In Australia, we take our long summer break at this time, so I’ve really enjoyed the chance to step back, draw breath and renew my focus on the things that matter to me.
Professionally, 2016 was a good, solid (if frustrating) year.
I moved into a permanent role with Dimension Data and took on some global Program Portfolio responsibilities which I have really enjoyed. With my new management team based in Johannesburg and project teams in Singapore, South Africa, England, Australia and USA, I find myself constantly juggling time zones. “Nine to five”? No chance!I fluffed around with some really good ideas but didn’t progress far enough with them.
As part of my professional development, I put forward a couple of really good ideas but failed to push through with them so I have re-committed to doing so this year.
The blog ground to a halt because I simply didn’t write enough. I was so tangled up trying to feed the monster and produce quality content quickly, that I ended up producing very little. No worries…I have an Evernote notebook full of half cooked ideas!
I also reached a point with my website host where I felt that I had lost control of the site and became resentful at having to raise a service ticket and pay $$ for every small change or feature. In the end, I took the site down over the Christmas period and rebuilt it on a new platform, with a new host. It’s a work in progress, but I am far happier to have control back.
So, onto 2017.
This year, I have decided to do things a little differently – I want to change direction ever so slightly and make the blog more interesting and dynamic than it has been over the last year. Rather than focus intently on the blog schedule, I’ve resolved to talk more and write less, to find different ways to share stories and ideas, to collaborate with people who light a spark and inspire me, to share good advice whenever I see it, to set a large goal and mark out the steps, to trust my instincts and to find something lovely in each day.
Balance. That’s a nice word.
I want to find balance in the things that I do.
I want to balance my professional ambition and the incessant urge to be “doing something” with my yearning for simplicity.
I want to balance my need to present and discuss detailed, contextual Project Management ideas and issues with my desire to speak with simplicity, authenticity and my real voice.
So let’s jump into it.
I don’t want to tell you “What You Should Be Doing” but I would like to share three things that I am doing right NOW. Three things that I trust will set me on the way for 2017. My hope is that these will give you food for thought and help you on YOUR way too.
3 Things To Do Right Now
1. Set your personal and professional objectives
What do you want to achieve this year?
Do you want to learn a new Project Management skill? Do you want to seek a professional accreditation? Do you want to work with a particular organization? Do you want to write a book, complete a course, or join a local industry support group.
Take the time now to think about your objectives. Write them down and then think about what you need to do to get there.
- What steps are needed?
- How much effort is involved?
- Who do you need to contact?
- What will the end result look like?
- What do you need to do to realise your objectives?
I am enjoying sorting through my ideas to find the 3-5 that I can commit to this year. These are the things that I will plan to spend my time and energy with; they are the objectives that I will track to and hold myself up against.
Much like your workplace performance criteria, these objectives are the guidelines against which you can measure yourself against.
2. Take stock of your Project Plans
Over the long break, I took three notebooks and methodically worked through all my projects in turn – reading my notes, checking my plans, listing my To Do items.
I used the quiet time to gather my thoughts and take stock.
- Do I have everything under control?
- Do I have any glaring gaps?
- Do I have the right people engaged?
- Am I in control of my space?
All too often, we miss the opportunity to step away for a few hours and do this sort of reflective thinking. We get so caught up in the noise and chaos around us that we inevitably focus on the here and now – the things that are right in front of our faces.
It is right here that the very best Project Managers make their mark. They are able to do both simultaneously – to respond to the immediate whilst keeping an eye on the broader context.
Personally, I’m not there yet but I certainly do enjoy the focus that I achieve when stepping back and taking just checking in.
3. Engage your key Influencers
You are not an island. Just like you, your Influencers will also have a small window of opportunity to organise their own objectives and priorities before the chaos and noise of their new year kicks in.
Rather than lose that window, set aside time early in the year to connect individually with your most important Influencers (your Project Sponsor, Business Owner, PMO Manager, Functional Managers, etc) and let them talk about themselves, what they want to achieve and how they see you adding value.
Remember to take notes.
- Find out about their plans for the year
- Ask what their priorities are
- Understand the areas that are causing them pain, right now
- Find opportunities to add early value – “low hanging fruit”
Bringing It All Back Home
I am very excited about 2017. The opportunity to step back for a few weeks, gather my thoughts and renew my focus has been a wonderful thing!
To set myself up for the year to come, I used my break to do three things.
- Set out my objectives for the year, then write down the steps and actions that I will need to take to get ther.
- Take stock of all my current projects and understand where I need to focus my attention, who I need to engage and where my own pain points are
- Reach out to my key Influencers and understand their objectives and priorities, including where I can add value to them
What about you?
How do you prepare for the new year? What steps do you take to kick-off on the right foot?