What better time than the New Year to reflect on the ups and downs of the last twelve months? Hopefully, there are many achievements and great memories to look back on, but we probably also have a few regrets and some instances where we could have done better.
So, with that in mind, it’s time to set ourselves a resolution or some targets so that when the next year is over we can hopefully look back on our last lap of the sun with a greater sense of accomplishment and joy.
Or maybe not – we all strive for improvement but often ask more of our future selves than we can deliver. Some resolutions seem simple on New Year’s Eve, but when you’re back to the daily grind of the real world you realise life just gets in the way. At least you won’t be alone, an estimated 80% of New Year’s resolutions fail by February.
Many people make a New Year’s resolution about their professional life. Maybe they want to branch out and learn a new skill, take more risks or finally get involved in a greater amount of outreach and volunteering. But with constant deadlines to be met and the hopes of a personal life outside of work, there just isn’t enough time in the day.
Mechanical designers will likely know this feeling. The demands of the job leave little time for work outside of finishing the current project. That nagging to-do list of tasks you wish you could get to only seems to get longer.
So, here are our top 5 New Year’s resolutions mechanical designers hope they will fulfil but know they probably won’t. Whether you are a seasoned mechanical designer, in your first job or a student new to the field hopefully you will relate to some of our choices.
1. Research new technologies
Remember that interesting article you read 6 months ago or that conversation with a colleague over lunch? That new technology you heard about sounded fascinating. We all aim to stay on top of all the advances in mechanical design. But it’s a big field, and keeping up with everything feels unrealistic. Also, that list of papers you’ve been meaning to read looks a bit too daunting after a long day of work. Set a goal now to try out at least one new piece of technology per month, whether it’s an AI-assisted design tool or VR simulation system. Most companies offer a free demo or trial so you can try them risk-free.
2. Learn that new software
On a similar theme, most mechanical designers will have some new software they have been meaning to learn or at least investigate further. You’ve heard about the new features it has and all the potential benefits it offers. Perhaps the latest generative design application has caught your eye.
However, you have your trusty software, you know exactly how it works and how to get it to do exactly what you need for the deadline next week. All the time a new version might save you, in the long run, doesn’t look that appealing if it means spending intense hours of learning. You don’t want to go through the tutorials, spend hours getting used to all the new controls, not now at least, maybe if you get some time next week or the week after.
3. Assess past projects
Looking back at previous projects is a great way to determine how to go about future projects. It can also be interesting to check how the work you’ve done in the past is performing now.
When it comes down to it though, the next deadline is always the most important. Make a habit of remembering all the important details from that past project that may be relevant to this one and learn from both successes and failures.
4. Automate the tedious admin
No one enjoys doing tedious, repetitive admin processes, but they need to be done. We’ve all dreamed of spending an afternoon writing a script to automate a process that will save us time in the future.
But say we spend time writing a Python script to archive our documents properly, we might finally have to settle on a convention for properly identifying our file names and, hey presto, we’ve got a system that kind of works.
5. Have more fun
Research has shown that two of the main reasons so many New Year’s resolutions fail are that they aren’t specific enough and that they aren’t framed positively. So, in that spirit, we thought we would finish with something that is at least positive but also vague, so you have an excuse if it doesn’t happen. Have more fun!
Gotta try it. Surely this one can’t fail? Good luck in 2020!