As any manager knows, project audits are necessary to keep any project on track and within budget. But you don’t have to be a businessperson to implement these techniques in your own goal-setting. Project audits in a business setting give you an overview of the state of the project and should be done frequently: as in, every day. Letting things slide can be disastrous, so stay on top of your project with a quick daily review. In your personal goals, you can use the same or similar measurements to make sure you are moving…
- effectively (moving in the right direction)
- efficiently (working smarter, not harder)
… toward your goal. A project manager evaluates the health of a project based on cost, time, scope and risks.
In your personal goals, you can use the same template. A daily or at the least, weekly review can spot potential problems before they arise… and let you take care of problems while they’re still small, before they escalate into crises. You want to achieve goals in a healthy way: that is, without upsetting the balance of your life, ruining relationships, and achieving for the wrong reasons (not being true to your Why). So play the part of a project manager even in your personal goals and analyze the following: Cost: not just the money involved, but personal sacrifice. Personal goals necessarily take you away from your loved ones for a period of time (unless they are heavily involved in your project). You may be too busy to take care of yourself and neglect daily exercise. You may be too busy to notice that your home is in dire need of maintenance or repairs. Weigh the personal cost of your project – and enlist help whenever you can. Time: everyone who has ever remodeled a home knows that the project is going to run up to 20% over budget, and take at least 2 months longer than you think. Hopefully you’ve factored in a little padding on the budget (if there is one) and allow yourself flexibility in case unexpected roadblocks pop up. It’s important to not freak out if you run over budget or if your time frame goes all Star Trek on you and the days seem to be about ⅓ as long as they should. Stuff happens. Roll with it, get creative and be patient. And be accountable. ARE you taking action? Or just thinking about it? Scope: did you bite off more than you can chew? GREAT!!! Seriously, there’s no reason to hold yourself back, and if you’re totally overwhelmed by the scope of your project, then break it down into manageable chunks. Eventually it will all come together. BUT – in terms of your daily or weekly audit, are you on track with your mini-goals? Are you moving in the right direction, or are you paralyzed with indecision and fear? If you haven’t broken your goal down into manageable tasks, do it right away. Risk: this may or may not apply to your personal goals. Obviously if you’re investing money into something, you are taking a risk. Same with athletic goals or any goal where you compete against others. You might lose. So the key here is to LEARN from the project or goal, whether you “win” or “lose.” There are valuable lessons in every single experience. Keep on track with frequent audits and you won’t have that “oh, crap” moment when you realize that you should have laid the foundation for something weeks ago… that life is still fun and enjoyable and you’re not a slave to your goal… that you are keeping yourself accountable… and that you are maintaining balance in your life and achieving your goals in a healthy way. Inspired by Carter McNamara’s managementhelp.org; and Patrick d’Astous’ blog, “Project Audits – A Necessary Evil or a Tool for Achieving Success?”