#1 - What I Hope to Accomplish
I’ve now declared that I want to spend some time in an engineering self-study. I think the very natural next question is: What do you hope to have learned or accomplished by the end? This is the draw of a degree - at the end you have nice little thesis or capstone project you can wrap a bow around and, in return, you get a piece of paper. In my case, the one I got said “B.S.” right on the front but it’s still considered valuable.
At the risk of sounding like a new-agey tour guide, my hope is that this will be about the journey and not the destination. I aim simply to learn about things that interest me. What interests me or the way I want to go about the learning or the way I want to share that learning might change from now to the next month, so it seems foolish to put limits on that. (For posterity’s sake, what I’ve been interested in lately is natural materials and fluid dynamics). In the past, I’ve committed to an idea and stuck with it beyond reason for fear of being a quitter or because I had heard that to become successful you have to gut things out for unreasonably long periods of time subsisting on nothing but ramen and your love for your idea.
But I’m convinced that’s not something that can be forced. Something must have clicked inside Sir James Dyson that possessed him to work on 5,127 vacuum cleaner prototypes. (As an aside, how ridiculous that a man has been knighted for his work with vacuum cleaners.) But nothing has clicked on such a level for me yet, so a project-based goal would be a waste as it would surely change. So to avoid the face-saving farce of a “pivot”, my simple solution is to have nearly no goal at all. Genius!
My only goal, then, is simply to become better at satisfying my own curiosity. Projects, parts, and ideas will undoubtedly fail but it’s alright as long as I’m learning along the way.