You probably agree that having a career vision helps you reach your goals. It works for engineers too. A visionpulls you along in your career. Farther along in your career than if you didn’t have one.
And because it’s aligned with you and your passion, your vision is pulling you where you want to go. The bigger it is, the farther it pulls you. And it’s giving you the key to setting goals and making career decisions.
If you don’t have a long term vision for your engineering career, I encourage you to get on that today. But beyond that, I want you to think big in your career visioning. Think big…and bigger.
As a woman engineer you grapple with many things that get in the way of thinking big. Things that limit your visioning and dreaming. Like trances of fear and a strong inner critic. Like a lack of mentorship, affirmation and encouragement.
Before you can gather your ideas the wrong kinds of messages are already bombarding you:
- It’ll be too much for me.
- I’m not good at that.
- I don’t have enough training or experience.
- I’m doing fine where I am.
- I could never reach that goal. No one like me ever makes it that far.
And guilt comes in because you have family obligations. You’re shamed into thinking about yourself last. And stressing about how you’re gonna solve all the life balance issues.
Staying small is comfortable. And staying small may be necessary at certain times in your career. But it should not be your mantra.
You can tell yourself you’re doing okay. And yourself will believe that. But some day there will be a little tiny voice inside you that wishes you had spent more time thinking big.
You owe it to yourself to think big for a more fulfilling career. You have talent that the world needs. You can align your talent with a big challenge. And in the process become the engineer and leader you always wanted to be.
Your Engineering Dream to Change the World
In the course of developing my coaching business, I’ve asked many women in engineering and science what their visions are for their careers. Most don’t have an answer.
Or, if they do, it’s a short term vision. Or it’s something they have a feel for but can’t articulate.
Here are some examples of visions from women who have begun to think big:
- Lynne wants to be an executive in her industry and have influence on changing cultures in the organization.
- Maisie wants to influence new energy technologies at the director level.
- Nicole wants to be a leading industry expert in augmented reality for aviation and air traffic control.
- Corinne wants to be an astronaut.
- Lucia wants to be a senior intelligence analyst, using her expertise to help people produce products and get published.
- Sherie wants to do medical device research and development, creating designs and implementing them with patients.
- Sita wants to create something new that solves a world environmental problem, like ocean pollution or plastic recycling.
Not all of these visions are complete. Many will change. Some will be realized earlier than expected. Some will never be reached. But they all provide a meaningful target. And each person will change the world in some way as they strive to get there.
It’s not unusual for you to not have a long term career vision. But I encourage you to keep working on one.
Something that is magnetic to you. That draws you and motivates you. Something you can keep enhancing to your heart’s delight as you continue to think bigger.
If you need some help articulating your vision, I’d love to help you with that. We can work with your ideas and your hopes to come up with a meaningful vision that lights up your engineering career.
How to Think Big and Bigger in Your Engineering Career Visioning
Here are some tips for thinking big as you envision your engineering career:
- Overcome limited thinking and limiting beliefs.
The first step is to counter the wrong kind of messages coming at you. The fear-based ones we just talked about. None of them are true.
Instead focus on where you can make your contribution. Where the challenges are that you want to take on. See what others have done and know that you can do that, too. And more.
- Think beyond the incremental.
It’s easy to identify the small next steps. You want to:
- Do more of the work you’re doing now
- Get better at your job
- Be a leader on your team
- Apply for your next position.
But instead think farther out. Use more imagination and think more fancifully. Don’t worry at this point how you’ll get there.
- Be more specific…and unique.
Everyone wants to help people, be a good leader, and learn the necessary skills. Beyond that, explore:
- What kind of work or technologies interest you?
- How can you apply your particular talent?
- What kind of impact do you want to make?
- How can you take that impact one step further?
State your responses to these questions in a way that’s compelling to you.
- Make stretches and take leaps.
Your engineering mind wants clarity. It wants it all spelled out. It wants to know exactly what to do. But I’m telling you to defy all that reasoning and just visualize a landing place. Where you want to end up.
The best visions are far-fetched and unrealistic. You’ll figure it out as you go. And you’ll get there. Or you’ll at least get close. It’s part of what makes your career so fulfilling.
- Align and realign.
As long as your vision is in alignment with your energetic center, you’ll stay on track with it. Because by definition that means it’s in harmony with your values. And a good match for your skills and strengths.
Keep your vision aligned with you and you’re much more likely to bring it to fruition. Change anything anytime to maintain that synchrony.
Most people can’t create a vision in an instant. It takes time. It takes thoughtfulness, observation, testing, and nurturing. Revisit your vision often to reevaluate and refine it. Repeat these guidelines to keep your vision vital and enticing.
Why Think Bigger in Your Engineering Career?
It might help you to know that your vision doesn’t commit you to anything. You can change it any way you want. As many times as you want. It’s not even a requirement of your job.
So then, you might ask, what’s the point?
The point is that you have direction and meaning in your career. Your vision is for you. You have motivationthat is defined by you and comes from within you.
And more than that, you have a bigger purpose. One that provides your Future You the satisfaction of a career well spent. No regrets.
Because you’ve contributed at a level of your engineering potential. And along the way, you’ve changed the world.
Next time on Her Engineering Career Podcast we’ll explore how to overcome obstacles to achieving your top career goal. Be sure to tune in for Episode 91.