Engineering is a great field! To me being an engineer is a pleasure, and each day I wake up happy (if somewhat tired!) to go to my job and learn new things.
It wasn’t always like that – just a year or two ago I was really burned out and borderline depressed. Luckily for me, by sheer accident, I came across ideas that changed my life.
If you don’t feel that engineering is great or you are searching for a way to advance your career… make yourself a cup of coffee. I think you should read this.
Long story short
A few years back I got my Ph.D. degree, and you could think I was off for success. It was easy to work in a company I co-founded and simply do projects for the rest of my life. I felt there was something missing, but I couldn’t pinpoint it back then. This state lasted for a few years. Each week I was feeling slightly worse but we rarely notice small changes do we? It came to the spot where I would come to my own office and actually complain how bad our field is with my team (and I was the one complaining!).
I was really in a sorry state, and borderline depression most of the time. Luckily for me when I was bored I used to watch TEDx talks. Eventually, I found a talk of Scott Dinsmore that started something in me. And what a journey this is!
Gaining skills + knowledge = fulfillment
Scott talk moved something with me – I realized that I love engineering and that somehow my dream engineering job turned into a nightmare of sorts (in my own company!). The work was not challenging anymore, we had to do all the projects that we could to stay afloat, most of them (apart from few great exceptions) were basic and tiresome. I stopped learning new things and simply entered a slumber-like state where I did what was required and went home tired.
At that stage a year ago I started this blog. The initial idea was simply to write about FEA which I really enjoy as a break from my work (even though I did FEA designs back then as well, they were scarce). I did it mostly for myself – to keep me motivated to learn. And this felt great! At that time I wasn’t aware that it was about learning, I assumed this was about doing something “different”.
After few months I realized I enjoy doing FEA so much that I simply need to focus on this field. We were doing FEA consultancy at the time, but this was not the main thing. To make it short: I left my own company and started Enterfea.
Now I can do what I really enjoy, and I do my best to learn something new each day. It feels like it takes ages, but I’m certain that in few years all the small pieces of knowledge I gather now will compound into something useful. It’s like Steve Jobs said in his Standford commencement address:
Of course it was impossible to connect the dots looking forward when I was in college. But it was very, very clear looking backward 10 years later.
Learning gives perspective
I do my best to not only work on my job, but also on my skills. I tend to learn new things, even if I don’t have to. Everything I learn now can come in handy later on. Logic is simple – if a chance to do something awesome presents itself it will be too late to start learning (usually deadlines are too tight for that)… but I will be ready! Just like Les Brown said:
It’s better to be Prepared for an opportunity, and not have one. Than to have one and not be Prepared!
But there is also a second thing here that is as important to me if not more.
At the beginning, I wrote that most of the projects we did in my old company were tiresome and not challenging. You don’t think that changing a company suddenly changed the projects I have access to do you?
Sure I learned a lot, I focus far more on what I want to do, so naturally, I get more interesting work (this feels great!). But it would be naive to think that I will do only awesome projects till I retire… there will be the more tiresome projects as well.
My situation didn’t change all that much, but I did change a lot! As Jim Rohn said:
For things to change, you have to change
I can see now that when I do something I don’t enjoy, this builds my skills and my business so that I can do even better and more challenging work in the future! I have a goal in mind: I want to do very challenging FEA projects.
Each day I try to make small steps toward that goal, and I feel the “movement”. This way regardless of what I do, I simply treat is as a preparation for the coming challenges. Such approach makes even the tiresome, mundane tasks ok.
What you can do today
Now you know I’m writing this from my own experience:
I was frustrated and tired, felt that nobody cares and that things will never change. I didn’t saw any possibilities (despite my relatively good position!). This is a dark place for sure.
Do you feel the same? Or maybe you simply wish to change something for the better?
If so, find something you really enjoy doing in engineering (or any other field if you feel like) and start to learn about it. If you do a small progression each day, you will soon start to see a direction. You will get a feeling that you are going somewhere… somewhere you want to go! This is why I start each day waking up at 5 am to learn… it feels great 🙂
This is a great approach to life in general… even if you have the best job in the world – you can always be better at it. The easiest way to do so is by learning new things and acquiring new skills 🙂
This way, when the opportunity will come (and it will!) you will be ready! It doesn’t matter if this will be a new business possibility or a new position! Whenever this opportunity will require advanced skills you will be SO MUCH ahead! Think about it – how many people you know actually learn something after work? This is why constant learning is such a huge advantage! After few years your skills will be so much higher that it won’t be possible to simply ignore them!
What do you think about it? You can let me know in the comments below.
Perhaps Finite Element Method is your “thing”?
This is GREAT! Just do me a favor and don’t try to learn everything with trial and error as I did at the start. This was a rather frustrating process for me!
Try to find a teacher or maybe a course that will help you start – seeking help was another thing I had to learn.
If you like, you can always check my online course here!