April Sleep Check-in

Adding to my January, February, and March check-in’s, here is my sleep progress for April:

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7/30

No progress to speak of, as I kept pace with 7 nights of sleep for the month.  I’m starting to notice a few trends, having the month laid out for me in full.  For instance, I see that my most common day to hit my sleep target is Sunday.  While it’s not reflected here whether that means I’m going to bed at a reasonable hour (my gut tells me this is probably not the case), or if I’m sleeping in, it’s something worth reflecting on.

Over the next week, I’ll review my sleep progress for the first quarter of 2017 and see what the stats say, and what I can learn from my experiment so far.

 

Stay Awesome,

 

Ryan

Evolving Job Description

Having lost out on the competition for the new job at work, I’ve been motivated to consider how to position myself for future advancement at the college.  I’m trying to figure out what steps I can take to make myself a more attractive candidate.  One way I’m looking into is to turn back towards education and find a part-time online program I can take to add more credentials to my name.  I won’t dive too deep into what I’ve turned up yet, but I’m exploring a few options that could result in an additional bachelors degree in education, or even have me return for doctorate graduate studies.

Setting those aside for now, another way of improving myself is taking on additional roles and responsibility at work.  This is not to say that I’m looking to make myself busier, or becoming a martyr to work.  Instead, I’m looking at selectively adding roles that require me to learn more about curriculum and post-secondary education delivery.

I just got out of a meeting with my boss, where we discussed some avenues of growth she’s looking to take me in regarding student academic advising and program review process management.  By necessity, these new roles will require me to understand how curriculum fits together, and how students progress through their programs.  This deeper understanding will benefit me in the long-run and expose me to new areas of the college.

Coming out of this meeting, I reflected on my job at the college to date, and how it has evolved over time.  I realized that for each September I have been here (new academic year), my job changed from the previous year.

I started out as a temporary research assistant.

The next year, I was an assistant for the program advisory committees.

Then I added program review support the following year.

At the start of this year, I began teaching and I took on a more significant role with program reviews.  With this increased responsibility, my boss has also added academic advising at the start of 2017 – both to current and prospective students.

At each level, my job description has changed and evolved.  I’ve lost some minor, menial tasks, and I’ve automated others to free up cognitive space.  This is ultimately a good thing for me.  While I’ve been slowly improving my place at work (moving from contract, to part time, to full time permanent, and slowly earning more money along the way), I’ve been turning heads and catching people’s attention.  I may feel stagnant a times during the day-to-day grind, but it’s important to remind myself that I’ve been going nowhere but up since I started here.

 

Stay Awesome,

Ryan

March Sleep Check-in

I decided to hold off on posting the March sleep check-in in favour of discussing the job related stuff while it was fresh and ongoing.  However, now that the bulk of that is out of the way, I can return to updating my progress on getting more sleep.

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6/31 days, or 19.3%.

As you can see from my daily tracking, basically no change over February.  I did get one less night of sleep over 7-hours last month, but overall I stayed consistent with the previous month in the number of nights with over 7-hours in a month.  Obviously February and March don’t have the same number of days per month, but I’m treating this as a rough estimate.  Ideally, I would have liked to have seen an improvement, so it’s something to keep in mind for the rest of April.

Hope you had a great Easter weekend!  Talk to you next week.

 

Stay Awesome,

 

Ryan

The Motivation of Failure

Last week, I was passed over on a job opportunity for a more qualified candidate.  Such is life, and I don’t bear any ill-thoughts for the results of the job search.  I’m disappointed, but not soured by the experience.  It’s an opportunity to learn and grow, and I find that more important to focus on than to give in to a fixed mindset of self-pity.

After the feelings of sadness ebbed, I found myself experiencing a different feeling – motivation.  This has happened a few times in my life, and it was strange to be reaquainted with it.  There have been a few critical moments in my life where I failed at something important, and that failure created a fire within that motivated me.

It happened when I climbed Mount Kenya in 2007 after I failed my summit in the summer of 2003 of a mountain in Alberta whose name I’ve forgotten.

It happened when I joined the Campus Response Team and became a Coordinator after I failed twice to be a residence don.

And it happened again last week when I wasn’t selected for the job.  The self-critical sadness was overtaken by a motivation to go to the gym.

As I’ve written previously, It’s been a while since I’ve visited the gym.  According to my fitness journal, the last time I was in the gym was around Hallowe’en.  I’ve been rowing this last month a few times a week in the mornings, but I haven’t lifted iron in around five months.

Initially, I stopped going to the gym after my routine was disrupted by travelling to Scotland.  Then I didn’t go out of laziness, and then I didn’t go because I didn’t feel like I could justify going to the gym when I was supposed to be marking assignments and prepping my lectures.  By the time December rolled around I had regained my weight, but I also proposed to my fiancee, and started the planning process for moving out of my apartment.  Along the way, I was tired from a lack of sleep and dissatisfied with what I saw in the mirror.  Yet, it was never enough to overcome my inertia.

Failing to get the job was the final push I needed to hit the gym.  Maybe I needed a physical outlet to vent some frustration.  Maybe it was a form of punishment.  I’d like to think it was something more constructive – I accepted that I failed but I also saw that I could do better next time.  It is within my power to learn from the experience and grow.  The failures seemed to stack until it hit a critical mass; a line was crossed that set off the warning bells that I was heading in a direction I didn’t want to go.

It was time to make the first step and correct my course.

 

I vlog occasionally for my buddy’s YouTube channel, Artpress, and posted this immediately after I got out of the gym.

So, I hit the gym and pumped some iron.  I was nervous to go back as a beginner again, and overcoming inertia was incredibly uncomfortable, but I did it.

Now the trick is to keep it up.  That’s, perhaps, the greater challenge I face.

 

Stay Awesome,

Ryan

(Update) I Didn’t Get The Job

On Monday, I briefly commented that when it comes to job interviews, I am not particularly good at interviewing.  My native pessimism seems to have paid off because when I arrived at work yesterday morning, I had an email from HR thanking me for participating, but they will move forward with a more qualified candidate.

Yep, it stings and I’m disappointed.

I’m trying to keep my outlook positive, though.  I’m glad I went through the process – I had a chance to practice some skills I haven’t touched in a while, and I will learn from my mistakes and do better next time.

My immediate next step was to reply to HR, thanking them for the opportunity, and to ask  them for feedback or comments on my performance in order to grow.

Feedback

In this case, HR assured me that they went with a candidate that indeed had more experience related to the job than I; it was a competition, and I did not perform badly, all things considered.  I’ve heard through the grapevine who the successful candidate might be, and if it’s who I think it is, I feel at peace with losing to this person.  They are a great colleague, very good at their job, and will excel in the new role.  To put it in perspective, the person I believe got the job is also the person who has been instrumental in creating new, standardized processes for program reviews – templates and workflows that many of us at the college have adopted.  Further, I’ve been working with my manager to redefine my current position in order to qualify for a higher payband, and we’ve been using this person’s job description as an exemplar.  I don’t feel so bad losing if I lost to this person.  I wish them the best.

HR did have two bits of feedback that I can use to improve next time.

First contrary to what I said on Monday, they said I didn’t say enough, and didn’t go deep enough in my answers.

*Gasp!*

Ok, maybe we need to unpack that.  Keep in mind that I am a verbal train wreck at times, but the interview lasted maybe 20-25 minutes out of a 45 minute time slot.  So, what I’m taking from this is that while I may have said a lot of words, I wasn’t saying the right things.  They wanted more than direct answers – they wanted clear answers and elaborations.

I should have taken a cue from the fact that for a couple questions, the interviewers asked follow-up questions that prompted me for more answers.  It’s obvious now, but in the moment I missed that connection.  My answers needed to be commensurate with the level of responsibility the role requires.  In all likelihood, I would have done the right thing in the job, but at the interview level, I wasn’t able to articulate the depth needed to satisfy the interviewers.  It’s hard to pay attention to those cues in the moment when your mind is in a million different places and you are trying to summarize your experience in a coherent response.

The second bit of feedback I received was that I didn’t give a good explanation of why I was interested in the job.  HR’s feedback was that my reasons for wanting the job didn’t really align with the PDF (our initialism for the job description).

Sure, I played it smart by not being up-front that the pay raise played a huge role in it (it would have been 2-steps up from where I am).  What I had told them was  that the job was the next evolution of what I’m currently doing at the college, and since I started teaching last term, I’ve been seeking ways of further developing myself at the college.

A fine answer, sure, but it doesn’t really say anything about the job itself.  I could have given that answer for literally any job I applied for.

Instead, HR suggested I read the PFD and apply what the job description says to my answer.  Upon reflection, I should have mentioned that I’ve found an aptitude for program development and review.  I should have said that I enjoyed my experiences working on the 3 engineering degrees and the 3 post-graduate certificates we’ve developed since I’ve started at the college.  I could have discussed how I’ve taken on some leadership when it comes to program development to help the Chairs share the workload.

Those would have been good elaborations as to why I want to seek out roles that expand myself.  A hard lesson to learn, but important to keep in mind.  If I learned anything from my personal development reading last year (Covey, Sinek, etc.), it’s that you should have a clear sense of why in what you do.

Next Steps

There isn’t much more I can do at the moment but work on making my current position better with my manager and keep an eye out for the next opportunity.

However, one thing I did do is send thank-you cards to my interviewers.  I drafted them up last night and dropped them in the inter-office mail system this morning.  It’s not a common practice for people at my level, so it’ll a.) make me more memorable; and b.) signal my gratitude for the experience.

It may also send some good karma my way.

 

Stay Awesome,

 

Ryan

I Don’t Interview Well

I had my interview on Friday for the new position I discussed last week.  At present, I haven’t heard anything back, and I don’t expect any news until probably tomorrow at the earliest.  Regardless if I get the job or not, I find value in the experience and I’m glad I attempted to advance myself at the College.

I tend to be fairly critical of myself, and the interview was no exception.  While I wouldn’t say it was a bad interview, I felt like I made a few mistakes that were easily avoidable if I were more mindful.  You see, a couple of times in the past, I’ve received feedback on my interviews that I am a tad verbose.  Actually, one friend commented that I’m like a fire-hose when I talk.  I tend to blast the person I’m talking to with all sorts of information.  In some contexts, this is a good thing, but in an interview, it’s better to side with caution and aim for brevity.

Friday was no exception.  I’ll give you a perfect example of this in action:

Interviewer: “Just a few more quick questions – first, does your current manager know you applied for this position?”

Me: “Yes… I was conflicted about applying for the position because of the loyalty I feel to the department and the School of Engineering, so I spoke with my boss about it last week.”

*I look down at the Interviewers sheet of paper and under that question is written one word: Yes.*

*Headsmack*

There were a few other things that tripped me up a bit, but overall it was a good interview in my opinion.  I realize that I’m always critical of myself, and rather than seeing it as a failure on my part, I try to frame the experience as a growth opportunity.

Hopefully I am the right candidate for the job, but if I don’t get the job, at least I know I was good enough to give it a shot.

Stay Awesome,

Ryan

Work Loyalty

I’ve got this problem with loyalty.  Well, it’s not a problem per se.  It’s a problem for me, but it’s great for my employer.  This might be a product of my tenancy to let inertia guide me, but when it comes to career progression, I tend to avoid rocking the boat as much as possible.

I’ve been at my current full-time job for 3.5 years.  I feel lucky that I got the job initially, and I’ve been fortunate enough to be surrounded by wonderful people who are committed to making the School of Engineering what it is.  There are obviously little petty stuff here and there, but it’s par for the course when you have to work on teams.  I, without reservation, like working with all the people I interact with on a regular basis.

I started here as a lowly research assistant on a 9-month contract.  I got lucky when my position’s predecessor decided to retire and positioned myself to be the likely next person in line.  I was hired to fill the outgoing assistant’s job, and I’ve been steadily building myself since by accepting new challenges and seeking out ways to improve my profile (getting involved in program reviews, offering my analysis to the Chairs, accepting bigger projects, teaching, etc.).  But I have always been in the same position in the same office.  My boss has encouraged me to keep an eye on career advancement within the college, as my talents are well beyond what my original role was intended for.  I appreciate that my boss, whom has a vested interest in me staying in my current role, has always encouraged me to be open to advancement.

When I was given the opportunity to teach, I felt conflicted bringing it to my boss.  I was worried that it would signal a disinterest in my job, that I was keeping one foot out the door in case I wanted to bolt.  I pitched the job to her as an opportunity to broaden my experience at the College.  She was supportive, and I had nothing to worry about.

A few weeks back, a new job was posted within the College.  It’s a few pay-grades above where I am, and will expose me to some pretty high-up work across the entire College.  One part of me wanted to go for the job – it’s about a 10% raise minimum, it’s an entirely new role for me on a new campus, I like the people I’ll be working with and for, it’s a soft-reboot for my job, and it puts me in touch with the highest levels of administration at the College.  That alone should have had me applying automatically.

But what held me back was the loyalty I felt to my department.  My boss and I have been working on formally redefining my job so that I would qualify for a higher pay-band (we are bound by the union rules, so she can’t arbitrarily change my salary; I am stuck on the prescribed annual raise amounts).  She has been giving me more autonomy and responsibilities over my projects and the work I am doing is both valued and appreciated by the Chairs and faculty I interact with.  Plus, I’m in the middle of some big program reviews, so leaving partway through would be an inconvenience for others.

I consulted with peers at the College, I talked it over with my fiancee, and with my supervisor at the bar for different views.  I know, deep down, that loyalty to a company doesn’t necessarily make sense.  The company isn’t necessarily loyal to me (though I feel that my supervisors and boss look out for me, so there is loyalty there on an interpersonal level).  But clinging to loyalty means I don’t grow and expand exponentially within my role.  Instead, it would be a slow, iterative progression up the ladder.

As a final move, I spoke to my boss about the opportunity.  After our regular monthly check-in, I told her that I was interested in the position.  She looked it over and flatly told me that while she’d hate to lose me, it would be a shame if I didn’t at least throw my hat in on something she couldn’t offer me (salary-wise).  In the end, she knows the game: people are expected to grow and fill opportunities that they stumble into.  I wouldn’t be quitting my job since it’s an internal position at the College, so there was no harm in applying and continuing to work as per normal.  She gave me her blessing, I revised my resume, and applied to the job last weekend.  I think my boss appreciated the heads-up, just in case.

An hour ago, I received a notice from HR that I’m being offered an interview in a week for the job.  As of writing, I have no idea how this will turn out, but I guess this means I know what I need to do this next week – it’s time to dust-off my interview skills.

Stay Awesome,

Ryan