As with every New Year, we start very positive, setting new resolutions. I found that I need to set goals for myself to ensure that I stay focussed and determined to achieve my goals in the anticipated time period. These include personal, work, academic and fitness goals.

Presidents corner - The sharpest pencilAs motivation, I entered for the Cape Argus cycle tour (now Cape Town cycle tour) to ensure that I HAVE to get on the bicycle and start training for the event, taking place in March. However, on my first ride out on the 2nd of January, I found myself out of breath and my body suffering to complete a short route which I have ridden on so many occasions. Again, I realised just how quickly one’s fitness deteriorates when not training. When I got on the bicycle that morning, my mind was of the opinion that this was going to be an easy ride, remembering the level of fitness I was at in November. However, the holidays are not kind to one’s body. Research showed that strength loss occurs within approximately 2 ½ – 3 weeks, and cardio loss even more rapidly, if you are not training. Therefore, my mind and body was really disjointed from reality, and so much for the “muscle memory” myth. There is only one hard truth; I need to start with basic training, condition myself and train my body to again increase my strength and level of fitness if I am planning to ride the Argus and my intended intensity.

We need to stay at the top of our game if we expect to perform and be the sharpest pencil. In our work environment, we study hard to pass the various examinations. However, as with cycling, if we do not continue to condition our minds through continuous studying and gain experience through work exposure, our minds also become unfit. Essentially the “use it or lose it” principle applies. Very few candidates, who wrote the Paper 1 Exam five years ago, will be able to do a stress transformation calculation. However, as Engineers, we have to remain sharp. We are the next generation responsible for developing new initiatives, methodologies and design criteria. You are only as good as your last exam. If you do not continue to sharpen that pencil, you will sink into a dark hole and lose focus. By challenging ourselves, our bodies and minds remain fit.

Michael du Plessis - SANIRE President