Building Your Mountain
(psst—click "view images" at the top of this email to see this gif! ^)
👋 HELLO fellow DPMs! I know it's been a little while—life has been wild. Last week, I returned from my first real, non-working vacation in years. (It was amazing!) While I was away, I thought a lot about how I want to finish out this year and where I want to focus next year. I happened to listen to a podcast that led me to a great method of sorting out my focus, and I think it's something we can all use to apply to ourselves, our work and our projects.
What is your mountain?
Neil Gaiman's 2012 commencement speech at the University of the Arts has some great advice about visualizing and reaching long-term goals. He describes envisioning these future goals as the mountain he's walking towards in the distance. That mountain, to him, represented being an author and artist of good books. We all have a mountain we're walking towards in some way—whether that's launching our latest project, becoming a better project manager, forging our own business, building a family, or any number of things.
How do you get to that mountain?
The next step described was to figure out how to get to that mountain. If you visualize walking towards it, you can start to see where certain decisions, opportunities, or distractions might veer you away from continuing on towards (and up) that mountain. You can say yes to a job you might not otherwise take, because times are tight and that job brings you closer to the mountain in the end.
On a client project, you might see that certain requests or project issues pull you away from the path to launch at the top of the mountain—but other project decisions might get you closer to that launch because they make the client happy, which means work gets approved more fluidly.
The idea of career myopia was fascinating to me when I was listening to the podcast I linked to above. It's easy to get caught up in the everyday details of projects, clients, and tasks when dealing with project management—the details are literally our jobs! But sometimes that might cause us to redirect our focus from the long-term or harder-to-reach work to what's right in front of us. Our jobs will always be reactive to some degree—since we're the first responders to client emails and team needs, there's almost never any lack of work to do. But taking the time to evaluate where our own goals or plans fit into the chaos of this day-to-day can really help us hone in on our mountains and find the path to the top a little more every day.
Ask a project manager
Patrice Embry's Project Management Advice blog launched recently and is a great resource for all of your biggest PM questions.
Do you have burning questions that aren't answered yet? Send them in here (if you can't wait) & keep an eye out on my Twitter (@talkanatalka)—we'll be taking submissions for a special guest issue of DPM(ish) very soon! 👏