Tag Archives: Project Plan

5 big ideas I’m working into my 2014 project plan.

post it note joybot

There’s a lot of information out there in the blogosphere.  Some good.  Some almost good.  A lot… well, just… not good.  And even amongst the good, some ideas stick and some don’t.  But sometimes you find the information you need, just when you need it.  And those are the magic moments.

Here are a few ideas that are resonating with me as I draft my 2014 Project Plan:

1Why You Should Build a Habit of Writing Every Day from David Spinks:

“In a tech world where everything is constantly changing there’s one thing that has remained consistent for as long as we’ve had business and that’s writing.”

2How to be The Luckiest Guy on the Planet in 4 Easy Steps from James Altucher:

“The “idea muscle” atrophies within days if you don’t use it. Just like walking. If you don’t use your legs for a week, they atrophy. You need to exercise the idea muscle.”

3How to Fail at Almost Everything and Still Win Big by Scott Adams, as shared by Shane Parrish:

“Goal-oriented people exist in a state of continuous pre-success failure at best, and permanent failure at worst if things never work out. Systems people succeed every time they apply their systems, in the sense that they did what they intended to do.”

4Screw New Year’s Resolutions – Try Designing Your Career from Jennifer Dziura:

“Staring at a blank calendar page and then writing “exercise” or “creative writing class” or “study for the GRE” or “make a weeks’ worth of healthy meals” on it twelve times is an excellent way to gauge your real feelings about these things (and thus help to define your values).”

5The secret for keeping a New Year’s resolution: KPIs from Penelope Trunk:

“KPIs are humbling. They are not grand, change-the-world goals. They are small reminders of where you really are in this life.”

How about you?  What’s resonating with you as we approach the New Year?

(Photo by Sarah Joy via Flickr, licensed under Creative Commons)



Drafting My 2014 Project Plan

project plan

I have a mental process that tends to drive my husband crazy.  Some might call it back-asswards.  I call it detail-oriented.  Let me give you an example.  When we started remodeling our bathroom, I was focused on what, in my husband’s mind, were minor details (shower tile), before we had settled on the big items (picking a contractor).  But in my mind, I had a vision of the finished bathroom which included a shower accented with a very specific penny tile.  Which would look best with a specific porcelain floor tile.  Which meant we needed a tile guy.  And our first-choice contractor was great at tile, so we wouldn’t need a subcontractor, which would save time and money.  But we would need to pre-order the penny tile to make sure it was available when we needed it.  And the penny tile was a bit expensive so we should choose a basic subway tile for the rest of the shower to offset the cost.  And, and, and…okay, so you see what I’m getting at.  I was attacking the project from the end, when my husband was starting at the beginning.  But picturing the details of the final product allowed me to work backwards to create a more complete project plan.

As annoying as it is for my husband, this technique was super valuable to me when I worked as a project manager.  I would start with the completed project, a new office layout, for example, and do a mental walk-thru, envisioning how each work area was used, where traffic was congested, where garbage was stored.  Working backwards, I then built those details and contingencies into the project plan.

So this year, I’m applying the same technique to my personal and professional goals.  I’m starting with what I want my life to look like at the end of the 2014.  Laura Vanderkam frames this in the form of the Christmas letter, writing down what you want to tell the world about what you accomplished or experienced in the previous year.  I think of it as creating a mental image of myself living my best life.  By documenting my 2014 accomplishments now, I can work backward into creating an action plan that will actually help me achieve them.

As I’m building my project plan, these are some of the questions I ask:

  • What strengths can I build on and what weaknesses will I have to address?
  • Am I including a goal that I have failed at in the past?  If so, what skills do I need to build to overcome that obstacle?
  • Do I need external resources – financial, technical, emotional?
  • What’s going to keep me motivated?  And conversely, what could potentially derail me psychologically?
  • Where will I find feedback and encouragement?
  • What are my key milestones and how will I celebrate them?

I’m not a big fan of resolutions – the “I’m going to do X, Y or Z when I turn 30. Or 40. Or in the New Year” variety.  If you’re not committed to doing it right now (smoking less, exercising more, reading the classics) then you probably won’t be motivated to do it at some arbitrary date in the future.  But I do believe in the power of a good project plan.


How about you?  How do you approach your goals for the New Year?


(Photo credit: Microsoft)