Tag: SelfReflection

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

Reflected and organized–planning still to be done: Review of Libra Full Moon Goals

So April is almost over, and that means that we will be heading towards the fourth full moon of the year on Monday. It seems taht time dragged by this time last year, but is speeding by this year. I’m not sure if it’s due to having a competent federal administration (at least at the executive level) and/or getting the pandemic slowly under control. But before I can look ahead to the next full moon, I need to look back at the goals that I set for the Libra full moon and reflect on how I did with each of them.

While it wasn’t a ‘goal’ per-say, I did managed to get a picture of the moon with my camera and longer lens (not the greatest, but not bad for the first time either):

March’s Libra Super Full Moon

So now back to the goals that I set for the Libra full moon? They included:

Working on my focal points (idea from the book ‘The Renaissance Soul: How to make your passions your life–a creative and practical guide’ by Margaret Lobensteine). Either ‘focus’ them more (making them more specific) or at least have my ‘whys’ added to them.

Create the ‘April brain-dump’ page; basically try to get all ideas and thoughts for the month of April onto paper. Giving me some direction for the month, plus allowing me to see what posts/pages I would like to create.

Continue working through various personal and professional development courses. Probably wouldn’t hurt to develop at least a rough draft of a personal/professional development plan.

So how did I do with each of them?

In terms of working on my focal points, while I didn’t make them any more specific, I did add my current ‘whys’ to each of them.

My evolving focal points plan

While I decided to keep the focal points semi-vague, I added in my ‘strengths’, core values, and my current ‘whys’ for each fo the five focal points. Keeping the focal points slightly vague was an attempt to try and keep my inner critic/imposter syndrome in check. I had spent a couple of weeks staring at the focal points and trying to make them more specific, but then I remembered 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 Emile Wapnick:

“When you lose interest in something, you must always consider the possibility that you’ve gotten what you came for; you have 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”.

I felt like this passage could almost sum up the past twenty years of my life, and I wish I had spent more time in my 20s trying to figure out my life, instead of just going with the flow. Going with the flow can either lead you in the right direction–or carry you so far off your path, you have no choice by to start foraging a new one. Truthfully, I find myself in the second category–having to forage a new path to try to connect back to my ‘original’ path that I deviated from decades ago.

I created my ‘April brain-dump’ page almost as soon as I finished writing the Libra Full Moon post. In terms of making use of it–only a few things have actually been crossed-off/highlighted. I think this was due in part to the weather slowly warming up–I like to spend time outdoors when it is nice, and the other part were the more subtle ways of my inner critic/imposter syndrome pulling me back into my comfort zone.

While I have noticed different ways that I ‘self-sabotage’ myself at times, and with even having ideas on how to deal with those issues–I still fell into those habits this past month. I spent way too much time either surfing social media and/or amazon, plus reading various fiction books (I was pretty much binge reading the Fatal series by Marie Force to get ready for State of Affairs that came out on the 20th).

I’m going to actually try and make use of the one ‘time-management’ app that I downloaded earlier this year (it is called Self Control), and see if I can get more things accomplished in May than I did in April. As I sit here writing this post, I realize that I probably should have been making use of the app for a couple of months–but I allowed my inner critic/imposter syndrome to keep me from activating it with their best ‘lie’: ‘what if there is another webinar or whatever being announced, if you have the site ‘inactive’ you’ll miss hearing about it’. Well–I’m going to take that risk that I will miss out on hearing about something right away.

In terms of working through any personal or professional development course–yeah, that didn’t happen this month. Again it was a combination of the weather getting nicer (therefore wanting to be outside more), and having managed to work myself in a decent anxiety attack with trying to develop a personal/professional development plan (therefore having then ‘shut down’ for most of the month).

I’ve realized that I’m still struggling with trying to define any type of long term goal (basically where do I see myself in ‘X’ years), both professionally and personally–which makes trying to create any type of long-term plan difficult. While I can keep most things vague–I realize that I should try to make a semi-focused long term goal of say 5 years (which is something that I’m slowly working on), and also realize/embrace is the fact that the goal can (and probably will) slowly start changing as I really start figuring out what I really do enjoy doing on a daily basis.

So while I only had three goals set for the Libra full moon, I managed to meet (at least in part) two of the three goals. I added my ‘whys’ to my focal points, and did a ‘brain-dump’ of ideas for the month. I also realized that I tend to start having ‘problems’ getting more things done once the weather starts getting nice and I want to be outdoors more than I want to be indoors. This means that I will need need to try to get all the computer work done in the morning/evenings, or set up an ‘outdoor’ space for working. I will also start making use of the ‘self-control’ app to keep me from scrolling through various sites all day instead of working. Though as I look at what I’ve managed to accomplish (and what I had hoped to accomplish) this month (and year) to date–I realize, that I can ‘start’ the year over at any time. So that is what I will be trying to do: I will use this last week of April to reflect and plan for a ‘new year’ and May will become the new starting point.

This is allowing me to keep with the following quotes: ‘Progress over Perfection’ and ‘You can’t start the next chapter of your life if you keep re-reading the last chapter’. Progress, no matter how small will add up over time, and will carry one forward–the biggest hurdle is just getting started.

No Comments AstrologyFull Moon GoalsPersonal Developmentprofessional developmentReflections

‘CIZED IT UP’: Looking back at the Pisces New Moon Goals

So we’ve entered April, and will soon be having the fourth new moon of the year (either tonight or tomorrow). Having a competent administration to deal with the ‘fires’ from the last administration, seem to be making the days and months go by faster this year.

So before I look ahead to the next new moon (Aries), it is time to look back at the goals that I set for the Pisces new moon and see how I did with each of them.

The goals for the Pisces New Moon included:

  1. Continue with CIZE–while it isn’t belly dancing, it is a dance program. It may teach me how to use my two ‘left’ feet before I try to find a free belly dancing program.
  2. Doodle sketch a cross-stitch pattern and work on cross-stitching this month.
  3. Finish patching the one afghan and start making a patch (or patches) for the second afghan.
  4. Continue with an evening meditation routine and try to meditate in the morning as well.
  5. Dream ‘big’ on where I would like to be in say 3-5 years and start making plans/goals for getting there.

So how did I do with each of them?

  1. I stuck with CIZE and actually am ‘finished’ with my first round. I say ‘finished’ because I didn’t totally follow the schedule for the program, but tried each routine at least once, include additional dance routines that were added to the program as ‘bonus’ workouts.
  2. I totally forgot that I was going to try to start working on a cross-stitch project this month.
  3. While I have a patch on the one afghan–I still need to finish stitching around the hole, and I haven’t started making the other patches for the larger afghan.
  4. For the most part I’ve been good with doing evening meditations before bed, though I haven’t really been able to get into the habit of meditating in the mornings yet.
  5. The ‘dream big’ goal–yeah, it hasn’t happened yet. The reason–good ole’ inner critic/imposter syndrome; while I’ve acknowledge my inner critic/imposter syndrome and am figuring out ways to work with it instead of against it–it does manage to drag me back into the comfort zone frequently (and this pass week that was where I was sitting).

So I managed to meet (more or less) three out of the five goals (so had a success rate of roughly 60 percent) this past month. Not perfect, but not the worse I’ve done either. I realize that part of the issue (at least for the past two weeks) was the anxiety over getting the vaccine for the SARS-CoV2 virus (I didn’t realize how anxious I was until I got in and out), the other part is still working on giving myself grace, acceptance, and realization that I’m not going to be perfect, probably will fall more than once moving forward and that’s fine–as long as I get back up and continue trying.

So I realized that I managed to keep one of the sayings for 2021 front and center this past month: ‘Progress over Perfection’. I’m making progress and it isn’t perfect–it’s messy, but that is life–messy if you’re trying to improve and live; it only seems ‘perfect’ if you’re willing to stay stagnant–and that isn’t something that I’m willing to do anymore.

I’m going to continue making 2021 a year of growth–and it doesn’t matter how microscopically small that progress looks to others as long as I keep moving forward.

No Comments AstrologyfitnessNew Moon GoalsPersonal Developmentprofessional developmentReflectionsspirituality

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.

No Comments careerCraftsfinancesfitnessHealthLifestyle Challengesmoney saving challengesno spend challengesPersonal DevelopmentPhotographyprofessional developmentReflectionsspirituality

Evaluate Your Life Day–reflect & ensure that you’re headed in the right direction.

So today is evaluate your life day. This ‘holiday’ was created to help people sit back and reflect on their lives—are you going in the direction you want to be moving in? If not, what can be changed?

So questions that I found via the web included:

The BIG Question: Am I really headed in the direction I want to be going?

Other questions:

Am I using my time wisely?

Am I waking up in the morning ready to take on the day’s challenges?

Am I in the right mindset before I go to bed?

Am I letting things I can’t control stress me out too much?

What do I wish to be known for?

Am I spending enough time with loved ones?

Am I putting enough energy into my relationships?

Am I listening to others as I should?

Do I have an open & receptive mind?

Am I taking things for granted?

Have I been taking care of myself physically?

How is my appearance?

Do I trust myself?

Have I been being true to myself?

Have I been avoiding anything?

Have I gone outside my comfort zone?

Are things going well overall?

Am I achieving the goals I set for myself?

Is there something I need or want to change?

If I were to number the above questions 1-19, and then answer totally truthfully—here would be my answers:

In terms of the big question: I would like to think that I’m on the path to where I want to be. Listening to various courses, there was the one conversation between the Chestier Cat & Alice:

“Which road do I take?” she asked.

“Where do you want to go?” he responded.

“I don’t know,” Alice answers.

“Then, it doesn’t matter,” said the cat.

            I’m still in the process of trying to figure out the exact direction I want to be going in—the reason, I’m remembering/realizing that I enjoy numerous different topics, and I don’t want to go down the hole of ‘specialist’ and become bored.

            That being said, I am reading and doing quite a bit of self-reflection to help narrow down on the ideas/paths. It could very well become a single path to one destination—or it could be the melding of several areas into something that is uniquely me.

  1. So with being totally truthful—no I am not using my time wisely. The reason is that I’m still trying to figure out what part of the day do I have the most energy, and which part of the day does my energy dwindle. I know that it is usually somewhat in the morning and evening—but it varies depending on what I do day-to-day. So currently, I’m trying to track my energy levels to determine peak times for getting things done.
  2. Usually, I do wake ready for the day—though again, this varies. I’ve realized over the past few weeks/months of self-reflection that it is perfectly fine to slow down and not get everything checked off the to-do list (which is why, actually I just make a large weekly to-do list; that way I know that I have all week to get everything done, and I’m not over committing myself to things). I’m also in the process of trying to create my life handbook, to help me choose what things should go on the to-do lists, and what things are worthy of my time and energy.
  3. I try to be in the right mindset (somewhat calm and relaxed) before heading to bed. To get there—I do a oracle card reading; this helps me see if I’m staying on the right course or if something needs adjusting and then I usually try to mediate on the message from the cards. In addition, I’m trying to do quite a bit of journaling and getting my emotions and mindset down on paper as well.
  4. Yes—I am letting things that I can’t control stress me out too much. This is mainly in regards to the current political atmosphere in the US (I’m going to be voting on Nov 3rd, but I live in a red state, so who knows how much of an impact a blue vote will be), and the current pandemic situation (the US is leading in total cases & deaths, and I’m starting to go just g a little stir crazy; as I’ve been in isolation since mid-March, only going out every so often—with a mask and proper social distancing).
  5. This one is tricky and tied in with question one. On one hand—I should know where I’m going in order to know what I want to be known for; on the other hand—that path may change and what I want to be known for may no longer meld with that path or even with the second path. So—currently what I wish to be known for is someone who is compassionate, caring, able to convey complex science topics with ease to others, a good friend, colleague, and someone who also stands by her principals and values—even if it means having a smaller community around her.
  6. This is tricky and with the current situation (SARS-CoV2 pandemic) both a yes and no question. Yes, I am spending time with loved ones—I’m self-isolating at home with my parents, and my younger brother has managed to come in for one visit. It is also a no answer—because it isn’t possible right now to spend time with friends and family that are outside of our immediate ‘bubble’.
  7. Again—tricky question and one that has both a yes and now answer. Yes I feel like I’m putting enough energy into some relationships, and there are relationships that I know I’m not putting enough energy into. With the current situation (SARS-CoV2 pandemic), and still trying to find my footing, plus dealing with imposter syndrome, social anxiety, and not wanting to feel like I’m wasting people’s time—I know that I could be putting more energy into various relationships.
  8. Well—it depends on the topics, if it’s politics and someone is trying to defend the current resident of the White House or anyone in that particular party—no I’m probably not listening. While I have no problem trying to debate politics, I do have a problem when it comes to morals—there are certain things that aren’t up for debate (and a lot seem to be on the ballot this year). Otherwise, I hope I’m listening to other people well enough—but I know that this is something that I work on.
  9. Yes, I have an open and receptive mind. Again—I’m usually open to debating various things, unless they’re either blatantly false (such as those who believe that the earth is flat and the center of the solar system), or situations where we just won’t agree (such as pro-choice vs pro-life).
  10.  I don’t think I’ve really ever taken anything for granted—other than maybe believing that if something can go wrong it will go wrong.
  11. I’ve gotten back into a workout routine, and have even gotten to the point to where I can take the rest days and not fear that I’m not going to push play again come Monday. I know that it will take awhile to get into the best shape of my life—but life is a marathon and not a sprint. It is time to honor my body and work with it, instead of against it.
  12.  Well, currently this is a trick question. We’re still in the middle of a pandemic; I’m self-isolating so that means that my wardrobe currently consists of comfortable clothes. I’ve never been one for makeup and fixing my hair—as far as I’m concerned they both take way to much damn time. So I’m more of clean-faced, and pull my hair back into a pony-tail. While I’m sure that I may have to do a little more ‘dress-up’ for any potential interviews and so forth—right now I’m not going to be worrying about it.
  13. I think that I’ve spent quite a bit of time not trusting myself over the years and I’m slowly starting to slow down so that I can hear the internal voice and guidance of my intuition.
  14. I’m trying to be true to myself. I’ve made the decision that I probably won’t alter anything on any of my social media accounts. Why have I made this decision? Well, everyone is always told to make sure that you haven’t posted anything that can in theory ‘haunt’ your job applications or your career—I’m an introvert, so there isn’t any socially awkward pictures anywhere on the net—but I am a liberal, a pagan/wiccan, and I have a snarky/sarcastic sense of humor. Therefore I have memes on my personal facebook page that make fun of the current administration, I have links to petitions on my twitter feed, and I have numerous pictures of tarot/oracle card readings on my instagram account. I’m proud of all those things—my response to the ‘don’t post things so you don’t offended others’—if my posts ‘offended’ you, don’t send me a friend request and don’t follow me on social media; my feelings won’t be hurt.
  15. What have I been avoiding lately? I’ve been avoiding doing in-depth personal and professional development. The reason why: mainly imposter syndrome and social anxiety. Though I’ve decided that I’m going to acknowledge the feeling and try to find middle ground on moving forward towards my goals.
  16. I find this to be a trick question—because if you look up comfort zone to learning zone, you’ll find graphics that show that between those two zones is the fear zone. So, in a way I’ve been stepping outside my comfort zone—but I’ve realized also that I’ve become trapped in the ‘fear zone’. This zone is one that takes more work to get through, and at least for me a lot of that work is mental—I need to shift my mindset. While I have shifted my mindset, it takes longer to internalize those messages. So while I logically know that not everyone is going to approve of my choices—emotionally it is taking longer to internalize.
  17. I would like to say that things are going as well as can be for it being 2020. The pandemic has taken everyone’s plans and thrown them into the shredder. While I may not be able to do the traveling that I wanted, I have been making strides in self-reflection, personal and professional development. I’ve started to embrace the phrases “progress over perfection” and “slow and steady wins the race”.
  18. Yes, I am slowly achieving the goals that I’ve set for myself. I’ve realized that I can’t change every aspect of life overnight, and going after too many goals at once is a recipe for a nice heavy anxiety attack. Today is still going to be spent looking at various lists of goals, and asking myself the following question: “Am I pursuing this goal for myself or because someone else things I should be pursuing it?”
  19. Finally, yes there are things that I need to change—I need to change my mindset (getting over or through imposter syndrome; feeling like others are judging/mocking me; and so forth); I need to become better at time management (need to tune into my body and figure out what part(s) of the day I have the most energy—and then dedicate those times to pursuing my goals); I need to continue working through various personal and professional development courses—but mostly I need to find the path back to myself. I realize that my next career step may (or may not) be unconventional—but it will be what ever works best for me.

I’ve also realized that I need to go back and look at the results of my Clifton Strength Assessment Tests again (I took it the first time in 2017 and then again back in December of 2019), and see how I can both leverage my strengths and start working on improving some of my weaknesses. Though as one author put it—we all have a little of all the strengths, we just don’t use some as much as others. So while I will never be the outgoing extrovert—I can at least work on improving my people-facing skills.

The biggest takeaway for me this year is acknowledging that I’m still not absolutely certain of what I want to do with my career moving forward. While I know that I probably want to move away from the bench—towards what I’m still not certain on; though I have some ideas.

I have courses to work through, a large network of people I can ask questions to (as soon as I stop feeling like an imposter/idiot), and knowledge that I can adapt to any situation that I need to moving forward in life. My next step is going to be creating my ‘life handbook’ and that way I will have all goals in one central location and can sit and review them on a more consistent basis.

Have you either evaluated your life today, or created a life handbook? If you’ve created a life handbook—did you do it digital or in a notebook?

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Aries Full Moon Goals: Time to reflect/revise, & plan new goals.

So the moon will be entering its full moon stage either tonight or tomorrow night (depending on where you are in the world). This will mark the first of two full moons for the month of October (the second one will actually occur on Halloween this year). So in addition to being the first of two full moons for the month—it also marks the beginning of the last quarter of 2020 as well. Fingers crossed, that the last quarter goes more smoothly than the first three quarters have gone.

So the moon will be moving through the Aries constellation—which means that astrologically we’re ‘starting a new year’ since Aries is the start of the Zodiac calendar. It is the time to reassess, redesign, toss, and make new goals if one is inclined.

So what are some of the questions we can reflect on during this time?

            Have I been hotheaded, selfish, or argumentative this month?

            Have I been going too fast or been impulsive this month?

            Have I been brash, blunt, or too competitive?

            Have I ignored other people’s finer sensibilities?

            Have I had enough fun?

So before answering the questions, I do need to point out that it is the beginning of the month, so I actually going to answer these questions based on 1) how I want to behave during the coming month, but also 2) how I behaved during the past couple of weeks. So as usually I’m going to number the questions 1 to 5 as I answer them.

  1. While I haven’t been selfish (at least I don’t think I’ve been acting selfishly) over the past month, nor do I plan on acting selfishly during the coming weeks—unless you consider setting aside time for self-care (for me that is taking bubble baths, and having at least forty-five minutes of winding down at night before bed)—then I will selfishly guard those times. I’m trying to control my temper—I will admit to getting into an argument with people last month. We’re still in the middle of a pandemic, and people are getting tired of the fact that nothing is ‘normal’. They want their kids to be in school full time face-to-face. While I can agree that face-to-face teaching is the norm, and what in theory is ‘best’—if you can’t guarantee small class room sizes, social distancing desks, and that your kids are going to wear the masks all day—it isn’t worth the risk. This isn’t a novel flu or cold that is going around—it is something five (or more) times deadly, and even if it doesn’t kill you it will leave you with health problems for the rest of your life. So yes, this is the one thing that I will argue with people about.
  2. In terms of being impulsive—I’m an impulsive book buyer (and that is something that I’m trying to curb. I know that I have hundreds of books on my e-reader that I haven’t read and I should make a dent in that ‘pile’ before buying more). In terms of going too fast—nope, people will probably accuse me of going way too damn slow—but guess what the tortoise won that race. Everyone goes through life at his or her own pace, and I’m finally at peace that my pace isn’t everyone else’s pace.
  3. Well, this depends on the topic—yes, I’ve been blunt in terms of the novel coronavirus. There are things that everyone should be doing (but most people aren’t doing them), that I have kept harping on (wearing masks, social distancing, and staying home whenever possible). But I don’t think that I’ve been brash or too competitive—again I’m slowing down to my pace, I’ve decided that trying to keep pace with everyone else was too damn tiring and if I’m going to make changes it has to be at a pace I’m comfortable with—and not worry if others feel the same.
  4. I don’t think I’ve been ignoring people’s finer sensibilities—it would actually be nice to see if their finer sensibilities would come out during this time. I’m actually trying to ignore their more obnoxious sensibilities, so that I don’t have to downsize my friend list too much over the coming months.
  5. What is this fun, you speak of? We’re going into month seven of the pandemic; the US has over 7.4 million cases, over 200K deaths, and idiots currently in charge. I am trying to figure out ways to add ‘enjoyment’ to my day, but at the same time realize that the ‘old normal’ is gone, and a ‘new normal’ is still at least fourteen to sixteen months off.

I’ve realized that I’m still happy being a wallflower—someone who is happier observing than participating, but that doesn’t help with networking and job searching. True networking is more virtual these days (thanks pandemic), and so are most job interviews—but I still have to develop the enthusiasm for talking with people (and not worry constantly that they’re judging me)—so here is still a small goal to be working on.

Aries is also moving through my sixth house (or my daily work and health zone). This house is where we can sit and reflect on who we are (both in terms of professional/work and personal/health) and decide to work on those aspects that we don’t like.

I had decided a couple of months ago that I was going to push play daily (and I’ve only missed one day so far), and complete four Beachbody programs before the end of the year. I completed morning meltdown-100 mid-September, and am currently going through a combo calendar of yoga booty ballet and LIIFT4. This combo calendar will take me to mid-November, when I will then tackle a new program (which will take me to Christmas). Then I will finish out the year/start the New Year with a different short program.

I’m not really close to where I was hoping to be in terms of my reboot break and transitioning into industry—in part due to the pandemic, but also in part to still not being absolutely sure which direction to go (I do have several ideas that are swirling that I need to get down on paper over the next few days). I have also realized aspects of the past jobs that I’ve liked and that I’ve absolutely detested—those too are going to be written down. The plan is to have an idea of direction(s) that I can go in that play to my strengths, helps me work on some ‘weaknesses’, but avoids most (if not all) the things I learned to detest over the years.

So what are my goals for the Aries full moon?

            Review, edit, and reassemble my 150+ goals to accomplish in 2002 days. I know that there are some things that I can probably remove from the list—I won’t be changing the time period, I will just be changing out goals—seeing what has been accomplished, what needs to go, and possibly what can be added.

            Figure out what other ‘notes’ to post around the computer to help in time management. I’ve currently been telling myself when I can check my email and get on social media—it is slowly helping in managing my time.

            Continue with personal/professional development. This will include working through e-courses, reading, and journaling (especially taking prompts from different books and/or e-courses).

            Draft a ‘master plan’ that includes the blog, the transition (remote, freelance, contract), personal/professional development, hobbies, and life in general.

While sticking to the following reminders: 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.

No Comments AstrologycareerfitnessFull Moon Goalsno spend challengesPandemic2020Personal Developmentprofessional developmentRebootBreakReflections

Self-reflection, ‘jack-of-all-trades’ vs ‘specialist’, & now more planning

So I’m a little over a week into my fourth decade and still working on answering the question: which hobbies, passions, and interests will fall under the jack-of-all-trades umbrella, and which will fall under the specialist umbrella.

This question evolved from my ‘self-reflection, planning, and yet more self-reflection’ post where I was trying to answer the question of who I wanted to become over the next five plus years.

While for some this is probably a quick question to answer—I’m still slightly struggling with for two reasons: 1) imposter syndrome—since I’m wanting to transition out of academia and into industry, there are times when I feel like a ‘fraud’, even though I know everyone’s journey is their own and that no two paths are the same—also no one has the same history, likes/dislikes, strengths/weaknesses, and personality traits that I do. The second reason is that at times I’m still in an somewhat academic mindset, which has a somewhat “clear ladder” on how your job grows—you graduate with your PhD, you do a couple of postdocs, you then get an assistant professor position, and then work your way up the ladder to associate, full, regents, emeritus professor along with possibly going for department head, or positions as a dean.

Since I’m still not sure which direction I want to go in—therefore there is no “clear ladder”, and even once I decide on a direction or directions to go in—there is no guarantee of a “clear ladder” or straight job trajectory in today’s society. Therefore I’m on a mission to create a mix of things that not only fall under both categories (jack-of-all-trades and specialist), but also encompass all aspects of life.

Through self-reflection, I realize that the times I’m happiest and in the ‘flow’ are when I’m both learning and relaxing—in other words when there is a balance between things. This is something that I had lost over the past decade or so—actually, this was something I closed off when I thought I wanted to go down the academic route—I pushed aside enjoyment, relaxation, and balance while focusing on just one small area for ‘learning’.

I’m thinking that the best route will be something that allows me to both—work for a company, but also be an independent freelancer as well. This way I can juggle different hats (under the umbrellas of jack-of-all-trades and specialist), and hopefully never get bored.

Boredom for me is like the kiss of death for the job—and one thing I need to work on is asking for change in the job when I start feeling boredom sneak in—because if I don’t ask for a change, I know I will start to get a little laid back in things and let things start to slide—which is something that I want to avoid moving forward.

So that brings me back to the question: how am I going to divide up my hobbies, passions, and interests into the categories jack-of-all-trades and specialist?

One area can be quickly filed under jack-of-all-trades currently, and that is crafts. These include knitting, sewing/quilting, learning cross-stitching, making my own jewelry, doodling, and hopefully at some point painting. The time I spend on any of these varies—knitting is usually done only in the cooler months, I currently don’t have a sewing machine, and the others have had very little time spent on them.

Therefore until I start spending a good amount of time on any of them during the week, they will be a ‘jack-of-all-trades’ topic. These will be things that I write about maybe once a month or every couple of months on the blog. I have ideas on how to try monetizing some of them (knitting, jewelry, and cross-stitching), but haven’t spent any time trying to work up the plan or even a few showcase pieces.

There are other hobbies that I spend more time on: bird watching, photography, reading, and at times journaling/writing. These are areas of my personal life that I could slowly start working on more and move to what I would consider ‘expert’ level.

In terms of bird watching—seeing how many species in North America I can have identified by a certain age. This would then also allow me to include traveling, being outdoors, hiking, and photography as well.

In terms of photography—I can work on becoming a better nature photographer, and also start learning another form (say architecture or portrait photography). I would consider myself an expert if I then start selling my prints (either through my own site or another site, and/or have a small photography business on the side).

In terms of reading—start writing book reviews and posting them on both the blog and where I purchased the book, in addition to promoting books as well on my blog and social media sites. This way I could also then start possibly reviewing advance-reader-copies (ARCs), in addition to maybe working through affiliate programs—earning a little money, by referring people to buy different books.

In terms of writing—there is quite a bit I need to work on (and actually can be applied to all areas that I would like to become an ‘expert’ in) to get better at writing. The first thing is scheduling time every day to write/brainstorm/outline. Saying I want to become better at writing does nothing unless I also put in the work to become better at writing. So what are the things I need to work on?

            Time management

            Brainstorming, researching, writing, and editing—on a schedule

            Publishing my writing (in more places than just the blog)

            Asking others to read what I’ve written and give constructive criticism

            Different types of writing

                        Creative/Fiction

                        Scientific

                        Non-fiction

            Creating a portfolio to highlight my work

So in terms of my passions and interests—which should be jack-of-all-trades and which should be specialist?

If I look to my scientific background that has spanned a little over two decades I’ve noticed that I can focus on any of the following: recombinant cloning, recombinant protein expression and purification, sequencing, HPLC, MALDI-TOF, NMR, transcriptional and translational assays, small RNA biology, plant biology, cell culture, yeast, bacteria, fruit flies, the cell cycle, and bioinformatics.

If I had to chose areas for jack-of-all-trades those would include: bioinformatics (data science, programming, and data analysis), cell culture (basic mammalian and insect), sequencing, HPLC, MALDI-TOF, and NMR. These are the more technical things—though cell culture isn’t very technical, I just didn’t do that much of it through the years.

The areas I would chose for specialist would then include basically everything else: recombinant cloning, recombinant protein expression and purification, transcriptional and translational assays, small RNA biology, plant biology, yeast work, fruit flies, bacteria, cell cycle and almost anything that falls within these categories.

If I looked to other topics that I enjoyed during college—these were classes in social sciences and humanities (history, anthropology, sociology) that I got good grades in and never really stressed out over the exams (unlike all the other science classes).

So I would probably include some of those topics—medieval history, art history, anthropology, ancient North/South American history (prior to the arrival of the Europeans), archeology, and paleontology within both categories depending on the amount of time I could give to each area.

Other interests that could probably bounce between being jack-of-all-trades and specialist include spirituality, personal finances, and health/fitness.

These are areas that I’m interested in gaining more knowledge (finances—getting out of debt, saving more, retirement, multiple streams of income), becoming the best version of myself (health/fitness—completing programs, getting outdoors, and setting fitness goals to achieve and celebrate instead of spending money), and embracing (spirituality—I’ve come to the conclusion that I’m more spiritual than I am religious, therefore I want to become better at reading tarot/oracle cards and be able to meditate longer than say two to four minutes).

Therefore within the next five to ten years I would like to become a more well rounded person and scientist—this means over all balance, some days may be more science than crafts, more time at the computer than behind a camera—but also more days crafting, reading, and meditating. It is time for me to forge my own path forward that allows me to embrace all aspects of who I am, my strengths (learner, intellection, input, achiever, deliberative/ideation/arranger), while also working on my weaknesses.

The next step will be creating a plan that will allow me to slowly start moving in that direction.

No Comments careerfinancesfitnessHealthjob searchingPandemic2020Personal DevelopmentPhotographyprofessional developmentReflectionsspiritualitytarot cardstravel

Self-reflection, planning, and yet more self-reflection—all in one question.

Question that I was thinking/meditating on for the month of August: Who do I want to become over the next 5 to 20 years?

This has been the question plaguing me for the past few months (and actually if I’m honest about my transition plan—probably the past two or three years), as there at times is conflicting advice on whether or not one should have a solid plan for ‘x’ years down the road or going after ‘y’ job title/position—mainly because we don’t know what will happen in the future (right 2020), and if we become so narrowly focused, we could miss or pass by an opportunity of a lifetime.

Though the same can be said for not having a focused plan or idea of the future. If I’m totally truthful with myself—I probably fall into the latter category of not having a totally focused plan. Up until probably five years ago, I had thought that I’d be able to handle doing the academic route (post-doc for years, find an assistant professor position and work my way up to full professor)—but what I use to consider fun (putting in somewhat long hours in the lab to try to answer part of a question), was no longer fun and I no longer had the energy to try to fight my way into the academic arena.

This has also left me slightly disillusioned when it comes to figuring out where I want to be in say five to twenty years—what do I want to do? Do I want to stay in research (my comfort zone)? Go in a different direction and apply the skills I have in a slightly different manner? Then I get more pressing questions—like will I still enjoy the work?  Will I still be willing to make the sacrifices needed to move forward to the next promotion? Or will I become disillusioned again?

One thing I’ve realized is that I could handle anything that was tossed my way as long as I kept true to the following: 1) I was always learning. While I was getting slightly tired of school by the end of my undergraduate career (I will take full responsibility for taking 7 years to earn 2 BS degrees, a minor, and being able to graduate with 0 student loans)—I did enjoy the ability to take classes in different areas (though now I wish I took a few more business courses), and I enjoyed the time working in various labs as an undergraduate research technician. 2) I stopped doing school work/studying at a certain time so I could unwind before bed. 3) I tried to keep the weekends homework free (for the most part), so that I could enjoy being outside and getting a little natural vitamin D.

I was okay with having to bend number three every so often in grad school (sometimes experiments needed to be finished or started on the weekend), and even a little during the later positions. What I shouldn’t have bargained with was number one—always learning. It wasn’t so much during grad school (I did enjoy focusing and diving deep into a single subject area that is still growing today), but later positions. If I wanted to learn or read on something that was outside the scope of what I was doing on the job—I was told to do it on my own time (which I mentally took as well, now there is less time to unwind before bed). So what did I do—I stopped looking at other subjects that interested me— and I did the bare minimum needed for the job and that was it.

It has taken me a couple of years to realize where and when that mindset started—I actually feel more comfortable knowing a little about numerous different areas, and quite a bit about say one or two areas—but I don’t want to become a narrow-focused specialist.

So, winding back to the main question—where do I see myself in 5-20 years? I see myself as someone who has been able to balance being both a professional blogger/online entrepreneur and holding a normal 9-to-5 job. My industry position is within health economics, medical/scientific writing, or possibly market research, or market communications. Since we’re still in the middle of a pandemic—for the normal job I’m finding it better to have a couple of different options to look into.

I’ve probably rebranded the blog, and have also managed to launch several different e-courses/tutorials covering different science topics and starting to branch out into different social science topics as well. Staying true to my multi-facet nature, having numerous pages to the blog has actually been one of the key successes to my online presence. I’ve stuck with the areas of personal/professional development, lifestyle (crafts, money management, minimalism), and fitness/nutrition (encompassing all three areas of health—mental, physical, and spiritual). In addition, within five to ten years I will have worked up the nerve to launch a podcast (a YouTube channel will be launched between years three and five).

It took quite a bit of soul searching during the pandemic to reach the point to where I could state that I want to be both a ‘jack-of-all-trades’ and a ‘specialist’. The major work will be trying to figure out which areas of life will be focus of ‘jack of all trades’ and which ones I will become a ‘specialist’ in. In addition, it will take work to build up a solid following on social media (One area to work on is getting better at posting on various social media sites), and then move forward from there. The next soul-searching question would be “what do I want to be a ‘jack-of-all-trades’ in and a ‘specialist’ in”??

No Comments careerPandemic2020Personal Developmentprofessional developmentReflections

Capricorn Full Moon Goals

So we’ve entered July, and there is now only 180 days left in 2020. Hopefully, they’ll be more (or less) uneventful days—I’d say we’ve had enough excitement already for 2020. The moon is moving into Capricorn today (or tomorrow, depending on where you are in the world), and it is also going to be another eclipse—viewable (maybe) from the southern part of the US; so if I stay up late enough I may be able to see it (also depends on if there is cloud cover or not).

So looking to book “Moonology: working with the magic of lunar cycles” by Yasmin Boland—what are the questions that can be asked during the Capricorn full moon??

Have I been ambitious to the point of ruthlessness?

Have I been obsessed with work to the detriment of my personal life?

Have I been hard headed, hard-nosed, or just too hard on others?

I have allowed my head to overrule my heart?

Have I been planning my life enough? Or have I been planning it too much?

So if I were to number the above questions 1-5, my answers would probably be as following:

  1. No, I haven’t been ambitious to the point of ruthlessness. I may be a little indifferent towards certain things or people—but I’m not ruthless. I would say that there are parts of society today that act ruthless towards others (especially the idiots that refuse to wear masks in stores). Truthfully, I’m not an overly ambitious person—all I would really like to have in life is a decent amount of money (I don’t have to be a millionaire) to live on, a nice, safe place to live, and being able to spend time with friends, family, pets, and doing other things besides working.
  2. Well, this could almost be considered a trick question. For one thing, I’m currently on my “reboot break”—I resigned from my position at the beginning of December to take time to relax and then really figure out what I want to do with my life. The second reason why this could be considered a trick question—with the pandemic, there was the work from home mandate, and not to mention a lot of jobs that were lost due to not being “essential”. Also during this time it is really hard to have a personal life, when you can’t get together with people or travel anywhere.
  3. This depends on the issue—for the most part I’m easy going and I usually don’t interact with that many people right now anyway (hello, self-isolation). But, I will be hard on others in terms of wearing facial masks in public—we’re in the middle of a damn pandemic, and it has been shown that wearing a mask can help slow the spread of the virus. If we’re wanting to get out of self-isolation, and being able to travel again (because, hello the EU has banned Americans from entering their countries for the next few months, since we can’t seem to handle the virus here at home)—we need everyone to wear the damn masks!!
  4. Not recently—looking back at the same questions from last year, I was wanting to adopt a puppy for quite a few months before I went ahead and adopted Chaos. Truthfully, right now I’m just taking things a day at a time. I know that I should be planning long-term goals, but with the current atmospheres (political, environmental, social, and health) it is difficult at times to think five, ten, or twenty years into the future.
  5. No I haven’t been planning my life enough. This is currently due to several things: the pandemic—travel really is a no-go right now (unless you drive places, and I don’t drive), networking and interviews are probably going to be done over the computer, and I should probably think of investing in a decent external microphone for the computer (for better sound quality), and truthfully I still have no damn idea of what I want to be doing with my life (I know that trying to have informational interviews will help—but again look back to the needing a microphone). Also I have realized that I’ve been stuck in the “fear zone” (that zone between the comfort zone and the learning zone) for too damn long—overthinking leads to anxiety which leads to not doing much which leads back to overthinking—I’m actually going to be trying to break this damn cycle over the next few months.

So the Capricorn full moon is also going to be traveling through my third house—or the communication zone. This zone deals with both communications with people that you would see on a day-to-day basis (more or less): friends, co-workers, and possibly family; but it also deals with other things as well: to-do lists, self-expression, and so forth. While it is a time for communications—the communications are best done when people are in “good” moods—you don’t want things to spiral out of control and a disagreement started because someone took something you said the wrong way.

Currently, I’m not in the middle of any type of major disagreement with people that I talk to on a day-to-day basis, which thanks to the self-isolation mandates are my parents (since I’m living at home still). There have been one or two disagreements on Facebook, but those have been resolved with either party pressing the unfriend button (and sometimes the block button as well).

So what are my goals for the Capricorn full moon period?

Continuing with Morning Meltdown 100 (I should be at day 54 at the end of the month; and day 57 by the next full moon).

Work on creating a new long-term goal list; the pandemic threw quite a few monkey wrenches into my latest 101 goals in 1001 days, plus I never really got specific about the industry position. So the goal is to have an least a rough outline of the major goals for different areas (health/fitness, finance, career, personal/professional development, spirituality, and living space).

Continue reading through my huge to-be-read digital pile. I think that I’m currently up to a total of 367 (since there are ~10 books on the list that I consider to be more of a reference book). I started this list in 2018 (or maybe late 2017), and it only had ~80 books on it but has now ballooned to almost 400—and between the start of 2018 and now—I’ve read about 50 of them so far; I’m averaging about 20 non-fiction books a year. This means that if I don’t add any more books—it will still take me about another 16 years to get through the list of books. Though some of them may fall into the “reference” book pile.

And of course remembering: Progress not perfection.

No Comments AstrologyfitnessFull Moon GoalsHealthPandemic2020Reflections

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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