Happy New Year readers! Before the Christmas break our department hosted an online get-together. Rather than another quiz, the organiser set up “OCE’s Got Talent”, taking the format from a popular television program. It was a lovely change, and rather heartwarming to see the different talents and hobbies others had, and taking our minds off work and the pandemic. I contributed some drawings and photos I had done a few years back (including the headline image). Unfortunately studying for the last few years has meant little time for hobbies, but I need to re-engage with activities that give back to me.
I recently read More than Ready by Cecilia Muñoz; which I highly recommend as an inspirational book for women starting out in their career.
Among the many things that I took away from the book, one of the lessons that resonated with me is the “downside of doing work that you really care about…it can be satisfying to spend all of your time moving from challenge to challenge, crisis to crisis, without stopping to do important but less urgent things like plan….the cost of focusing on the urgent is often neglecting the important” (Muñoz). I can appreciate the sentiment of always”firefighting”; it’s something that often happens at both work and at home, moving from one problem to the next, until suddenly a year passes without me realising (2020 was a great example even with lockdowns; maybe even more so than other years!)
Sitting down and spending time to plan the important is necessary, even at the expense of what is deemed urgent. I try and spend some time during the working day to think about what needs to be done – although sometimes this falls by the wayside with the unknown urgents that pop up!
I also spent some time over the Xmas break on the dull but important things, such as pension planning. This was at the expense of my original plan to study (more on that below), but was still an important task to work through.
“Know what it is that fills you up….there are activities that you engage in – maybe even that you love – but that deplete you. These are your outputs. Make sure you find a way to balance them with activities that feel like inputs” (Muñoz). I enjoy my work, but it is tiring; and it took taking some time off to realise how tiring; and how I have let the pandemic slowly take away my inputs. Re-engaging with a routine, eating healthier, and rearranging the front room to allow me to take up exercise classes I used to do in person, are small steps that feel like I am giving back to myself.
Like the frog being boiled slowly; I just did not know how my behaviours to myself had taken a toll on me last year (until I took a “short” bicycle ride and realised just how unfit I was 😅).
“The goal is to move from just knowledge, which is information, to understanding, which is awareness.” This quote is something I feel when after all that I’ve studied or been told about, one day materialises into that “aha!” moment. When I am not at the awareness stage, I can feel the resistance…I am sure I need another epiphany to realise the meaning further!
“A miracle of thought.” My miracle of thought relates to my current course (BEng top up). I have struggled with engaging, the distance learning format is not the same as college (even when college moved online). As with my body, I fell into a fug. As with my body, Xmas proved to be the break I needed. I kept trying to justify this lack of interest to myself, but I think my subconscious knew otherwise. It countered with the plan – why am I doing this? The same reason as writing this blog – to become Incorporated and registered as a professional engineer. This simple forward thinking seems to have ignited effort in me (in the same way that pension planning seems to have ignited interest in maintaining good health to enjoy it)
I am still struggling with interest during the lectures, but I have begun studying outside of these, reading up and writing notes on the subject (materials) to try and understand.
Another thought I had recently was about postgraduate study; I wasn’t sure if I wanted to do a Master’s (and was almost set against it). However, I thought about where I am and where I want to go, and am considering whether a master’s degree in a management subject (such as engineering management) is more suitable than pure engineering.
Having a Master’s would put me in good stead for becoming chartered, and could benefit my career progression. I will investigate what route is suitable nearer the time (IMechE also run a master’s program for chartership). Thinking about this, and checking the minimum requirements for the master’s, has given me motivation.