All

In this example is the basic value proposition of Essentialism: only once you give yourself permission to stop trying to do it all, to stop saying yes to everyone, can you make your highest contribution towards the things that really matter.

“Essentialism” by Greg McKeown

In chatting with a coach recently, I revealed that one of my problem patterns is taking on too much stuff.

Two other things recently happened that also have me reflecting on this.

I had a conversation with my manager recently about long-term career goals. The things I had in mind were all over the map. Perhaps this is just because I want to keep my options open? Or maybe it’s because I don’t yet know what I want to do long term? In any case, there is no one future I’m currently rowing towards–I’m pulling myself in multiple directions.

As for my personal goals, they’re also all over the map. I’m making pretty good progress towards most of them still. However, to achieve all of them in 2020, I’ve realized that I will need to focus pretty hard on them which will leave me little opportunity for other things that may come up throughout the year. This could be fine, but seeing as many of my goals are centred around self-care this year, I don’t think having such a hardcore focus on something I’m not particularly passionate about will do much for me in the self-care area.

So maybe I need to spend some time reconnecting with the why and re-evaluating.

Unchecked

In 2011, Jon Haidt, speaking to an audience of 1,000 social psychologists, noted the lack of viewpoint diversity in their field. He reported that he could identify only one conservative social psychologist with any degree of field-wide recognition. Surveys of sociologists’ professional organizations have found that 85%–96% of members responding self-identified as left of center, voted for Obama in 2012, or scored left of center on a questionnaire of political views. (Most of the remaining 4%–15% identified as centrist or moderate rather than conservative.) The trend has a long tail, but it has been accelerating. In the 1990s, liberals among social psychologists outnumbered conservatives 4-to-1. More recent surveys show that the ratio has grown to greater than 10-to-1, sometimes far greater. A tendency to hire for a conforming worldview combined with the discouraging aspects of being so decisively outnumbered ideologically suggests that, unchecked, this situation won’t get better. According to the surveys establishing this trend toward homogeneity, about 10% of faculty respondents identified as conservative, compared with just 2% of grad students and postdoctoral candidates.

“Thinking in Bets” by Annie Duke

I will admit that when I first read this quote, my instinct was that something was wrong–that it was a problem that there isn’t a more even distribution of political views in the sociology field.

Stopping to think about it more, I started to question if that was actually the case. (And apologies now if this post isn’t completely coherent–I intended to spend more time blogging tonight, but I spent my time elsewhere instead and now I’m writing this up quick before bed.)

Maybe it’s the case that sociological truth just happens to align more with leftist viewpoints, and thus people with rightist viewpoints choose to exit the field? Perhaps more conservative people chose a field based on their values and interests, similar to more liberal people, but their values and interests did not lead them to pursue sociology?

I don’t think that it is necessarily problematic that the political diversity in sociology does not represent the political diversity in the greater population.

I am very curious where this intuition comes from, though.

Could this a be case of the is-ought fallacy? (We see this distribution of political diversity in the general population, so there ought to be this distribution of political diversity in the field of sociology.)

Or is there something else at work here?

I find the intuition very similar to that which many people seem to have about the gender gap in the software engineering field–that it’s a problem that we don’t see close to a 50/50 male/female ratio of developers.

At present, I don’t currently see this as a problem. I do see it as potentially symptomatic of a problem, though.

For instance, if a male and female candidate presented identical resumes and performed equally well during the interview process, and we didn’t see a 50/50 male/female ratio of people getting the job, then there could be a problem. But the problem would not be the lack of the 50/50 male/female ratio–the problem would be that there is something in the interview process biasing towards male candidates.

But it is odd that we have these judgements of things. I wonder how much of it is purely self-preservative as opposed to being rooted in truth at all.

For instance, a couple weeks ago, I was on the bus and it was running super behind schedule. I noticed that the bus driver was taking their time and waiting for people who flagged the bus from across the street to run to the bus stop. I thought the bus driver was doing something bad because they were putting everyone else on the bus behind schedule in their choosing to drive this way.

But then this morning, I was running for a bus when it started to pull away. But then it seemed to stop when it realized I was running for the bus. The bus driver continued to wait for people at other stops who appeared to be running for the bus, even if it wasn’t always the case and sometimes they were just running past the bus stop. But this morning, I thought the bus driver was being kind to people, probably because it had benefited me at the beginning.

I wonder if this all comes down to distinguishing observations from the story/meaning/thoughts we have about those observations.

The human condition is weird.

Mediocrity

Common causes of mediocrity include rearview mirror syndrome (the need to base every choice off of past experience; don’t tie your future to your past), lack of purpose, isolating incidents (assuming choices only affect the present, forgetting that they also continue to affect the future), lack of accountability (accountability to someone else; get an accountability partner), mediocre circle of influence (who you spend your time with may be the single most determining factor in your success), lack of personal development, and lack of urgency (the belief that personal development can always be left to tomorrow).

“The Miracle Morning” by Hal Elrod

So I had my internet installed earlier today. Looking forward to not having to worry about going over on my data plan for a while.

It’s been about a week and a half since I’ve moved now. Here are some shots I took from my balcony:

As I mentioned in my last post, I’ve been pretty focused on my goals and unpacking. Regarding unpacking, I’m pretty much down to one more box that I have to process so that will be done soon. And my goals have been moving along pretty nicely as well. Perhaps most notably, I’ve managed to lose 10 pounds since moving in thanks to being back in the gym and running almost every day, being back on meal prep, and sort of getting back into sports.

I say sort of getting back into sports because I’ve realized commuting towards downtown for late-night sports isn’t ideal with two regards–first, it takes longer than I expected, and second, because even late at night, the train so far seems to be infrequent and packed with people. This is true for getting to and from work as well right now.

I’m still trying to figure out the best way to approach some of these things.

I’ve started exploring sport options closer to home. I tried badminton at a closer community centre last night, and I’m trying volleyball there tonight.

I’m exploring the idea of going to work earlier or half-way through my day to try to avoid transit traffic. Some of the things I’m trying to weigh in to this are when I’ll be able to workout (ie. times when the gym isn’t busy) and the likelihood that I’ll get stuck at work due to an emergency.

On that note, I’m reading an interesting book on decision making right now: Thinking In Bets by Annie Duke. It’s an interesting perspective shift on decision making, and I’m interesting in putting some of those tips into practice soon.

Anyhow, I should be back to blogging regularly now. Looking forward to getting back to my reflection practice more regularly.

Develop and Optimize

Form determines function, but the tissues also develop and optimize based on their use. For example, the fibers in a muscle may have a given structural architecture, but the repetitive stresses they see during running may cause adaptations that shorten and excessively bind layers of tissues together that impact their overall function. To restore this, you must fix the tissue properties, but also address the mechanical cause that altered the tissue in the first place.

“Anatomy for Runners” by Jay Dicharry

I missed posting on Monday, and I almost skipped posting this today. In the spirit of not letting the good be the enemy of the perfect, I’m just stopping by to say I haven’t forgotten about this.

I’ve been keeping busy this week unpacking and catching up on my goals. I’m behind on quite a few of them right now, so I’ve gone to the gym twice today and also did a short 5 km run. Just got back now, and I’m getting ready for bed so I can try to get some sleep for tomorrow (the past two nights haven’t been great for sleep).

I’m also hoping to dedicate some more thinking time to blog posts in the near future. I feel like several of the more recent ones were rushed, disorganized, and too spontaneous.

I don’t have internet at home yet (yes, I caved in and I’m gonna give internet a try for the year), but that’s coming next week and will hopefully help with keeping on top of blogging regularly.

Time to sleep.

Heat’s On

What compounds the sluggishness of our evolutionary crawl is that when we actually do have the time, are in a better mood, have more of a sense of control, we don’t feel enough pressure to compel us to do what we know we should be doing to prevent the nasty situations from showing up again. When the heat’s on, we tell ourselves we’ll get organized — later. We’ll be nicer to ourselves and other people — later. We’ll be more strategic and proactive — later. … Later comes, and the heat’s off. “If I had more money, then I’d really be a lot more creative.” Really? “If I just had more time, I’d really . . . (fill in the blank).” Are you sure? If we had more time and money, we’d likely feel even less like doing what we think we should feel like doing. Under stress, we’ll default to habits and not do what we need to do. When things relax, we won’t feel the need to go to work to change the habits — as sure as gravity.

“Ready for Anything” by David Allen

I hate being on a diet. But at the same time, it’s one of the things I’m most looking forward to being able to do next week after moving.

A lot of my goals and otherwise patterns have been greatly side-tracked since living at home. I’ve been very creative with all the excuses.

I can’t eat my meal prep because my mom stresses out when she sees me only eating my meal prep and not eating her food.

I can’t go to the gym because it takes me 30 minutes to get there and back, and all the other little things in preparing for that, it takes me away from work for too long of a break.

I can’t go for a run because of the snow and the gym is too busy.

I can’t get out of bed when I wake up in the middle of the night because I’d wake up other people in the house.

One of the key things in habit formation/behaviour change that I see frequently is the idea of ensuring your environment is conducive to the change you want to see.

I mean, ideally, I’d like to be able to simply not make excuses for myself. But I mean, barring that, moving and eliminating most of those excuses will be a good alternative.

Success

Success is not sustainable if it’s defined by how big you become.

“Onward” by Howard Schultz

Approximately two weeks ago, things suddenly started to look up. I found out about two changes that came into effect quite recently.

As of Saturday, I have been promoted to a Senior Software Developer position at work.

And as of today, I have a new home. I will be moving from South Delta to Coquitlam later this week.

I’m looking forward to having a shorter commute to work, the ability to workout and play sports more frequently, and being able to get back on a diet.

I’m hoping that some of these things will help with my sleep and otherwise health.

And I’m looking forward to having two of my stressors taken care of.

So here’s to the start of life’s next adventures.

Sleep Perception

Sleep perception is a weird thing.

Yesterday, I woke up just before 1am and was wide awake until just after 4am. (My eyes eventually got tired after reading which I eventually resorted to after meditating and trying to sleep proved to be futile.)

So I was super exhausted all day yesterday.

Today I woke up feeling much more rested. I was just like “Thank God I managed to sleep better last night.” So I’m laying here, waiting for my alarm to go off, thinking it’s almost 7am.

Eventually, I look at the clock.

It’s almost 3am. Not 7am.

I dunno why I feel so much more rested or like my sleep is better tonight.

Sleep perception is a weird thing.

Reason

You see, gentlemen, reason is unquestionably a fine thing, but reason is no more than reason, and it gives fulfillment only to man’s reasoning capacity, while desires are a manifestation of the whole of life — I mean the whole of human life, both with its reason and with all its itches and scratches.

“Notes From The Underground” by Fyodor Dostoyevsky

I used to be all gung-ho about logic and reason. I thought that sticking purely to them was the best way to navigate any argument. I thought that bringing emotions in just made things messy.

In the past several months, I’ve really been questioning whether that was true.

I’ve been in and observed a lot of conversations where I realized that people were being logically, but the conversations weren’t really progressing. The logic wasn’t helping to navigate the conversation. In fact, at times, I thought it was just making things worse.

It seems like whatever conclusion people want to draw, if it’s about something that isn’t somewhat objectively measurable, people can use logic in some form to support their conclusion.

And it also seems like most of arguments seem to be emotional at the core–not logical.

I’m curious whether this is just my current context, or if this is true in a broader sense as well.

And if most arguments are emotional at the core, what role does logic play?

Anywho, just some random thoughts that I’m continuing to ponder, and observations that I shall continue to make.

Imbalance

Obesity is a hormonal imbalance, not a caloric one. The hormonal problem in undesired weight gain is mainly excessive insulin. Thus, type 2 diabetes, too, is a disease about insulin imbalance rather than caloric imbalance.

“The Diabetes Code” by Dr. Jason Fung

For resistance to develop, two essential factors are required: high hormonal levels and constant stimulus. Normally, insulin is released in bursts, preventing insulin resistance from developing. But when the body is constantly bombarded with insulin, resistance develops. It should be obvious by now that, since resistance develops in response to high, persistent levels of a stimulus, raising the dose only leads to more resistance. It’s a vicious, self-reinforcing cycle: exposure creates resistance. Resistance leads to higher exposure. Higher exposure increases resistance.

“The Diabetes Code” by Dr. Jason Fung

In our train analogy, one way to pack more people into the train is to hire “subway pushers.” In New York City in the 1920s, people were forcibly shoved into the packed trains. While this practice has died out in North America, it still exists in Japan. When passengers are left standing on the platform, “passenger arrangement staff” push more people onto the train. Hyperinsulinemia is the body’s subway pusher. It shoves glucose into the already stuffed cell. When glucose is left outside, the body produces extra insulin to forcibly push more glucose into the cell. This tactic works at first, but as more and more glucose is forced inside the overstuffed cell, more force is required. Insulin resistance causes compensatory hyperinsulinemia. But what was the initial cause? Hyperinsulinemia. It’s a vicious cycle.

“The Diabetes Code” by Dr. Jason Fung

I had a meeting with a counsellor today. We were talking about things that could possibly be related to some of the things I want to change (such as sleep quality), and one of the things that came up was blood glucose.

When I was studying at UBC, a blood test revealed that I was prediabetic. I exercised a lot while I was at UBC, so it was a surprise. Though, if I think more about it, it really should have been expected.

I was a vegetarian, though I ate very little fruits and vegetables. Most of my meals consisted of breads, rice, and pasta. And my snacks were often cookies, muffins, and other sweets.

I was able to get my fasting blood glucose back into normal range (albeit, still on the high side of normal) by going on an extremely low carb diet for 6 months. To make this easier on myself, I decided to lose the vegetarianism.

More recently, I find that the health of my insulin resistance appears to cycle with my diet.

For the past 4 years, I’ve been doing a 6 month bulk and a 6 month cut. During my cut, my fasting blood sugar is usually pretty good. During my bulk, I tend to find myself back in that prediabetes range.

So I’m curious once I get going on my diet again this year and my insulin regulation is back under control whether that will be one less factor having a negative impact on my sleep.

I’ve got another slough of suggested bloodwork to go through, but at least there’s another path to look towards for improvement.

I’m also curious whether if instead of a rapid bulk if I try a lean bulk, whether that would decrease the impact on my insulin resistance. May also experiment with a couple other nutrition patterns this year to see what is effective and sustainable.

Without Becoming

Perhaps it’s impossible to wear an identity without becoming what you pretend to be.

“Ender’s Game” by Orson Scott Card

Today I had a talk with someone. For the past many months, there has been a fair bit of conflict and tension in our relationship. For a while now, we’ve been trying to figure out how to address some of this to bring us to a better state.

Prior to today’s meeting, I was told that my feedback to them was confusing. The feedback I gave them provided some insight into my perceptions. However, it lacked anchoring to specific data points (so it was unclear what triggered my perceptions) and it didn’t provide much guidance towards how we could best move forward.

I spent a couple weeks trying to identify concrete examples of things that would lead me to think certain thoughts and feel certain emotions. I managed to identify at least 5 things before our talk took place today.

I presented these observations in the form of the experience cube because it is a tool that both of us is familiar with, and because I thought it would be a good frame work to connect the specific data points with my perceptions with guidance for moving forward. (The experience cube is a framework used to provide clarity when sharing your experience. The components of the experience cube include observations (the specific data points), thoughts (my perceptions about those data points), feelings (my emotions following those thoughts), and wants (how I would like things to change). This concept comes from Gervase Bushe’s Clear Leadership.)

On the bright side of things, it sounds like they got better insights into the specific behaviours I was reacting to and some changes I thought that would improve things.

But on the flip side of things, so far (I say so far because we’re continuing the conversation again later once they’ve processed their thoughts) it sounds like they’re attributing the conflict and tension to the fact that I these thoughts. And that the solution to these problems would be for me to stop having these perceptions.

I mean, yes, it is true that my thoughts/perceptions are leading to the conflict and tension between us. However, I don’t think that means that the next action to move forward would be to stop having these perceptions.

I think having perceptions is a core piece of the human condition. I think they are inevitable, and having them is largely out of our control.

So of course I decided to try to explain that. And I also tried to point out that the conflict and tension on their side was generated from their own perceptions, even though they didn’t seem to believe that they have many of these perceptions.

Why did I decide to try to explain that?

I didn’t realize it until writing this blog post, but I automatically jumped into explaining because I have this idea about perceptions and how they’re related to the issue we were discussing, and they didn’t have the same idea. I saw this as a problem. Problems make me feel uncomfortable, so immediately I tried to explain to remedy the problem in order to alleviate my discomfort.

Another perception.

I also realize now that focusing on the perceptions themselves sort of side-tracked our conversation. The perceptions are important to discuss because they provide clues into the needs that we have that aren’t being met.

Reflecting more on it now, I suspect that I have an unmet need to feel respected and free; I suspect that they have an unmet need to feel liked, wanted, and belonging. I think I may suggest in our next conversation that we look at these to see if these are unmet needs, and if so, what actions we can take to help each other fill those needs.

Well, it sounds like I have more direction than when I started this blog post.

Fortunately, I’m going to be running some of these thoughts by a coach soon. I’m curious if I’m tracking towards a better place, or if I’m still missing some major of my blind spots in this conversation.