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What would you do if you had one year to complete the largest project of your life? Where would you begin? What questions would you ask? What resources would you rely on? What processes and procedures would you want to use to ensure that your project was successful?
Now ask: What if you treated the next year of your life as a project?
A few years ago I was at the lowest point in my life: deep in debt, just out of a divorce, and a single dad. My business was failing – along with the economy – and I didn’t know how I’d ever recover from my self-created mess.
I needed something, anything, to back away from the edge and get my life moving in a new direction. I believed that all I had was project management. I held that assumption because I’d written five books on project management, delivered project management seminars for over a decade, and consulted for organizations across the globe.
So I asked: What if you treat the next year of your life as a project? It was a challenge to press on, an opportunity to learn and to grow, and a commitment to try just one more time.
I’m not a psychologist, a Zen guru, or some New Age zealot. I’m a man that’s learned and applied some universal truths to get what I want into and out of my life. If I can do it, you can too. Let me show you how.
In this hands-on course you will learn how you can treat your life as a project. You’ll create requirements, project plans, discover immediate actions to execute, identify the constraints that are anchoring your ambitions, and much, much more.
Welcome to the Lifelong Project! In this lecture I'll give an overview of this first section and set the stage for what you can expect in this course.
What would happen if you treated the next year of your life like a project? Or better yet, what could happen if you treated the next year of your life like a project? If you have goals and ambitions to change your life, passions you want to rekindle, and a belief that you can change the world then the Lifelong Project is for you. This isn't a course about setting goals – it's a course about achieving goals. This is your Lifelong Project.
If you've ever managed a project you're probably thankful that projects don't last forever - though you may have worked on some that feel that way! Project management is the planning, execution, and control of the events between the start of the project and the project's closure.
Life is like a project. You had a birthday that was your beginning point and then, somewhere out there, is your ending point. You have a good idea how life is going to end up. Your life is all of the business between your birth and your appointment with death. But isn't life, your existence, more than the space between birth and death? Isn't life full of love, excitement, wonder, creativity, friends, family, and all the good things? You know that life has its pain, misery, and sadness too; it's not all ice cream cones, chirping birds, and walks on sandy beaches. Life is rich with experiences, lessons to be learned, and opportunities to savor.
What do you want and need in your life?
You can make decisions and choices that will affect the rest of your life starting right now. You can decide to take control of your life. You can decide that you've had enough with the “somedays” and begin to create a strategy to reach specific goals on specific calendar days. You can identify what it is you want and then you can create a plan and to get what you want into and out of your life.
Life is more than just sleeping, working, eating, and projects, projects, projects. I meet so many people whose lives are long stretches of quiet, assumed misery, dotted with occasional joy, occasional passions, and occasional escapes from a job they do not enjoy. Are you living for the weekend, the vacation, or that mystical someday that just doesn't seem to come?
Ask yourself what do you value? I'm not talking of possessions, but what do you think is important in your life? What activities do you love to do more than anything else? Forget about the reports, the sales calls, the dirty clothes, and the messy garage for just one moment. Think about your perfect day without any bills, any phone calls, or any emergencies at the office. Think about what you'd do today if price and time was of no concern. How would you spend the day?
Let's get even more focused. What activities are missing from your life that you know should be there more often? Think of diet and exercise, savings, time invested with your loved ones, and all those things you've promised yourself you'll get to someday when you have a chance.
The ultimate goal of the Lifelong Project is to live a meaningful life. In all that you do, find meaning. In his classic work Man's Search for Meaning, Viktor Frankl writes of his experiences in Nazi concentration camps. Frankl shares that his time in that horror was only made tolerable by his desire to see his wife and family again. He found meaning in all that he could in the camp, which lead to his logotheraphy theory. Frankl writes that the men and woman who found something to live for faired better than the prisoners who had no reason to live and gave in to despair.
Certainly there are times when it's overwhelmingly difficult to be happy: someone close to you dies, there are tragedies in the world, you lose a job, fall prey to stress, and other external events that you may have little control over. But happiness, real happiness, stems from being thankful to be alive, to experience the good that this imperfect world offers. Happiness is not about getting things, happiness is about experience.
Learn from me: don't mistake pleasure for happiness. Pleasure is good, but it's not a panacea. I'm sure you've seen examples of people engaging in hedonistic behavior and you'd think they'd have all the reasons in the world to be happy - but we often discover they aren't happy. It's so easy to mistake pleasure for happiness.
In this lecture I'll discuss the differences between pleasure and joy. And we'll talk about the importance of planning for happiness to be part of The Lifelong Project.
In project management, project managers want to quantify their project's success. There are formulas for creating indexes for the project's cost, schedule, and formulas, which can be used to predict the likelihood of a project success. There are even formulas for estimating how much effort a staff will need to apply to reach a given deadline. Throughout a project, an organization may measure the benefits the project has created and the costs of the project in ratio to its deliverables. Everything in project management is measured, because what gets measured is often the same as what will get done.
This is Chapter One of The Lifelong Project book. Read this book as part of completing the first section.
Let's getting something straight right from the start, project management is about getting things done. It's challenging, methodical work to take an idea from the ether and create it into being – but that's what project management does. It takes people, organizations, and communities from the present state to a desired future state. It is creative work but it follows reason, a plan, and a mission.
Congratulations on reaching the end of the first section in this presentation on setting goals with The Lifelong Project. In this lecture I'll quickly review what we've covered so far in the course. Keep going! You're starting with the start and that's a good thing!
You can accomplish great things with project management. I want to help you get things done in your life - big things, little things, and dreamy things. If my little book can help you make your life better, and your better life can help others, and so on and so on just think about how great this world could really be. As one of my heroes Gandhi said, “Be the change you want to see in the world.” Project management is about change. The change in the world doesn't start with your neighbor, your best friend, or anyone else. The change in the world starts with you.
Your project, which will last for one year, needs purpose. You'll have lots of objectives, goals, and excitement within your project, but there needs to be one central theme based on your initial project launch. Why do you want to initiate this project? What purpose do you have in your project and in your life? Purpose is a great word as there are many definitions; consider:
To have a purpose is fundamental to everything you do. Think about any action you might take and you'll find a purpose behind it. Look at any object, from a car to a pencil, and you'll find purpose. Think of any project you've ever worked on and you'll find purpose. Your Lifelong Project also needs purpose. Think of any activity you do and then ask yourself, “What is the purpose of this activity?” The utilization of a thing or service shows its purpose; how are you utilizing your time, your thoughts, and your actions? Purpose is the reason behind action.
To have a purpose is fundamental to everything you do. Think about any action you might take and you’ll find a purpose behind it. Look at any object, from a car to a pencil, and you’ll find purpose. Think of any project you’ve ever worked on and you’ll find purpose. Your Lifelong Project also needs purpose. Think of any activity you do and then ask yourself, “What is the purpose of this activity?” The utilization of a thing or service shows its purpose; how are you utilizing your time, your thoughts, and your actions? Purpose is the reason behind action.
There are things that you want and then there are things that you need. I may want the carrot cake, but I need the carrots. I may want to buy a new sports car but I need to pay bills, save, and invest. Needs are the things you must have in your life to live and progress towards your goals.
In this lecture we'll discuss two different psychological theories about what we need as people. So how do these two theories help you identify what you want and need in your Lifelong Project? You can use both of these theories, even if you don't wholly agree with them, to identify the things you do need and would like to have in your Lifelong Project.
A project manager identifies the requirements of a project based on what's needed and wanted. The list of project requirements is prioritized and eventually evolves into the project scope through planning and analysis. The project scope is based on the project requirements and the project requirements are based on your mission statement. The mission statement and the project requirements must mesh.
One of the easiest approaches for doing this activity is to begin with a list of what you want your project, your life, to look like in one year. Don't worry about organization, topical groupings, or how silly some of your wants are. Just get it on paper; dump all of your obvious ideas out to paper. You'll refine the requirements a bit later.
Sometimes it's good to be negative. Being negative can help you identify the things that you don't want to help identify the things that you do want. Just as one wants a smack to the back of the head or to jam their big toe, you can use negativity to identify the things, characteristics, and habits that you want to remove from your life. For example, I don't want junk food in my diet. I don't want to waste time on television. I don't want these extra twenty pounds on my body. And so on. By identifying the things you want out of your life you're identifying boundaries for yourself and creating decisions for improving your life.
In project management, the project manager and the project team will document what has and hasn't worked in the project. This documentation is simply called “lessons learned.” Lessons learned documentation accomplishes several things:
Once you've identified the high-level requirements for your project you'll need time to examine and prioritize these objectives. Your goal in this portion of your project is to determine what's most important and what the most feasible things to accomplish are. It's also important to create project requirements that are reasonable to achieve.
Remember the Iron Triangle of Project Management? There has to be a balance in the relationship of the project scope, project time, and the project costs. It's unreasonable to create a project scope that far exceeds the amount of time available and certainly the amount of funds available to the project manager. It's no different here in your Lifelong Project.
A constraint is anything that limits your options. Every project has constraints, and your Lifelong Project is no different. Some constraints, such as deadlines, budgets, and project requirements are easy to see, but other constraints are hidden. Failure to identify a constraint early in the project can skew your planning efforts and create unreasonable risk, frustration, and wasted efforts. Ready for the biggest constraint you'll have to deal with on this Lifelong Project? You.
An assumption is something that you believe to be true, but that you really haven't proven to be true. For example, someone might assume that they don't have the abilities to complete the work in their Lifelong Project. Someone else may assume that a friend, spouse, or relative wouldn't be interested in creating their own Lifelong Project. Or someone may assume that they don't need to write down their Lifelong Project requirements.
It's essential to examine your list of prioritized project requirements and see what assumptions you are already operating by. Assumption identification is an iterative process that you will do throughout your project, at least on a monthly schedule, not just here in the beginning phases. As you plan, execute, and even close your Lifelong Project you'll need to determine the assumptions you have about the project work that may deter your efforts. A false assumption can create heartaches for your Lifelong Project.
The project charter is a document that officially launches a project, and all projects should have a project charter. A project charter is a document that assigns authority to the project manager to manage the project resources, project scope, and the entire project. The charter is based on the mission statement of the project and your project requirements.
It's important to have a project charter because it symbolizes a commitment to your Lifelong Project and to the goals that have been mapped out in your project. You'll need a project charter in your Lifelong Project, because it'll serve as physical promise to the goals you've established for your life over the next year.
This is Chapter Two of The Lifelong Project book. Read this book as part of completing this section.
To initiate anything, from a relationship to a new business, is to start a series of events that will bring about a specific result. The initiation of a project is its official launch, signaling that the project objectives have been created and that time, monies, and resources have been allotted for the project. Initiation shows the intent of your first actions, and it is during project initiation that the project manager is assigned a level of authority over the project work and expectations for the project manager’s performance are created.
Once a project's preliminary project scope has been written and the project charter has been approved it's time for the project kickoff meeting. This meeting allows all of the project stakeholders to meet and allows the project manager, the project sponsor, and the project team to review the agreed goals for the project. This isn't a time to debate what the project will and won't do, but rather a time to clearly establish what the project is about to deliver.
In the Lifelong Project you can have a project kickoff meeting too. You can invite your friends and family to dinner and share with them what it is you're about to do for the next year. Provide them with your project's scope and charter and share how this is something that's important to you and you want and need their support.
Planning is one of the most important project management processes - and it's one of the most important processes you'll complete as you plan your goals. Projects, I like to say, fail at the beginning and not the ending. Invest time in creating a solid, realistic plan - which I'll show you how in this section - and you'll be well-prepared for a success Lifelong Project.
How willing are you to achieve your goals? Circumstances can prompt us to do amazing things. Circumstances can shift our understandings, feelings, and considerations. Your circumstances can change over years or overnight. It is our immediate circumstances that propel our immediate desires, but it’s intense planning that can shape our future circumstances. Through project planning you will determine the exact actions required to create your project circumstances.
What are you afraid of? What things are you afraid of if you charge forward in this project? Where in your project will you need courage? Where will you find inspiration, motivation, and the conviction to do the actions to reach your goals? To take the daily action, the difficult assignments, and the commitment to your beliefs you’ll need valor, bravery, and heart to press on. You can foster that courage by starting small, gaining confidence, and trusting in your ability to accomplish.
Doubt is when you don’t believe that you can reach your goals, live up to your potential, and complete your objectives. Imagine that you’re at the top of a ladder and you’re stretching your arms up to reach a goal. Far below a trickster is shaking your ladder. That’s Doubt; Doubt shakes your courage and confidence.
Doubt often comes from our closest friends and family. Their doubt may be masked by their advice. Their doubt can be wrapped in demeaning questions about your goals, dreams, and ambitions. Sometimes their doubt is carved in body language. Sometimes, and this one hurts, their doubt isn’t camouflaged at all. They’ll laugh, shake their heads, and tell you just how crazy you are.
We make time for what’s important. If you consider the elements in your WBS important—really important—then I believe you’ll accomplish your goals and get the work done. If you have a half-hearted, lukewarm attitude about the goals, dreams, and aspirations in your project then I doubt you’ll accomplish much.
A cornerstone of a good project is a well-defined work breakdown structure (WBS). A WBS is a visual decomposition of the project scope, displaying the things within your project that your executing actions will create. For example, if a project were to create a new house, the WBS would breakdown the house into things like the foundation, the basement, the first floor, the second floor, and so on. Then, each of those second-tier deliverables would be broken down again. In the new home project, the basement, for example, could be broken down into the individual rooms. Then each room could be broken down by its purpose and content.
Each work package in the WBS must have at least one corresponding activity. For each section of your WBS it’s ideal to create a separate activity list. Each category of requirements will have their own deliverables, work packages, and activity lists. Creating a separate activity list for each section of your WBS will help you complete activity sequencing as part of future planning processes.
Once you have completed your project activity list you’ll need to estimate the duration of each identified activity. I’m certain there are activities in your project that you could complete in a few hours while other activities will likely take more time. Your immediate goal is to look at each activity and determine how long this activity will take to complete. Examine each activity on its own merit and independent of the other WBS elements to determine its possible duration.
All project managers need to identify the order of the activities within the project work. You can’t just hop into the project work without knowing the specific order of the activities. As you will be doing much of the project work yourself, you probably already have a good idea of the order of events in your project activity list. For each entry in your activity list and for each section of your WBS you’ll need to address the order of the activities required to create each project deliverable. Activity sequencing is the identification of each activity predecessor and successor event.
How much money will the deliverables and activities within your project scope cost you to complete? You will need to investigate the financial impact of the deliverables and determine how you will pay for those things that your project requires. The financial elements of a project are always a tough one for any organization. There’s a desire to get the best financial value without cutting corners, quality, or current operations. You’ll probably have the same approach, but here’s the truth: you often have to shift finances to reach the priorities you’ve identified. If you’re like most people, you only have so much capital to invest at any given time.
A risk is an uncertain event or condition that can have a positive or negative affect on your project. That’s right, risks can have a positive effect, not just a negative outcome. Risks are often considered dangerous and something you want to avoid, but risk isn’t always a negative component. Risks are part of your life: investments, career decisions, and even driving a car. There’s a steady risks of job loss, businesses closing, heartache, and more. Risk is not a bad thing, it’s the risk’s impact that hurts.
Once you’ve identified the risks in your project you’ll need to complete some risk analysis. There are two approaches to risk analysis:
Now that you have an idea of where the dangers, and even the opportunities, exist within your project you’ll need to create risk responses for the appropriate risk events. There are seven risk responses that you can choose from: three for negative risks, three for positive risks, and one that’s appropriate for both.
In project management change control is a structured, systematic approach to allowing and denying changes into the project. Life changes and external events can have huge ramifications that can shift priorities in seconds. Being flexible in life and in project management is fundamental to success and sanity. Does anyone really believe they’re in control of everything all of the time?
Change centers on physical, mental, and spiritual progress from where you are now to some future state. Nothing stands still – everything is changing all of the time. Things can never be the way they used to be and things will never again be the way they are right now. You can never step into the same river twice.
Plato said, “Human behavior flows from three main sources: desire, emotion, and knowledge.” In the planning of the Lifelong Project my hope is that you have identified all three sources. First, you have confirmed and increased the desire for the requirements your created for your project by creating your WBS and activity list. You should be excited and eager to get to work accomplishing the activities to reach the goals you’ve defined herein.
This is Chapter Three of The Lifelong Project book. Read this book as part of completing this section.
Projects fail at the beginning—not the end. The evidence of project failure is most apparent when the project limps into its final phases, eases past its deadlines, or slips on its cost and schedule requirements. The reason why a project may fail usually originates from poor planning. To plan is to define your intent and direction for the project activities, conditions, and expectations. Planning is based on solid research, your experience, and expert preparation: that’s what you’ll be doing in this chapter.
While it's true that you don't really stop planning until the entire project is closed, this lecture is a quick review of what's been covered in this section. Planning is an important process, so make certain you've a good grasp on this section before moving into project execution.
Project management is about getting things done - and it's project execution that allows that to happen. This section will dive into the day-to-day activities you'll need to complete in order to reach your goals in The Lifelong Project. Execution, doing the work, is the secret to achieving your goals. While planning is necessary, the magic of accomplishment is in project execution.
The secret to getting things done isn’t to just do it. The secret is to know what you must do, and then to do it well, efficiently, and accurately. Through your project planning, you’ve already created a systematic approach for your Lifelong Project. You have designed a work breakdown structure, a network diagram, and you’ve scheduled when the project work will happen. Now it’s time to get to work doing the project activities you’ve scheduled.
Many people are bored in their career, in their spiritual life, and in their day-to-day busy-ness. They’ve become comfortable, unchallenged, and as result, unmotivated. They’ve found themselves disengaged from society. I know this feeling and lived it for years. It’s easy to shut yourself off from new experiences, to go through the same dinners and talks with friends, and to stay in the illusions of a safe, secure, and cocooned life. It’s easy, that is, until one day you realize that you’re missing out on all the things that got you here. Then you may find it’s scary to take a chance, to push your comfort levels, and to try something new.
Experiencing new work, new challenges, and new opportunities is exciting, but it’s also a threat to the norm you’ve become accustomed to. To reach for the goals and objectives you’ve identified in your project you’ll have to stretch outside of your comfort zone. You’ll have to be vulnerable. You’ll have to fight off the temptation to quit. You’ll have to keep going even when you don’t want to.
You may think of forgiveness as something you grant for others when they do you wrong. You may have the opinion that until they plead for your forgiveness, you won’t give it to them. When someone causes pain, cheats you, or somehow does you wrong, it’s easy to harbor hurt, anger, and grudge against that person. A common mindset is that we might forgive, but only if someone’s truly sorry and asks for forgiveness— and even then we’ll continue to be hurt, angry, and in despair. The truth is, however, forgiveness is something that we give to others when they may ask, but it’s something that we can give to ourselves first.
Procrastination can be a serious roadblock in project management. Delaying the start of one activity actually delays the start of all successive activities. Procrastination fuels feelings of guilt, despair, and defeat. When you procrastinate you’re actually stopping the Lifelong Project execution and you’re stealing time from the project schedule. I know this because I’ve had a long battle with procrastination.
A long-running self-commentary that criticizes your every action, belief, and idea will only grind you down to inaction. To begin monitoring your internal dialogue is a strange sensation. Try it right now: think about a project activity or a facet of your project that may have you worried. As the thoughts happen, listen to the words, see the images, and feel the sensations that the conversations create. Next, to try to influence the thoughts and images. Tell yourself that the project will succeed and create images of yourself with your goals achieved. The human brain has a fascinating ability to create or retrieve all kinds of information and then process the data to arrive at conclusions. To complete your project you’ll have to rely on logic, emotion, trust in yourself, and the self-acceptance that you are capable of achieving great things.
Quality is met by satisfying the requirements of the project scope. If you want quality in your project, you have to complete the work that will create the WBS-defined work packages, which will in turn satisfy the project scope. Quality is achieving the expected deliverables on time and on budget; it is nothing more or less than what’s defined in the project scope statement.
Quality is a conformance to the project requirements and a fitness for use by the project customer. Quality is keeping promises.
Throughout your project you’ll make mistakes, skip scheduled project activities, and you’ll probably even do some of your work with less than expected quality. In my Lifelong Project I sometimes skip my exercises, dodge assignments that I dread, and don’t wholeheartedly do my work. You are human and things happen – hopefully these things won’t happen often, but if they do it’s up to you respond with corrective and preventive actions.
Love is a powerful thing. We hear it so often in pop songs, television shows, and greeting cards that it sometimes seems trite. To love is to give freely of yourself. To love someone is a wonderful, healthy attraction between you and another person. It is a divine feeling to love and to be loved. There are a variety of loves when you consider your significant other, friends, family members, and even your neighbors. Of all these loves, however, the one that’s the most important for the Lifelong Project is the love you give to yourself.
Do you have fun any more? Is your life a predictable rut? When was the last time you had an adventure? Have you ever had an adventure? An adventure doesn’t have to be a cross-country trek through the Rain Forest, but a healthy experience that thrills you. I consider an adventure doing something that I’ve never done before. I’ve been embracing new experiences over the past few years: a month-long solo tour of Europe, hang gliding, photography scavenger hunts, immersing myself into modern art, and more. I’m always uncomfortable at first, but I feel like I learned something new and have had a wonderful experience to boot.
As you work, have confidence in your abilities. Believe that you can do the project work and don’t doubt yourself. All that you have to do, at any moment in your life, really, is the next right thing. All that you must do is the current assignment as it was planned. If you don’t know how to do that work learn how. Research the work, read a book, try different approaches and document your results, and if needed, hire an expert to coach you along. Remember, in new activities, repetition is the mother of learning. I believe, and so should you, that you can do one tiny thing to move your life towards your project goals every day. It’s a steadfast, constant, and consistent effort that will make all the difference.
This is Chapter Four of The Lifelong Project book. Read this book as part of completing this section.
If it were just as simple as “just do it” then there’d be no need to think, talk, or write about project execution. This chapter focuses on your project execution and the Lifelong Project processes that’ll help you sustain the effort your project demands over the next year. Over the course of your whole life, a year isn’t really all that long at all. But examine a year in your life by individual days, hours, or minutes and it’s really significant. Executing your Lifelong Project plan isn’t focused on a year or even or a month at a time, but in moments and minutes. The actions you choose to do, or choose not to do, in these moments will build into your accomplishments over the next year.
Great job completing this section on project execution. Project execution is paramount for successful projects - and for reaching your goals. You're now ready to start the actual work to make your goals a reality. Based on your project plans you can move into project execution.
Monitoring and controlling the project work relies on a set of processes to ensure that the project work is being completed according to plan. In your Lifelong Project you’ll use these processes to ensure that the project assignments are completed. As snags and snafus happen over the next year the processes in this group will help you react sensibly and accurately to the situation. More often than not, the processes I’ll cover in this chapter will shift you back to the planning processes so you can create a plan to execute and then manage the identified problem. You probably do much of this already in your life; as unexpected events and problems happen you plan, adjust, and then act.
You'll need constant dedication to the project. I often meet people who are honestly excited and dedicated to the idea of their project, but are not necessarily engaged with the ongoing work of their project. Monitoring and controlling activities will help you keep focused on reaching your project objectives. You’ll use the processes in this chapter to keep your project moving, avoid project pauses, and maintain the level of excitement you feel for your project goals.
With your Lifelong Project, if you don’t know why you’re reaching for the goals you’ve created you won’t reach them. If you don’t create an accurate and complete project scope by answering exactly what the project will accomplish you won’t be able to plan, execute, and monitor your project. Finally, if you don’t plan and execute your project plans there won’t be anything here in project monitoring and controlling for you to do with any authority. Here’s the fundamental truth in all projects, personal, professional, or corporate: you must completely define why the project is needed. You’ve done this, I trust, in your project charter and in your project mission statement. Once you’ve defined the charter, the mission of your project, answering the specific what and the specific how becomes much easier.
You need to periodically review your project scope to see that it’s in balance with the amount of funds and the amount of time you have remaining in the project. This is cost and schedule control and it relies heavily on how accurately you completed your project planning processes. In project planning, you estimated how long and how much you believed the project scope would require. Through project execution you’re learning exactly how long and how much the project scope does require. The difference between what was planned and what was actually experienced is the project variance.
While communicating is an essential part of project management, listening is an equally essential part of communicating. It’s vital to listen, to understand, and to mentally process what we’re hearing before we speak. By listening we’re able to learn and to apply our knowledge. When I attend a class I’m there to listen to the instructor, not talk with the instructor. The one teaching the class is giving to me their knowledge, and it’s up to me to open my ears and accept. The same is true in relationships, in work, in project management, and in life; you learn more by listening than talking.
. I’m optimistic that you’ll have a wonderful year of accomplishing your goals, reaching your ambitions, and delivering on your Lifelong Project promises. But this is just a warning for you to be honest and accurate with yourself. If you’re missing deadlines, spending more money than you thought you would to complete your assignments, or are just abandoning the project work, don’t convince yourself that all is grand – you’ll know that it isn’t.
Expert judgment is when a project manager relies on someone with more experience to help make the best decision. In project management an expert is a consultant, a subject matter expert, or a more experienced person in the organization. In your Lifelong Project you should rely on expert judgment as needed; it’s not a sign of weakness, but a sign of a diligence. Why struggle through your project work, become frustrated, and waste time and money when a consultant could teach you how to do the work right the first time?
That exciting, heart-pounding feeling is the passion that you’ll need to monitor, stoke, and renew throughout the project. Passion is an intense, burning desire that comes from within and is displayed externally. I’m sure you’ve experienced past goal-setting exercises where you felt passionate about the goal when it was set. If you’re like me, however, that passion seemed to cool, the desire to reach the goal was still alive, but the passion for the goal can lose its sizzle.
Belief in your project is a prominent monitoring and controlling process. It is adamant that you believe in yourself, in your project, and in the decisions and choices you’ve made for your Lifelong Project. Have you ever worked for someone that couldn’t make a decision because they were paralyzed by fear, doubt, or worry? It’s aggravating to not have direction, and projects routinely fail because of inaction. You cannot let this happen to yourself.
Monitoring and controlling the Lifelong Project is really about monitoring and controlling yourself. You are the key to the Lifelong Project: it can’t happen without you and only you can complete the project. In the world of traditional project management, monitoring and controlling is about ensuring that the project work is done according to plan, that the project is meeting quality expectations, and the schedule, cost, and scope are remaining in balance. In the Lifelong Project, all of the processes I’ve described in this chapter are attributes and characteristics that we should aspire to.
This is Chapter Five of The Lifelong Project book. Read this book as part of completing this section.
By now you know that projects are comprised of processes. Each process has a distinct function designed to bring about a specific result. You’ve completed initiating, planning, and some execution processes thus far in your project. In tandem with the execution processes are the monitoring and controlling processes; that’s what this chapter is all about. These processes help the project manager nudge the project back on track as needed and to help control components such as cost, scope, and schedule.
Monitoring and controlling the project is done throughout the project, not just at the start or middle. When you do your project assignments you should be monitoring and controlling the accuracy, quality, and completeness of your work. When you think about your project, you should monitor how you think about your goals: with passion, excitement, and a belief that you will achieve your objectives. When you talk to yourself, offer yourself positive, healthy, and uplifting messages. This is an ongoing, constant process that runs in tandem with your efforts.
In your Lifelong Project you’ll have many goals, milestones, and phases whose completion represent progress. Some of your goals, no doubt, are related, while others are linked only by your desire. When you reach milestones, complete some of your goals, or shift your execution from phase to phase, you should complete the project’s closing processes.
Projects may cycle through the closing processes many times before the project is officially and finally closed. This is because the closing processes are often applied as different phases of the project are completed. A phase allows one significant portion of a project to end and allows a new phase to begin. Consider a goal to start a new business. This project requirement could have several phases to move you towards your goal. Each phase that’s closed allows a new phase of the project to begin.
In traditional project management the focus of project closure is about accepting the project scope deliverables – and that’s the same focus for you. The primary question of project closure is: did the project deliver on its promises? Customers want to see the project deliverables in alignment with the project scope statement and the project requirements as defined during the launch of the project. What the project team has created for them had better be exactly what they asked for or the project has rework to do. And no one is happy about that. You should expect the same from yourself.
If all projects are a temporary undertaking and your life is a project, then it follows that our lives will one day end. Life is temporary, a snap of the fingers, a speck in the universe. This temporary life, however, is full of opportunity, beauty, joy, and love. I believe that it’s up to us, the project managers of our lives, to take ownership, to take deliberate actions, to do our best, and to love one another.
This is Chapter Six of The Lifelong Project book. Read this book as part of completing this section.
I find the closing processes to be some of the most exciting moments of a project. Think about the work you’ve done in order to reach your project’s closure. You’ve identified your requirements, written a project scope statement, created a plan, and then executed your work. As the project faced challenges, you monitored and controlled the work to ensure its accuracy, quality, and completeness. When you arrive at closing and you will—you should be proud of all that you’ve accomplished. Congratulations!
The principles of project management are solid, proven practices that can be applied to any type of project: technology, health care, construction, and more. I know that in my life, and in yours, the principles of project management can be applied to realize goals, dreams, and to provide a catalyst to act upon those dreams. When you complete the requirements of your project scope you’ll prove to yourself more than anyone else that you can achieve them.
The approach that I’ve outlined in this course is really a management of your life’s goals and ambitions. It’s not you or your life that is a project, but the goals, ambitions, and dreams you’ve fostered and believe in. You can, as I have, use the principles of project management to conquer your fears and doubts and then achieve your heart’s desire.
Are you dreaming of perfection while doing what you must do to get by for now? Maybe you’re selling your time, selling your life, selling your happiness for a fistful of dollars. It’s not worth it. Nothing is worth your life, your happiness, and your dreams. If that describes you, then this is my special message for you: Wake up! I’m telling you that your dream is nice, but your life is now. Stop waiting - you must seize the life you want because it won’t just come to you. Stop hating your job, stop making excuses, and get serious about living. You are not trapped, you’re not dead, and you’re not asleep - it just feels that way.
The approach that I’ve outlined in this course is really a management of your life’s goals and ambitions. It’s not you or your life that is a project, but the goals, ambitions, and dreams you’ve fostered and believe in. You can, as I have, use the principles of project management to conquer your fears and doubts and then achieve your heart’s desire.
It’s not all about you, and it’s certainly not all about me. What it is all about is us: You, me, your neighbors, our community, our world. Is the world getting worse and worse or are we just more informed? Are we a global generation of hate, self-serving idealists, and greed-centric people? I don’t think so, but sometimes the newscaster might have us believe that. I really feel that the majority of us would help a stranger. I really feel that the majority of us can get along. And I really feel that the majority of us want to leave this world a better place than what it is today.
Are you excited and ready to start and continue your Lifelong Project? Have you been completing the chapter exercises as you went along, or do you have plans to return to those chapters and complete the exercises? In either case I’ve created a quick listing of all the things you should have created and in your Lifelong Project Binder. This lectures defines all the documents you should have as you prepare to go into your Lifelong Project:
This is Chapter Six of The Lifelong Project book. Read this book as part of completing this section.
Your life is not, despite all that I’ve written here, a project. Your life is not a song, a painting, a journey, a secret, or any other simile writers, philosophers, and midnight ramblers may call it. Your life is simply life. Your life is whatever you make of it. For years I lived, well, existed, waiting for my real life to begin. For years I fantasized about magical somedays and things I was going to do before I died. I’d dream about traveling the world, meeting glamorous people, and all the other things I’d like to try.
Some of the project management activities, daily activities, and project management assignments will be hard to complete at first. But like most things, if you stay after it, keep on doing, and keep your mental attitude in check, you’ll find it all gets easier. What you’ll also find, I promise, is that the more things you successfully accomplish in your project, the more things you’ll be able to successfully accomplish in your project. Nothings succeeds, as they say, like success.
Once again, thank you for your time and thoughts. I wish you the best in your project management endeavors, love in your life, and joy in your Lifelong Project.
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Joseph Phillips has more than 15 years’ experience as a project management consultant, educator, technology consultant, business owner, and technical writer. He has consulted as a project manager for a range of businesses, including startups, hospitals, architectural firms, and manufacturers. Joseph is passionate about helping students pass the PMP certification exam. He has created and led both in-person and web-based seminars on project management, PMP certification, IT project management, program management, writing, business analysis, technical writing, and related topics. Joseph has written, co-authored, or served as technical editor to more than 35 books on technology, careers, project management, and goal setting for MacMillan, McGraw-Hill, Pearson Education, and AMA Press.
Project Management Professional (PMP)
PMI-Agile Certified Practitioner (PMI-ACP)
CompTIA Project+ Professional
CompTIA Certified Technical Trainer+
Certified ITIL Foundations Professional
PMP Project Management Professional Study Guide, McGraw-Hill
CAPM/PMP All-in-One Exam Guide, McGraw-Hill
PMP Project Management Lab Book, McGraw-Hill
The Certified Technical Trainer All-in-One Exam Guide, McGraw-Hill
IT Project Management: On Track from Start to Finish, McGraw-Hill
Project Management for Small Business, American Management Association
Software Project Management for Dummies, For Dummies Publisher
The Lifelong Project, Amazon CreateSpace
Vampire Management: Why Your Job Sucks, Amazon CreateSpace