finish) two non-fiction books this month, but they weren’t ones that I started in April. Instead they were books that were randomly chosen as I started to play my personal/professional baord game. The two books were ‘The Little Book of Hygge: Danish Secrets to Happy Living’ by Meik Wiking and ‘Permission to Screw Up: How I Learned to Lead by Doing (almost) Everything Wrong’ by Kristen Hadeed. Book reviews for both of the books have been posted as well last week. One of the two (‘Little Book of Hygge’) was actually on my abridged 2021 reading list.
  4. Read 3 fiction books; While I managed to read quite a few fiction books throughout the month–there were really only three that were ‘brand’ new reads (the rest were basically re-reads). The three books that I read were (and book reviews will hopefully be posted wtihnn the next week or so):
    • Love Under Two Warriors (Lusty, Texas #42) by Cara Covington
    • Ride Out the Storm (SSI #6.5) by Monette Michaels
    • Wild and Loving (Slick Rock #33) by Becca Van
  5. Finish up the Clinical Research Coalition program, the writing/editing assignments for the MWO group, and the first two modules of the Regulatory Affairs Council program; I did finish the Clinical Research Coalition program, and am in the process of writing up a review on it, plus the things I may need to brush up on (learn), if I decide that this is a direction I may want to go in. In terms of the other parts to this goal–I’m still working on the writing/editing assignments, and I didn’t get around to watching any of the videos for the first two modules of the regulatory affairs council program.
  6. No spend days/no spend weeks/limited spending month; Still fell short of a totally limited spending month, I would say that it was on par for March in terms of spending. There will be more on this when I do my monthly check-in on the spending challenge (post will probably be posted either tomorrow or Thursday).
  7. Time outdoors & meditation/sitting quietly; I’ve been getting better at my evening meditations, I think I only talked myself out of it once or twice this month. It was a soggy month (especially mid-month), that limited the amount of time spent outdoors. But when I could spend time outdoors I did.
  8. Craft time (design/make 1 necklace/bracelet set); Well, I didn’t ‘sit’ down for craft time this month. I was outside more with the camera (on the days that permitted it).
  9. Finish (or start) at least two other e-courses: So, this didn’t happen. I didn’t start or finish any e-course (other than the Clinical Research Coalition program) during May.
  10. Manage at least 30-45 minutes a day of Spanish: So this is something else that I didn’t get accomplished during May. While I’m trying to get better at time (and project) management, I never seemed to figure out the best time of day for refreshing Spanish. I also realized that I should probably have started with a lower ‘aim’ of 30-45 minutes, 2-to-3 days a week (instead of aiming for everyday).
  11. Activate the time management app: Self Control; I did manage to activate the time management app, Self Control this month. This is an app, where you add in the websites you want to stay off of, the amount of time to stay off of them, and then you hit start.

The pros: you can adjust the time and list from day-to-day. The only ‘con’ is you have to turn on the app every day (there isn’t a setting for setting which days you want it to be active). Plus (this can be a pro or con depending on your viewpoint), it stays active even if you have to reset your computer (which I’ve had to do a couple of times).

But I do think that I managed to get a little more accomplished this month once I got over my ‘fear’ of using the app, instead of aimlessly scrolling through Facebook, Instagram, or shopping on Amazon.

So I think I managed to meet about half the goals (in some form), and I realized having 3 goals that require a good amount of time on the computer daily was being a little ambitious, and at times has been probably a reason for one or two (possibly all three) not getting fully accomplished. Going between different genera for reading is ‘easier’ than mentally ‘switching gears’ in terms of concentration and note-taking (at least for me at times).

I had posted earlier that I created a board game to help me stretch the comfort zone and also limit the indecision on what to do next–it would simply be a roll of the dice, and if I wanted to ‘skip’ the square, answering a few questions. So far, the game has allowed me to get two non-fiction books read (yep, prior to the game I was once again bouncing between non-fiction and fiction books), and finishing up the clinical research coalition program.

I also decided yesterday that I would create a few more ‘trackers’ for tracking professional development ‘social media’ interactions, as I have a bad habit of lurking or not getting on social media for extended periods of time (due to anxiety), and I’m hoping that this helps me deal with said anxiety issues.

First attempt for tracking professional development ‘social media’ interactions

So in addition to what I will be trying to track for professional development, the other goals for June will include:

  1. At least 130-150,000 steps; we’re basically in summer, so hopefully will be able to get up to Boomer Lake at least once a week
  2. Continue with LIIFT4 (mainly the lifting portion, HIIT/core if I feel like it)
  3. Read at least one non-fiction book and post the review (more if I land on another ‘read’ square)
  4. Read at least 2 fiction books (and post reviews)
  5. Start (and probably finish) the Intellectual Property Pack course, and work on the writing/editing assignments for the MWO group
  6. No spend days/No spend weeks/Limited spending month; honor the limited spending challenge
  7. Time outdoors and meditation/sitting quietly
  8. Start (and possibly finish) at least one other e-course (take good notes)
  9. Craft time (doodle a cross-stitch design, design a necklace/bracelet set, more photography)

The goals are more or less the same as last month (just changing the name of the workout program and at least one of the e-courses), but that is how they become habit–you keep doing them until you’re no longer really thinking about doing them–you just do them. Then you can go to ‘new goals’, and keep repeating those, and on and on.

Besides trying to make sure that I ‘succeed’ at reaching the goals for June–my ‘biggest’ goal will actually be feeling like I was productive and not just sitting around ‘wishing’ for things to go a certain way, but actually brainstorming and working towards those ‘wishes/goals’. With thinking of joining the ‘online’ space as a freelance writer/proofreader/editor/data analyst/project manager/photographer–I’m going to have to figure out ways of ‘sticking out’–which means determining the category/subjects/niches for at least writer/proofreader/editor/data analyst/project manager portion, since I’m pretty sure I’ll be sticking with nature (and pet) photography for awhile.

I’m going to remind myself daily of one of the quotes that I picked for 2021: “You can’t start the next chapter of your life if you keep re-reading the last one”, plus the words: growth, creativity, and curiosity.

What science (or possibly history) topics do you either find interesting or confusing (or both)???

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Sagittarius goal plan: small steps & a roll of the dice

So the moon has transitioned into its full moon phase and is in the Sagittarius constellation currently. It was also an lunar eclipse this morning as well, but due to the overcast sky and slight fog–I was unable to see it (I was hoping for clear skies and the possiblity of getting a picture).

The Sagittarius moon is the ‘fun energy’ moon, and while this is nice going into the summer months, I’m hoping that it isn’t going to lead to a spike in infections/cases of SARS-CoV2 (since we’re still not technically out of the pandemic yet). Therefore, I’m personally going to use this time for more reflection and aim for a more transformative period moving into the summer.

Every month I look at ‘Moonology: working with the magic of lunar cycles’ by Yasmin Boland to get questinos to reflect on for a day or two that deal with the moon in each zodiac constellation. The questions for the Sagittarius full moon are:

Have I been too flippant, or carefree to the point of being careless, irresponsible, even?

Have I been letting myself down by allowing myself to get distracted and bored?

Have I been overconfident to the point of arrogance, or too preachy?

Have I been a commitment phobe, to my own detriment?

Have I been seeing the bigger picture?

If I were to number the above questions 1-5, my answers would be as follows:

  1. In terms of finances, I would have to say that I’ve been a little too ‘carefree’ lately. While I started a ‘limited-spending’ challenge at teh beginning of the year, I’ve splurged on books for the past four out of five months, but at the same time investing in my professional development (bought some more e-courses). While I’m aiming to go freelance/online/remote/contract in terms of work, I do need to start really focusing on improving in several areas (data analysis/programming, writing/editing different styles/formats, and so forth).
  2. Yes, I have been allowing myself to get distracted (I won’t really say bored, but more of a ‘fear of failure/’imposter syndrome’ feeling) more often lately. One thing I’ve noticed is that I get caught up in the ‘comparison’ trap and that spikes the anxiety, which leads me to look for distractions instead of working on the issue. While I’ve realized that I’m slowly getting better at time and project management (though still having some issues), I need to develop or find some type of productivity tracker to help keep me focused as well.
  3. Nope, I can easily say that I have not been overconfident to the point of arrogance or being too preachy.
  4. Depending on what aspect of life we’re talking about. Yes, I have been a slight commitment phobe to myself (mainly in terms of professional development, and a little on the personal side as well). I’m working on getting better–I think having created the personal/professional development board game is going to help a lot with those areas. I’m also working on giving myself grace and trying to ‘rework’ my mindset in terms of fitness and nutrition. Can’t be labeled a commitment phobe in terms of others since I’m currently not in a relationship, and we’re still in the middle of a pandemic (so it really isn’t a good idea to try to get together with people currently).
  5. What bigger picture are we talking about? In terms of myself–I’m still having ‘troubles’ trying to see/project where I want to be in say five or more years down the road. The bigger picture of my career? I’m slowly getting an idea of what I would like to do–but there is a lot of work to get there (both in terms of skills I need to have at least a basic understanding of, and trying to find clients). I’m also still way more pessimistic than optimistic about things (though possibly not as pessimistic as I was a year ago). But there are still way too many problems right now, that has me wondering if we’re going to survive as a society over the next few decades.

For me, the moon in Sagittarius is also going through my second house (or the cash, property, and values zone). This brings about feelings of one’s financial security, stability, and self-worth. We’re suppose to strive to find a balance between various aspects of life–are we tired of working for others and wanting to strike out on our own–now would be the time to start planning it, or have we been neglecting ourselves and focusing on others?

This zone is popping up when I still have the time to do some serious self-reflection. While the world is slowly trying to reopen, I’m still planning on self-isolation of several more months (I want to see what type of a spike the summer is going to bring) before I think of any type of travel (for either enjoyment or career-related). I’m still working on lowering my bills, and thinking of other ways of earning cash. The idea of having an online/freelance business is really starting to sound appealing, though I need to decide whether to try to go in a single direction to begin with or a combination of different areas (I am leaning more towards the second direction than the first). This could be my ‘new normal’ as we finally ge through this first long pandemic wave of the SARS-CoV2 virus.

My reflection time will be spent on figuring out the freelance/online possibility, but at the same time thinking of how it can also be of help to a changing world, as I noted last year: the world won’t heal itself, and unless we start addressing all of the issues, the world won’t be around long to support us–and there is no planet B.

So the small goal list I have for the Sagittarius full moon includes:

  1. Honor the ‘limited-spending’ challenge during the month of June. I’m going to try to limit it to a single order from Amazon (in addition to any pre-ordered books, and my automatic monthly order). I truthfully have enough books to read, that I need to just stay away from any and all e-book ads.
  2. ‘Track’ my energy, so that I know what time(s) I actually have the energy to do various things (exercise, writing, research, and so forth), and slowly work on ‘transforming’ that into a weekly schedule and editorial calendar.
  3. Roll the dice and see what the next adventure (or adventures) will be in terms of personal and professional development.

Finally, as the one quote (more or less) states: ‘You can’t start the next chapter of your life, if you keep re-reading the last’, and I’m working hard on not flipping back through ‘old chapters’ but trying to forage ahead and start a new one.

No Comments financesFull Moon GoalsHealthLifestyle Challengesmoney saving challengesno spend challengesPersonal Developmentprofessional developmentReflections

Slow progress is better than no progress, time to look for productivity trackers

So we’re going to be heading into May’s full moon within the next twenty-four hours, and hopefully the weather will improve. This full moon is also suppose to be lunar eclipse as well–but we’ve been having rainy/cloudy weather for the past few weeks, so there is a chance that I won’t be able to see the eclipse in the morning due to possible overcast conditions.

Therefore, before looking Sagittarius full moon, I should look back at the goals that I set for the Scorpio full moon and see how I did with each of them.

The goals for the Scorpio full moon included:

  1. Finish 21-Day Fix Real Time and then start 21-Day Fix Extreme Real Time
  2. Spend more time reflecting and set at least one ‘long-term’ goal (personal or professional) that is at least 5-10 years down the road
  3. Finish setting up my 12-month plan (based semi off the ‘long-term goal’; bonus–this would be finishing up a past Aries New moon goal as well)
  4. Continue with daily evening meditations

So how did I do with each of them?

  1. In terms of the two fitness programs–I decided to concentrate more on ‘intentional movement’ and then started LIIFT4 for the third time. It isn’t that I didn’t like 21-Day Fix & 21-Day Fix Extreme Real Time, but I just wasn’t in the mood to listen to the ‘lectures’ on ‘proper nutrition and eating’ as I’m still trying to improve my relationship with food. I will do these programs, but once I feel like my relationship with food has improved enough that I’m not worried about falling back into the mindset of restriction.
  2. In terms of goals 2 & 3–I’m still in reflection mode and contemplating ‘long-term’ goals, and still trying to flesh out the ’12-month’ plan as well. Though I did create a personal/professional board game over the past few weeks that could be tied to both of the goals. I’ve realized over the past few weeks that in terms of trying to set ‘long-term’ goals I keep hearing conflicting viewpoints. The viewpoints go from ‘yes, everyone should have at least one long-term goal to strive for’, and to ‘if you’re focused on a specific goal, you might miss an opportunity because it doesn’t align with your goal’.
    • These conflicting opinions, made me realize that I’m ‘afraid now’ of setting long-term goals for several reasons: 1) I tried that with grad school/post-docs (had thought of trying to obtain a professor position) and it didn’t happen; 2) I’m having ‘troubles’ seeing myself ’15+’ years down the road doing something (since I’m worried about possibly being on the ‘wrong track’ again); and 3) I’m striving to still find that ‘balance’ between different areas of life (since I know I have the habit of becoming laser focused on one thing to the determent of everything else).
    • But I’m working my way slowly away from the ‘fear’ by creating and playing my own personal/professional development board game. It is giving me the power to decide what I’m doing, what I’m studying/reviewing, how far in-depth I’m going, and how I’m going to showcase what I’ve learned.
  3. Meditation at night is going more or less smoothly–the only time I ‘skip’ it is if I’m either not feeling well, or something has totally messed up my evening routine (say a water heater spewing 20-30 gallons of water into the room). It hasn’t quite become a fully ingrained habit yet, but I’m making progress towards that end goal. It does help improve my sleep, and I think I’m going to also try morning meditation as well this summer.

So I may not have been totally on target with the Scorpio goals, but I also didn’t fall totally off target either. I’m slowly embracing the fact that productivity/health/life is all cyclic, everyone has good days/weeks and then bad days/weeks. The mark of improvement and progress is making sure that you strive towards getting back towards the good days/weeks instead of wallowing in the bad days/weeks. Also noticing what your productivity ‘cycles’ are can also help, in terms of wondering where you might need to have ‘fewer’ goals or when you can possibly add ‘more’ goals to your list.

I’m slowly starting to figure out my productivity cycle (it looking like peaks are beginning and mid-fall, slow climb/fall, ‘bottoming-out’ twice a year [April/May and possibly Oct/Nov]), but will continue to tract to be sure. A new ‘goal’ will be to try to limit the ‘fall’ and start the ‘climb’ quicker (only two months bottoming-out instead of the possible four).

So question: What are some of your favorite productivity trackers?

No Comments AstrologyFull Moon GoalsLifestyle ChallengesPersonal Developmentprofessional developmentReflections

How to stay ahead of the inner critic and boredom? Create an personal/professional development board game.

So while contemplating on how to really start stepping into the stretch, risk, and die zones more often–I decided to jump right into the ‘risk’ zone and created a personal board game.

I’m thinking of it as a mix of chutes-and-ladders, trivia pursuit, and life. Why these three? Well, there are squares to move forward or back a certain number of spots (or even boards), covers/reviews numerous subjects (though I do admit it does lack sports and entertainment), and it is never-ending (though even the game of life ended after awhile).

My never-ending personal and professional development game

These are topics that I find interesting in the sciences and humanities (though some are missing), in addition to numerous personal development ideas and projects. I taped the two boards into a normal file folder so that I can folded it up and take it with me even on trips, without it getting damaged.

The goals for the game include:

  1. Learning to turn some items (such as writing, learning programming, and refreshing a foreign language) into daily habits.
  2. Learning more about various job directions (and how to possibly meld some of them together).
  3. And finally: embracing the learner mindset in terms of both multiple science and non-science topics, by refreshing my knowledge of the topics and learning what is ‘new’ in the different fields.

I will accomplish these goals by becoming more proficient in time and project management as shown by creating/writing multiple styles of web content, increased traffic to the blog/website, posts written in additional languages, and an up-to-date GitHub account for example.

There are only a few rules for the game:

  1. No quitting.
  2. If I decide that I want to ‘jump/skip’ a square that I landed on, I have to answer the following questions first:
    1. Why am I avoiding this topic/subject?
    2. Where is this belief (or beliefs) coming from?
    3. What can I do to slowly start in on the topic/subject?

Yes, ‘read’ is down quite often–but since I’m an impulsive book buyer, I have almost 300 non-fiction e-books that I’ve bought over the past five years that I haven’t read yet.

I also discovered that my inner critic/imposter syndrome was trying to ‘derail’ me from starting the game. How, you may ask? By trying to ‘convince’ me that I needed to have a list of topics on hand for anything that had ‘review’ with it on the board. After starting to make a list for both biochemistry and immunology, I realized what was happening.

I decided that I would then add the following ‘rules’:

After landing on a ‘review subject’ square, I would roll the dice again–this would give me a ‘time limit’ (in either hours or minutes) for coming up with a starting list of possible sub-topics to review.

This should be easy enough to do–Google ‘textbook of ‘x’ subject’ and you can usually find a link to at least one textbook that will let you look at the table of contents.

I will then roll the dice again, and the number will hopefully correlate to a topic number. If there is currently no topic to correlate the number to, I will roll until I get a number.

Then I will roll the dice a final time to come up with the ‘time frame’ for the assignment.

All squares will be landed on at one point or another, as there is no ‘end’ to the game. The time frame for each square will vary (even within the topic), and I should hopefully not be ‘sitting’ on a square for more than say three weeks (as that is how long it usually takes to make something a habit), though it may be shorter (as long as I have the topic worked into the weekly schedule and I now to move it over each week).

In terms of the reading squares–if the book doesn’t have any exercises/questions associated with the chapters, I’m going to give myself four to five (no more than six) days to read the book, and then additional two days (max) to write and post the book review to both the blog and possibly Amazon as well. If there are questions/assignments associated with the book then the time frame might go towards two or three weeks.

I started the game last night, and landed on a ‘read’ square. I rolled the dice again to determine the book to pick from the list, and it was ‘The Little Book of Hygge: Danish Secrets to Happy Living’ by Meik Wiking. Since there doesn’t seem to be any exercises/questions associated with the book–I picked another book from the list to start once I have the book review for ‘Little Book of Hygge’ posted, and therefore I will probably rolling the dice for the ‘second’ move on the board around June 4th or so.

What are some of your favorite board games?

No Comments BookscareercomputersCraftsfinancesHealthHistorymoney saving challengesno spend challengesPersonal DevelopmentPersonal Development Challengesprofessional developmentReflectionsSciencespirituality

Stretching the comfort zone by introducing the bounce zone

So I decided earlier this month to ‘update’ my comfort zone diagram, as it had been almost three months since I drew the first one. Then it took several days to decide what to ‘write and share’ about it, as there is a ‘character limit’ for a LinkedIn post versus a LinkedIn article (and I’m not quite up to ‘writing’ personal/professional development LinkedIn articles yet).

Luckily, that (character limit) isn’t really a problem with blog posts. So, this post is an expansion of the LinkedIn post that I did earlier in the week.

First comfort/stretch/risk/die diagram

Looking at the first diagram and reflecting/pondering on what could be moved around in the various zones, I realized that I actually needed to add a zone–the bounce zone.

This is the zone/area of things that I’m doing on a somewhat consistent basis, but they haven’t become ‘comfortable habits’ yet.

Introducing the bounce zone……

When I looked at the newest version of the diagram I realized several things:

  1. The professional development area hasn’t been ‘stretched’ as much as the personal development area
  2. I’ve unintentionally allowed my inner critic/imposter syndrome to run the show for the last month or so by falling into overthinking and the analysis/paralysis loop
  3. I’ve been uncomfortable with the fact that I’m still unsure of the direction(s) I want to go in terms of my job transition
  4. I’m also still slightly uncomfortable sharing the fact that I have a blog up and running

These realizations had me looking back at this quote that I had highlighted in ‘How to be everything: A guide for those who (still) don’t know what they want to be when they grow up’ by Emilie Wapnick:

“When you lose interest in something, you must always consider the possibility that you’ve gotten what you came for; you completed your mission. […] That’s why you lose interest: not because you’re flawed or lazy or unable to focus but because you’re finished.”

Re-reading that quote had me realizing the following:

  1. While I can’t control how others perceive (or like) my blog or writing style(s), I can control how I react.
  2. I won’t know if a particular direction will work in terms of a job transition, unless I investigate them more (which means getting out of the comfort zone)
  3. I am making progress forward, even if it looks like baby-steps or crawling to the outside world–progress is being made.

Therefore with summer around the corner–it is time that I start getting more comfortable with being uncomfortable (I can even start small, since baby steps are better than large leaps). I fully acknowledge that not everyone will like what I’ve written (or how I write) or even how I have the blog/website set up, but I need to continue in my ‘lane’ to find my ‘tribe’.

One of the biggest stumbling blocks has been overthinking–thinking about the various learning curves (for new subjects), the vast amount of information (for any subject), and wondering how to break everything down into easier to handle goals.

Therefore I’m slowly creating a multi-prong/step approach to continuing to stretch the comfort zone, while dealing with my inner critic/imposter syndrome.

The multi-prong step/approach is going to include the following:

  1. I’m creating a ‘bingo-like’ card that has different items listed. I’m saying ‘bingo-like’ in the fact that I’ve expanded it from a 5×5 grid to a 7×8 grid with no free space. The columns will be numbered 1-8, and the rows will be 1-7
  2. Each square will either contain a book to read, or a topic to investigate (or review). There will be two fitness squares–one will be automatically selected as a ‘continual square’ for the time frame needed to complete the listed programs.
  3. I will be making use of multi-sided dice (more than 1-6) for picking ‘squares’ to focus on
  4. I’m slowly creating the ‘rules’ for the game
  5. Once a square has been completed, I’ll stamp it with the check-mark stamp I bought earlier this year.

A longer (more fleshed out) post will be up by the end of the week on the ‘game’ after I get everything figured out and ‘finalized’

As I mentioned yesterday with my update on my 100+ goals, the name of the blog/website will probably be changing come fall/winter when I have a better idea of the direction(s) that I’m headed in both in terms of personal/professional development and online services that I can provide to the greater public.

Have you done the comfort/stretch/risk/die diagram before? How long did it take you to draw your first one? How often do you look back at it and revise it?

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