Tag: mentalhealth

As it starts to get colder: more time for the computer work (review and looking ahead)

Well, we’re almost halfway through October—that means there are only 79 days left in 2021. I’ve been reflecting over the past two weeks on the goals that I set for the third quarter of the year (or as I was also referring to as—my second attempt at a 12-week year).

I’d mentioned in a post over the summer that I was combining the ideas of two books together and using those as ‘stepping-stones’ for goals in different areas. The ideas that I’m combining are ‘choosing focal points (or specific areas)’ to focus on (‘The Renaissance Soul: How to Make Your Passions Your Life—A Creative and Practical Guide’ by Margaret Lobenstine), and the goal setting method from ‘The 12-Week Year: Get more done in 12 weeks than others do in 12 months’ by Brain Moran and Michael Lennington.

The four areas that I’ve decided that I’m currently focusing on are: professional development, personal development, health, and hobbies. The plan is to blend them together enough that I’ve created a career that is semi-location independent, and is focused on freelance/remote/contract writing/blogging with the possibility of adding in data analysis and/or consulting in the future.

The one thing that I’m still working on is figuring out how to divide the goals that I pick for the each month into weekly and then daily goals.

I’ve usually been trying to set four to five goals per focal area, with the possibility that one or two may have several ‘sub’ goals associated with them.

Instead of listing out every single goal that I set for the summer, I’m going to summarize the areas instead.

In terms of professional development, I had the lofty goals of completing at least two Cheeky Scientist advanced programs, learning python (coding), working through another three small e-courses on Udemy, and continuing to read/share science news and network on LinkedIn.

In terms of personal development, the lofty goals included refreshing Spanish, reading at least one (or two) non-fiction books a month, working through even more e-courses on different sites, and coming up with my own vision of minimalism and how I was going to diversify my income.

In terms of health, I was planning on continuing with BOD workouts (LIIFT4 and then Morning Meltdown 100), meditation, gratitude entries in the journal, oracle card drawings, working through a couple of courses, and trying to find new recipes to try at dinner.

In terms of my hobbies: at least one nature walk with the camera at Boomer Lake, reading, working on a cross-stitch project (or making some jewelry), and then again working through more e-courses.

So how did I do with my various goals?

In terms of professional development:

I’ve been fairly good at reading and sharing new on LinkedIn and twitter (I try to share at least one post Monday to Friday), and I’m working networking more and adding value to connections on LinkedIn.

In terms of the various programs, courses, and programming—I didn’t really get to any of them. Though I have most of the editing assignments for the Medical Writers Organization done—I just need to work on the writing assignments, plus finish up the sixth module.

I would say that I managed two out of the five professional development goals (so forty percent completed).

In terms of personal development:

I think I’ve managed to read possibly two non-fiction books over the past three months, I’m slowly working on my vision of minimalism (I need to go through the clothes and DVDs in the bedroom—and then tackle everything in the storage unit), and I’m slowly working on the ideas for generating varied income sources.

Again, the computer work hasn’t been completed.

Therefore, I probably managed another two out of the five goals (so another forty percent completed)

In terms of health:

I managed about 26 days of the oracle card sharing challenge. While I enjoyed it in the beginning, it was starting to become more of a ‘chore’ and I wasn’t getting that many interactions on the posts. I will probably share a reading here and there on Instagram, but probably won’t be daily.

With having messed up my wrist mid-June/early-July, I’ve been giving it time to heal, so I really haven’t been doing anything that requires lifting weights. I will be trying to start a second round of Morning Meltdown 100 during the fourth quarter of 2021, knowing that it will run into the first quarter of 2022.

I’ve been good with my evening meditations and daily gratitude entries in the journal. I’ve done a little over half of the explicit tarot course, and in terms of cooking—I couldn’t find any recipes that appealed to me this quarter.

I would say that I managed about half of the health goals for the third quarter.

The best area was hobbies:

I managed a walk every month at Boomer Lake with my camera, I read at least two or three fiction books a month, and I finished two cross-stitch projects and started a third. The only goal that I didn’t really touch was the one in regards to the e-courses.

Therefore, I would say that I managed three of the four goals (or seventy-five percent) for hobbies.

Overall, I would say that I managed to reach fifty percent of all the goals (and sub-goals) that I set for the third quarter.

There are several reasons why I only managed to meet half of the goals:

September was spent dealing with an ill dog and not knowing the outcome/prognosis. While we now know the prognosis, it may still be touch and go—especially when she starts to get weaned off the medication.

I also quit doing my weekly to-be accomplished lists in September (see above about the ill dog), and the daily to-be accomplished lists in August. The reason why I quit writing these out—I let the inner critic/imposter syndrome win a fight. I’m slowly working on getting back into the habit of doing both of these (slightly better with the weekly to-be accomplished lists).

Finally, when the weather is fairly nice—I’d rather be sitting outside enjoying the weather and possibly reading or journaling than being inside and working on the computer. I know that this is something that I need to work on improving (time/project management) as we move into the fall/winter months when more time will be spent indoors than outdoors.

So what are my goals for the four different areas moving into the fourth and final quarter of 2021?

Professional Development (This area is focused heavily on computer work):

  1. Finish at least two of the following Cheeky Scientist advanced programs:
    • Medical Writers Organization
    • User Experience Squad
    • Regulatory Affairs Council
    • Business Development Federation
  2. Finish the following short courses:
    • 15 errors in scientific writing and how to correct them on Udemy
    • How to become a freelance editor on Udemy
    • How to become a freelance writer on Skill Success
  3. Read and share science (and other news) on LinkedIn and Twitter
  4. Network and add value on LinkedIn
  5. (Bonus):
    • Finish Write Your Way to Freedom course
    • Finish Writing Patient Materials course

Personal Development (A third to half of the work will be computer based):

  1. Read one-to-two non-fiction books/month
  2. Draft ideas on how to implement diversification of income streams
  3. Work through the following short courses:
    • How to work for yourself on Udemy
    • Complete personal finance course on Udemy
    • Freelance writing 101: build a successful career on Skill Share
    • Content Marketing: Blogging for Growth on Skill Share

Health (Possibly a third to half could be computer based):

  1. Start a second round of Morning Meltdown 100
  2. Daily mediation and work through the course: Mindfulness for Anxiety on Udemy
  3. Daily gratitude journal entries
  4. Daily oracle card drawings and finish the course: explicit tarot: learning tarot through storytelling on Udemy

Hobbies (possibly a quarter could be computer based):

  1. At least one walk per month at Boomer Lake with camera
  2. Read two-to-three fiction books per month
  3. Finish the third cross-stitch project, possibly start a fourth or design/create some jewelry
  4. Work through the following courses:
    • How to start a creative business through blogging for beginners on Skill Share
    • Modern copywriting on Stack Skills

There are still quite a few e-courses that I’m hoping to finish before the end of the year—I may or may not get through all of them, but I’m hoping to have worked through at least one in each area (bonus points if I can finish all the e-courses under a specific focal point).

I mentioned in my October New Moon Goals—that I was going to be trying to face one ‘big’ fear during the next phase/month. I decided that the fear is starting my freelance/remote/contract writing business. Therefore I’m probably going to focus a little more on the courses that deal with that topic (which all but the two under health). The name of the blog (a little bit of this, a little bit of that) will probably stay the same—I may just change the website address (all depends as I work my way through the various courses).

This also means that I may having more posts written in a specific area (such as science/medical education/communication), but at the same time keeping other posts coming throughout the month (such as book reviews, photography, and crafts).

I realize that getting things up and running will take time (especially when it comes to marketing my business, billing, and creating/sticking with a editorial schedule)—but I currently have the time to do this, so I’m going for it: the overall goal is to reach at least fifty-percent in each area and an overall all progress rate of seventy-five percent for the last quarter of 2021.

Do you use the 12-week method for planning? Best tips? Or is there another method you like?

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Time for personal/professional assessment & developing/modifying the daily schedule

So, we’re going to be heading into another ‘new moon’ phase this week. If you’re in North America, it will be on today (Monday, September 6th), elsewhere in the world—either today or tomorrow.

The new moon is two weeks prior to my birthday this year and the full moon will be on my birthday this year.

So what are some of the things that one can do during the Virgo new moon?

  1. Take an inventory of your life. Figure out what is working and what isn’t and then figure out what needs to change for the things that aren’t working.
  2. Be of service–help out more at work (if able), do the little things that can help make someone else’s day a little more bearable.
  3. Be healthy–see what is and isn’t working in your health and fitness routines and figure out what to fix (what new habits to start working on)
  4. Avoid nitpicking–this is where the motto “progress over perfection” really comes into play
  5. Get organized–pay bills, figure out the monthly schedule (workout, eating, so forth)–things that can make life a little bearable going forward

While most would think that the new moon would be moving through my first house (since my star sign is Virgo), it actually moving through my 11th house (or friends’ zone), since I’ve been going with my rising sign (which is Scorpio).

Looking back at what I wrote last year, I’d realized that the ‘new normal’ was possibly going to consist of social distancing, wearing a mask, and just being considerate of others. Too bad others haven’t gotten that memo yet (but that is a rant for another day).

Some of the things one can do in regards to their 11th house include:

  1. Sign up for an evening class in something you’ve always wanted to do
  2. Ask your friends to introduce you to friends of theirs you’ve never met
  3. Wish on a start every night for a month
  4. Introduce a childhood pal to a friend from your life now
  5. Say ‘Hi’ to someone you see nearly every day but never talk to
  6. Thank your best friend for being there for you

Well, some of these things still aren’t really possible due to the fact that we’re still in the middle of a pandemic (and who knows when it will get under control). Therefore, if I were to try to do something in regards to my 11th house it would be either wish on a star every night for a month, or thank my best friend for being around still. I also know that I could try to do virtual meet-ups, but that will still require me investing in a better wifi router for the house, and some drapes for one side of the room (if I decide to sit at the desk).

Prior to the pandemic, I would have a monthly lunch get together with a college classmate, but we haven’t done that since March of last year, and with the way things are going—it could easily be March of next year (or possibly 2023) before we may be able to get together for lunch again.

So, since I’ve decided to stay in semi self-isolation, my goals for the Virgo New Moon period will include:

  1. I’m going to take inventory of various aspects of life (research/writing/editing, crafts/hobbies, fitness, mental health/spirituality, and finances) and work on developing a working schedule that will allow me to be productive, but at the same time enjoy time outside as well.
  2. Continue with daily workouts (either alternate between weightlifting and shadow-boxing ro stream Morning Meltdown 100)
  3. In combination with the first goal–organize the schedule, and work at blocking out periods of time (or assign certain tasks to certain days) and see if that helps improve my productivity
  4. Work on completing the third and fourth goal from the Leo New Moon goal list
    • Determine the top five to ten types of freelance/remote/contract writing that I would like to do and start drafting examples of each. Also start drafting my ‘own’ medical content pieces.
    • Determine the top five to fifteen items/sponsors/affiliates and so-forth for the other three ‘blocks’ of my business foundation
  5. Continue with the evening meditation and start trying to incorporate them into the morning as well.

My focus moving forward has been ‘Progress over Perfection’, and while it has been a bumpy and windy road, I feel like it is now allowing me to start writing the next chapter of my life (since I’ve stopped reading the last one). I also know that I may have to take an ‘in-person’ job at some point to help make ends meet until I really can get the whole online/freelance/remote/contract writing/consulting/blogging career up and running.

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Looking back at the ongoing personal and professional development adventures

So, the moon will be heading into the next new moon cycle tomorrow night (or possibly Monday night—depending on where you are in the world). That means I should look back at the goals I set for the Cancer new moon and see how I did with them, before looking ahead to the Leo new moon.

So what were my goals for the Cancer new moon? They included:

  1. Continuing with the ‘next adventures’ of my personal/professional development board game: reading two to three books (‘Why You’re Stuck’ by Derek Doepker, ‘More of Less’ by Josh Becker), work through a copy-writing course, and start drafting some science posts/pages.
  2. Figure out the answers to the following questions/points that I raised when trying to create a financial plan: (1) what are the different ways that I can earn money; (2) what would the ‘minimal monthly earnings’ be for each areas’ and (3) will it stay a online/remote/contract/freelancing/consulting/blogging mixture or will it be a hybrid (online and in person).
  3. Use the answers from above to slowly create a new 12-month goal/plan for the various areas of my life.
  4. Continue with my evening meditations/sitting quietly moments.
  5. Continue with my oracle card challenge and doing my evening readings/drawings as well.

So how did I do with each of them?

  1. I’m still working through the ‘current adventures’ of my personal/professional development board game. I’m currently halfway through ‘More of Less’ by Josh Becker, and just a little ways into ‘Why You’re Stuck’ by Derek Doepker. I’m slowly working through the different copy-writing courses, and I have an outline for my ‘troubleshooting tips for molecular cloning’ writing project completed.
  2. Last night I did a double post on how I was going to try to simplify my life and at the same time ways I was going to try to diversify my earnings. The initial four methods are going to be: freelance writing, affiliate marketing/advertising revenue/sponsored content; selling photographs; and creating/selling jewelry (and possibly some tee shirts). I’m still working on figuring out what the ‘minimal monthly earnings’ would be for each area (and I also realize that they may change month to month, especially as I’m just starting out). Currently I’m aiming for strictly online/remote/contract/freelance work since there are various variants of the SARS-CoV2 virus still spreading throughout the US and the world.
  3. This will actually be accomplished over the next week or so, since my ‘pillars’ for diversifying my income were only chosen over the past week or so. I also need to work on my ‘vision’ statement as well–basically try to answer the question of where do I see myself in say three, five, ten, or even twenty years.
  4. I’ve been doing well with the evening meditations or periods of just sitting quietly and focusing on my breathing.
  5. I’d been pretty good at the oracle card challenge, up until this past week. Currently I’m basically five days behind ‘schedule’ and I am thinking of doing a four-to-five card spread to ‘catch’ up and end it (currently) at 30 days. While I enjoyed doing the challenge, it has started to lose its enjoyment and is starting to feel like something I ‘have to do’ instead of something I want to be doing. The evening card drawings have been going okay–though I’m thinking of trying to move them to the mornings so that I can reflect on them throughout the day.

So, I focused more on the mental health goals this month compared to the professional development goals. I’ve realized what one of the triggers of my anxiety is–trying to set goals that are years in the future. The reason: I’m still ‘afraid’ of making the wrong decision in terms of my life, therefore I overthink things to the point of almost not doing anything.

The only way to face that ‘fear’ is to slowly move in the direction of change, and while I say ‘slowly’—I’m talking about working on ‘change’ daily (brainstorming ideas, research, writing, editing, and so forth), so that the anxiety starts to dull and hopefully only spikes then for ‘real’ threats. I’ve already started ‘slow’—I managed to get a volunteer medical content writing position, and I’m learning quite a bit from the editor and position (especially that writing 1000 words is harder than it looks when you need to limit the amount of scientific jargon you use).

So, the personal/professional development adventures will continue—hopefully I will be done with at least one of the books within a week or so, I will also have hopefully worked through part of at least one writing course, and have found five to ten resources/references for my ‘troubleshooting tips for molecular cloning’ writing project. I’m pretty certain that I can develop a ‘year’ plan that can be extended and revised as I met (or change) goals and benchmarks.

Progress is never a straight line, it can curve, fold back, and zigzag along—you just need to trust in the process and continue moving forward. Compared to where I was mentally three years ago—I’ve made strides in putting myself first, I need to continue those strides, but also work on creating a community as well.

What strides have you made over the past few years?

No Comments AstrologycareerfinancesHealthNew Moon Goalsno spend challengesoracle cardsPersonal DevelopmentPhotographyprofessional 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

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?

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Did the brain-dump, meditation, & slowly figuring other things out

So we’re going to be heading into the third full moon of the year tomorrow. The moon will be entering the Libra constellation, and it will also be the first super moon of the year.

But before I can look ahead to the Libra full moon, I need to look back at the goals that I set for the Virgo full moon and see how I did with each of them.

So what were my goals for the Virgo full moon? They included:

Meditating nightly, and hopefully catching and re-framing negative thoughts into more positive thoughts.

Trying to do a monthly ‘brain-dump’–getting all ideas out of my head on what I would like to get accomplished during hte month (for example-March), and then selecting ideas from the list to put on my weekly to-be accomplished list. Have it such that it is a mix of various things instead of focusing solely on one area.

Continue working on the transition plan–try to figure out which industry positions are of interest and start trying to network again.

So how did I do with each of them?

In terms of nightly meditations–I’ve been doing really well with these. I’ve found that right now the best combination is that I have my ‘noise maker’ going, the lights off, and candles lit. I can usually quiet my mind for a few minutes.

Re-framing the thoughts is always going to be an ongoing battle. I’ve realized that most of the time, the negative thoughts have become ‘background’ noise in my head and I usually have ‘tuned-it out’ aka I don’t realize what I’m thinking. I’m now trying to tie emotions to thoughts and when I start feeling anxious I then try to tune in to the thoughts.

I managed to do a ‘monthly brain dump’ for March at the end of February. It has been helpful in terms of ideas for blog posts (or at least reminding myself of recurring posts), blog/website pages or both. While there is one section of the brain dump that hasn’t had items marked out–I did make a massive list of ideas, with the understanding that I probably wasn’t going to be able to cover everything on the list. Some ideas/topics may make it onto the ‘monthly brain dump’ for April.

So in terms of the transition plan–this is still currently a work in progress, and since I’m not sure if I’m going to stick with trying to be remote/freelance/online or possible a mix of online and in-person I haven’t started networking more yet. Though I’m leaning more and more towards the idea of something that can be semi-location independent and it has flexible hours so that I can also focus on me.

I’ve decided that those are going to be two of the most important aspects of moving forward—the location and the ability to semi-control my schedule. Since I’ve acknowledge that I have a terrible habit of prioritizing one aspect of life over others, I’m slowly starting to bring that back into a balance—and I don’t want to lose that balance.

Therefore I don’t want a job that is going to require me commuting more than say 45-60 minutes per direction (that’s saying I’m willing to lose 1.5-2 hours a day or 7.5-10 hours a week commuting), and one that I can safely leave work at work (even when I decide to go solo—I’m going to ‘create’ an home office where work will stop at 5:30 every day).

As I had mentioned in a Linkedin post last week: I’m focusing on figuring out the direction (or possibly directions) to go in that will allow me to continuously learn, be challenged, have fun, but also have flexible hours and be semi-location independent.

While that may not sound like I made progress on the transition plan—I actually have—in starting to define what type of professional lifestyle I want and now I need to start figuring out (besides scientific writer, data analyst, and possibly project manager) what industry positions would be a good for my desired professional lifestyle.

Progress is being made and I’m slowly starting to stretch the comfort zone. Using my strengths and values as guiding points I may actually semi-figure out what I’m doing with the second half of my life.

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Ways my inner critic has been derailing my progress

So in a slight continuation of my last post on self-reflection and trying to stretch the comfort zone, I thought I’d share my reflections on my inner critic or imposter syndrome. To date–I haven’t named my inner critic, though I may name it at some point.

So in addition to doing the work of filling in my comfort/stretch/risk/die diagram, I was also wanting to see if I could notice any little habits that I had when I didn’t feel like doing something I know I should be doing. I figured if I could notice these habits, I was at least a step or two closer to dealing with inner critic dragging me back into the comfort zone.

So far that list is at five different things (that I’ve currently noticed over the past few weeks):

Constantly brushing my hair and looking for split ends to trim.

Scrolling through social media (namely Facebook) and amazon, plus checking my email constantly when I feel like I hit a mental ‘brick’ wall.

Turning to the kindle and either reading (or re-reading) a book, or deciding to do ‘just one more color by number picture’

With the weather warming up, I will go outside (usually after lunch) and sit at the patio table. I may or may not take anything outside with me, and if I do take something outside it is usually my camera.

Starting to outline (or write rough drafts) on different topics, and then ‘talk’ myself out of continuing through to a final publishable article.

So how am I working around these derailing habits?

In terms of ‘playing’ with my hair–I’m starting to braid it in the morning. While it doesn’t stop me from looking for split ends before braiding or later in the evening after washing my hair, it does keep me from doing it during the day. My thoughts were if I go through the trouble of braiding my hair, I won’t unbraid just to look for split ends. So far this has been working for me.

I will also possibly ‘stop’ the habit, whenever it is safe for me to go and get a haircut. Also by safe I mean that I’ve gotten the SARS-CoV2 vaccine, but will still wear a mask out in public. Since my last haircut was before the pandemic hit, my hair is the longest it has been in several years (just about to the bottom of my shoulder blades). So while I have this ‘habit’ under control, that is when I started noticing the other habits.

So in terms of trying to control the ‘mindless scrolling’ on the computer–I have downloaded an ‘time management’ app that is suppose to help with this issue. I haven’t used it yet, and the excuse for not using it is extremely flimsy: ‘since I randomly click back to Facebook or amazon or ‘whatever site’, how can I set a time period? I don’t know when I’ll be randomly wandering the web.’

I scroll though the web when I’m bored or feeling ‘stuck’ and wanting to ‘look’ productive. Also, most of the ‘groups’ that I’m in post on Facebook, but I can’t use that as an excuse for not being better at time management.

So what I’m going to do is 1) make a list of all the different groups I’m in on Facebook, and then make a schedule of when I ‘check-in’ on those groups (scrolling through, liking, commenting, and posting); 2) then based on that schedule-activate the time management app around it for Facebook. I should probably just have it set up to keep me off of amazon for majority of the day (or possibly only allow myself on it on the weekends); this will also help in limited spending challenge.

In terms of turning to the kindle constantly, the best way to deal with that habit will be to turn off the kindle and have it slightly out of sight (but still charging) for the day. The only times it may not be ‘out of sight’ will be the days when I decide to read (and possibly write out book reviews) outside during the nice weather.

That brings me to the biggest hurdle–nice weather. I like being outdoors when the weather is nice and warm (but not too terribly warm). My problem is actually not making proper use of the time outdoors. Sitting and daydreaming, or just sitting in general isn’t really the problem–the problem is doing those two things for several hours at a time.

So until it really becomes the gardening weather (where I can transplant some ground cover between different aresa of the yard, do basic yard work, or plant flowers and bushes), I will be trying to improve the time I spend outdoors.

I will either 1) have my laptop outside, sitting to where the sun doesn’t really hit the screen, to work on things for an hour or so (before having to take the laptop back in to charge); 2) have a notebook (or two) and just journal/write/doodle/sketch; 3) have my kindle and a journal with me and try to get at least one rough draft of a book review written; and finally 4) think of possibly investing in an iPad and have that outside for me to work on.

I will probably have my camera outside with me most day to work on my nature photography skills and possibly architecture photography skills as well.

In terms of the ‘writer’s block’–I’m acknowledging the fact that people may or may not read what I write and post. I realized this with the science recaps I did back in January–one had been viewed and the other one hadn’t been viewed. I’m still brainstorming what I think would be the best way to continue doing science new recaps, and having people actually read the article. Since I’m thinking of going in the direction of freelance writer and blogger–I have acknowledged the fact that it will take time to find my ‘tribe’ of people.

The best way for me to improve as a writer is to write and share my thoughts and views. Currently that has been mainly on the blog–some posts have people stop and read, others are just scrolled past. I also realize that I need to work through various courses that I’ve bought on different forms of writing (such as copy writing) and then figure out what ‘types’ of writing I want to focus on (say blog writing, copy writing, and possibly scientific/educational) and go from there.

So those are currently the five different ways that my inner critic/imposter syndrome use to keep me out of the stretch/risk/die zones and ‘safely’ within my comfort zone. My goal is to both continue edging into the stretch zone (and by definition stretch the comfort zone) and do it in such ‘small’ increments that I can trick my inner critic/imposter syndrome into believing that I’m sticking in the comfort zone.

Meeting this goal will require me to better at both time and project management, in addition to recognizing the current habits of my inner critic and keeping my senses tuned to any additional derailing habit that may pop up in the future.

Filling in the comfort/stretch/risk/die diagram and paying attention (and acknowledging) the distracting tactics of my inner critic means I’m holding true to one of the words that I picked for 2021: growth. Growth is also the internal acknowledgment of ‘blocks’ and working to either dismantle the ‘blocks’ or at least work around them.

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Reflections and stretching the comfort zone: personal & professional development

Since the weather was un-condusive to being outside for long periods of time last month (I know that it is still winter–but the temps were well below normal for both the time of year and location), I did quite a bit of self-reflection.

More or less mid-month, I had a conference call with one of my coaches, and then she taksed me with the assignment of filling in/out my own comfort/stretch/risk/die diagram.

She gave me the task, when after talking it became obvious that I was floundering due to my inner critic/imposter syndrome getting the better of me–almost daily.

I actually like this diagram/thinking model better than other ones that label the outer three zones as: fear/learning/growth. The reason–it lacks the word fear. With this diagram–you can continuously dip your toes into the something new, and slowly stretch your comfort zone to include them.

So, now moving forward I’m going to use this model of thinking instead of the other.

The purpose of drawing the diagram and filling in the areas allows one to see where they stand at any particular point on different areas. I decided to do a combination of personal and professional development for my diagram.

My comfort/stretch/risk/die diagram

In addition to having it a mix of personal and professional development, I decided that I would also list some of my various strengths around the edge as well. My strengths include: learner, intellection, input, achiever, deliberative/ideation/arranger (via Clifton Strengths Assessment), curiosity, creativity, and critical thinking (via VIA Character Assessment). This way as I slowly start moving into the stretch zone, I can also make sure that my strengths are guiding me.

So the professional comfort zone was pretty simple to fill in–it really only consisted of three things: research at the bench, being in academia, and trying to find a research (bench) position in industry.

Then when it came to my personal comfort zone–those were basically all hobbies.

Heading into the outer portions is where the self-reflection comes in, plus knowing that as I did things within one area (say the stretch zone), it would become part of the previous zone (comfort zone), and things can and will always be added.

The stretch zone is a mix of personal and professional development tasks. The professional development tasks lean more towards learning about different possible industry directions (such as clinical research, regulatory affairs, and project management) and certain skills (such as programming and technical/scientific writing).

I’ve listed various hobbies, in addition to working on improving my mental and spiritual health within the stretch zone as well.

The risk zone includes things like having a functional part-time (or three-quarter times) side business established, starting a podcast, and branching out in my writing.

The ‘die’ zone includes things like traveling abroad frequently, giving a talk (or talks) at a conference or other large venue, and going all in on working (100%) for myself.

Just filling in that diagram was enough for the inner critic/imposter syndrome to drage me back into my comfort zone for a day or two. Hell, it took me almost two days to respond to a comment on the post in a group because of my inner critic.

In addition to that assignment, I took it a slight step further and generated a list of topics that I would enjoy writing and/or learning about on a continuous basis. I’ve seen/heard it so many times that one should look at the books they’re currently reading, their purchase histories, their hobbies, and their educational background.

My current list of topics to explore

When I looked at mine, I came up with a list that ranges from science (with various subtopics), history (again with various subtopics), anthropology, and other ‘school subjects’ to bird watching, reading, photography, cooking, spirituality, and numerous different crafts.

When asked if this helped me break out of the ‘I seem to be stuck’ mode–the answer was yes, because it reminded me that I enjoy doing research. It also reminded me that research doesn’t have to be done at the bench–it can also be done in books and via computers.

I told my coach that I was going to start looking at things as ‘research projects/papers’–do a survey of the surface, figure out what interests me, and then deep dive into the topic for awhile.

Truthfully this has been one of my biggest sticking points–trying to just choose one or two directions for a possible career change. I’ve realized over the past year that since graduating high school the things I enjoyed the most were: 1) undergrad–since there was such a large variety of classes one could take. It did take me awhile to get finished, but I was paying my own way–therefore I took classes I needed for the major in addition to classes that were of interest; 2) my first staff position (though there were some troublesome coworkers)–the main focus was helping with undergraduate research, so I had to have at least a brief understanding of the different projects that were going on in the department.

While I’ve been edging into the stretch zone (I have a blog up and running, and I’ve been getting better at evening meditations), I will still find myself being pulled back into the comfort zone (hence why I haven’t figured out the best posting schedule for the blog) before I edge back into the stretch zone.

Even with having a list of topics to start choosing from (knowing that I could add, and go more in depth with certain topics)–my inner critic/imposter syndrome managed to drag my ass back into my comfort zone for basically another week. The problem–I had too many ideas to choose from and I couldn’t decide between starting a history post/section, adding to the science section, or maybe focusing on book reviews.

The solution–I decided I would try to do a monthly ‘brain-dump’ of ideas and then pick a handful each week to work on.

March ‘Brain-Dump’

Doing this allowed me to still have a ‘choice’ of what I could research and write about—but from a pared down list. It is similar to how I decided to go about my non fiction reading and e-courses that I wanted to finish for the year.

The initial large list had sent me into ‘analysis-paralysis’, where the smaller list makes it easier for me to do things.

While it is a large list, I’m also comfortable with the fact that I many not cover or get to every topic on the list. The science (and history) topics are going to require a more in-depth outline and research time compared to the bird pages and blog posts.

Do things this way, will hopefully allow me to start stretching the comfort zone, moving the ‘risk’ to ‘stretch’ and contemplate on what other topics/ideas/things could be added to the ‘risk’ or ‘die’ zones.

I’m also going to be doing updates on the diagrams–probably in either three or four month increments, which means the first update will somewhere between mid-May to mid-June.

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February’s Virgo Full Moon: ‘brain dumps’ plus mental & spiritual health goals

So the moon will be entering its full stage tonight as it enters the Virgo constellation. Unlike last year–there isn’t a triple whammy this year (last year was a full moon, setting the clocks ahead an hour, and Friday the 13th all within the same week). Luckily we still have two weeks before we have to set the clocks ahead (that will be followed by a new moon this year), plus we only have one Friday the 13th and that is in November.

If you’re one who tries to understand how your mood changes or is affected by the moon–the Virgo full moon usually has people feeling finicky and anxious. Personally–I don’t need any extra anxiety in my life; I manage to manifest enough of it on my own. Though no matter what I sign I go with (star, rising, or moon)–all three are able to handle the Virgo energy.

My star is Virgo, my rising is Scorpio, and my moon is Pisces; two water signs and an earth sign.

So what are some questions that one can ask during this full moon?

Have I been too picky, pedantic, or critical of myself or anyone else?

Have I been humble to the point of underrating myself?

Have i been of service to others enough this month?

Have I been worrying and complaining too much, and thus attracting negativity?

Have I paid enough attention to the details that I need to this month?

If I were to number the above questions 1-5, my answers would look like:

  1. I don’t think that I’ve been too picky, pedantic, or critical of others (I haven’t been around anyone other than family for a year). Though my overall critical views/thoughts of the world really haven’t changed all that much (though I’m calmer now that adults have been elected and sworn in for the US). In terms of how I see myself? I probably have been a little too pedantic and critical of myself lately. I’ve realized that I’m still allowing my inner critic/imposter syndrome to get the better of me quite frequently. This is something that I have to be watching for on a day-to-day basic and correct it as I catch it (in addition to trying to figure out why I’m slowly self-sabotaging myself).
  2. Another things that I’ve realized over the past year or so is that I have a terrible habit of trying to be a people pleaser (in a way that tries to downplay or mitigate any conflicts), and therefore I haven’t been protecting my time or space. How does that tie in with humbleness–I prefer being in the background and not center stage. Moving forward (either working for myself or going into industry) I need to start tooting my own horn and showing/highlighting my own worth.
  3. I have been doing more of the house chores, and am slowly also taking on more of the cooking chores as well at home. Hopefully with the fact that there are now several vaccines for the coronavirus, I may try to find a part time job later this fall/winter if I haven’t already transitioned into industry or started working for myself full-time.
  4. I’ve realized that at times I do worry/complain about the state of the world. This is something I’ve been trying to work on–worrying only about the things that are actually within my control (namely how I react to everything). I also realized that the negative self-thoughts are a litte harder to catch at times–but it is something that I’m working on daily. Also, it isn’t all negative self-thoughts, but at times actions as well that need to be caught and corrected.
  5. Well this depends on the situation. If we’re talking about the overall details of what I would like to accomplish in a given month–no I haven’t been giving enough attention to details. One of the things that I’m going to start doing is a monthly ‘brain dump’–getting all the ideas of what I would like to accomplish for the month on to paper, and then sorting that list into weekly and daily to-do lists. That way hopefully I will be spending time on all aspects of life and not just zeroing in on one thing and ignoring everything else (like I’ve been known to do).

So, one other thing that people should do is look at what house the moon is moving thorugh as well. For me (using my rising sign), the Virgo full moon is moving through my 11th house or my friend zone. Therefore, the period of the Virgo full moon is also a time to try to focus on the other people in my life, in addition to building and nurturing one’s personal and professional networks as well.

I really haven’t been doing nearly as much networking/connecting as I should be doing since I’m trying to transition into a new position. The reason may seem silly to some people–since I’m not 100% certain of what I want to be doing, I also don’t want to be ‘wasting’ other peoples’ time in informational interviews if I don’t feel like that is the direction I want to go in–but I also know that having informational interviews will help me decide on the direction. Like I said–not logical, but there you have it (one of the many ways my inner critic/imposter syndrome manages to trip me up).

While I have some ideas of what I would like to do moving forward, I am also in that ‘daily struggle’ with my inner critic/imposter syndrome to start dabbling in the stretch zone and start expanding the ‘comfort zone’. Therefore networking is going to be getting done, but at a slower pace than what I was doing this time last year.

So what goals can I set for the Virgo full moon?

Meditating nightly, journaling in the morning, and slowly figuring out how to find balance with the inner critic/imposter syndrome

Try doing a ‘monthly brain dump’–getting all the ideas of what I would like to get accomplished during the month (say for March), and then selecting ideas from the list to put on a weekly and daily to-do lists. Have it such that it is a mix of various things instead of focusing only on one area.

Continue working on the transition plan–figuring out which industry directions are of interest and start trying to network again.

But keeping in mind: that 2021 will be the year of growth, creativity, and curiosity, the combination of which will lead to happiness and prosperity.

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