How to Design a Powerful Project

Whether you are trying to lose weight, write that novel, or increase revenue, one simple way to help yourself achieve the intention quickly is to write out a project plan.  The following are ten steps to create an effective plan.

  1. Set a specific and measurable goal, with a clear time frame. – Many of us aspire to “lose weight” which is vague and, therefore, less powerful than a specific target like “lose 10 pounds by February 28th”.  Even an abstract objective like “improve my relationship with staff” can be translated into a measurable goal.  For example, “have three staff members share personal information with me by January 30th,”  or “have three staff members voluntarily stay late to complete their work by February 15th.”
  2. Set a goal that inspires you. – Ask yourself if you are excited and energized.  Have you “dumbed down” the objective to make it seem more realistic or acceptable?  If running a marathon inspires you, but running a ten mile race does not, you should aim for the marathon.  Is the goal about you and what you want in life?  Or is it about what someone else thinks you should achieve?
  3. Set a realistic time frame for implementation. –  If you have never written a screenplay and don’t know anyone in the business, selling a screenplay may be perfectly achievable.  However, aiming to do so within one month, may be setting yourself up for failure.
  4. Create a clear vision to keep yourself motivated and inspired. – What will your life be like when you have achieved this objective?  How will you be relating to yourself and others?  Write at least one paragraph in the present tense describing your experience after having achieved this goal.  You can also create a collage or other visual representation.  The visioning process makes the end result seem more real and, therefore, more achievable.  Look at it regularly to remind yourself what you have at stake and why you are bothering to do all this work.
  5. Make lists of the skills and resources you already have.  You probably already have much of what you will need to be successful with the project.  Making these lists will create positive forward momentum by reminding you of what you already have going for you.  If you get frustrated later on, you can refer to these lists to help you decide how to move forward.
  6. Figure out what skills or resources, if any, you are missing. – If you see something missing, consider what skills or resources (including people) you have which you can use to address the gap.
  7. Get the support of your community.  – You have friends, family and colleagues who are on your side and would love to support you in achieving your goals.  Tell them what you are doing, get their support, and ask for their help.  Having ten people ask you periodically about that book you are writing will help keep you on track and may lead to unforeseen resources or connections.
  8. Set clear and achievable milestones for implementation. –  Setting intermediate deadlines will help you maintain course and stay focused on your objective.
  9. Create rewards which motivate you.  – Some people are hesitant to reward themselves, believing that they shouldn’t need extra motivation or that achieving their goal would be reward enough.  In any endeavor there are times when it will be difficult, you won’t want to persevere, or obligations will get in the way.  These are the times when it is most valuable to have a little extra motivation.  Try designating  a reward for each significant milestone.  Rewards don’t have to be expensive, but they should be something that you actually want which will help when the going gets tough.
  10. Revise the project. – Over time the project plan will become outdated.  Results will be achieved faster or slower or simply move in a different direction than you anticipated.  Change is natural, but an outdated project plan loses its power.  So refer to the plan regularly and revise as needed.