Setting priorities

changed prioritiesImage by hockadilly via Flickr

We discussed how to set SMART goals and define where we are today. Now we can focus on how we get from where we are now to where we want to be. I don’t know about you, but I have way more interests than time available to pursue them. My biggest passion is scuba diving, however, I would also like to learn Aikido, learn how to sail, go climbing, ride my motor cycle, study Spanish and psychology, and on, and on. That made me think, like our projects our lives are also bound by the triple constraint: time, budget, and scope.

Every week has 168 hours. The majority of those hours we use to work, sleep, eat, commute, shop and hopefully exercise. That only leaves us with a handful of hours to relax, spend with friends and family, and work towards our goals. On top of that most of us are constrained financially. After all our monthly expenses are deducted there is a limited amount left to spend freely. This means we need to prioritize our goals.

In our projects we ask our sponsor to prioritize time, budget and scope. To be able to be successful, a project manager should at least have management control over one, but preferable two sides of the triangle. In our lives, it in general comes down to having to prioritize our goals within the time and budget available. To prioritize your goals ask yourself the following questions:

  • What are the priorities in my life?

  • What is most important to me in the coming year?

  • What risks am I prepared to take?

  • What do I have to lose?

After you have defined your goals and your priorities, share them with the world around you. By writing it down and talking about it, you bring it to conscious thought and that will help you or others to see opportunities. For example, you normally don’t pay a lot of attention to cars. Now you are in need of a new car and decide you want a red Prius. Suddenly you start seeing Prius cars everywhere. There aren’t more red Priuses on the road; you see more since it is in your conscious mind.

A personal example of how sharing your goals with others help you reach them: I always wanted to work abroad. At one of my performance reviews, I shared this fact with my manager, telling him that in two to three years I wanted to relocate with the company to one of the South East Asia offices. Several months later the company had an immediate need in the Santa Clara office and my manager asked me if I was prepared to move there to help them out. I took that opportunity and it changed my life.

Focus on your first and second priority goals and not the full list. If you succeed, you can always pick the next one on the list. See the New Year as an opportunity to improve yourself and your life. Don’t beat yourself you don’t end up executing all your goals; if you only do 5%, it is a 5% improvement.

Nathalie Udo


1 thought on “Setting priorities”

  1. User Avatar

    I agree we should be conscious about our goals and priorities and communicae them openly. Actually I’ve seen a lot of examples where saying about what one would like to do in a couple of years made managers aware of it and as a final effect made the promotion possible.

    However there are a lot of differences between our private-life projects and professional ones. I’m doing an experiment called ‘my private project‘ where I compare my experiences in building my house to software projects I deal with at work. It looks like there are much more differences than I expected.

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