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Overwhelm, Wrong Career Path, Women in Engineering, and Geoscience

Navigating Challenges and Achieving Success

Life is a journey filled with choices, challenges, and opportunities. For many individuals, navigating through overwhelm and finding the right career path can be daunting, and women in fields like engineering and geoscience often face unique challenges. In this article, we'll explore the dynamics of overwhelm, the impact of being on the wrong career path, and the experiences of women in engineering and geoscience. We're also going to look at strategies to overcome these challenges and achieve success in these male-dominated fields.

Understanding Overwhelm and Its Effects

Defining Overwhelm

Understanding the factors contributing to overwhelm is essential in developing effective coping strategies.

Overwhelm is a state of being (feeling) where individuals feel inundated by tasks, responsibilities, or emotions, and they don't believe, in that moment, they are capable of handling them.

It's not that they AREN'T capable of handling them. Their brain is believing they aren't capable of handling them. Note the difference.

The Psychological and Physical Impact

Overwhelm can have a significant impact on mental and physical well-being. From increased stress levels to burnout, it can affect all aspects of life, including work and personal relationships.

Navigating the Wrong Career Path

Signs of Being on the Wrong Career Path

Feeling unfulfilled and dissatisfied in one's career may indicate one of two things:

1) You're on the wrong career path; or,

2) You're thoughts and beliefs about what is possible about your career path are leading you to feel unfulfilled and dissatisfied.

It's often all of the above.

Identifying when you're feeling unfulfilled and dissatisfied and what thoughts are creating those feelings can empower individuals to make informed decisions about their professional journey going forward.

Notice when you're feeling particularly unfulfilled and dissatisfied can establish more specifically what it is that isn't in alignment with where you want to be.

Embracing Career Change

What individuals often do when they're feeling unfulfilled and dissatisfied is assume they have made some kind of horrible mistake and they will need to start everything over from scratch.

But that's just the brain's tendency (especially in times of overwhelm) to jump to all-or-nothing scenarios.

There are many options in between.

If you've done the work of really noticing what it is about your job that is particularly unfulfilling and dissatisfying, you can start thinking more specifically about other jobs in your field that might be a better fit.

Or if you identify what aspects of your job that feel like no time has passed at all, and you genuinely enjoy, you can potentially transfer those same aspects to another job in a different field.

Transitioning into a new career path can be daunting, but it can lead to personal growth and fulfillment. By exploring passions and aligning them with career choices, individuals can find a path that resonates with them.

The Journey of Women in Engineering and Geoscience

Challenges and Obstacles

Women in engineering and geoscience often face unique challenges, including gender bias, exclusive behaviour, stereotypes, and a lack of representation. These barriers can hinder their progress and professional growth.

These circumstances can lead to thoughts like:

  • I don't belong

  • I can't do this

  • I don't have what it takes

  • I chose the wrong career path

  • I'm not smart enough

  • I'm going to fail

  • I don't know where this junior job is going

When individuals think these things, they are going to inevitably feel unfulfilled and dissatisfied. They won't see a clear path forward or be motivated to continue.

Breaking Stereotypes and Creating Change

What we all want to believe is:

  • I belong

  • I can do this

  • I have what it takes

  • I chose the right career path

  • I'm smart enough

  • I can handle failure

  • I know exactly where I'm going

Promoting diversity and inclusivity in STEM fields can be very helpful to create a sense of belonging and provide role models at various levels along a career path. Encouraging women to pursue careers in engineering and geoscience and providing mentorship and support can help break stereotypes and pave the way for future generations.

However, this type of change takes time.

Some individuals don't have the luxury to wait around for more women to enter their fields.

They're in pain now.

They're overwhelmed now.

They need a path forward now.

For many, that path is to quit.

But there is another option available.

They can choose new thoughts.

They can choose to explore what's possible with their current career path.

In doing so, they begin to change the industry from the inside out, rather than waiting for the industry to change. They create their own sense of belonging. They look for role models outside of their organization or country. They establish connection and support wherever they can find it. They break stereotypes simply by breaking the cultures current way of thinking.

Celebrating Women's Achievements

Despite the challenges, women in engineering and geoscience have achieved remarkable success and made significant contributions to their respective fields. Celebrating these achievements is vital in inspiring others to pursue STEM careers.

Examples of these achievements are all over LinkedIn. Individuals can follow female role models who inspire them, and even meet them virtually, to model their footsteps or provide motivation during difficult times and navigate through demanding work environments..

Strategies for Success

Overcoming Overwhelm in Career Pursuits

To achieve success in any field, it is essential to manage overwhelm effectively. Here are 5 steps to managing overwhelm in career pursuits:

1. Notice what thoughts are creating the overwhelm. Write them down.

2. Gain perspective: Step away from the list and take a moment to allow your body to calm itself outside. Go for a walk, a swim, a hike. Reminding yourself that you are one small spec on a spinning planet in a vast universe can help you remember that your problems are finite.

3. Think about your short and long-term goals. Zoom out to about 3-years in the future to gain some perspective. What would you ideally like to be doing in 3-years time? What problems do you want to be solving on a daily basis?

If this is difficult for you, have a look on LinkedIn for people doing awesome things that excite you. Focus less on their job titles and more on the actual problems they're solving and results they're producing. Contact them to find out more. If the actual process they work through and things they think about excite you, that's a clue that it could be an avenue for explore.

4. Time management and prioritization: Create a to-do list. Ruthlessly prioritize using your short and long-term goals. Schedule your most important tasks. If you don't use a digital schedule, learn how and use it, consistently.

5. Learn how to delegate: Delegation is a skill and a long-term (not short-term) solution for overwhelm. If delegating tasks to others hasn't gone well for you before, that's OK, you can get better. It will dramatically change your sense of calm and what you can get done in a week when you get good at it.

6. Setting boundaries: Decide how much you want to work or do for others ahead of time (using your short and long-term goals), and start sticking to those boundaries. Stop the flow of incoming tasks and responsibilities by learning to say no; once you have your schedule and know how many things are on your to-do list, it'll be easier to say no because you'll see that you don't physically have the time.

If someone insists that you complete a project (and they're senior to you), have them help you reprioritize your tasks so that you're still keeping your boundaries firm, but adjusting the expectations of the other deadlines.

Finding Mentorship and Support

Having access to mentors and support networks is invaluable for career growth. Women in engineering and geoscience can benefit from mentorship programs that provide guidance and encouragement.

The Power of Coaching

Coaching is extremely powerful for helping to lower overwhelm and get back on a career path that your passionate about.

If you check-in with a coach weekly, it will help you to:

  • Become more aware of the signs of career dissatisfaction and the thoughts and circumstances contributing to it.

  • Look at your short and long-term goals

  • Look at all the options available to you

  • Decide on a way forward that feels empowering


Overwhelm and career uncertainty are common experiences in life. By recognizing the signs of overwhelm and being open to career changes, individuals can embark on a path that aligns with their passions and values.

Promoting diversity and inclusivity in engineering and geoscience can create opportunities for women to thrive and excel in these fields, but true change starts with our thoughts.

We can wait for the culture to change, or we can change it from the inside out by getting clear on what we want, gaining awareness of the current reality, looking at all the options for bridging the gap, and determining a new way forward.

By seeking support through coaching, changing limiting beliefs, and adopting effective strategies, individuals can overcome challenges and achieve success in both their personal and professional lives.


1. How can I manage overwhelm in my daily life? Managing overwhelm involves setting priorities, delegating tasks, and taking breaks to recharge. It's essential to find strategies that work best for you.

2. Are women underrepresented in engineering and geoscience fields? Yes, women remain underrepresented in these fields. Efforts to promote diversity and inclusion are essential to bridge this gap.

3. Can changing careers help improve work-life balance? Sometimes. Changing careers to a more fulfilling path can positively impact work-life balance and overall well-being BUT often our same thoughts and limiting beliefs will just follow us from the old job to the new one. The LAST thing you want to do is make a panicked jump from one job to the next without knowing and loving your reasons for doing so, because you'll likely end up hating that job too.

4. How can I find mentorship opportunities in engineering or geoscience? Seek out professional organizations and networking events that offer mentorship programs for women in STEM fields. Engineers and Geoscientists BC has a mentorship program, as do many other jurisdictions.

5. What is the difference between coaching and mentorship? A mentor is a volunteer who has been through the ropes and can provide advice based on their own experience. A coach is a certified professional who is trained and skilled in helping you figure out what you want and how to get it. They get paid for helping you achieve your own results, whether that is tangible (make $X more per year) or intangible (feeling more confident) so they are very invested in helping you succeed. They show up to provide support and accountability consistently.

6. What can companies do to promote gender diversity in engineering and geoscience? Companies can implement diversity and inclusion initiatives, provide mentorship programs, and actively work to eliminate gender bias in the workplace.

7. What can individuals do to promote gender diversity in engineering and geoscience? Learn how to manage your mind and get coached! Get clear on what you want and don't stop until you get there.

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