Predictions, Progress and the Power of Projects

Groundhog day.

A do over day.

A day to check to see what is on the horizon in the coming weeks.

Now is a terrific time to reflect on what you have planned for 2012. After all we develop a commitment to what we spend time on- the more time invested the deeper the commitment.  Taking time to consider what  you decided to invest your resources (time, effort etc.) and how you would do so is a good idea. Or if heck January just slipped way from you, now is a fine to think about what you really want to commit to this year. What would make your life, or your work- heck go big both- deeply meaningful to you? If you are not crystal clear about the big important-to-me-picture to me you’ll get bogged down by all that could be, tripped up by details, lose your place or worse decide to toss all your efforts out the window.

What happens all too often is starting out gung-ho ready to jump into your resolutions and really MAKE THIS THE YEAR when (fill in the blank).  Suddenly it is March and you are not making the progress you hoped for. By August you’ve forgotten about those resolutions, or are feeling bad about not getting them done. Not to fear it is February and there is time to recalibrate.  Ground hog day is always my signal to do this, before I get in too deep.

The past 4 weeks I have been leaning into projects that directly relate to what I named big important-to-me-parts of my personal plan for 2012.  The idea of taking on projects instead of goals really works, because you can always make progress on a project. You are better positioned to make progress when the project is discrete, that is as specific, measureable and related to something alive in your big important-to-me-picture.  No matter how small the step you take is it represents progress. Your efforts and their outcomes both have value.  If a small step is less productive than you intended you have not lost too much either.  If it does propel you forward you can figure out how much bigger to make the next step.

Every 4 weeks I think about the projects (I started to experiment with this idea in December) I want to focus on and describe them as a succinctly as possible. One important criteria I use is thinking through what can I realistically lean into given what is already on my calendar for the upcoming 4 weeks. My projects are designed to move me into new or better territory, this requires extra oomph and there is only so much oomph you have in a given time period. Then I carve out regular time to focus on them. By time I mean work sprints when I only focus on the project at hand. These are 15-60 minutes of burst of time that my schedule allows for on a given day.

The results thus far? I tackled one  big professional project, made significant headway on an other and FINALLY got the darn main hallway painted! All things that otherwise might have lingered and lingered and lingered. The hall had a been a source of “as soon as” stuckness for more months than I’d like to admit to- but no more. When I needed to recalibrate during the 4 weeks I did, so I could make progress. In considering what projects to focus on during this current 4 weeks I recalibrated again. I’ll keep doing this to ensure I continue to make progress. Also I focus on no more than 3 projects in a given 4 weeks. Over the year I‘ll get to everything in my personal plan, without feeling like I need do to it all- NOW. What a relief!

So how do you recalibrate to keep your focus and momentum over the coming weeks and months?  Try using these questions and your honest answers to point the way:

  • What specifically is working? How do I know this to be true?
  • What specifically is not working? How do I know this to be true?
  • How can I make this easy(ier)?
  • Where am I holding back?
  • When am I am at my best?  How do I do this more?
  • Why I am doing this in the first place?

My point(s) here, whether you feel like “Yes or everything is on track” or not is this:

  • Determine what you really want and need, be as specific as you can, readjust if you need.  Create bite sized projects for a discrete time frame that relate to your big-important-to-me picture.
  • Identify difficulties that you are experiencing  so you can decide how to address or circumvent these.
  • Bring out the capacities you have, or if needed build new ones. Yes an “old dog” can learn new tricks there is even the science to prove it.
  • Strategize plan of action, quickly. If you need help to do this, and often we do, something about not seeing the forest for the trees, ask for it.
  • Act accordingly.
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