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You're A Project Manager, and You Didn't Even Know It!

Updated on June 26, 2012

Project Management is More Exciting Than You Think!

Anything that benefits from careful planning - from rock climbing to a world tour - uses project management.
Anything that benefits from careful planning - from rock climbing to a world tour - uses project management. | Source

Project Management, Creativity, Freedom, and Discovery

Many people think that project management is a boring and irrelevant, full of charts, statistics, and meetings. The opposite is true. All projects are creative in two ways. The formal definition of a project from the Project Management Institute (PMI) is "a temporary endeavor to create a unique product, service, or result." So projects create something. And what they create is unique, that is, it is different, innovative, and novel. So project managers bring new, different things into the world - we are creative geniuses!

Projects are temporary. When each project is done, we move on to another one. So, for project managers, life is constantly changing - if that's what we want. Each time we finish a project, we have a choice: We can either do a similar project, deepening our existing skills, or we can do something new and different, applying our skills at producing success to a new venture. So project management brings a lot of freedom.

Do you like to travel If so, you're probably already a good project manager. Every trip is a project. And project managers can take their professional skills around the world, or move from one industry to another, or . So, if discovery is your thing, then you are constantly doing projects.

Creativity - Freedom - Discovery - does that sound exciting and rewarding? If so, read on. You may find that you're already a project manager, and you didn't even know it!

Do you live life like a project manager?

Project managers:

  • Prefer doing to observing
  • Like to finish things and deliver them
  • Are willing to do what it takes to get the job done
  • Organize work to achieve results
  • Enjoy change

Does that sound like you? Many people are project managers without knowing it, especially in small ways. A small project is still a project. Maybe you've never planned and taken a trip around the world. But it's not in how big the trip is, it's in the way you think about it. Packing for a day trip, making sure you know where you're going and have everything you need: That's project management!

For another example: Throwing a party is a project . If you like to make sure that everyone will be happy, and plan a party where that can happen, that's project management. Here are how different business types relate to a party:

  • The project manager: plans the party; checks with people and sets the date; makes shopping lists and to do lists; and then either gets to work, or builds a team who will do the different jobs. Our focus is on ensuring a great party before the party even starts.
  • The socialite marketing type is best at the party: meeting, greeting, introducing, making sure everyone is happy and having a good time.
  • The emergency services worker runs out for ice or beer or wine, or whatever else the project manager missed.
  • The conscientious production worker offers to stay and clean up.
  • The guest comes and enjoys the fruit of everyone else's work.
  • The couch potato either stays home, or comes, then wanders off to find a TV with Sports Channel.

If you like to make good things happen, then you're a project manager!

Are you a project manager?

If you love to get things done and make things happen, you're a project manager. But maybe not. Which of these choices describes you best?

See results

Personal Projects

If you're not a complete couch potato or a hoarder, you're doing personal projects all the time. A spring cleaning is a project. A big project we all do a few times in our lives is to move to a new home or apartment. When we want to make changes, or when change happens and we deal with it, we're doing a project.

Some people are natural project managers. Shopping lists and checklists are routine for us.

Others don't find it so natural. But it is a skill anyone can learn. So, whether you love a plan, or prefer to sing and dance the way through your life, gaining some basic skill in project management is a lot like learning to cook and do the dishes - it frees you up to make a romantic dinner, throw a party, or have a picnic.

If you want to learn more about the business side of project management, please read How to Lay Out a Project Management Plan.

If you want to make your dreams real, you can start by making a list of small, unfinished projects. That is, clean up the messes in your life, and achieve a few small successes - a little bit of beauty, joy, or fun here or there. As you do that, begin to explore your dreams. When you're ready, pick one big dream, build a project plan, and make your dream real.

International Opportunities Await You

Applying project management to your career opens up a world of opportunities.
Applying project management to your career opens up a world of opportunities. | Source

Project Management for Job Opportunities and Career Freedom

I just got off the phone with a friend of mine. I've known her for 30 years. She saved my life once. As a spiritual person and a healer, she is utterly amazing. And yet, on an outer level, she is not well known. People are amazed by what she does, but they have no idea that, due to lifelong illness and unhelpful family and financial challenges, she is not able to share a tenth of her true gifts with the world.

And I know many other people like her. Some of them, when they learn project management, self-leadership, and self-management, achieve the life of their dreams. One woman I've known for 20 years was a dancer/choreographer, then a singer/songwriter, putting her own message out into the world. Then she worked a number of years doing amazing healing work as a psychotherapist. After her parents passed away, she re-assessed her life, and chose a new dream. She got focused and organized her time to make it happen. Now - even though she's over 40, which is considered too old for a woman to launch this career - she's headed for Broadway! She's making a living as a voice-over artist, acting in movies, and traveling internationally as a stage actress. I told you project management could support an exciting life!

Job, Career, Project

Maybe your dreams are more modest. Do you want a higher paying job, or to go back to school, or to change careers? Do you have an important career goal, like publishing a book so you can get tenure as a professor? Or do you need a job, or a better job? Your dream - large or small - is within reach. And the project management skills you need to make it happen are easy to learn. A job hunt is a small project. A career change is a big project, and you can get started by reading How to Create a Five-Year Career Plan.

Once you know your job or career goal, it's time to make a project plan and go for it.

Project Management at Work

Many people are doing project management at work and don't even know it. Handymen, electricians, plumbers, and air conditioner repair folks are all managing project day in and day out. If you write articles or promotional copy, do graphic arts, or design web sites, every article, ad, letter, image, or site you deliver is another finished project. Wedding planners, event planners, and caterers all make heavy use of project management - and may not even know it.

That's important. Why? It matters because project management is a transferable skill. Say a woman has been working as a caterer, and is tired of working hands-on with food and wants to try something new. If she says, "I'm a caterer," she's likely to think she's at a dead end unless she goes back to school. But if she says, "I'm really good organizing projects and making events happen," she might realize that she's be a great travel agent. She can plan itineraries, book trips, and even use her knowledge of food to create great trips for people. She's just taken her organizational skills and go-getter attitude and launched a new career.

In short, everyone is doing a project when we change jobs or create a new career. And, if we have project management skills, we are a hot property in the career market. Project management is about delivering results, and companies love to hire people who can get things done. To learn more, read The Benefits of Getting Certified as a Project Management Professional.

The Ultimate Project: Creating the Life of Your Dreams

Some people chip away at their problems, and slowly make life better. Others bring in the bulldozers, dig deep, pour a concrete foundation, and build their castles. It doesn't matter. The first end up with a marble palace, and the second, a stone mountain fortress climbing to the clouds. Joseph M. Juran, a top management consultant of fifty years ago, defined a project as a problem scheduled for solution. So, if you are ready to put an end to your problems, then get going with project management!

But then there's the other side of project management, defined best by Henry David Thoreau: "If you have built castles in the air, your work need not be lost; that is where they should be. Now put the foundations under them." Your dream in the castle. Your foundation is built by good project management. So a dream with a deadline is a project, too.

Ending our problems and making our dreams real, we live and share wonderful lives. In this natural service, living true to ourselves, we are also serving the world, helping it to heal and grow.


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    • SidKemp profile imageAUTHOR

      Sid Kemp 

      7 years ago from Boca Raton, Florida (near Miami and Palm Beach)

      Thanks, Simone. Even more, I hope people will use PM to give themselves a lot more joy in life, and share it around!

    • Simone Smith profile image

      Simone Haruko Smith 

      7 years ago from San Francisco

      Project management never looked so good! I love the manner in which you've painted this profession. You have proven it to be far more interesting, engaging, and creative than most people imagine it to be. Hopefully more folks will give it a chance! The world could definitely use more effective PM.


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