Kickstart Your Aerospace Career – Final Words of Wisdom

Some of these you may have already heard of. It’s good to be reminded of them. They are good habits to live and work by, not just in aerospace.

If you can apply them all, every day . . . . . . . I salute you. You should be my teacher.

Here they are:

Pareto’s Law

20% of the inputs generate 80% of the outputs. I quoted this to you earlier in this series of posts. It applies to everything.

20% of your day-to-day effort is generating 80% of your results. 20% is generating 80% of your career joy. (If those two are not the same, it’s time for a change. Focus on that 20%, and finds ways of automating or eliminating the 80%.

20% of your day-to-day effort is causing 80% of your frustration. Automate or eliminate that 20%.

And so on.

Parkinson’s Law

Work expands to fill the time available for it. So constrain the available time in order to limit tasks to the important. Also, constrain tasks to the important in order to reduce time consumed.

This means you work flat out and cut out interruptions for those hours when you naturally work at peak efficiency, and you relax for the rest.

This means you say No to some requests that are made of you, because they are not really important.

This means you (perhaps together with your manager) sit down and identify regularly (preferably daily) what’s really important.

First get your fields ready. After that, build your house.

Taken from the book of Proverbs. Trust King Solomon.

When you’re young and starting out, the application is simple. Focus first on building your career and future income sources. Then think about building a family.

Doing it in reverse sets you back for a long time. I had already been a practising engineer for a few years when I married. But then I got bored, and decided on the switch to aerospace. By then, I was father to two small children. For many years, life was tough and frugal. If I’d been bold enough to follow my heart much earlier, I could have avoided some of it.

Put simply, it means, Do the important first, then the urgent. When Solomon wrote this, most people were farmers. You got your fields prepared, then you planted. Then, while the crops were growing, you could turn your attention to some other tasks (e.g. building or repairing barns, houses, shelters). When you were finished, you had food to harvest.

So whatever your long-term plans are, start first with the tasks that take a long-time to give a return, and that once done, can work on autopilot. Then you will have time to do the urgent and non-urgent. (Most things aren’t really urgent.)

“Watch the cash, laddie.”

Advice given by an wealthy old Scotsman to a young aspiring entrepreneur, but it applies to everyone.

Stay out of debt. In any one month, spend (at least a little) less than you earn.

And related:

Put away at least six months’ worth of living expenses.

One reason this blog exists is because I follow this advice devoutly. Actually, Dane Carlson in his “Don’t Sweat” series of books advised putting away two years’ worth of living expenses. If you have a healthy reserve, then you have room to breath when circumstances go sour on you (and they will, sometime). If you have a healthy reserve, then you can invest time, energy and money in new opportunities as they come along. Without such a reserve, you cannot.

Change is the only constant.

Some of what I’ve written in this blog is already obsolete.

If I knew what, I’d have posted it here. It’s your job to keep on top of that.

Mind your own business

You’re an engineer/procurement specialist/project manager?

No you’re not. You are [Insert Your Name], Inc.

Think like a businessman. Don’t delegate control over your best interests to anything or anyone else. Just because you have a pension plan that the company contributes to, don’t assume they’re managing that plan well. Don’t entrust your future to the company.

You will not fail to be successful over the long haul if you think like a disciplined, hard-nosed, determined businessman.


This is the last post in this¬†Kickstart Your Aerospace Career¬†series. If it has been been helpful in any way, you can thank me by leaving a comment! I’d really like to know what difference it’s made for people, whether positive or negative (but preferably positive!)

4 thoughts on “Kickstart Your Aerospace Career – Final Words of Wisdom”

  1. This set of posts has been very useful and a good mind opener. I already had the suspicion that change was an important factor in turning the pay / work balance towards the first, but for what I’ve read through this blog, changing positions and not staying put is a major thing to try to fight the mediocrity that reigns in any big enterprise (which I have already seen, and I work for a major aerospace manufacturer), and trying to be successful in your career. Thank you for taking the time to write these posts, they have been useful and I will use them as a reference in the future. Highly appreciated.

Leave a Reply