Last week, my seven-year-old daughter was off from school, so my wife and I decided to take her skiing one day. She had never been skiing before, and I was interested to see how she would react to it. Just thinking about it, if you took me somewhere that I had never been before, put me in awkward boots with five-foot-long pieces of thin wood underneath them, and told me to ski down a mountain at high speeds, I would be terrified.
Then I realized I am 35 years old, she is seven, and kids are fearless. That’s right—fearless. She was excited from the time we left our house—no questions asked. She skied the bunny hill for most of the morning with relative ease and then graduated to the “real” ski lift in the afternoon.
She did take a bad fall on her first run down the big slope, cried for about 30 seconds, and was then back on the ski lift with me two minutes later. Not only are kids fearless, but they recover quickly when they falter.
Here are three things you can do as an engineer to start being more fearless in your approach to your career and life:
- Don’t think too much. Many engineers suffer from what’s called paralysis by analysis. Analysis is an important part of what we do as engineers (in my last podcast I addressed this), but it doesn’t mean we should analyze every situation to death. Remember, in order to make progress in your career, you must take action consistently. Do a reasonable amount of analysis, but then move on.
- Minimize your risk, but visualize your success. This point builds on my last one. When you are planning to do something, whether it be a technical process or deciding whether or not to get a master’s degree or even take a new job, you must consider the risks. You should certainly consider some of the worst-case scenarios, like how you will pay for school if you lose your job or what you will do if you take this new job and it doesn’t work out. That being said, you should also visualize successful outcomes. Think about the benefits the master’s degree will give you or the opportunities the new job will bring. These reflections will drive you toward making sure they become a reality.
- Think BIG picture. When you get caught up in the details of day-to-day life, all of your decisions seem to be critical ones—and oftentimes they really aren’t. Step back for a minute and look at the big picture. In ten years from now, will this master’s degree have had a big effect on your career? These long-term questions will help you identify the important things in your career and life and help to shed some of the fear or anxiety around making every decision a BIG one.
Be fearless and be bold in your career. It’s the only one you’ll have.
Do you suffer from paralysis by analysis? I value your opinions and comments, please share them in the Speak Your Mind box at the bottom of this post.
To your success,
Anthony Fasano, PE, LEED AP
Engineering Management Institute
Author of Engineer Your Own Success