Struggling with mental health and wellness?
University Health Services and the College of Engineering have partnered to provide a variety of student support services, including counseling in Zachry, workshops, self-help resources and more.
As I have learned the hard way, there is always more to do and never enough time to do it. Especially in college, life can be an overwhelming juggle of personal lives with school, professional pursuits and more. It is easy to take the path that life sets up in front of us, never truly pausing to think about the implications. This is called autopilot: going through life semi-consciously from one thing to the next. It is problematic because it belittles your purpose and pursuits, but it can be combated in several ways:
Remember, time is your most important resource. It is something you will never get back. Being a busybody is a real thing in engineering. There is always another exam, lab, assignment, piece of code, etc. School can easily choke out other parts of your life. A way to combat this is intentionality. Set a goal for a time period and stick to it. Do not become distracted by other things. This is especially important when you spend time with others; cherish the person in front of you.
Pray. Mediate. Journal. Whatever you call it, it is essential to take some time to ponder and examine the present. This should be done somewhere quiet so you can silence both your body and mind from distractions. Not only is this time essential to stay present in the moment, but it also clarifies the bigger picture. It helps you look beyond the monotonous work of the day and see where you are going.
3. Perfection is your enemy
It is a life skill to learn when a job is done well enough so that you can proceed to the next thing. Engineers often suffer from “chronic overanalysis,” where they get stuck trying to find the optimal solution without ever executing. This is a real thing in industry, and it wastes time. Finding the balance between planning and executing, as well as perfecting and starting anew, are lifelong lessons that we can apply as students. I am no expert here; then again, perfection is my enemy.
4. Set healthy boundaries
Boundaries are everywhere, and a lack of boundaries exists in even more places. A boundary, broadly defined, is something that keeps the good in and the bad out. How often have you heard of someone pulling all-nighters or splurging at Northgate because they aren’t doing well? School is a priority, and setting boundaries will ensure that it remains a priority without taking control of your life. Some helpful boundaries could include: scheduling a consistent bedtime and wake-up call, saving Sundays as a day of rest, only allotting so much time to study for an exam, exercising and eating 3 meals in a day.
5. To new horizons…but not just yet
Almost everything is future-oriented in college: getting a degree, building a resume, searching for that internship. We can focus so much on the future that the present eludes us. We rush to get done with college and realize too late we didn’t treasure the opportunities we had. Although the future is exciting, and we definitely should not stay permanently in college, we must remember it is not a race.
In short, fight the autopilot of your life with ownership, especially of your time, decisions and pursuits. Life can seem out of control yet–though you cannot control everything that happens to you–there is much more that you can take ownership of than you realize. Stay on purpose and stay motivated; overcome the autopilot of your life.