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Project Management Rebooted™ | Project Management for the Self

project management best practices project management leadership project manager Apr 14, 2018

For those of you with project management blood running through your veins, have you ever stopped to think about how you might go about project managing yourself? (Or maybe how you don’t!)

Planning your vacations, your family events like birthdays, family reunions, weddings, parties, etc, - hopefully trying to run them like actual projects, because that’s what they are.

Maybe you don’t really go all out and enter the tasks into Microsoft Project or come up with Powerpoint status reports to your family and friends every week (if you do, no judgment here!). But maybe you make a quick outline, a list, or if the event is big and there’s lots of moving pieces, you outline the milestones and tasks in Excel.

You might delegate activities to others who are helping you, motivating them to hit the timeline and deliver.  Trying to successfully manage your family and other relatives like some kind of unruly project team.

But what about other types of projects?

Like writing that book you’ve been wanting to write?

Cleaning up your resume so you can look for that new, fresh job you so desperately want?

Signing up for the course you know will launch you into the next level of expertise?

Starting that new business you’ve been wanting to start for the last several years, creating a workshop for something you’re really good at, setting goals for the upcoming year?

Have you noticed we tend to run our ourselves and our personal lives differently than how we show up professionally?

I have seen this difference in others from time to time, and conveniently never thought about it in terms of myself.

Until recently.

When the great flashlight of self-awareness beamed directly into my bloodshot eyeballs, illuminating the dark corner of mind and heart I had so expertly kept hidden, leaving me curled up in a little ball in my room while skittish white dot-lights faded in and out of my peripheral vision.

All I could think was “Geez. First of all, TURN OFF THE LIGHT, MAN!”

project management training

And then, “Um, ok.  Why is this so different?  Why wouldn’t I project manage my business endeavors the same strong way I’ve project managed my projects in my professional/employee career?”

Steadfast, consistent, reliable delivery and results – determined and motivated to hit all the milestones and deliverables set before me with all-out focus and professional expertise.  Taking project setbacks on the chin and moving forward anyway.

But it has not been the same.

To tell you the truth, I never thought I'd have to project manage myself in the way that I've had to this past 8 months while I've been working on building my new business and website.

Sure, I have motivation, determination, and organization; you must have this in some quantity if you’re going to do meaningful stuff.

But there’s this weird kind of balancing-act-pressure that stretches me and causes me to feel like I'm about to lose my grip with what I need to do.

In a way that is different from managing projects for someone else.

project management excellence

I like to call this state of mind "Multidimensional Project Management".

Also known in the psychological world as Multiple Personality Disorder.

I “get to” play every role in this entrepreneurial endeavor:  Sponsor, Project Team, Functional Managers, Developer, Copywriter, Marketing Manager, Finance, Human Resources….. what else?

Oh yes, let’s not forget the role of Project Manager.

There’s more I’m sure.  Multiple dimensions of multiple roles and multiple conversations.

No doubt this makes for a very schizophrenic experience at times.

So often I've felt the negative effects of playing all these roles, holding fierce conversations with myself as Sponsor and Project Manager.  Debating the budget and scope.  Motivating the project team (that would be me) to "get with it and deliver results.  Now."

I’ve become quite good at these little internal conversations:

Sponsor (me again):  “Kelly, what’s going on with that website? Your schedule says it was launching on August 28th.  It’s now mid- September.  I haven’t heard from you in a while.  Care to give me the details?”

Me (yes, the real me):  “Er, well, um, there’s been a lot going on.  I’ve been traveling and attending some meetings, my website developer has hit a few snags, and frankly, I’m feeling a little chicken about putting myself out into the world and being seen.”

Silence.  Uncomfortable, awkward moment.  I run off to track down the Project Team and yell at them.

Sponsors don’t care about the excuses.  They care about the results.

And this holds true for me when I have my Sponsor hat on.


project sponsor

Meanwhile, back in real life, others around me are wondering if I need some anti-psychotic drugs.

And no, I haven't made it to the psychotherapist yet….. thanks to a cadre of faithful friends and supporters who apparently don’t mind listening to me and keeping me on track.

This makes for a much different experience than project managing a project for an organization. In this current iteration of life, I’m managing myself and my business WITHOUT a contract OR a client dictating the terms.

This has been a big, fat Aha! these past few months – how much having a contract and working for someone else is a gigantic motivator in getting things done, and how we must draw on other things to motivate us when we don’t have that.

I couldn't have imagined I would struggle so much with having to wear all the hats while motivating myself to push my business creation along.  I'm a damn Senior Project Manager and Consultant!  This should be easy for me.


But it wasn't.  It isn't.

And yet, there's a surprising, wonderful hidden undercurrent to playing all the roles as a multidimensional, multiple personality Project Manager, pushing "me, myself and I" along to get the project work done in all the different areas:

Growth in the resistance.

I’ve come to realize there’s this sweet side of resistance I’m experiencing that is contributing to my growth in ways my previous work structure could never have; the up-and-down resistance to doing this work is pushing me to actually steady the course, fine-tune my voice, and help me focus on the power of what I’m doing.

It’s downright painful some days to project manage myself.

Those conversations I have to have with the Sponsor, Project Team, and all the other roles gets a little tiresome and noisy.  The key is not in shushing the internal dialog, but in managing the negative internal dialog continually so we can, as Jim Morrison famously sang, “break on through to other side.”

True. It’s hard to not want to run away from this work at times.

But I’m convinced this wanting to run away is a positive signal that momentum is being gained; when we are moving ahead, and trying to push forward, there is an equal and opposite energy pushing against us:

Beautiful resistance.

It’s good for us.

Embrace it.

Project Manage your resistance.

Use it to help yourself rise higher so you can help others rise with you and make this world a better place to be.

For more on managing resistance and boosting your confidence, check out this article from Thrive Global.

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