Tag: multipotentialite

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?

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Two months left in the year–reviewing how October went

So October is over—we had Halloween, a full moon, plus had to set the clocks back an hour (what could go wrong???). The US presidential elections are in just a few days (fingers crossed that the election goes the way I want it to), and there are only 61 days left in the year.

Last month I tried the experiment of “scheduling” time for both checking my email and being on social media (namely facebook, instagram, and twitter)—the experiment lasted about a week and a half. I’m not doing it quite as often (at least checking mail), but also I didn’t like the ‘structure’ of it—what if I felt like it was the best time to post/share something?? So time management (in terms of email and majority of social media) is still a work in progress (especially on the weekend).

The US still hasn’t gotten the virus under control—when I published ‘September in Review’ I noted that the US had over 7.4 million cases and now the US is a little over 9.4 million cases (that is an increase of over 2 million cases in a month). With elections just a few days away, it will be interesting to see how it turns out—I’m hoping the way I want, that way the virus can be brought under control and then travel may be possible by sometime late 2021 or early 2022. I’m still planning on at least (hopefully) one mental health trip somewhere.

So as we head into the last two months of 2020, I should look back on the goals that I set for October and see how I did with each of them.

The goals for October included:

At least 155,000 steps (breakdown to 5K/day; daily step goal may go up, but again that depends on the daily number of virus cases in town)

Continuing with the combo calendar of Yoga Booty Ballet and LIIFT4

Read (or finish) at least 2 non-fiction books

No spend days/no spend weeks/no spend month

Finish the Medical Writers Organization

Complete at least one other e-course that deals with python

Then complete at least two other short e-courses

So how did I do with each one?

At least 155,000 steps (breakdown to 5K/day; daily step goal may go up, but again that depends on the daily number of virus cases in town)

            I managed to hit and surpass my goal of at least 155,000 steps. I actually managed to get in 223,675 steps for the month. Some days were slightly under 5K and other days were usually between 6-9K steps. The main thing going forward I need to do is figure out things to do during the day that will have me moving around more than me sitting on my ass.

Continuing with the combo calendar of Yoga Booty Ballet and LIIFT4

I’ve been continuing with my calendar—though I have taken a week break from Yoga Booty Ballet. This was mainly because I was feeling so tired and blah. I will still be able to finish on time next month, since I had actually added in an extra week of Yoga Booty Ballet to the entire calendar. Plus I can always add in a couple of days of Yoga Booty Ballet to the next program as well.

Read (or finish) at least 2 non-fiction books

I managed to finish the following books:

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

            This was one book that was bought mainly because of the title originally. While I’ve been on my reboot break and contemplating what I want to do with my life, nothing was actually jumping out at me as the direction I wanted to go in—and I finally realized why—I’m a multipotentialite. In other words I need to have several different things going at once to keep happy.

            Which is why looking back, I enjoyed college so much—I had a wide range of classes to chose from and was able to figure out a major (actually 2) and a minor that allowed me to have variety during the day. Grad school allowed me to dive deep into a subject, the first post-doc allowed me to dive a little deeper, and then I totally switched with the second post-doc and then following staff scientist positions.

            While I could have stayed in academia and figured out a way to be multipotentialite—I’m happy that I figured it out on my reboot break. There is one quote that really sticks out to me from this book and it was “We let the fear of being judged keep us stuck in careers that no longer serve us, and identities that no longer fit [us]”. That totally sums up the last few years of my life professionally—since I’m still uncertain about how I’m going to do my transition into industry, I let the fear of judgment keep me in academia longer than I wanted to be there.

Two other little pieces of advice that I’m taking from the book: 1) It is impossible to actually be the best; and 2) if you were an actual imposter—you wouldn’t get imposter syndrome.

I’m going to be taking nuggets of information from various books and blending them together and forging my own path forward.

            I’m giving this a five out of five star review.

‘Don’t keep your day job: turn your passion into your career’ by Cathy Heller

            One thing I liked about this book was that there were numerous self-reflection questions one can ask themselves when trying to figure out what passion to try to turn into a career, and that there are also four different roles that one can take: creator, teacher, curator, and investigator. Currently—I’m still investigating which of the four I think would be the best fit for myself.

            There are also questions to ask about creating a side hustle, and steps that one should take for starting that journey. The two core things I’ve found the most helpful: be yourself on social media (which I try to do anyway), and then I’m also working on trying to identify the 9 to 12 categories that are most dominant in my life—as those are the categories I should be creating my content around.

            And the one quote I’m taking with me from this book is “Use your fears to fuel you and raise your standards to the life you believe you deserve”.

            I would give this a five out of five star review.

No spend days/no spend weeks/no spend month

There have been a couple days where I did spend some money—not as many days as I’ve had previously, but I still haven’t worked up to a totally no-spend month. Most days it was just a few e-books—but it did add up by the end of the month. One goal for the coming year is to actually try to minimize my spending and see how many days I can go without buying something.

Finish the Medical Writers Organization

            Currently I have finished the first two modules and I’m halfway through module 3. I’m hoping to have this program finished by mid to late November.

Complete at least one other e-course that deals with python

            This didn’t happen. I spent more of the month reading than I did working through e-courses.

Then complete at least two other short e-courses

            This didn’t happen. I spent more time reading and being outside (since we are now heading towards winter, there won’t be many days left that are nice for sitting outside).

I’m working on self-compassion and realizing that even if I don’t meet every goal for the month—I’m still making progress. I managed to finish two books, continue with my workout schedule, and get an additional almost 69,000 steps in this month.

I have to keep reminding myself that I shouldn’t be concerned with the opinions of others—there are going to be people who like me, who hate me, and everywhere in between. It is time to start living my life on my terms, following my dreams, and working towards fulfilling my goals and aspirations and no one else’s dreams/goals/ambitions.

Goals for November will include:

At least 130-150,000 steps—I’ve realized that as it gets colder, I’m less likely to take my dog out for a walk and I usually am sitting more than anything during those days. Therefore I’m going to have to figure out something to do (possibly put on movies or something and march in place to get the steps).

Finish up the combo calendar of Yoga Booty Ballet & LIIFT4; then start 10 Rounds (which is 6 weeks and should take me right up to Christmas), with a little Yoga Booty Ballet tossed in here and there

Read (or finish) at least 2 non-fiction books

No spend days/no spend weeks/no spend month

Finish the Medical Writers Organization program

Get half way through either the Management Consultant Firm or the Project Management Consortium programs

Start working through at least one e-course that deals with Python

Complete at least two other short e-courses

Start refreshing Spanish

Any small step is still a step towards progress and achieving my goals/vision. I’m reminding myself daily that going all-out and full-speed ahead is what almost brought me crashing into that metaphoric wall. Now I’m trying to slow down and ask myself—does this actually align with something I want—and not what someone else may want for me?

2020 may not be going the way I wanted it to go—but I know I can head into 2021 curving towards the direction I want to be going in—I just need to keep taking the baby steps towards that direction.

While reminding myself: “Progress over Perfection”, “You can’t start the next chapter of your life if you keep re-reading the last one”, and “Not caring what other people think is the best choice you will ever make”.

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