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New Year's resolutions gone off track? Here’s your project recovery plan

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Did you start the year with resolutions that have been forgotten about? We begin with the best intentions but alas, it’s April and I’ve barely walked outside let alone run. It may not be the new year, but there’s still plenty of time to restart resolutions and goals. Here are some tips on how to project manage your new year's resolutions to get back on track.

Start with your recovery actions: what’s the point? Impressing all those around you by telling them how you completed all your resolutions of course. And other things like becoming a better person, being healthier, leading projects with more success and all that. But seriously, grab a notebook, write ‘Resolutions 2.0’ and list your resolutions. Next to these goals, write your reasons as to why that’s a resolution or goal. Outlining the benefits and giving goals a reason helps keep you motivated.

Re-scheduling and creating a plan. Plenty of time has passed and the schedule is already under pressure. Prioritise the most important goals and what their requirements are. Once you have the scope of your goal defined, you can map out where these goals fit in the coming months. Whether it’s making time to reflect on meetings or jogging 10 minutes every week, note the ‘goal to do’ once a week, month, quarter, whatever suits, into a calendar. This is a great method for monitoring how your goals are going.

Now then, what’s the budget? Like most things, your new year's resolutions will likely cost money. How much are you willing to spend? Whether it’s a training course, sports equipment, or an allotment, you should estimate how much everything will be, as well as surprise expenses (because we all know cost overruns happen…) Creating a spending goal will help make sure things don’t go out of hand.

Think about the risk. It’s fair to say that a risk is getting to January next year with no goals completed, and it’s already April. It’s natural to lose confidence and motivation, life happens and other factors impact our plans. But think about what, other than your own ‘I’ll do it later’, can impact this project. Sometimes it’s helpful to define the minimal viable product and complete the simplest part of the task until you’re able to do more. How can you mitigate threats and exploit opportunities?

Maybe a team will help. It’s practically impossible to complete a project without a team. Finding colleagues, peers, friends and family to join in on your resolutions is a fantastic way to stay motivated and get support. A colleague could organise booking events, a team member could help with meeting agendas and a friend could run with you. Once you know who your stakeholders are, figure out what they expect and how you’ll manage those expectations, especially if one of them optimistically signed up for you to run a marathon together…

Be agile and flexible. If the resolution isn’t valid anymore then, seriously, why are you trying to do it? Maybe, like me, you really hate running, or the 10-minute weekly meetings to complete your ‘being better at communication’ goals aren’t helping; that’s fine. Re-assess and change things up, maybe longer meetings less frequently are the ticket, or cycling instead of running? (Note: remember to add the new cost of a bicycle to the budget).

Celebrate the small wins. ‘Well done’ is definitely due – you’ve booked yourself onto the course, you’ve set up a 15 minute catch up with your team, or you’ve done your first run (or cycle) of the year. Start ticking off some of your goals and resolutions. It’s time to celebrate the wins and, of course, follow project discipline. Think about what went wrong, what went right, and what you might want to focus on next time. Keep a note of things that you could do differently or what you really enjoyed so that when December rolls in you can reflect on your year of growth. Lessons learned are so important, and I for one, will not make running part of my resolutions next year.

Quick tips: how to stick to new year’s resolutions

  1. Set realistic goals
  2. Team up with others
  3. Learn from failures and try again
  4. Don’t take it too seriously

We’d love to learn about how you stick to your goals, share some tips in the comments and connect with your peers on the APM Community.


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