Category Archives: Aim to Improve

Seven Habits of Highly Effective People

So this book. This book has been recommended to me over and over again by professors, by the internet, by various other people in my life…. Because I’ve been in and out of airports so much, and therefore have had a lot of free time with limited options for how to fill it, I finally decided while I was on my first business trip in October to go ahead and buy the book. Despite extensive travel since then, it took me until my most recent business trip two weeks ago to actually finish it.

Now don’t get me wrong, this book is chalk full of excellent advice. And there were a lot of stories and examples that I found genuinely fascinating and really made me rethink my day-to-day interactions. But, despite interesting subject matter, it was not an easy read. The chapters were very long and although the content was valuable, I still felt it was a bit more verbose than needed. Regardless of my feelings, though, this book has been a best-seller for quite some time so obviously people like it and I’ve definitely been trying to work on incorporating some of the things it suggests.

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There’s a Tarantula in My Trunk (and Other Spider Miracles)

Last time I posted (which was way too long ago, I apologize), I wrote about how I’ve started doing exposure therapy to try to get my arachnophobia to a reasonable level. I’ve gone about five times now and there’s already been significant improvement. Because, you know, now I have a tarantula in my trunk. And another in my purse, cause why have only one spider when you’re deathly afraid of them, right?

But, before I get too far ahead of myself, let’s back up and start from the beginning.

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Exposure Therapy

I’m afraid of spiders. Like, really afraid of spiders. Like, arachnophobia is almost an understatement afraid of spiders.

I’ve been this afraid of spiders for as long as I can remember; for as long as my parents can remember, even. I’m not aware of ever having had some form of traumatic spider experience, nor can I really logically explain why I’m so afraid of them. It doesn’t matter if it’s big, small, alive, dead, across the room, on me, or even fake; if it’s a spider, I’m probably afraid of it.

So that brings me to an incident about two months ago where I woke up one morning to a spider on my bathroom door. It wasn’t huge, but it was big for me, and it took me about an hour of staring at it, trying to come up with solutions, and generally being too afraid to do anything useful before I ended up accidentally scaring it off the door, losing track of it somewhere in my bathroom, and then wasting another half hour or so trying to figure out what to do next before running to the store for spider poison and cautiously spraying it everywhere I thought it might have gone. All said and done this ordeal took up over two hours of my morning and ruined my work schedule for the week (fortunately I’m allowed to flex my time and was planning on coming in later that morning anyway).

That’s when I finally realized I needed to do something about it.

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Knowing Your Value

There is a Women’s Empowerment Network in my office that holds various events and offers a variety of forums for communication between women in my field. A while ago, someone posted a link to a book called Knowing Your Value on the group’s internal social media page and suggested that everyone should read it. So, I ordered a copy online and decided to finish it before we got to this year’s performance reviews, which are coming up in the next few weeks, so I could be more prepared to positively represent myself during the discussion.

The book focuses on the pay gap between men and women in the same job and, similarly to what I’ve heard about Cheryl Sandberg’s Lean In, suggests that part of the reason women don’t get paid as well is because they are less likely to ask for raises. And when they do ask, they ask poorly and are less likely to succeed than men who ask the same thing.

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Nutrition Certification

I’m a bit of an all or nothing person.

When I first started regularly going to the gym back in January, it was a last-ditch, half-hearted attempt at trying to train for a 10K. Then I registered for a half marathon and it became a genuine attempt to train for that. Then I downloaded an app which allowed me to track my runs with GPS, and started to use its calorie tracking function to watch what I ate. And that’s when it got serious.

I began to do research into healthier eating – things like does breakfast really matter (not necessarily) and are low-carb diets really the best (no)? Then I started to wonder what I should be eating before and after I went to the gym. Then I started running outside more and I researched what to wear when you run outside in the cold and what to look for in a pair of running shoes and etc., until I was spending a significant portion of my time just learning things about nutrition and exercise.

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Mastering Habits

A few months ago, I found a list online of “17 Self-Help Books Everyone Should Read.” It turns out there are probably hundreds of lists like this one on the internet, which is why I didn’t link the particular one that I encountered, but when I found myself bored in an airport a few days later, it was that list that I chose to reference when picking out a book. So that’s how, knowing nothing about it at the time, I ended up buying The Power of Habit. And I’m really glad I did.

The book was slow to read at first, and I generally had to read it one chapter at a time because there’s a lot to it, but it was fascinating and I truly believe that if I can manage to put the things it taught me to practical use, it will change my life.

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