The Happy Engineer Podcast

080: Powerful 22-minute 2022 Reflection Exercise & Big News for The Happy Engineer Podcast in 2023 with Zach White

How was 2022? For you personally, did you live up to your full potential this year? What did you learn?

Read the full episode summary below.

In this episode, your host Zach White goes solo and shares one of his favorite reflection exercises to use this time of year. He also has a couple of big announcements for the podcast!

Before you set new career goals for 2023, don’t forget to reflect and learn from 2022.  This powerful process only takes 22 minutes, and is the exact same method Zach uses with engineering leadership in the executive wing.

Whether you are happy and engaged at work, or experiencing total burnout, now is the time to pause and reflect. Careers don’t build themselves, and intentional reflection with key learning will help you maximize success.

So press play and let’s chat… New Year’s Day 2023 is right around the corner!

Don’t just listen, join The Happy Engineer Community! Facebook Group 

Get access to bonus content and live coaching as growth-minded leaders build careers together. HAPPY HOUR with Zach!

Join me every month in a live webinar for deeper training, career Q&A, and free stuff!


The Happy Engineer Podcast




079: Career Burnout Recovery and Prevention Secrets with Michael Levitt – Chief Burnout Officer




How was 2022? For you personally, did you live up to your full potential this year? What did you learn?

In this episode, I will go solo and share my favorite reflection exercise to use this time of year. 

I also have a couple of big announcements for the podcast that you don’t want to miss!

Before you set new career goals for 2023, don’t forget to reflect and learn from 2022.

This powerful process only takes 22 minutes, and is the exact same method that I use with engineering leadership in the executive wing.

Whether you are happy and engaged at work, or experiencing total burnout, now is the time to pause and reflect. 

Careers don’t build themselves, and intentional reflection with key learning will help you maximize success.

So press play and let’s chat… New Year’s Day 2023 is right around the corner!



Zach White is known around the world for changing the game in career coaching for engineering leaders.  He has worked with hundreds of leaders at all levels from top technology companies worldwide including Facebook (Meta), Apple, Amazon, Netflix, and Google, to industry leaders like General Motors, Nike, Lockheed Martin, Whirlpool, and many more to escape burnout and achieve breakthrough results.

Zach is the Founder and CEO of Oasis of Courage, known as OACO, a fast-growing company with unique and proven coaching programs exclusively for engineers.  He also hosts a top rated show, The Happy Engineer Podcast, where listeners discover the steps to engineering success through expert interviews and Zach’s own transformational framework, the Lifestyle Engineering Blueprint.  

As a coach for engineering leaders, Zach understands the journey first hand, holding a Bachelor’s degree in Mechanical Engineering from Purdue University, and a Masters degree in Mechanical Engineering from the University of Michigan.  With over a decade of experience and top performance in a $20B organization, he is now a sought-after coach by engineering leaders around the world.  

Zach is affectionately known as the World’s Best Lifestyle Engineer, and your coach. 

Connect with him online and schedule a call to build your career, balance your life, and BE HAPPY!





Please note the full transcript is 90-95% accuracy. Reference the podcast audio to confirm exact quotations.

[00:00:00] Zach White: The year 2022 is in the books. Oh my goodness. I cannot believe how quickly this year has passed. So many amazing things have happened this year, and I wanna share a few of those with you. Hey, happy engineer. It is just you and me today, something completely different. I’ve never done this before on the podcast, but no co-host, my man, Daniel Powell.

Expand to Read Full Transcript

[00:00:27] He’s still behind the scenes making every episode sound amazing. Daniel, I love you. I appreciate it when you. You are the man, but also no guest. It’s just me. And what we’re gonna do today is actually reflect together on the year 2020. I’m going to share with you an exercise that I use myself and that I’ve shared with many of my client are engineering leaders.

[00:00:52] When we get to this time around the end of the year celebrating New Year’s, thinking about resolutions or goals for the year ahead. This is one of my favorite times of year, and so I wanted to share a really simple but powerful exercise that I use to help me in reflecting learning and. In a state of gratitude for the year that we just experienced.

[00:01:15] So I’m gonna share that with you in just a second. And then I also have a few exciting announcements for the Happy Engineer Podcast, what we’ve heard back from you, a huge shout out, for everybody who gave us feedback and shared what they want more of from the podcast. If that was you, again, thank you so much.

[00:01:34] I wanna share those announcements, get you excited about what’s coming and how. Create even more value for your engineering career with what we do here on the show in 2023 and beyond. But first, let me take you back to December of 2020. Where were you in December, 2020? I mean, what a year, right? Thinking about the year of Covid 2020, when the world shut down.

[00:02:03] So many things were different for all of us in 20. But I want you to think back to where you were in December of 2020, and I remember for me yet another day being cooped up in my place here in southwest Michigan. Inside, it’s cold, it’s gray. Short days, long nights, long winter. Beginning here in Michigan, coming off the first year where I was stuck indoors all year long instead of just in the freezing winter months.

[00:02:35] Well, . I was going through my usual reflection process, the one that I’m going to share with you in just a moment. I’m sitting there on the couch. Looking back over the year 2020, dealing with a lot of really unique emotions from that year, . So many things that we didn’t expect, but I got to that part of my process where I was reflecting on the business, thinking about the oasis of courage, thinking about what could we do and provide to be of more service to engineering leaders around the world who were now suffering burnout.

[00:03:10] From a whole new set of causes. What’s interesting is we began this business, began helping engineering leaders before Covid and then the world shuts down. Companies furloughed people like crazy, and there were all these new stressors in life that were burning people out. And of course, . It was awful. But at the same time, I felt incredibly blessed to be perfectly positioned to help so many people.

[00:03:37] And so we were growing as a business and I wanted to do something new to reach out and help more people. Well, it was at that time that I first had the idea, what if we launch a podcast? What if we take all of the work, all of the connections, my network, all of the access that I have, and pull that together and create a podcast focused on these core critical topics that engineering leaders are asking questions that you were asking at that time and.

[00:04:13] Just put it out there. I had that idea, and I’ll be honest, my initial reaction was, that’s going to be a lot of work, . Is that really the right decision? Surely there’s an easier way to get the word out and share value with people besides this, but there was something about the idea that really, really struck me as like, Ooh, this could be fun, and this could be exactly the right thing for the.

[00:04:40] Well, I did what I always do. I set up a conversation with my. And said, Hey, here’s an idea that I’m tossing around. What do you think about me launching a podcast as part of the way to reach people, be of service, add more value, and potentially find folks who are interested in what we do? And my coach at the time gave me a really wise piece of advice.

[00:05:04] Something that I would give you as well, if you’re ever considering doing something like this. But it was exactly what I needed to hear at. He said, Zack, if you want to launch a podcast, I think it would be perfect for you, but do not do it if you are not committed. Totally sold out. No looking back, burn the boats.

[00:05:28] No plan B. You are all in for at least 100 episode. And that was, that was a tough pill to swallow because I was looking at this as a once a week thing and a hundred episodes. That’s a two year commitment to the podcast. I was like, wow, okay. That’s a big deal. We talked about, okay, why a hundred episodes?

[00:05:50] And he’s like, look, it’s not about the number, it’s about the commitment. , are you all in? Are you sold out that this is something you’re going to do? Because podcasting is not a quick win game. It’s a long game. You’re gonna have a lot to learn. You’re not going to be a great host on day one, and it’s gonna take you time to build that listener base so you can actually provide the service that you’re saying you want to provide.

[00:06:13] Well, that December, December, 2020, after reflecting on. Talking to my coach and hearing his insight, I made that commitment. I said yes to 100 episodes, and I put some significant skin in the game to make sure that that would happen. And here we are. I believe this will launch as episode 80, if I’m not mistaken.

[00:06:38] And I’m 20 episodes away from my 100 episode commitment. And let me just tell you. It was the right decision. I would do it again in a heartbeat. It has been incredibly fun. So many amazing people who I’ve been able to connect with and support as guests and as listeners. Happy engineers just like yourself.

[00:07:02] And I have been so blessed, and so I wanna say thank you, first of all, for you being on the other side of the mic here, enjoying and partaking in this journey toward the career and life that we desire. Building your career, balancing your life in the pursuit of happiness together. Thank you, thank you, thank you.

[00:07:22] This has been such a joy and a privilege to do. But also, before I get on and share the exercise with you, I know you’re wait. I want to tell you this. It’s really good in your life too, so whatever it is that your goals are, keep this in mind. Set the new goal before you finish. The first one, especially with something like this, you know, maybe it’s weight loss, maybe it’s accomplishing some level of skill in a new area, but for me it was this 100 episodes.

[00:07:53] Well, here I am at episode 80. I know that I will get to 100 and rather than get to episode 100 and then come up for air and ask what, now I’m going to make a commitment to. And a commitment to myself and to my team here at Oaco that we are committed to taking this to 200 episodes minimum. So I wanna make a public accountability declaration right here, right now, that we’re not stopping at 100, we’re gonna take this all the way to 200 episodes and then see where we want to go from there.

[00:08:30] So that. Let’s talk about 2022 and how you can prime yourself for a powerful 2023, but also slow down a bit and get really present to the year that you just had in a positive way. 2022, in reflection in 22 minutes or less. Let’s get started. What you’re gonna do is sit down in a place without distrac.

[00:09:01] That is comfort. That is not connected to your work. So do not go to the office for this. Don’t sit at your home office desk for this. I want you to go to a place that has no association with work because there is so much subconscious conditioning around that place, and we want to be in a spot that’s inspiring to you, that’s connected to you as a whole person, and that is peaceful and comfortable.

[00:09:30] Might be a living room, it might be a man cave, it might be, uh, you know, a craft room, whatever that is for you. I want you to go find that space, carve out some time and ask for no distractions. If you have a spouse, if you have kids, if you have family over for the holidays, let those people know that you would like 22 minutes without.

[00:09:55] Then grab your favorite notebook and your favorite pen and do use handwritten notes for this exercise. Don’t you know, type it into your phone or tablet. Don’t get the computer out. And I know, okay, engineering leaders like myself, like you, we love to have durable notes in technology. I, I understand.

[00:10:18] Please resist that urge. I want you to hand write for this exercise, so grab your notebook, grab. We’re gonna sit down, and feel free to start a timer for this if you want, but here’s what you’re going to do. We’re going to go month by month and make a single entry of your number one highlight from each month.

[00:10:40] We’re gonna write just enough to remember who was with you or who all was involved, what that highlight was, and why it meant so much. These are three brief quick bullet points for each month. Who was with you? What happened and why was that a peak moment, a highlight for you from each month? So 12 entries January through December, and here’s where you will go to get that information.

[00:11:11] There are two primary places I’d encourage you to quickly scan to find it. Number one is your, . So I do give you permission to have your phone with you or your laptop open so that you can quickly go back and see. Where was I? What was on my calendar? What was I doing right? It might be that certain project meeting titles remind you of closing a huge project in March and you forgot about that celebration of the completion of that launch.

[00:11:41] Or you may see a vacation on the calendar that you took, that you had forgotten about. Just a quick weekend trip or something like. So first place to check is your calendar. Don’t get lost in the weeds. Look at it briefly and quickly. Just scanning the second place to look. Is your photo album on your phone?

[00:12:03] The photos that were taken on your phone during the month. Now for some of you, you may not have very many. You might not be one of those people who always takes pictures of everything. For others of you, there’s going to be thousands of pictures, and again, don’t get lost in the weeds. You may have to zoom out to that month view and just look at a few of the pictures.

[00:12:25] Those two places are really, really. for you to get a quick scan on what was going on and the highlights of your life at that time. You know, why are those important? Really quick. if it’s not a big enough thing to make it on your calendar, that’s an indication that it probably wasn’t a big deal.

[00:12:44] Not always, but it’s an indication, and if it wasn’t photo worthy, that it’s also probably not one of your bigger deals. I know there’s exceptions to that, but these are just two things that work really well for most people. You know yourself. If you don’t capture highlights and memories and experiences in one of those two places, then find the place where you do alright.

[00:13:07] And if the only place is your mind, then I would still encourage you to check these two, just to have something to prime yourself and get started. So month by. January. Scan your calendar, scan your photos, write down what was something from January that really stood out as a peak experience. Something I’m very grateful for.

[00:13:29] I’m very proud of. Write down who was with you, what happened, and why that was special in just a few words. All right. Again, we’re talking about one to two minutes per month here. Don’t overthink this. Okay? Let me pause one second. I know. Gonna be engineers out there, and this might be you who immediately say, Zach, I wanna do more than one to two minutes of this.

[00:13:53] I really want to spend time here. This sounds fun. Okay, do it . This is not a thing where you have to spend this time. I just don’t want you to think that it needs to take hours and hours to do it. It can be done quickly, and I encourage you to do it quickly. But if you wanna spend 10 minutes per month and make it a two hour exercise, by all means do it.

[00:14:13] Okay? So we’re gonna do this for each month and go through and capture this. Make it quick, and here’s the intent. I want you to prime your mind not only with how many wonderful things you were able to experience in. But who was a part of that with you? Because life is not lived in isolation. Happiness is not created by being alone.

[00:14:40] Now, some of you’re gonna say, Zach, totally wrong. I love being alone. I’m an introvert. Gimme a good book, a good cup of coffee and a fire, and I’m happy. I understand that. But even those of us who associate with introversion and a good cup of coffee, Still need relationships in our lives for satisfaction, fulfillment, longevity, happiness over time.

[00:15:03] It’s important. That said, I want you to prime yourself with these things. Get into that state of gratitude and appreciation for all that you have gained through the year. Because most reflection when it comes to year end is focused on the. The gap in all the goals that you did not hit the gap in the promotion, that you didn’t receive the gap in your bank account that hasn’t hit the levels that you wanted, the gap in your investment accounts that got crushed during, you know, these recent recessionary pressures.

[00:15:38] All of these gaps is what we tend to look at first and only when we’re reflecting on how our life is. But great leaders who are experiencing satisfaction and success at the same time know that life is not just about the gaps, it is also about the gains, and it is so important. that you invest intentional time into celebrating the gains of your life, the things that you have accomplished, the things that you do enjoy, and the people who were there with you getting connected to that purpose of why those things matter.

[00:16:18] And from that place, I promise you that you will have more clarity, more energy, and a sense of readiness to set those goals for 2020. So I highly, highly encourage you to do this before making those final decisions of what you’re going to focus on for 2023. Now, if you’ve already planned next year in some capacity, maybe you have a list of goals, a list of resolutions or things you know you want to accomplish next year, that’s fine.

[00:16:51] After you’re done with this exercise, pull that list out and ask yourself, do these still feel. Is this still authentic or is there something else that my intuition is telling me is more important for the year ahead? All right. Hey, tell me how the exercise goes. I’d love to hear it. We have the Happy Engineer community.

[00:17:12] If you’re not a part of it, please join. We’ve got that link in the show notes to jump into our free group and tell me how it goes. I really do love hearing from you about how you’re applying all of the things that we talk about here on the podcast. So join that c. It’s totally free. You don’t have to give us any emails or anything and tell me about how the exercise goes for you as you reflect on 2022 in 22 minutes or less.

[00:17:39] All right. Podcast 2023. Let’s shift. I wanna share with you really quickly a couple of big announcements, things that I’m excited about sharing with you for what we’re gonna be doing next year. First of all, I’ve had hundreds of people asking me about when will we give more of. This type of content, just me giving you the goods, sharing exactly the tools, the tactics, the strategies, the mindsets, the skill sets that we give to our paying clients.

[00:18:11] We do it in little bits and pieces, and I’m hearing from everyone. We want more of that. So starting in 2023, we will begin adding more and more bonus episodes where I just bring you exactly what we do with our clients who are working on career growth. want you to have the tools. I want you to have the best of best.

[00:18:33] So you’re gonna hear more from me in these solo episodes where I will simply be sharing exactly the b. our system, our proven methodology that we use, the Lifestyle Engineering Blueprint, we’re gonna bring those bits and pieces of exactly what we do there to you on the podcast. I’m really, really excited about that.

[00:18:52] The second thing is we’re gonna do more in the community. I just mentioned that free Facebook group. Who knows? It may not always be on Facebook. That’s where it is for. If I’m being totally honest, I have a love-hate relationship with Facebook. I love it where I can stay connected with so many people who I love and I hate it because it’s a massive distraction and it’s full of toxic, horrible things, but, Nonetheless, right now, that’s where the group is.

[00:19:17] And I promise you, it’s not one of those toxic, horrible places. So jump into that group because we will be investing more with our team at oaco to helping create opportunities for you to network, for you to get questions answered, and really just enjoy journeying through career development and personal development together.

[00:19:35] So jump into that group in 2023. It’s going to be awesome. And one of the things that I am really excited. Is that our pilot for what’s called Happy Hour has been a huge success. So here we are on the Happy Engineer Podcast. We have the Happy Engineer community on Facebook, but we are also doing dedicated live coaching and training every single month for you.

[00:20:03] At happy Hour and I mean, come on. Who doesn’t love Happy Hour? Full disclosure, it is B Y O B, but if you bring the beverage, I’ll bring the blueprint. So come to happy hour. It’s every single month. We’re doing it once a month right now and bring questions. This is a great chance where you can actually. Uh, those questions answered in real life, in real time.

[00:20:26] So we’ll keep doing q and a episodes where you can submit questions and we’ll tackle them here on the podcast. But there’s nothing quite like getting coached right there in real time by me, as well as getting support and input from your peers who are there at Happy Art. So, register for that. We’re gonna start putting the link to sign up in the show notes, every single podcast.

[00:20:47] So check it out and you can join every single month. We’re gonna keep sharing new content. You’ll always have an opportunity to engage with me directly in those questions, so join us for happy hour. That is gonna be super fun. And again, just expanding all of what we’re doing here on the show. All right.

[00:21:05] It’s the end of the year. It’s been an amazing year. I’m committed to staying with you through episode 200 and beyond, so enjoy that. Get ready for more incredible content. Next year, the guests that we have lined up are off the chart. I mean, and it’s just gonna be more and more, these solo episodes with exactly the tools and tactics and strategies we use in our signature program will be coming Your.

[00:21:33] Zach White: Join us at happy hour. Goodness, I could just go on and on, but you’ve heard enough. I love you. I respect you. I know that it is not easy to get out there into the arena of your own life and actually get. The things that you want to get those promotions, to get those paychecks, to get that sense of deep fulfillment that causes you to wake up every single day excited to get outta the bed and get into your life.

[00:21:59] It is not something that happens on its own. Left alone. We, we atrophy, we, we experience entropy. I mean, it’s amazing how much energy it. To create the life of your dreams, to face fear, to take action, to have courage, but it’s worth it. And that’s why we’re here and we’re gonna do it together. So keep going, keep crushing comfort, creating courage, and as always, let’s do this.