I have had the pleasure of providing career coaching guidance to hundreds of engineers through my travels with my book Engineer Your Own Success. One very obvious characteristic of those engineers who are happy in their careers is the constancy of purpose.
What exactly does constancy of purpose mean?
Purpose is the reason you do something. If you are clear about why you are an engineer and you have specific goals and reasons for what you do each day, you will find that your career is much more rewarding.
How do you maintain a constancy of purpose?
I wouldn’t say there is a standard engineering equation to be purposeful, but here are 5 steps you can take to help you find and keep purpose in your career and life.
- Ask yourself why you do what you do? You may want to brainstorm answers on a blank sheet of paper. Is it to improve the world in some way? You are looking for the deeper meaning here not simply because you might like math and science. Not that there is anything wrong with that, but what are you using your love of math and science to achieve? Purpose is often driven by a desire to be a part of something bigger than yourself or by helping a global cause.
- Remind yourself of the answer to the question above regularly. If you were able to construct a clear and powerful answer to the question why do I do what I do, write it out clearly somewhere and read it every day. This will keep your purpose at the forefront of your mind so you can keep it present in everything you do.
- Volunteer in some capacity in your industry. Volunteering to better your engineering discipline will help you strengthen your purpose and your connection to your profession, and hopefully to your purpose. Doing something for a paycheck is important for multiple reasons, but when you volunteer it reinforces your dedication to your purpose and your profession. This doesn’t have to be hours each day or week, it could be as simple as attending an event once per month, or visiting local schools and talking about engineering.
- Become active in your local community. Engineering is a profession that impacts civilization. I recommend that you try to get engaged in your local community in whatever way possible. By local I mean the town you live in, or the town you work in. Doing this, gives you another dimension to your engineering career or life. When I was a practicing civil engineer, I made it a point to join the local Chamber of Commerce in the town I worked. This was powerful for me on many levels. It allowed me to build strong relationships in the community, but also find out what engineering needs the community had, so I could try to serve them, and in turn serve my purpose.
- Do good for people. I know this one is totally obvious, but when your purpose has a component that helps people or the greater good, it is usually more powerful. For example, if your purpose for being an engineer is to make a lot of money, you probably won’t be as engaged as you might be if your purpose is to help improve the quality of water in a certain region. Keep this in mind when answering the question asked in number 1 above.
“The secret of success is constancy of purpose.” – Benjamin Disraeli
I hope these recommendations help you to develop and maintain the constancy of purpose in your engineering career. One last note for you: remember that your purpose can change over time. So re-visit your reasons for what you do as often as possible.
To your success,
Anthony Fasano, PE, LEED AP
Engineering Management Institute
Author of Engineer Your Own Success