This is a guest blog by Manny De La Cruz
If you take the time to look at the calendar, you will notice that it is already March. At the time of this writing, several significant events had already occurred in 2020. The mere mention of the following words will conjure up the high-pitched, almost childlike delivery of the phrase “Oh, yeah!” Australia, Mr. Peanut, Kobe, Coronavirus, and Megxit — just to name a few. Was I right?
Unfortunately, another significant event is occurring in 2020. That’s right — the general abandonment of New Year’s resolutions. In December 2019, I did a latinXfactor series webinar for the Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers, where I highlighted that 46% of Americans make New Year’s resolutions and only 8% of that population will see them realized. In that webinar, I proposed that students pursuing STEM degrees should not only commit to personal resolutions but also to resolutions that would aid their professional development. This same concept should also be applied to professionals in STEM.
Personally, I have had a mixed bag of successes and failures. On one hand, I have been able to go to bed no later than 10:30 p.m. Sunday thru Thursday, and I have been reaping the benefits of that decision. I have also been religiously going to the gym at least three to five times a week. My weight isn’t going down as fast as I would like, but I am feeling stronger, flexible, and overall more energized.
Professionally, I have gone to lunch with two new people already (the resolution was one per month to increase my network in my new role). I have also been diligent in studying and reading more industry journals to gain a better understanding of certain elements of my role.
What about failures? I have been eating like crap on many occasions, I have not learned a new song on bass, I have not cleaned my garage (my wife surprised me — she cleaned it instead… I OWE HER BIG!), and I am not as versed in a couple of technical work items as I had committed to.
So is it time to give up? NO! It is time to revisit and pivot your 2020 resolutions.
Here Are My Suggestions on What You Should Do to Get Back on Track for 2020:
- Remember why you made the resolutions in the first place. When you were thinking through what to commit to, you were very well-intentioned and eager to make changes. You saw the energy around you for a New Year and it was invigorating. You had plans and wrote things down. Do not let all that work go in vain. I admit the energy may not be as contagious as in January, but find solace that you will not be on the wrong end of statistics this year.
- Revisit what you wrote down. If you didn’t then, now is a good time to do it. I will not go deeply into it, but there is science behind the power of verbalizing and writing things down. Your brain makes way more neuro connections when multiple avenues are used in planning things like resolutions. Make sure you have SMART resolutions and update the time frame accordingly. Do not beat yourself up — you are still reading this article, so there is hope.
- Identify what got in the way. Be extremely vulnerable and put accountability where it belongs. Was it knowledge, laziness, your friends, partners, or a combination of these? Make adjustments and find ways to tackle the distractions. Do not skip this part, or chances are you will end up in the same place in a couple of months. Seek the help of mentors or experts to fill gaps in knowledge — Google is not always your friend.
- Generate accountability by talking about your 2020 resolutions. Post them on social media, tell a friend, tell your loved ones. Generating accountability by sharing your goals helps. No one wants to be called out for failing, literally or figuratively.
- Include professional development resolutions. While your health and personal life are definitely important, your pursuit of a STEM career or progression in a STEM career cannot be left to chance. You may be underestimating the toll that not accomplishing change in this area is having on your personal goals and overall health.
Whether you are a professional or a student in engineering, I believe that March is a great time to pause and revisit your 2020 resolutions. While some of 2020 is behind us, there is still time to affect change — but you should not wait too much longer. If you are part of that 8% that is on track to dominate 2020, then congratulations!!!! Let this be the year of some change for you. And please share your methods of success with the rest of us. We would greatly appreciate it.
Manny De La Cruz is a Mechanical Engineering graduate from the University of Texas-San Antonio by way of San Antonio Community College. He currently works for the ExxonMobil Corporation as an Optimizer in the ExxonMobil Chemical Company. For nine years, he has been heavily involved with underrepresented minority recruiting and coaching of engineers. He shares his advice and the stories of other engineers on his podcast Manny Talks, available on any podcast platform. Manny is also a family man, woodworker, bass player, and TV watcher.
We would love to hear any questions you might have or stories you might share about the things you plan to change when revisiting your 2020 resolutions.
Please leave your comments, feedback or questions in the section below.
To your success,
Anthony Fasano, PE, LEED AP
Engineering Management Institute
Author of Engineer Your Own Success