Tag: SelfReflection

Not quite the “learning zone”, not quite the “comfort zone” and a book review to top it off

So I’ve been doing quite a bit of self-assessment over the past couple of weeks. This has basically been looking back over all the notes that I’ve taken over the past year or so—and I can say that my NSV (non-scale victory) is admitting that I’ve been stuck in the “fear zone” for basically the past five years or so (maybe less depending on the aspect of life).

So where does this “fear zone” come from? I decided to look into “ideas” on how to get from the “comfort zone” into the “learning zone” and saw an image that showed there is actually an addition zone between those two—and that additional zone is the “fear zone”.

So the Comfort Zone is basically where everyone feels safe, content, and in control of their situations. Everyone says that you need to get out of your comfort zone in order to learn and live your best life—which is great, but what no one ever mentions is that between the comfort zone and the learning zone is the fear zone.

I recently realized that I’ve been stuck in this “fear zone” for quite a while. The “fear zone” is where you’re worried about what others will think of what you’re doing, you have a feeling low self confidence (since you’re stepping out of your comfort zone), and you’re more than willing to find excuses to get out of things.  So looking back at things—I have to be totally honest in that I’ve been in the middle of the fear zone in several different areas of my life:

            Health and fitness—I had managed to lose quite a bit of weight in 2013 (and early 2014), only to have life throw numerous different curveballs at me. Instead of hitting (or punting) or catching the balls—I used everything that came at me as an “excuse” or roadblock that I just sat and stared at for years. Now, that I’ve acknowledged that I’ve allowed myself to be stuck in the fear zone—I’m going to move into the learning zone. It will be slow, and I may slide back every so often—but I need to keep moving forward. It has taken me basically five years to pack on the pounds—it will take me months, if not a couple of years to get rid of the weight (and to keep it off) the healthy way.

            Career—I’ve given my time in academia (it has been almost ten years since I graduated with my PhD), but have realized that I am not willing to put something first (the job) over my health (especially my mental health). To make it in academia these days, you basically have to put in twelve to sixteen hour days six to seven days a week. To be considered for an entry-level professor position, you almost have to have the resume of someone who has been in the field for twenty to thirty years longer than you’ve been alive.

                        This has been a hard mindset to get out of—I’ve been raised in an academia household (my father is a professor at my alma mater), so I’ve been around the whole academic professor job field my entire life. I remember when I was younger, I wanted to have my own lab and be doing marine biology research—well, obviously that didn’t happen. Being honest with myself, the main reasons for my stagnant job transition is a lack of self-confidence in being able to compete with others for the jobs (I also know that this is really just imposter syndrome talking), and the opinions of others (basically them wondering/inquiring why it took me so long to either a) decide to leave academia and b) to finally manage to leave academia).

I can also then tie in my anxiety and depression somewhat into the fear zone as well. Though to be honest, the depression isn’t totally tied in with the fear zone—2018 was a horrid year (we lost three dogs, two within a span of four days) over all and I spent most of 2019 slowly working my way out of the deep depression dip I found myself in. I’m not totally out of it—but I’m further than I was three or four months ago.

So I want to now move into the “learning zone”—which is the zone where you are acquiring new skills, extending your comfort zone (while hopefully shrinking the fear zone), and being able to deal with challenges and problems that come up day to day. How am I going to do that? Simple—small, baby steps until them become routine and become bigger and bigger steps into the learning zone.

Starting with small things, and at times possibly silly things for me is the best way to show myself that I can deal with various different things. It has been shown that having a disorganized, clutter environment can have a negative effect on your mood and health. So I’m going to be slowly working on organizing and decluttering various parts of the house—I’ve actually started this over the weekend, I’m working on my bathroom. Once I have that room cleaned and organized I’ll move on to another (while slowly working on my bedroom at the same time). I’m actually trying to embrace the idea of less is more—i.e. semi-minimalism.

I just finished reading the book “The 12 week year: get more done in 12 weeks than others do in 12 months” by Brian P. Moran and Michael Lennington. One of the things that I’m going to be doing is trying to implement the idea of the 12-week year starting in March (I decided that I probably will need about two weeks to work through the exercises and plan things out)—but having a written plan will help more than just my usual winging and hoping that things fall into place.

So the 12-week year is the idea that instead of trying to set annual goals—and having no way of knowing if the processes will work four or five months down the road, you have your larger “why” or vision. You then break the goals down to ones that you focus on for 12 weeks at a time—not every goal, but one or two. At the end of the 12 weeks, you gauge where you are at in terms of how you performed over the past 12 weeks, and how much closer you are to the larger goals. Then during the next 12 weeks, you focus on the next task or two that will continue to move you towards your larger goal.

One of my problems has always been setting future goals, but at the same time not always breaking them down monthly or weekly. The only one that I think I’ve broken down that way is the step goal (and currently I will be having to rework that one, since I’ve been sedentary more than I would like to admit for the past six weeks or so).

This way I will be able to focus on different aspects of life (career/job transition, health/fitness, personal/professional development and crafts) at the same time—knowing that I’m going to be going after the little steps that will merge several of the paths into one. The next few weeks will be trying to figure out the best metrics for measuring the success of moving forward in the job transition (I already have ideas for how to measure the other areas), and then writing out the first 12-week year and my first weekly tracker(s).

Hopefully by implementing the idea of a 12-week year, I will be able to move out of the “fear zone” and into the “learning zone”.  I know that I will probably have a week or two where I slid backwards—but with the tracking, I will know and then be able to readjust and continue moving forward. Because one of the quotes for the year is “progress not perfection”.

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A review of August’s Aquarius Full Moon Goals

So the moon is going to be transitioning into Pisces either last night (which makes it a full moon on Friday the 13th) or tonight—but it all depends on where you are in the world. So September is almost halfway over, and in a week or so I’ll be staring down my last year of my thirties.

But for now, it means looking back at the goals that I set during the Aquarius full moon, and seeing how I did with each of them.

My goals for the Aquarius Full Moon included:

            Evening meditations

            Getting back into a workout routine

            Working on my reboot break and transition plans

So how did I do with each of them?

I’ve been okay at doing my evening meditations, even if it is only for two or three minutes, though there might have been a night or two that I skipped my meditations. I’m slowly being able to focus more on my breathing than the thoughts racing through my mind. Though I’m still working on the length of time I spend meditating—there are some nights where I can’t seem to focus and that’s okay. Still working on trying to find the quiet spot at work that I can go, sit and just be for a while (without anyone really knowing where I am, but at the same time not leaving campus). So this is still a minor work in progress.

Currently my workout routine has been mainly walking either on campus during the week, or walking around Boomer Lake on the weekends (the temperatures are finally decent in the mornings for a walk). I still want to get back into a resistance/cardio routine, but so far haven’t figure out the best timing with only about an hour and half between getting off of work, getting home, doing chores and then dinner time. After dinner, I have my evening routine before winding down before bed. So—yes I know that there are twenty-four hours in the day, and that I should easily be able to carve out thirty to forty minutes for a workout—I just haven’t figure out that time period/point yet.

In terms of my reboot break, it should be starting in roughly ten weeks—this is the approximate time in which my current job contract ends. Ending a job (without another set up) right before the holidays may seem strange and crazy—but that is exactly what I need to do. I need to mainly focus on myself and things that will help me go forward, and while I could probably gain a little more expertise in my current position (by taking on more responsibilities), there are no promotions or career movements within the position.

The first week of the reboot break will be semi-relaxing (mainly towards the end—which is the holidays), but at the beginning I’m going to try to get some of my storage unit in order (start repacking boxes that are falling apart), and seeing what I can maybe get rid of or sell. At the same time, I’m going to try to start paring back on the belongings I have at my parents’ place—that way when I do find a job, it won’t take that long to move the other belongings to storage unit (and that way easier to get on the moving truck).

After getting things in order, that is when I plan on devoting more time to personal/professional development and my transition plan. I have ideas of what I would possibly like to do outside of academia—I have a list of different skills for each of those areas, and have actually started to highlight what I think are the skills I should possibly try to start learning on my own.

The biggest thing though is going to be starting to network and be more active on linkedin, and figuring out where I would like to live and work (biotech hubs), and go from there. I’m hoping that by mid-December I’ll have at least three different ideas down on paths I would like to possibly take—and then I’ll have to start working my way on the three paths and see where they lead me in 2020.

So small steps were made with all three goals this past month. I’m thinking that I might start trying to track things in a journal again, but limit what I have listed daily. That way instead of trying to tackle four or five different areas everyday I can focus on one or two, and then the next day a different set. This will help curtail both the boredom that at times arises, and also the anxiety of trying to get too many things done in a very short period of time.

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