It is that time of year when many of us make resolutions to improve our lives. If you don’t want to revisit the time-tested decrees of eat better, lose weight, exercise more etc., I have seven suggestions for engineers and non-engineers alike that you can feel free to steal and make your own.
1. Resolve to concentrate on the important stuff, be less concerned about the unimportant stuff, and learn to know the difference between them – this is really a resolution to become more efficient. Engineers and others of a technical bent often try to dive into every detail of a project and quickly become so overwhelmed that getting things done becomes difficult. When you come upon a task, don’t ask if the task is interesting or if someone is bugging you to get answers about it, instead take a step back and ask if the task is indeed important to the project and has a high priority.
2. Resolve to learn something new each week that will help you in your work. This one may seem to be obvious, but we often put learning on the back burner in favor of just putting out the current fire of the day. If you can become more efficient and better at prioritizing (ala resolution #1), you will have more time for personal development and learning which in turn will pay dividends in your life and career.
3. Resolve to do something once a week that makes you uncomfortable. This resolution is good for engineers and non-engineers alike. If you stay in your comfort zone 100% of the time, you will not have any opportunity for growth. If you face your discomfort head on, you may find out that whatever is making you uncomfortable, may not be as onerous as it was in your mind.
4. Resolve to have coffee or lunch with a work colleague that you don’t know well at least twice a month. Work is about relationships as much as it is about getting work done. Human beings tend to be more helpful to people they know and like. If you get to know more people at work, you will be more effective at getting things done through others. The next time you need a favor, someone who likes you will be more likely to make your priority theirs as well. Obviously, the opposite is also true. If you are a typical engineer, perhaps this resolution can be coupled with #3 and you can kill two birds with one stone!
5. Resolve to learn how to let go of the rope. What this means if you are in a struggle and just know you are right and the other person is wrong, you are in a virtual tug of war with that person. Each of you trying to win by pulling harder and harder on the rope until you either exhaust yourself or the other person exhausts themselves. If instead, you give up on the idea of “winning”, your stress level will go down, your relationships will improve, and in short, you will be happier. I know there are those of you out there who don’t subscribe to this, but I guarantee that if you practice this resolution, you will become a believer.
6. Resolve to do something for someone else, specifically when they are not expecting it. Pay for someone’s coffee, help someone carry their groceries, offer to do a task for someone at work, etc. You might have heard this called “paying it forward” and it will make your day as much as it makes the day of the person you did something for.
7. Resolve to have fun! Here are some websites you might want to try out just to make you smile.
· Here is today. (hint: click on the Okay + link)
· Do Nothing for 2 Minutes (self explanatory)
· Weave Silk (for the artist in you)
· The Tone Matrix (for the musician in you)
· Eel Slap (get out your aggression harmlessly)
· Cat Bounce (guaranteed to make you smile)
· Viewbug (Beautiful photos)
· Pointer Pointer (how do they do that?)