I am planning to take the PE exam in the future….
I am thinking about getting a master’s degree….
I am considering taking some core skills courses….
I may read this great book I heard about….
Have you said these things before or made other promises to yourself or others related to your engineering career development?
At Engineering Management Institute we talk a lot about taking action in your engineering career and life, however in this post, I want to talk about the worst possible action you can take: inaction.
What is Inaction?
Inaction is defined as failure to do something that should be done: lack of action or activity
When I read this definition, I immediately think of another question: What should be done that I am not doing?
To answer this, let’s get back to the basics. What are your goals in your engineering career? Do you want to obtain your PE license, become a project manager, and/or achieve a certain salary level?
When you are clear on your goals (and if you’re not consider taking our goals course), then it should very evident which things you should be doing.
How to Go from Inaction to Action
Once you have identified your goals, you can then establish the steps or tasks needed to achieve those goals.
Once you have identified these steps, you can move from inaction to action. If you know you want to obtain a PE license, and you have identified that taking a review course or purchasing a book is the next step, then you can take the right action.
If you have identified the tasks critical to achieving your goals and you still remain inactive, then you should either re-examine WHY you want to achieve that goal or seek outside help from a coach or mentor.
The 2 Common Reasons Behind Inaction and How to Overcome Them
In the several years I have been coaching engineers on their careers, I have seen two primary reasons that they fail to take action in their careers.
#1 Their WHY is weak – If you say you want to get your PE license, but in reality you are not passionate about doing so, well then you won’t take action on it. If you say your goal is to become Project Manger in the engineering girm you work for, but you don’t like working there at all, you are most likely not going to move towards that goal.
To overcome this, you need to really dig deep on your engineering career and personal goals and ensure that they are tied back to your values. You must understand WHY you are pursuing each of your goals, or else inaction will quickly settle in.
#2 They lack confidence – Many engineers lack confidence which instills fear around taking action thus leading to inaction. It is understandable that confidence takes time and experience to build, but you need to do your best to build your confidence as early on as possible in your engineering career.
You can build confidence by finding an Engineering Management Institute or a mentor that can help you focus on your strengths. You can also attempt to build small victories in your career. For example, if you are not a good test taker, spend a week just doing 5 practice questions a night until you know them cold. If you are afraid of public speaking, start by doing a 2 minute talk in front of friends or family, or even recite poetry out loud in the car. When I started my speaking career I recited Dr. Seuss lines out loud in the car when I was driving. I know, sounds crazy, but it worked!
I hope this post provides you with inspiration to move you from inaction to action in your engineering career, because without action nothing can happen!
To your success,
Anthony Fasano, PE, LEED AP
Engineering Management Institute
Author of Engineer Your Own Success