Monday, October 24, 2016

Come on Fitbit Battery...Just Die Already!

The whole point of me getting a Fitbit was to encourage me to take more steps. For the most part it has worked. A week or two ago, I discovered challenges within the app. It motivated me even more.

After my first "Weekend Warrior" challenge, I set up another one in advance for this past weekend.

I had actually signed up for a walk, but I was so uncomfortable on Saturday morning, temperature-wise, that I ditched the event (FAIL). I can't say I would have come out on top if I had actually walked the walk, but I wouldn't be doing the walk of shame.

I barely got my daily goal worth of steps in two days. When my Fitbit told me the battery was low early Sunday, I thought for sure it would die giving me an excuse for being so lame. Nope.

What I've realized is, I might be codependent. It's funny because ten years ago I had no problem getting out "there" wherever there was, on my own. I would go to a movie by myself, go walking at a park by myself, go out to eat by myself, the mall, a bar, a community event....you name it.

I was Miss Independent. Now I'm the polar opposite. I literally get sad when my future hubby and teenage son aren't home on the weekend. I just want to curl up in bed and sleep and even more when the temps drop below 70.

Even when they are home, neither of them really push me to do anything. I need that push.

With a little PUSH, I could walk for HOURS...and I'm not talking about two or three. I love attending festivals or just walking around places with no direction.

What my Fitbit taught me this weekend is that it will not let me be lame. I need to step it up, per se. Hell, my friend who is pregnant out walked me by three times AND she's got a first grader.

Ideally, I'd like to hit 10,000 steps per day. I'm nowhere close. My baby steps goal is 5,000. That means in the 14-ish hours I'm tracking my steps, I need to take at least 357 to hit my goal. Why is that so hard for me?

It shouldn't be. I've got this.

On another note, if you're thinking about buying a more "affordable" tracker (even if it's only used for counting steps, think again. I bought a $20 Misfit and after about a month the battery died, or so I thought. I replaced the battery and NADA. It wasn't even worth contacting support.)

Thursday, October 20, 2016

The Other 2016 Presidential Candidate #IRL #IRLToday

I was 29 the first time I voted in a presidential election. I knew what I didn't want so I just voted the other way. Little did I realize there is so much more on the ballot.

This year, the main thing I want to focus on sharing is the other presidential candidate and political party. That candidate is Gary Johnson for President, along with the Vice Presidential Nominee William Weld, both of the Libertarian political party.

Getting to know a Presidential Nominee during their race to become a Presidential candidate requires a huge investment of time; time that many folks just don't have. Even if you make the time, how well do you really get to know that person?

With that, how many of you even knew there was another candidate? Johnson's name came up here and there, but he's not included in the Presidential debates. I didn't understand this myself, so I asked Google "why isn't Gary Johnson included in the debate?". I didn't even have to click a link to learn that one must "qualify".

Next I asked Google "how to qualify for presidential debate". Apparently there is a commission that oversees this decision. The Commission on Presidential Debates requires candidates seeking to participate meet the following criteria:

1) Meet the eligibility requirement for president
2) Have enough ballot access to win an Electoral College majority
3) Have at least 15% support of the national electorate in five predetermined marquee polls

Johnson, along with Jill Stein, both met criteria one and two, but not three. That makes sense to me, but I didn't understand what #3 actually meant. From what I'm reading, that criteria uses data from polls conducted by ABC-Washington Post, CBS-New York Times, CNN-ORC, Fox News and the NBC/Wall Street Journal. Correct me if I'm wrong, but isn't that simply news media?

Either way, if you don't qualify for the first presidential debate, that doesn't mean you can't qualify for others. Unfortunately, neither Johnson or Stein made any of the three. I'm not sure what happened to Stein, but she's not on my Georgia sample ballot. Johnson will be the first third-party presidential candidate on the ballot in every state and Washington D.C. since 1996.

So, just what is this third party, you ask? After watching most of each of the three presidential debates filled with bickering and bantering like little children, my research about Gary Johnson and the Libertarian party continued.

I don't know how many people there are like me, but I've got life to live. While the future of our country is extremely important to me, no matter how much time I spend learning about the candidates it will never be enough.

To narrow my field of vision since the race begin, I took a quiz at ISideWith.com to see where my stances matched the candidates. If you spend the time to take the full quiz, which allows you to rank the importance of each issue (with explanations of each), it gives you a good start. Of course, as nominees drop out of the race, things will change. Your best option might be gone.

I'm there right now. I'm left with three, so now I have to really decide which issues are most important to me. You can retake the quiz as many times as you'd like. At this point, many folks only see Hillary and Trump as their only choices. Again, I'm not sure if Jill made it on other states ballots, but she's not on mine.

So, I present you with Gary Johnson and the Libertarian party. I'm not encouraging you to vote one way or another, but rather trying to enlighten folks who don't feel they have a choice but to vote for the lesser of two evils, which I hear a lot.

Here's some info for you to explore. Feel free to share your thoughts or ask questions, but keep it civil folks. I put this out here to educate you, not to sway your vote.


From here you should be able to do a bit of your own research. I wish you the best of luck in whatever you decide.

UPDATE 10/24/2016: My Dad says (and he's right) there is no way a 3rd party candidate will win this year. So, please vote for the lesser of the TWO evils.



Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Those Interview Questions You Hate

I met with a former boss of mine today. He managed to get out of an industry where it is believed once you get in it, you can't get out. He works for a major worldwide brand. In fact, if you didn't drink one of their products today, I bet you saw one.

He mentioned it was hard to get into the company. When he finally had the chance to interview, they used the "STAR" method. I had NO IDEA what he was talking about and it was evident. So, he explained it to me.

Aha. I've heard this before and I absolutely hate it. In fact, I'm ill-prepared when it comes to responding to the "STAR" method. After looking into the "STAR" method a bit more, I get it.

Both STAR and SOARA are behavioral interview methods that encourage a start-to-finish approach of a recent or notable challenge in the workplace, the goal, how you handled it, the results and the aftermath.

STAR = Situation, Task, Action, Result

SOARA = Situation, Objective, Action, Results, Aftermath

Looking back, my answers to these behavioral interview questions probably threw the interviewer(s) off. While I do learn from situations, I don't dwell on them. I don't think of them as situations. I think of them as a normal part of business, deal with them, ensuring I achieve the desired results without disrupting things and move on.

While I may learn things, I don't store "situations" in my memory bank, nor do I think of them as situations. The fact of the matter is that many companies expect for you to be able to replay at least SOMETHING.

So, where I thought the STAR and SOARA methods of behavioral interview questions were ridiculous, I guess they have some merit after all.

In fact, now that I think about it, one of the blogging agencies I'm a member of (that connects bloggers with brands) uses semi-similar techniques. I have to apply for the job, make a presentation for the job (resume/interview), present past experience (posts) and how it relates to the current post, which is like the STAR/SOARA methods.

In fact, you likely use the STAR/SOARA methods in everyday life - outside of work.

For example...

Situation - We can't seem to serve dinner early enough. The folks who get home earliest need constant reminders.

Task - Serve dinner earlier by finding a way to gently push everyone to contribute.

Action - Make a meal plan, shop for it, print it, schedule duties, have a family discussion

Result - Dinner can me made earlier if everyone does what they're supposed to. There may be some opposition, but with gentle reminders and encouragement over a period of several weeks everyone gets used to their role.

I'm literally just learning this as I type. Let's see what I can learn from it at work tomorrow and over the coming days.

What are your thoughts on STAR/SOARA interview questions? I'd love to hear your experiences.

What Are We Doing? And Is It Really Worth It?

As I typed out the title of this blog post, I briefly thought about whether I was capitalizing the right words. You see, in my quest to break free from working for the man, I attempted a lifestyle blog (or two or three). The result was a second job that made NO MONEY.

I didn't want a second job. I wanted to share things to help people "like me". Instead, I ended up wondering what people (in general) wanted to read, what topics would get the most traffic, comparing myself to other bloggers and even researching AP style writing, all in an unintentional effort to make money.

For those of you that don't know AP Style is Associated Press Style (aka the writing style you see in newspapers and for those of you that have never touched a newspaper, it's the same writing style you'll see on websites like CNN, Fox News, etc.). What is that really worth in today's fast-paced society? Does anyone even really read anything anymore (like this) or do they just skim? 

Staying true to myself meant only occasional money from sponsored posts and product reviews. What I'd rather have is some passive income from relevant ads on my site and a ton of visitors who just found my content valuable. Unfortunately, I found myself in an OCEAN of bloggers just like me, but many of them better (whether it was due to the amount of time they could dedicate or just their natural ability to speak to people in written word or maybe even their own self-confidence).

While all that was going down, I was straying further and further from "me" at my day job. Over a period of 8 years I tried to adapt to my work conditions. Every now and then, I wanted to escape, thinking this isn't me. At the same time, I realize I'm not a perfect person. Who is? All I can do is keeping trying to adapt. Something didn't feel right, though.

Over the years I rode a roller coaster of excitement (wanting to contribute more than just my "assigned duties" to make things better), feeling lost (secluding myself), being stressed out at change (because sometimes, "if it ain't broke, don't fix it" really works), being carefree (using the old school chain of command which only resulted in my ideas being credited to someone else), then feeling like I wasn't being utilized for my full potential.

That's where I am now. In my quest to find a better spot at my day job, which I don't simply view as a job, I'm wavering between three four conclusions.

  1. I can be like Abby in the movie Ira and Abby (42:54) and just have a job that I like and make enough money to live.
  2. I can wait until my employer is "ready" to utilize my skills.
  3. I can find a new job that uses my current skills, while investing time and a reasonable amount of money in certificate programs that support those skills.
  4. I can completely change direction by investing a ton of time and money in a "degree".
To help me figure out which option will be the best, I'm reaching out to former colleagues and industry associates. I'm not contacting them for jobs, but rather for advice, mentorship and simply to connect with like minds.

It's funny that you spend so much time with these folks (colleagues), but when you leave a job they're out of sight, out of mind. I had a great lunch meeting with a former colleague today. I now have more of a sense of direction. Granted it's only been 4-ish hours, I truly believe you can learn a lot about your future from reaching out to people from your past.

Folks that you can sit down with at Starbucks after YEARS and chat about each other's journeys candidly, in a casual setting and just be yourself without worrying about offending someone....those are the kind of people you want to reach out to. People you can be yourself around, people who appreciate and respect a difference of opinion and maybe like a little debate or welcome constructive criticism.

To be honest, I'm not really sure where I'm going with this post or how to end it. If you're like me and you're thinking about job satisfaction, maybe my thoughts will help you. 

Ah, I see. Why am I posting this? Is it really worth it?

Can anyone see this? Can you identify with me? I'd love to hear your thoughts.

Wednesday, October 5, 2016

Wednesday, October 5th, 2016 #IRLToday

Man that heating pad felt good on my back last night. It still not really cool enough, but with the ceiling fan on it works out.

On my quest for self-control, not only did I hear my alarm clock go off at 6:45 this morning, but I listened to it. I still kind failed because I purposely set my alarm for that time so I could snooze. The word on the street is that you actually get some really good sleep when you snooze. So, I snoozed, but not as long. I woke up earlier than usual.

My drive to work was as usual. The meat of my day was different, though. Yesterday, the day after I sought out on my quest, was much easier than today. Like day one of a diet, I was able to abstain from bad habits. By day two, I found myself falling into my old ways much more often.

As far as self-control was concerned, I found myself talking to myself out loud, interjecting my opinions in conversations I was not truly a part of, sharing details of a story that were not necessary to convey my message.

I did exercise control of my money, by not succumbing to the vending machine. It's an itty-bitty factor in the bigger picture, but I've been restraining (for the most part) for several months now. Things have definitely improved.

I tried to be human and engage in conversation (not-data related). That didn't work out for me so well. We were short-staffed at work and while I can hold my own and continue my work, others cannot.

On another note, how much should one really interact with their coworkers? If you want to be a leader, I hear you should keep your personal life out of it. Does that mean it's all business or can you have casual conversations? There has to a balance.

At the end of the day, today's post has no real point except to share the day in the life of a baffled person.

How was your day?

Monday, October 3, 2016

My Quest to Improve Self-Control, Personally and Professionally

Do you feel in control of your life? You might, if you don't consider your thoughts, your temper, your fears, your speech and your bad habits.

I'm a very emotional and passionate person.

The emotional side of me has it's undesirable affects, like reactions to high-stress situations, both personally and professionally. For example, how long will my significant other put up with my emotionally-charged reactions? On another note, do my emotionally-charged flare-ups resonate with my colleagues putting me in a position where I will be disrespected if I (somehow) advance to the next level in my career?

The passionate side of me turns everything into a soap-opera, despite the fact that I claim to be drama-free. This holds true in both my personal and professional life. It's only exacerbated by my
emotions.

I've got to learn how to improve my self-control. The first step I've taken is making a list of ways that I feel I exercise self-control daily and ways that I don't. The don't list quickly surpassed the number of the do list.

While I was making this list I watched (listened-to) a TEDx Talk about self-control featuring Dan Ariely. The talk offered a few ways to tackle self-control, such as reward-substitution, self-control contracts and more, for ways to accomplish behavior modification.

Do I think people can change? Yes, but only if they're willing to change. I thoroughly enjoyed Psychology courses, but I rarely use what I learned on myself, or at least not as much as I could.

Part of using psychology on yourself is having people (friends, family, colleagues and bosses) who will provide you with truly constructive-criticism. Acceptance of constructive criticism is one area where you can exercise self-control. I'm actually very accepting to the point where I want people to tell me so I can improve. I've always felt an outsider's perspective is necessary for growth.

I'm no expert on self-control after watching one TEDx Talk, but I've got a few resources to point me in the right direction. Most of all, I know that I lack self-control in certain situations. I know what those situations are. Delving into it, will help me modify my behaviors one little bit at a time.

This will not be an overnight process. I recognize that; and if self-control is something you're looking to improve, you should, too.

The start of this self-improvement process will begin with keeping a journal of my successes and failures of how I exercise self-control each day and where I need improvement.

I've also gathered a small list of reading from the web. I hope this will help you!

I'd love to hear your thoughts!