One hurdle that many engineers experience in their careers is taking action on the challenging professional projects that will enable them to move forward and up. I’ve had a lot of conversations with engineers who talk about their desire to earn a certification or find a new, better position.
In fact, the conversations are the same one I’ve had with them before. For a couple of the engineers, we’ve walked the same ground for the past twelve months. Why is seizing the initiative in your engineering career such a challenge?
Fear is one reason. That’s a seriously charged word, right? It’s also a word that many don’t like to talk about because it is such an emotional word. But I think it’s the main reason that any of us put off going after the job we want or making contact with the people that will help us get the job we want.
And that’s unfortunate. Because someone has to have that job, it might as well be you!
Pull The Trigger, Take Action!
I’ve found that the best way to overcome the fears that crept up in my mind in my engineering career was to contemplate what I wanted, then pull the trigger and take massive action.
I took the well-known idiom of “Ready, Aim, Fire” and change the wording to “Fire, Ready, Aim”. I selected the target, aimed in its general direction and pulled the trigger.
Now that’s was a challenge to do as an engineer. Like you, it’s engrained in my subconscious to analyze, collect data, and map out steps A to Z before taking action. I did this when I was contemplating what masters degree to pursue and burned two years before I finally moved out on an engineering management program….which I changed that first semester to an MBA.
I did it again more recently by setting out to get my 6-sigma green belt certification. A year into studying I pivoted to the program management certificate. I pulled the trigger and took action, only to adjust aim to 100% once I was moving forward.
Use Momentum To Your Advantage
When you mix it up with Fire, Ready, Aim, you immediately gain momentum. Newton would be proud! With momentum you have forward motion and are no longer stuck in the role of collecting more data, more information, asking for more advice. The worse thing any of us can do in our engineering career is be static.
You may not have a clear picture of what your engineering career end state looks like, but don’t let that keep you from moving out. Most people who are upset with their current role and feel like they lack a worthy goal aren’t taking action towards something.
It’s so easy to get wrapped up in needing to get it right before we embark on a personal project in our engineering career. I challenge you to just pick a action and then pull the trigger. You can adjust your vector once you’re underway.
Action Question: What engineering career action do you know you need to take, but are holding back on? Name it, then put it in motion tomorrow morning!
“Thinking will not overcome fear, but action will.” – W. Clement Stone
Christian J. Knutson, P.E., PMP
Engineering Management Institute
Image courtesy of Stuart Miles at FreeDigitalPhotos.net