The Happy Engineer Podcast

149: Promotion Playbook Yearly Rhythm | My Signature System to Align and Accelerate Results in 2024

Are you ready to make 2024 your best year yet? Career goals and goal setting systems for engineering managers may not be sexy, but it matters!

In this episode, we kick off the year 2024 by sharing with you The Playbook Yearly Rhythm™️, my signature system guiding our clients to achieve audacious goals in their careers and lives. I’m thrilled to share the exact process, breaking down principles and ideas into actionable steps for you to implement. To accompany this conversation, there’s a downloadable PDF workbook, providing in-depth insights and tactics.

This is not a passive listen; it’s a call to intentional action and goal setting. The promotion playbook becomes vital for engineering leaders seeking results, promotions, and a fulfilling lifestyle.

Download The Playbook Yearly Rhythm™️ Workbook HERE that goes along with today’s training.

I introduce the three essential plays: deciding goals, reconnecting them to purpose, and executing the ultimate results cycle.

This system, when executed consistently, transforms accumulated knowledge into kinetic energy, fostering quicker achievement of big goals.

So press play and let’s make 2024 your most successful year yet!

Join us in a live workshop for deeper training, career coaching 1:1, and an amazing community!  HAPPY HOUR Workshop Live with Zach!


The Happy Engineer Podcast

WATCH EPISODE 149: Achieve BIG Goals in 2024: The Ultimate Playbook Unveiled!



LISTEN TO EPISODE 149: Promotion Playbook Yearly Rhythm | My Signature System to Align and Accelerate Results in 2024

Previous Episode 147: Blissful Balance and Happy Hustle 2.0 with Cary Jack


Top 3 Tips on Goal Setting for Engineering Managers Using The Playbook

Are you ready to make 2024 your best year yet? In this episode of The Happy Engineer Podcast, I discuss the signature system guiding our clients to achieve audacious goals in their careers and lives.

Here are the top three insights:

1. Make a decision: Cut off from alternatives and commit to your goals.

2. Reconnect to purpose: Get present to your life purpose, prepare for challenges, and ensure your purpose is big enough to endure obstacles.

3. Execute the Ultimate Results Cycle: Create a massive action plan using the SMART goal framework, measure results, and apply learnings for continuous improvement.

To go deeper and build an action plan around these points and why all this matters, click the podcast link below and listen to the entire conversation.



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

[00:00:00]  Zach White: Happy engineer. Welcome back and happy new year 2024. I am super excited about today’s conversation and about where you will go in your career and in your life. In the year 2024, so many exciting things on the horizon, and we want to jump into it today with a really important topic that we call our yearly playbook rhythm.

Expand to Read Full Transcript

[00:00:26] This is the signature system, the operating system that we use with all of our clients in setting and attaining big audacious goals in your career and in your life. And we’re sharing that exact. Process and breakdown with you in this conversation. Now, to get started, I’d love you to go grab the PDF workbook that goes along with this conversation.

[00:00:50] There’s a lot more in there to actually take this deeper. Out of the level of just the principles and ideas and into the specific tactics and actions. If you’re watching on YouTube, I will share my screen and show the workbook as we go. If you’re on the audio, don’t worry. We’re going to keep it simple to the most important principles and steps that you can take action on yourself.

[00:01:13] But I do want you to know right out of the gate. This is not meant to be a sit back and absorb conversation. This is meant to be priming for you to set aside time and get intentional about your goals and your plans for 2024. Now, if you’re listening to this and it’s not January 1st, that’s totally fine.

[00:01:33] There’s never a bad time. To set aside energy and space for planning if you haven’t already done this. So still take action and just decide, maybe it’s a nine month plan, or if you’re listening to this in October, then just do a 15 month plan and include the following year. Really powerful process. Now, why is a promotion playbook?

[00:01:55] So important, so many engineering leaders who I meet and coach and support, they struggle with actually getting the results that they want. They’re incredibly intelligent, but things don’t seem to translate into results and promotions and opportunities, or, you know, they end up burned out and frustrated because they don’t have this piece.

[00:02:18] They don’t have the operating system. You see, when you don’t have a playbook, an operating system for getting results in your life. Then, setting goals feels a bit like sitting on Santa’s lap and asking for the things on your wish list. It’s this random, disjointed activity that you do once a year. It’s not really a part of your life.

[00:02:41] You make this list and it doesn’t even seem that believable. And we put the list in a drawer and we never look at it again. We might as well be sending a letter to the North Pole. When you don’t have a playbook, we end up with accumulated knowledge and experiences, but no leverage. You finish every year with a lot of potential energy that never became kinetic energy and results.

[00:03:09] when you don’t have this operating system, then you rarely achieve your big goals. Maybe you even become hesitant or afraid to set big goals because what’s the point? You never hit them anyway. This is a tragedy. I don’t want this to be you. Don’t fall into this camp.

[00:03:28] When you have an operating system for goal achievement, not just goal setting, but goal achievement, then this whole process starts to feel less like Santa’s lap, and more like cooking. Yeah, cooking, like preparing a meal. You see, most people know that the cooking part, while it can be fun and enjoyable, it’s not as good as the eating part.

[00:03:51] You know, we all want to eat the meal, but cooking is a necessary part of the process, and you can actually fall in love with the preparation, with understanding how the right combination of spices and how you cook makes the meal taste great. Well, it’s the same with your goals. When you have a powerful process that sets you up for success, then eating that, getting the results becomes easier and more enjoyable and the process itself becomes enjoyable.

[00:04:19] In addition, when you have an operating system like our playbook in place in your life, then it goes from just Accumulated knowledge and potential energy, and it becomes knowledge in action. It becomes kinetic energy. It’s that leverage that you need to actually get results in the arena, on the court, of your actual life.

[00:04:41] And the third thing is you’re gonna hit big goals faster. Things that you previously thought were unattainable are going to feel within reach when you are consistently regularly taking action and you have this operating system in your life. So again, go download the workbook. It’s going to make these next points really clear and it will give you the space right there to do the work.

[00:05:08] So get a copy. I’m going to jump in. Let’s talk. The yearly playbook rhythm.

[00:05:14] How do we align and accelerate action day by day, week by week, quarter by quarter and year by year in our career? The playbook yearly rhythm is the starting point of the entire operating system for how we accomplish big, audacious goals quickly and easily in your career and in your life. The first thing I want you to know is we’re only going to cover today, the pieces that kick off the year.

[00:05:47] At the end of the year, there’s some additional steps to do to finish the process. And today we’re going to focus just on the start. Remember, all you need here is first the system. How do we break down your vision into small actionable steps and the timelines that go with those actions? And you need the ability to install this operating system, you know, one that’s designed to work on your career, not just in a job.

[00:06:17] That’s what makes this so important. It’s not just the work we do in our career. It’s on your career. You need the ability to install this as a habit. It’s a system and the ability to create. Habits in your own life. If you can do these two things, install the system and build the habit, then you become unstoppable in the results that you can create in your career.

[00:06:41] the promotion playbook, this system. There are only three plays, three basic plays that we run every year, every quarter, every week, every day that help us to accelerate and align our results.

[00:06:56] They’re very, very simple. The first thing that we need to do is make a decision. The first play is to decide what it is you want to achieve. And that might sound simple, but the fact is, most people are not making decisions. They’re putting down a list of things that they want, sure, but they’re not deciding.

[00:07:23] What’s the difference? A decision is not just a list of what you want. It is a clear list of what you’re saying yes to, which implies That there are 100 things that you’re also saying no. A decision is not just your yes, a decision is also your no. By definition, when you cut off from these alternatives, to decide is to cut off from any alternative.

[00:07:56] That’s when you’ve said yes to one thing and no to everything else. A decision is the starting point. of accelerating and aligning results. Once you’ve made the decision, which again, harder than it sounds for a lot of people, the second play is to reconnect that desire, reconnect your decision, to your purpose.

[00:08:23] Reconnect to purpose. Now, if you don’t know clearly, And confidently, what your life purpose is. If that sounds like something that belongs in a monastery with a bunch of monks where you sit and meditate for years to figure out the meaning of life, then You have missed a huge and incredibly powerful part of your own personal development journey, and I highly encourage you to take the time to get yourself clear.

[00:08:53] What is your life purpose? If you need help with that, that’s something that we do in our coaching programs, but it’s so important that you know your why. What are you here for? Why does it matter? And reconnecting the decisions. of what you want to achieve to that purpose is so important. Third play, we execute what is called the ultimate Results cycle, the ultimate results cycle.

[00:09:24] This is our approach to a rhythmic planning, measuring and learning, rhythm. The ultimate results cycle is about making a massive action plan, your map. Measuring those results and then applying the learning into your future. Guess what engineer? This is engineering. It’s no different than Lambda or PDCA or any of the other product development or lean tools that we use.

[00:09:57] You know, all of the six Sigma work, all of the agile work, they’re all based around these rhythmic. Cyclical, rapid iterations and learning loops. It’s no different in your life. Being a lifestyle engineer is taking the best of who you are as an engineer and using it to create results in your own life, not just on the products and technology that you work on three basic place.

[00:10:22] Decide what you want, reconnect that desire to your purpose, and then execute the ultimate results cycle, which is your massive action plan, measuring results and applying the learning as you go. I’m going to walk you through very quickly how these three plays begin in our yearly rhythm. And as a reminder for context here, the yearly rhythm is the starting point that leads to our quarterly rhythm, then our weekly rhythm, and daily rhythm.

[00:10:55] And each one gets simpler and easier as we break it down to these shorter time horizons. So today we’re only talking about that yearly piece. First for the year 2024. Let’s decide. Let’s decide what do we want, and decision is made in three parts. The first thing we wanna do is zoom out, get the high ground.

[00:11:22] Think about your long-term vision. What are the things that matter to you? Over the next five years, the next 10 years in the long run, when your creative imagination gets reconnected to the big long term vision of your life, doing that visioning work, you’re looking at your bucket list, taking time for meditation around this, that high ground allows you to chart your course.

[00:11:54] And then before we decide what we’re going to focus on this year, we’re going to take the time to prime our mind. Now, why do we prime before we decide? The reason is because we all have A lifetime of conditioning, these quick and automatic thoughts that are going to pop in. Sometimes it’s the goals that your parents told you you’re supposed to want.

[00:12:19] It might be what your company culture has created that you’re supposed to go for promotion, but maybe you don’t actually want a promotion. Maybe what you want is to do something different and to change functions or work in a different department, priming your mind through gratitude and prouds and looking at.

[00:12:39] What emotion is associated with success when you do this priming, it allows you to penetrate through that surface or the crust of your brain, as I call it, and get deeper into the things that you really, really want. Then we come back to our 12 month vision and set the goals for this year. The most important thing is do.

[00:13:05] I recommend two to five big goals that you want to achieve this year. And that includes the entire scope of your life. That’s goals at work, that’s goals in your health, goals in your relationships, goals in your finances, goals in your giving. All of them are included here. Do less. Success loves speed.

[00:13:28] And focus is where you create Speed and progress on your goals. If you have 35 goals, you’re not going to make progress. In the spirit of doing less, I can tell you back in 2009 2010 I had just gotten out of college a few years before, and I was here at Whirlpool Corporation doing engineering work, and one of my mentors asked me what my goals were. So, the truth is I didn’t have any. So I went home and I set my goals and I came back with a list of 35 or 40 goals that I wanted to achieve that were all disconnected and disjointed and all over the place.

[00:14:04] No rhyme or reason and no prioritization. And I got to work on this list and for a couple of years just Never changed it. I had the same list. Get promotions, make more money, get healthy. It was generic. It was long. It was big, not focused. And it didn’t help me make any progress at all. When you break this down into the most important things, that’s when you’re going to see traction and progress.

[00:14:31] And we want to take those goals and now put them into the smart goal framework for 2024. We’ll come back to that in just a second, but don’t be like Zach from 2009 and set 35 goals for 2024. That is not the road to success.

[00:14:48] All right. You’ve made the decision. You know what you want to go after for this year. The second play is to reconnect to our purpose. So looking at the year 2024, how do we reconnect to purpose? Well, there’s three things we want to do here. First, is get present to what that purpose is. Reread your life book.

[00:15:11] Purpose statement, dig into your core values, the rules that you’ve set for yourself of what must be true for your values to be lived out in the world around you and just know again what it looks like to live totally on purpose. If that’s something that you cannot answer for yourself, like I said earlier, please, please take the time to get.

[00:15:33] connected and get clear on that purpose. Answer the questions that are in the workbook and really set up your year for success by reconnecting the purpose. Now, the second aspect of connecting the purpose is being honest with ourselves that We’re probably going to face challenges, struggles happen if you set real goals that are big enough to motivate you and inspire you and you don’t know how you’re going to achieve them, which, by the way, quick sidebar, if you already know how to do every single step required to achieve your goals.

[00:16:11] Those are not goals. That’s a to do list. Your goals and visions should be big enough that it actually creates a gap. It creates a challenge you don’t know how to solve. So when we’re doing this reconnection to purpose, we want to go ahead and be proactive to say, what types of obstacles might we face?

[00:16:29] External, internal, and people. Who are the people that might create a challenge for you? Let’s be proactive to lay that out rather than bury our head in the sand or just be like a Pollyanna and not acknowledge that going for things that are worthwhile, the goals that really excite you, also means you’re going to face challenge along the way.

[00:16:51] And the final thing I like to do is what I call the dream creator question. The dream creator. And here it is. When you face that opposition. If you fail, if you struggle, if there is a challenge on the road to your dream, is your purpose big enough? Is your purpose big enough that you will be courageous, take action, and move forward to achieve your goal anyway?

[00:17:24] I really encourage you to be completely honest with yourself. Is that purpose big enough? And if it’s not, We need to go back to the drawing board on your why. A big enough why can endure any how. But if your purpose is lacking, then when the going gets tough, you’re going to give up on that goal, and you’re going to say, You don’t have what it takes, or forget goal setting and goal achieving, this isn’t for me, or you know, fill in the blank excuse that may come up.

[00:17:54] Don’t let that happen. Let’s create the dream. And we do that by making sure your purpose is big enough to be courageous and take action. Anyway,

[00:18:05] that’s the first two place decide. And reconnect to purpose that third play, the ultimate results cycle. It begins with your massive action plan. And if you scroll down in the workbook, you’re going to see a simple one page framework that we use with our clients to take those goals that you have for 2024, to break it down into the SMART acronym.

[00:18:27] If you don’t know about SMART goals, we could talk about that another time, but it shows you specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and time bound. Let’s get the details for each goal laid out. What are the building blocks and the next steps all in a simple one page framework for you to lay out for each goal.

[00:18:44] I highly encourage you to take your goals for this year and put each one into those one pagers to get your massive action plan moving for what you want to accomplish this year. It’s an operating system. It’s step by step. It’s easy to do. Here’s the truth. The difference. Between incredibly successful engineering leaders and people who have an average career and experience.

[00:19:13] The difference is that the successful leaders do the things that everyone knows they should do. But they don’t executing a playbook system. A rhythm like this is one of those things. Everybody knows that it’s good to do and anybody can do it, but very few people do. If you will begin executing this playbook, I promise you, you will differentiate yourself from your competition and peers, because very.

[00:19:41] Few people are willing to be intentional and set aside the time to make this a priority. If you have questions about how to work through the playbook rhythm, then please reach out and connect. And if you want to work through it with me directly one on one and in our programs, we can do that as well.

[00:20:01] Anything you need, please reach out for help. It is so important to start the year strong. Don’t wait till February or March to get things moving. Let’s get rolling right here, right now. So if you need that help, go ahead and grab your phone. Text the word lifestyle to five, five, four, four, four. We’ll get you a link.

[00:20:22] We’ll get you on the calendar and we can support you in the next steps that you need, because it’s not just about that massive action plan. It’s also about the accountability to follow through. It’s also about the strategies to help you save time and energy. It’s also about. The people around you who are going to put wind in your sails to make this the best year ever.

[00:20:45] And there’s no better place to do that than here at the oasis of courage, execute the rhythm, build that system, build the habit, and let’s make 2024 the best year of your career and your life yet.