One of these days, as you’re assessing your career situation, you might realize you’ve stopped making progress. It’s not uncommon. In fact it’s likely to happen at least once in your engineering career.
You don’t like to think about it. You don’t like to think about the fact that your career is not going anywhere at the moment.
But there’s a way to make it easier for you. Let’s discuss a simple way to get your career moving again.
There’s an Easier Way to Get Your Engineering Career Back in Motion
When you discover that your career is at a standstill, you don’t usually have the luxury of pausing your job to figure out what’s going on.
And even if you do, there are so many possible approaches and ideas swirling around in your mind that you don’t know where to start.
There’s such a confusion of options for addressing the issues that it’s hard to know what will and won’t work. So you end up postponing any action to get you back on track.
But you just need to move one log to release the log jam. And if that one log represents the most important thing, you’re likely to give your career the jump-start it needs.
To streamline the approach for getting your career moving again, I recommend you focus on your current top goal, its key obstacle, and one action to overcome it.
5 Simple Steps Will Spur Progress in Your Engineering Career
Here’s a 5-step process for doing just that:
- Focus on your number one engineering career goal right now.
You probably have more than one goal. So focus on the most important one as of today. If it’s most important to you, it will surely spur your career back into motion. Choose the one and don’t worry about the others.
- Identify the obstacles to achieving your top career goal.
What’s holding you back in achieving this goal? Choose the big rocks here without getting into minute detail. For example here are 6 types of obstacles that women engineers commonly run into:
- Being caught up in the system. You don’t know how the organization actually works or the way it’s set up. You don’t understand the promotion process.
- Not having the right education, training or experience. You’re short on credibility.
- Being stuck in your job. You’re too comfortable doing your current work. You’re distracted by job details. You’re losing focus on your career.
- Lacking confidence. You fear change, relocation or rejection. You’re not getting enough positive reinforcement, feedback, encouragement, or affirmation.
- Lacking support. You have difficulty convincing people of your good ideas and getting resources for them. Others don’t respect your work and life boundaries.
- Pick out the one obstacle that’s holding you back.
There’s probably more than one obstacle. But, once again, choose the most important one. The obstacle with the greatest impact. Choose the one and don’t worry about the others.
- Choose the one action that will overcome that obstacle.
Narrow it down to one doable action. Here are some examples that correspond to the 6 types of obstacles we just talked about:
- If you’re caught up in the system, consider discussing this specifically with your boss or your mentor. Speak up and ask for what you need. Help your boss help you understand the system and how it works.
- If you don’t have the right connections, start working on that. Build relationships with key people. Find ways to increase your visibility and expand your network.
- If you don’t have the right training or experience, consider making that investment in yourself. Think about how you can build your expertise and credibility. Maybe a broadening assignment is a good option for you.
- If you’re too comfortable in your current job, find ways to get unstuck. Take a wider perspective and focus on your career as a whole.If your frozen with self-doubt and fear, look for ways to build your risk tolerance. Take small steps of courage to build confidence. Seek feedback and affirmation from others.
- If you’re not getting the support you need, talk to your boss. Seek mentorship and build impactful relationships. Be vocal about what you need and what your boundaries are.
- Take the natural next step.
Now take a step. Take one simple step – no matter how small – toward that action.
You can decide what the step is. If it starts the one action that counters the one obstacle that’s impeding your one big goal, then it’s the one log that will open up the log jam.
One Small Action Makes a Powerful Shift in Your Engineering Career
Instead of being overwhelmed by the fact that your career isn’t progressing, use this 5-step process to get it moving again.
It’s efficient because it simplifies the problem and focuses your attention. It’s effective because it focuses on the one most important thing.
Sometimes you just need to take action – no matter how small – to make a powerful shift.
If you struggle with figuring out your 5 simple steps, I’m here to help with that. You can sign up for a strategy session with me and we can lay out your action plan.
Next time on Her Engineering Career Podcast, the topic is what to do when you and your boss are not on the same page. Be sure to tune in for Episode 92.