Type in “New Year’s Resolution” into your favorite search engine and you will get over 100 million hits. This volume isn’t surprising when we consider the impact created by the excesses of the holiday season followed by an abrupt (and for many of us, cold) return to reality in early January.
For project managers, some of our resolutions could include:
- Active listening
- Reducing device distraction
- Improving our time management skills
- Being a better servant-leader
- Shifting our focus from managing to the triple constraint to facilitating the realization of lasting business value
You will likely have received many good ideas when it comes to sticking to your resolutions including writing them down, telling your friends or colleagues, and setting realistic targets, but one which doesn’t receive as much air time is to make resolutions which build on what you are already doing. This practice is a logical extension of Newton’s First Law of Motion – bodies at rest will tend to stay at rest unless acted upon by an outside force.
If you are not already doing something, even to a small degree, it can be very challenging to suddenly start performing it, and even harder to stick with it. Although there is no special significance to the start of a year, the pressure we impose on ourselves to follow through with resolutions at this time increases the likelihood of our failing to do so.
So if you are aspiring to become a better project manager, it’s a lot easier to start by taking some of the practices you are already performing to the next level.
Your plan for the new year could include the following two lists:
- Two or three resolutions which will build upon the good habits which you have just started to explore in the previous months. For example, if you had dipped your toes into mindfulness meditation by spending a few seconds each day focusing on your breathing, you can extend that duration or can add practices such as becoming aware of your body’s reaction to stressful situations.
- Two or three habits which you have not practiced previously, but which you wish to adopt. You could resolve to explore these in the current year by setting extremely modest goals, but more important, learning from and being non-judgmental about the failures which are bound to happen whenever you try something new. These practices will go onto your resolution backlog to be considered for elaboration in the following year.
Year’s end is neither an end nor a beginning but a going on, with all the wisdom that experience can instill in us – Hal Borland