I often talk to our Institute for Engineering Career Development (IECD) members about setting lofty goals in their engineering careers. When I say “lofty,” I mean really big goals, goals that on first thought might even seem unreachable. Once you set these types of goals, it is imperative that you remind yourself of them over and over again, ideally on a daily basis. This can be done through a journal or some other tool capturing your thoughts and goals. I am not just telling IECD members to do this because it is written about in many books, I am telling them this because I have seen it work firsthand in my career and life. In this post, I am going to share three real-life examples from my own experiences.
When you set goals and then keep them fresh in your mind, you start to train yourself both mentally and physically to constantly move towards those goals, whether you realize it or not. At times, actions may even be driven by your subconscious mind because you have trained it as to what direction you want to head in your career and life.
Obtaining My PE License
I knew from the day I graduated college—in fact, I knew before that—that I wanted to get my professional engineering license. Because this was such a clear goal of mine, I was always preparing myself for the exam, even years before I took it. I kept a very good record of all of the projects I worked on from as soon as I started my career. I made sure that I was clear on the kind of engineering work that the state board expected on a PE application, and I made sure that was the work I did. Early on, I obtained an application from a colleague was previously approved to sit for the exam to ensure I completed mine in the same format. Then, when it came time to study for the PE exam, believe or not, I typed out the words Anthony Fasano, PE, and taped them to the top of my computer monitor so that I stared at them all day. Not only did this remind me of my goal, but whenever I tried to come up with a reason not to study, my goal was staring me in the face driving me to do so. The bottom line is that I took and passed the exam on my first attempt and became one of the youngest people to do so in the State of New York at the age of 24.
Becoming a Partner in My Engineering Company
Another very clear goal that I set for myself early on in my engineering career was to become a partner in my engineering company. Knowing this kept me motivated to develop all of my non-technical skills, which facilitated my path towards this goal. Also because I was so clear on this goal, I would discuss it frequently with my supervisor and ask him on a regular basis how I was progressing and if there were anything else I should be doing. All of these actions allowed me to become the youngest associate partner in my company, which is a very reputable engineering firm, at the age of 27.
Visiting a Group of Alaskan Huskies
Ever since I was a kid, I have been fascinated with wolves and wolf-like dogs. I am not sure why, but I would always read books about them, watch movies on the subject, and of course hang posters on my wall. I even adopted a wolf once in another part of the country to support the species.
I have always had a goal of either getting a Siberian husky or similar type of dog or spending some time with these animals, but was never exactly sure how or when that would happen. Recently I was asked to spend a week in Alaska to do a series of my Engineer Your Own Success seminars for local engineers. As soon as I received the call, the first thing I thought about was the Alaskan husky sled dogs and the potential opportunity to see them in Alaska. Because this goal has always been so prevalent in my mind, as soon as the trip went into the planning process, I started researching online how I could visit these dogs. I ended up stumbling upon a civil engineer and his wife who are both dog mushers who have raced in the Iditarod several times and now raise the Alaskan huskies on their property just north of Fairbanks, Alaska. A musher is the driver of a dog sled and the Iditarod is an annual long-distance sled dog race run in early March from Anchorage to Nome.
I immediately contacted these people and they invited me to come spend some time with them and their 40 dogs! Sure enough, a week and a half ago, not only did I visit their house in Alaska but they took me on a 10-mile run with the dogs. Yes, I got to sit on the ATV (which they use to pace the dogs) and watch these brilliant animals that I grew up loving do what they do best: RUN. I am still in awe that I was able to do something like that in a place I never even thought I would go during my lifetime. It just goes to show you what your mind will help you accomplish when you are clear on your goals.
I hope these examples make it clear to you the importance of setting lofty goals in your engineering career. This month’s IECD call will focus on goal setting and establishing your dreamlines. Please join us.
To your success,
Anthony Fasano, PE, LEED AP
Engineering Management Institute
Author of Engineer Your Own Success