The alarm sounds 6:00 AM, 6:00 AM, 6:00AM. Wake up! It’s time to get ready for work.
Stop. Just for one moment, stop.
Right in this instance and in this second, stop for a moment and listen. It’s right here where we give ourselves powerful feedback regarding our work.
Sometimes, at the sound of the alarm, we throw back the covers and we spring to the floor. We lift the blinds and cheerfully greet the day. When we are thriving in our work, this is what mornings feel like. We feel vibrant and connected. This is the energy that makes our work worth doing.
However, it’s not always like that, is it? Occasionally, the alarm wants thrown out the window and sometimes, the pillow has more stories to tell. When we’re disengaged, this is what mornings feel like. It’s the energy that sends people in pursuit of a career change.
Has it been a while since work caused you to spring to your feet in anticipation of the day? If you’re a project manager who’s in a professional rut, this post is dedicated to you.
Join us as we poke, prod and nudge our way towards a dream project type. Follow along and identify the project types that really engage you. Discover what energizes you and makes your work worth doing.
Examine Your Interests
Every project manager has some untapped passion. Everyone has something that peaks his or her interests. Let’s start with the obvious. What are your areas of expertise?
Were you an engineering major? Is math your passion? What about science? Are you interested in geology, chemistry or biology? Ahh, technology you say. Software? Hardware? Is it innovation you admire?
List a few areas of knowledge that interest you. They might not all involve areas of special study. Perhaps you’re a weekend paddler and the rivers rule your heart. If there’s something that makes you feel invigorated or engaged, write it down.
I’ll Examine My Interests
For me, if there’s a discussion that involves real property, I’m interested. Why? I’m a former real estate attorney. Perhaps my command of the subject makes it more accessible and digestible, thereby increasing my interests. Perhaps it captures my attention because I love being outdoors and hugging the trees. For many reasons, I am deeply attracted to the land and I would be doing myself a disservice to not list that here.
“Real Property” is a huge topic though, isn’t it? If your first topic of interest is overly broad, see if you can narrow the focus. For example, within the topic of real property, I could examine conveyancing, construction and a host of other subtopics. If I really examine my interests though, I notice I’m most interested in public use. That helps narrow the topic a bit, but let’s push further.
Would I be interested in a public use of land that causes a complete erosion of its topsoil or the loss of its lateral support? Absolutely not. I am recharged by the outdoors. Note the tree hugging comment, above. I’m more interested in being a caretaker of the land. I’m interested in public use that protects the land and its supported ecologies or at least leads to a sustainable use of the land.
Lastly, I can’t ignore my creative side. I’m I lover of the arts and an admirer of innovative technologies. My dream projects might produce a creative product or result. They would demand some creative expenditure on my part and require project teams to think outside of the can.
The Project Management Profession
What about the project management profession? Are there areas or topics within the field of project management that you find engaging?
For example, I find myself day dreaming about projects where entire communities are the stakeholders. I dream of engagement plans that provide for capturing the insight of everyone and building community consensus. My dream projects would require substantial outreach efforts that test my mass communication skills.
Make Your List
By now, you may have listed a subject matter that interests you, but what else did you come up with? Take a moment to select a topic or two, drill down into subtopics and really examine your interests. Create a list of four to five items.
My list looks like this:
- Real property / land
- Public use
- Community engagement
Apply Your Interests to Project Types
This is the fun part. Based on our list of interests, let’s consider related project types.
My dream projects might involve development of parks or green spaces for the purpose of effecting climate change. The American Planning Association illustrates how cities use parks for climate change management. Managing the development of a city park would certainly fit every interest I identified above.
My dream projects might also involve re-use of built environments that add green space and foster the improved health of a community. For example, consider Amanda Burden’s High Line Project in New York City. Look also at the six freeway removal projects that changed their cities forever.
My dream projects might involve the rebuilding of a community in a way that greatly reduces or eliminates its reliance on fossil fuels. The Rebuilding Greensburg project comes to mind.
How do I know I’m on the right path? When I think of these projects, my energy rises. They tap into my interests. These are the projects that make me feel engaged and connected to something larger than myself. These are the projects that leave me feeling excited about project management.
What Are Your Dream Projects?
When you’re really thriving, what projects do you see yourself managing? What projects lift your energy and make you feel engaged? What are your dream projects?
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