Monday, March 25, 2013

How to Apply the Principles of Engineering to Life

Just as tried and true principles of engineering are used in the process of designing new structures that make the world a better place, they can also be used to make one's life better. With a little out-of-the-box thinking, these can be applied to everything from weight loss to solving problems in business or a relationship. Here's an example of the principles applied to weight loss:

Define the end goal

Just like in an engineering project, a specific goal and an end date should be set. In this situation, a person wants to lose 100 pounds in a year so they need to lose a little more than 8 pounds a month.

Seek to find the causes and the solution

Here, the problem needs to be discovered and solved. This person needs to find out what is causing them to stay overweight. Poor eating habits, a lack of exercise, too little sleep and too much stress might all be part of the cause. Solutions might be: stop buying junk food (easier said than done) and drink only water as a way to improve their eating, add in a daily 30 minute walk to meet their physical activity needs, take a warm shower and go to bed before 10 pm to combat the stress and lack of sleep.

Optimize time and space

Optimization is necessary to make it easier to meet the stated goals. To save time, the person in this example might lace up their walking shoes, put on some upbeat tunes and walk to the supermarket to stock up on fresh fruits, veggies and meat for the week. This kills three birds with one stone: they are getting exercise, they are taking time out from the stresses of life and they are doing something to make it easier to stick to a healthier diet. Once home, they can spend an hour washing, chopping and portioning out food so that they'll need to spend less time on meal prep during the week and have the time to get in more exercise, relaxation and sleep.

Use real data, not assumptions

It's essential to record the person's weight and measurements in order to document the results. It's not enough for them to say that their sweatpants fit better; real, concrete evidence must be used in order to track and measure progress.

Analyze feedback

Just as a project gets tested along the way, and feedback used to make changes or additions, the results that come from making life changes need to be analyzed too. If after two weeks, the person is down six pounds and four inches, things are going well. But if they've only lost one pound and half an inch, changes must be made following an evaluation.

Anyone, engineer or not, can use these basic principles when they want to make changes in their life.

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