Disclaimer: This is rehashed from an article I wrote in March 2016 for GineersNow. Some parts are added or edited for clarity.
Most of the work of engineers demands so much time to the point that the only downtime is to rest. This kind of lifestyle is common in the field, and some could not do anything about it.
But if you are one of those who can afford some time off of work, there is one thing to do other than rest: find yourself a hobby or another passion. Even the engineers that changed the world did the same.
Nikola Tesla had great fascination with pigeons in his extra time.
Henry Ford, automobile manufacturer, was also devoted to birds.
Wilbur, one-half of the Wright brothers who revolutionized aviation, was an editor in a West Dayton weekly newspaper with his brother Orville as the publisher.
John Monash, a civil engineer and an Australian commander of the First World War had an odd collection of autographs of prominent names in modern history.
Engineers can explore fields that are entirely different from what the profession offers. One can be an engineer with a keen eye in photography, with an exceptional skill in football, with a promising gift in writing, with a soaring creativity of a painter, with brilliant wit in debates, or with extraordinary talent and interest in music. The list is endless. All you have to do is make available of the resources you have, extract something out of it, and voila.
Getting interested in things other than engineering doesn’t only give you something to do with your spare time, it also provides you a different perspective that you can use when it’s time to do your tasks as an engineer.
Some would say that finding another passion would mean losing interest in engineering. That isn’t always true, as people can have two sides and still be good at both. Plus, engaging in non-engineering activities does us more good than harm: it is these things that keep us sane and human.