Almost everything we do can be described as ‘business as usual’ (BAU).
Business as usual activities make up the fabric of our lives – they are the things you do every day to get by. At home, you cook, shop or watch television. At work, you write emails, answer phone calls and have meetings. You catch the train, buy a coffee, choose a sandwich for lunch – all business as usual. None of it sets your world on fire, and it certainly consumes much of your time.
Projects, on the other hand, bring something new and different to your life. They take you beyond the usual and the everyday. At work they might encompass setting up a new marketing campaign, developing a new process, or creating a new area of business entirely. At a personal level, a project could be learning a new language, redesigning your garden, getting fit, writing a book, starting a business, preparing yourself for a promotion – unlike business as usual, the possibilities are endless.
Unfortunately, because business as usual takes up so much of your time, you are missing out on the benefits of introducing something new and different into your life.
So, what can you do about?
1. Bring the spark back into your life
If right now you don’t look forward to getting out of bed in the morning, starting something new and exciting will give you a fresh impetus. Having something different to get involved in is immediately energising, and that energy and motivation will benefit other areas of your life too, not just the project itself. Even a small project, like redecorating a room, training your dog or taking a photography course, is a chance to test yourself by ‘disrupting’ your life – in a positive way.
2. Challenge yourself
Or you can choose to really push yourself if you wish – climb a mountain, travel round the world, learn to play a musical instrument – and experience an even greater sense of achievement when you reach your goal.
Big or small, completing any project involves effort, however, if you are interested and motivated enough, you will find a way to put in the time and energy.
3. Discover another you
Taking on a project can be an opportunity to redefine yourself, to grow and expand your life in a different direction.
It shows you, and others, a different skill or aspect of your personality that might otherwise remain undiscovered. It can also be a launch pad that leads to bigger and better things … perhaps even a new career.
So how do you set about introducing fresh challenges into your life?
Personal projects are all about setting a goal that means something to you – no-one else – then taking action to achieve it. They are an opportunity to be experienced and enjoyed, not a burden to be endured.
The good news is that, by their very nature, personal projects evolve in a much more organic way than ‘work projects’, so you can relax the standard SMART rules for project setting.
Your goals don’t need to be Specific – you can decide to change them as you go along, to suit you and your circumstances.
You don’t need to make the results Measurable – you decide how well you have done.
Your goals don’t need to be Achievable – you can aim as high as you want and as long as you don’t see your project as a failure, it isn’t.
The project doesn’t have to be Results-focused – if you feel you’ve got something out of what you are doing, it’s a success.
And with most projects, you don’t need to put a Time limit on achieving a result – you just keep going until you get there.
You can probably think of a couple of ideas for potential personal projects pretty much straight away. Whatever you decide to go for, just remember a few important points:
• Personal projects are about you – and for you.
• There are no rules – you create your own.
• They can be large or small. Even a small challenge will bring a new dynamic to your life. If you are excited by it, you will find time and space to fit it in around your lifestyle.
• You do them because they bring you pleasure, fulfill an ambition, or help you become the person you want to be, and for that reason alone they are worth pursuing.
So start a project that will enrich your life, which is the most important project of all.
About the author:
Maite Barón is a multi-award winning author, passionate about courageous leadership, happiness and well being. She is a co-founder of The Corporate Escape™, which specialises in helping professionals rekindle their passion for life and reinvent themselves. She’s an international speaker and a regular contributor to the influential Huffington Post, Global Banking and Finance Review (GBFR) and Entrepreneur.