It’s that time of year again, when we review the year behind us and look forward to new beginnings. As is tradition, many of you will be setting goals for 2011, but (if you’re anything like me) won’t be entirely sure how you’ll accomplish them with everything else on your plate.
With that in mind, I thought I’d write a short post about how I approach new projects in my life. I’d like to get your feedback on this too, so please share your thoughts in the comments.
It all comes down to three things for me:
- Positive Thinking
The combination of those three things, the Three P’s as I like to call them, have allowed me to successfully accomplish several things in the last year. Starting this blog is one of them. I’ve also overhauled my diet, quit an addictive habit, learned several new technical skills, and completed several large projects for my clients.
The first step to accomplishing anything is making the decision to commit to it. When I decided to radically change my diet, I had to have a conversation with myself first. I had to commit to the idea and make a promise to myself. That’s the easy part, really.
The hard part is keeping a positive mindset from that point forward. Negative thoughts about why you can’t succeed will resound from within your own head. They’ll also come bounding in from others, including your family and friends. Negativity leads to doubt, doubt leads to fear, and fear leads to failure.
Stay positive about your decision and remind yourself daily why you made the commitment. Make a list of the benefits you expect to receive and then frequently review them.
Projects that entail a considerable amount of labor require you to be productive with your time. There are a million different viewpoints on productivity, but I’ll share a little a bit about how I get things done.
First, I break a large scale project down into its base categories (you might call them phases). For an enterprise software implementation, that would be data conversions, consulting, software customizations, training, and go-live. If I were starting a new blog, that might be hosting setup, design, layout, content, publicity, and launch.
Within those categories are tasks that need to be completed. I list those tasks out and then assign a person and due date to them.
This all leads me back to my method of managing projects, which is:
Who is going to do what by when?
Breaking down a seemingly large project into its individual components makes it much easier to handle. It gives you guidance along the way and keeps you from getting distracted with things that aren’t important to being successful. Measure your time spent on these tasks to be sure you’re spending time on the things that matter.
You know the saying,
If it were easy, everyone would do it.
Accomplishing easy tasks is fun, but not very fulfilling. Breaking a habit, changing your lifestyle, or successfully completing a long-term project are things that make you feel really good inside. Those are the things that require you to be persistent; to suck it up when things get tough and push through the resistance. I don’t know if you can teach persistence. I think it can be learned, but not sure if it can be taught. You have to learn it on your own, through hard work, successes and failures. You have to love the taste of victory and hate the feeling of defeat. Tom Peters said it best in this video,
You have to know when to hold ‘em, and know when to hold ‘em. You might not be in the history books, but if you fold ‘em, we know damn well you won’t be in the history books.
Do you have any goals for next year? If so, how are you going to accomplish them?