The Happy Engineer Podcast

173: Now You Can Make Hard Career Decisions Seem Simple

Would you like to make big engineering career decisions with total clarity and confidence?

Listen now and learn how aligning your values and vision leads to better career decisions!

As you listen… Tap to DOWNLOAD my free Workbook: Engineering Career Accelerator™️ Scorecard … foundational insights you can check, score, and apply immediately to stand out and excel at work.

In this episode, I explore the critical importance of aligning your core values and vision before making significant career decisions.

Drawing from my experience working with an engineering leader named Ashley, who faced a pivotal career move, I illustrate how defining your values and vision ahead of time can transform decision-making from a stressful and uncertain ordeal into a confident and clear process.

You’ll learn why it’s essential to understand what truly matters and how to create a roadmap for your ideal life and career, emphasizing the importance of doing the inner work in advance to make informed, aligned decisions.

By the end of our discussion, you’ll have practical insights on how to prioritize your core values and articulate a compelling vision for your future.

So press play and let’s chat…about making career decisions that truly reflect who you are and where you want to go!

Want free coaching, LIVE? 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

How to Make Hard Career Decisions Seem Simple



LISTEN TO EPISODE 173: Now You Can Make Hard Career Decisions Seem Simple

Previous Episode 172: Master Product Management Like a Marketing Pro with Amberdeep Aurora


Top Takeaways on Navigating Big Decisions

In this episode of The Happy Engineer Podcast, I dive into the importance of values and vision for engineering leaders facing big career decisions. Join me as I share practical insights and strategies to navigate the decision-making process with clarity and confidence.

Here are the top three insights:

1. Understand your Core Values: Your core values act as the compass that guides your decisions and shapes your life’s purpose. Take the time to identify and prioritize them, as they provide clarity in making tough career decisions.

2. Visualize Your Future: Crafting a clear and vivid vision of your ideal future is essential. A well-defined vision helps you gauge whether a career opportunity aligns with your aspirations, providing a roadmap for your professional journey.

3. Create Vision and Values Now (so you are prepared in advance): Don’t wait for an offer to land on your desk before contemplating your values and vision. Doing the inner work beforehand empowers you to make informed decisions when the time comes, reducing stress and uncertainty.

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



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

[00:00:00] Zach White: Before we get started, I want to remind you, we’re just a couple weeks away from the next happy hour. If you’ve never come to our live zoom session with other engineering leaders, join us at happy hour, it is a workshop. Bring your favorite pen or your tablet and stylus, get ready to dig in and do the work in building your career.

Expand to Read Full Transcript

[00:00:20] It’s an engaging session. It’s something where we can actually dialogue together, you and me and bring questions at the end. There’s open coaching time. You can get one on one support with me right there at happy hour. It’s an awesome time.

[00:00:31] There’s a registration link. In the show notes, you can click there get signed up, or grab your phone and send me a text message. text One word happy to the number three, three, seven, seven, seven. happy to three, three, seven, seven, seven. Get signed up.

[00:00:46] I’ll see you at the next happy hour, big decisions, especially when it comes to landing a new job. At a new company, or maybe it’s a promotion opportunity within your existing organization. You get to that moment of decision. What do you do? Well, I’m working with an engineering leader named Ashley right now.

[00:01:06] And he is in that situation. He’s been looking for a new role, something that will challenge him, expand his career, help him to grow, reignite that passion and that excitement for his career again, because where he’s at now. He’s not feeling it. He’s been there a long time. The door of opportunity has closed.

[00:01:24] He’s done what he needs to do in that organization. And it’s time for something new. Well, he’s been searching, you know, how it is. You’re in that job search process and the interview process, and you’ve got your head down, you’re doing the work. And then when that first offer comes, we pull our head up and realize.

[00:01:41] Is this what I want? I don’t know. We haven’t spent that much time preparing to make the decision. We’ve spent all of our time and energy working the process to create an offer and an opportunity, which is great. But what I want you to realize is you want to begin the decision process of knowing how you’ll approach that decision and building the ingredients, the raw material, the ingredients.

[00:02:08] Of what it takes to make a great decision before the moment the decision comes for Ashley, he’s now looking at an opportunity, an offer in front of him and weighing all the complex trade offs that come with that. How do I feel about the salary? Am I willing to relocate? Is this company one that I truly want to work for?

[00:02:32] Is it an opportunity exciting enough and aligned enough with the two things that matter most for me to say yes? So what are those two things? When you face big decisions, and we’ll talk about your career today, but the truth is, this applies in any big decision in your life. It applies to the little ones too.

[00:02:54] We just don’t often put as much time and focus there. Those two things are your values. And your vision, your core values, and your vision of success that you’re moving your life toward in the future. And you want to have those two things clear and identified for yourself, ranked, prioritized, and understood with 100 percent clarity before the offers start rolling in, before you make the big decision.

[00:03:26] You see the moment of need is not the moment. To create that material. It’s like scavenging for food. You want to store up the food before the moment that the famine comes. If you wait until the moment of need, then it’s too late to store up food. Well, it’s no different here. If you wait until the offer is in your hand.

[00:03:49] To do any coaching and preparation and deep thinking about if that’s actually what you want or not, you’re not in the right frame of mind, in the correct mindset, to answer that question. The pressure’s on. Now you have a time crunch. Now you have the excitement and the, in, sort of, adrenaline of that moment of decision, and that’s not the time to get clear.

[00:04:12] That’s a time to decide. The time to get clear is in advance. Values and vision. Let’s talk about both of them because you need both sides. First, values. Core values create the compass that guide your decisions. Your life purpose. Your core values. The things that matter to you most at the end of the day.

[00:04:39] When your head hits the pillow and you ask yourself, Am I leading a life? That is absolutely what I want and aligned with who I am. Your core values are the points on that compass, helping you understand true north, your life purpose. And what are the things that you want to move towards? Or move away from core values are so, so important.

[00:05:04] I’ll tell you about a common contradiction in values where they’re in conflict that plagues many, many, many career decisions. It’s the value of growth and building your career to that next level of impact or significance. And on the other hand is the value of love, connection, community, family. The relationships that you build in a place.

[00:05:32] And so when it’s time to look at relocating for a new job or even just changing jobs without relocating from where you live now, you’re still letting go of one whole community of colleagues and coworkers for a brand new one. But especially if you’re going to pick up and move your family across the country or across the world, these two core values are going to feel in conflict.

[00:05:55] If you pursue the growth in your career, you’re letting go. Of connections and relationships and community that you’ve built where you live now, but if you don’t say yes to that opportunity and you stagnate or feel stuck in your career, just so you can maintain relationships, neither of those situations feels great because.

[00:06:16] In both cases, one of your core values is being violated. Core values are at play in every decision. What we must do is the hard work of aligning and ranking which value matters most, it may change over time, but in this example, knowing that there is a trade off to be made, which core value will drive your decision?

[00:06:44] Is it growth? Or is it love and connection and community? You see, if community is number one, you may say that growth doesn’t outweigh the cost of moving. But if growth is number one, then you would say we can rebuild community where we’re moving to. Let’s go pursue that next level of growth and impact.

[00:07:05] There is no right answer, by the way, there’s just your answer. Fortunately, Ashley and I had already done this work together. He’s part of our Lifestyle Engineering Blueprint Coaching Program and doing this deep inner work of understanding his core values, really getting clear on what they are and how they’re ranked.

[00:07:24] So when he and his family talk about this decision, they have a complete compass and framework to say what matters most and how does it inform what we want to do. The second piece is vision. Vision is the destination on the map that you want to reach in your life. So if core values are the compass, vision is the destination.

[00:07:51] You currently are in Pittsburgh and you want to go to. Los Angeles, Los Angeles is the vision. You want to move from this place where you are now to a specific place in the future. Vision is not the same as a single bullet point goal. You might have a goal right now to get promoted. That’s great. But having the goal to get a promotion is not the same thing as having a vision.

[00:08:20] Vision is just like it sounds. It’s a complete picture of that future. Where are you, who are you with, what are you doing, what does it feel like to be there, what does it sound like, what does it look like, how will you know when you’ve arrived at the vision, what are the different components that matter most at work, at home, in your marriage, in your relationships, in your family, with your friends, your hobbies, your travel.

[00:08:47] Vision is a complete picture, crystal clear, with contrast, with clarity, that you know when you’ve arrived. What direction the future you want is in. If you’re not able to articulate that vision, not in bullet points, like goals you want to achieve in paragraphs, in rich, full technicolor, if you’re not able to do that, then you don’t have a vision.

[00:09:17] When it comes time to make a big decision about where to take your career, you want to be able to ask yourself, is this opportunity Aligned and moving towards my vision. The compass of my values will guide what path I want to take to get there. Do I want to move north and then across? Do I want to go south and then over?

[00:09:42] My core values will tell me, but the destination and knowing whether I’m getting closer to that destination or further away from it is all about your vision. Again, Ashley and I have done a powerful visioning process together before this opportunity landed in his lap. Now he’s able to take the offer in his hand and compare it to a written vision of the life he wants to create and say, do these match?

[00:10:11] Is it aligned with where I want to take my career, my life, my family? If it’s not a match, the answer is easy. Now. No, this offer is not aligned with my vision. So I’m going to continue in full faith and confidence that the offer is coming. That will take me there. Or you might look at it and say, wow, this offer, this opportunity is exactly in line with where I want to go.

[00:10:42] And my values, this compass is showing me exactly what path to take to get there. Values and vision. These two tools in understanding yourself are incredibly powerful. To help you in the big decisions of life come to take what could be an agonizing and stressful process of making that decision. And it becomes easy.

[00:11:07] You know, exactly what questions to ask, you know, exactly what to trust in your own thoughts. if Ashley had waited until the moment that offer came to then ask himself, well, what are my core values? What is my vision? It’s already too late because you’re shaded, your lens has been colored by that offer and by that opportunity.

[00:11:31] when there’s a big raise or a big sign on bonus or just the ego of getting a great opportunity. Seeing my title go up to Director of Engineering. That might be all it takes for you to convince yourself that my values are absolutely growth and my values are aligned with going after this new opportunity and family and connection and love.

[00:11:54] Move aside. We’re taking this opportunity. The time to get clear is before you make the big decisions, not when it’s in your lap. Do that inner work in advance. Know your values, know your vision, then being productive and moving towards it gets so much easier. Ashley told me in our last session that his ability to create confident, clear decisions with his family about what to do is at a whole new level because of going through this work.

[00:12:27] And the best part is it won’t just serve him on this decision, but on every single decision going forward, get clear on your values, get clear on your vision. And if you don’t know how to do that, then join us at happy hour. Jump into our blueprint program, get support from our community here. lifestyle engineering.

[00:12:50] This is the place to go answer those questions. Make sure that you don’t face the big decisions of life without knowing yourself, without having clarity on your values and vision. It’s awesome. Again, join us at happy hour. It’s coming up really soon. Just a couple of weeks. Text happy to three, three, seven, seven, seven.

[00:13:07] If you want to join, jump into the show notes or click the link there as well. Bring your pin. And we’re going to dig into these exact same topics, these exact same things to support you, to get you ready before the big moments come, develop yourself, create that capacity and get ready before you need it.

[00:13:24] That’s the way to build your career fast. That’s the way to stay happy along the journey. Let’s do this.