Project Ivy: End Game

I started my year-long personal PMPM project in 2016 on the autumn equinox. Therefore it's time to take a final look at what I wanted to accomplish before the project wrapup and post-mortem.

Of course, what I want to accomplish is less interesting (except to me obviously) than how to run a year-long project. So this won't be so much about my progress as the hows and whys of following and ranking progress on a long-term project. Note: see the Index for other posts in this series.

So, with just a couple of months to go, I decided to do a gap analysis. This involves looking at the original plan and comparing it to the current plan and status in order to identify anything else I want to focus on or wrap up before the project ends.

I honestly prefer Indifference Circle, but can't afford to live there...
You should know that my project had several different goals that landed in different areas of my life. I tried to create a balance of mental, physical, emotional, and magical/spiritual items so that my project would be well-rounded and I could easily shift from one area to another throughout the year (for example, the way I focused on mental and magical stuff when getting a terrible cold derailed the physical stuff).

Tasks vs. Goals
The past four months have been really busy with tasks that lead toward my project goals. But what might be surprising is that they weren't at all the tasks I thought they'd be -- and this is why the difference between tasks and goals is so critical.

For example, one of my project goals was around my personal magical development. And last September when I started the project, I created a list of tasks that I wanted to accomplish to help me meet my goal. Looking back, I accomplished almost none of those original tasks. And yet, based on my success criteria, I've nearly met my goal.

See, along the way, some new opportunities presented themselves that I felt were right in line with my magical goal. So because my project is flexible, I allowed those new opportunities to take priority. And I'm glad I did. This happens in projects all. the. time. And it's important that you don't calcify your project so much that it can't react to changes. I'm still close to meeting my goal, just not in the way that I thought.

But that doesn't mean that stating the goal and identifying some tasks up front isn't important. Without the early task brainstorming, I probably wouldn't have recognized the new opportunities for what they were. And without the stated goal, I may not have gone after them with so much energy. So in the case of my magical goal, I would say it's been a success and that I can meet my goal by spending the rest of the project codifying and organizing all the various things I've learned and tried so that I can keep up my success in a sustainable way. I'm transitioning from PM to Ops, moving from accomplishing the thing to maintaining it.

Trashing the Goalposts
Interestingly, I had one goal that I made zero traction on... because I decided early on that it wasn't as big a deal as I thought. At first I just de-prioritized it but then finally struck it off my list. Far from a failure, this is actually a really good thing. There's nothing worse than working hard to reach a goal and only then realizing that it wasn't what you wanted. It's better to do it consciously though. I admit I subconsciously procrastinated on taking the first few steps for a while before I confronted it.

This is why regular reviews of your goals are important. I took another look and asked myself "why am I not working on this?" -- turns out it was because I didn't need or want it after all. So no failure and no guilt.

Partial Success
There were several goals where I wouldn't say I necessarily met the goal, but I did make progress on it. You recall my physical fitness goal? Well, I did make progress -- despite some illness -- on it. However, I wouldn't say that I met the goal entirely. That said, the goal itself was kind of nebulous. I wanted to get regular exercise, and I'm doing that, but I feel like I could be doing more. So instead of calling it a complete failure, I will say it's a partial success that I plan to continue through the end of the project. I will identify a phase 2 goal for next year... and I will make sure the success criteria is specific enough. For this kind of goal, it's important that I take TINY BABY STEPS and build on success slowly in order to create a lasting habit, so I'm still pleased with my partial success.

Complete Failure 
OK, time to get real. There was a goal that I absolutely have not met. Sure, I halfheartedly worked at it, but it didn't get the energy it should have. And unlike the item above, I still really want to meet this goal. There's a point where everyone who's trying to achieve something just needs to buckle down and do it... and I didn't. So what next? How do I handle this?

  1. No excuses. I wanted to do something and I didn't do it. It's all on me.
  2. Re-prioritize. When you have a project with more than one goal, something has to be at the bottom of the list. I need to make this a priority moving forward.
  3. Build on success. When I look at the progress I made in other areas, I can see that by giving this some priority, I can get it done.
  4. Make time. So now that some of the other areas are in habit or maintenance mode, I have no excuse (see step one) for not having time for this.
  5. Do the thing. In the end, you just have to do the thing. So I will do the thing and I will do it for the rest of the project until I get it right.

Next Steps
So, here's what I've identified for the next couple of months:

  • Focus on my unmet goal -- give it #1 priority
  • Continue with the good habits I've built
  • Transition my magical work to operations mode
  • Start thinking about my next PMPM project...


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