The Major Project: Getting it together - Activity 19
Maurice Gibbons (c) 2008 Personal Power Press International
We invite you now to plan and launch a major project. Here’s why:
1. It’s time to apply all that you have learned about successful self-direction.
2. It’s time to be productive, as productive as you can be; and it’s time to be the person you want to be.
3. It’s time to think about becoming skilful and demonstrating it for your portfolio, which is a record of your work that can serve many purposes (see Activity #20).
4. It’s time to begin mounting regular projects, and to raise the bar as you proceed.
5. It’s time to get involved, to get so absorbed you lose count of the time. It’s time to have a great time.
As a guideline, think of a plan that will take you from three to five weeks to complete, depending upon how long you work each day.
Time is a big issue. Many of you work and have families and other responsibilities, others are just retired and are looking for meaningful things to do, and so will find it easier to make time for your projects. Think of it as something that might take 15 to 25 hours, and let the time that you have available each day or week determine how long the project takes.
Demonstrate what you can do.
We urge you to set your sights on demonstrating what you can accomplish to yourself, your friends, and your family. Some of you may also want to think of demonstrating what you can do to an interest group you belong to, or to employers and institutions, such as colleges or galleries that you want to impress.
With this idea in mind, you may find it easier to think about doing your best.
SOME EXAMPLES OF PROJECTS. HERE IS WHAT SOME PEOPLE ARE DOING:
* Marcello is learning to use a scanner and computer to do his project; a self-published memoir of his life, and his family from the old country, illustrated with pictures going back to the 1850s. “It’s for my children and my grandchildren,” he says.
* Musaf is getting interested in insects and has a number of jumping spiders in the fields around his house. He plans to identify them, observe them and write up their natural history. He is hoping to include photographs, and to find one that is a discovery.
* Famia’s aunt, an expert at tailoring, dying, and hand-painting silk, has promised to teach her the skill. She plans to make her own scarves to sell to tourists from a street-cart near where the cruise ships dock.
* Brittany’s city sponsors a 15K run every year to raise money for cancer research. This year she is going to train and then run the race for the first time.
* Dennet is a retired chartered accountant who has decided to help several small volunteer groups to set up their books, and then plans to offer several classes to teach them how to run their finances.
Make a contract with yourself
We suggest that you set up your project with a plan that is a contract. Your contract would not be with us; it is a contract that you make with yourself to get your work done.
Your contract should have a goal and a plan, at the very least, and it should be signed by you as a commitment to yourself. You can tighten up the commitment by telling a friend what you are doing and getting them to sign, too. It’s up to you.
Here’s an example of the basic contract with yourself.
Goal: To create a memoir of my life that is illustrated with scanned photographs.
1. Select the best of the photographs I have collected from family in America and Italy, and my collection.
2. I will write the memoir, tracing my life through the war and up to now.
3. I will scan in the photographs.
4. I will edit the booklet on my computer
5. I will have Staples or Office Depot copy and bind the book for me.
6. I will give copies to each of my family members.
This is a lot to do in five weeks, but Marcello is retired and he knew what he wanted to do, so he went right at it every day and met his contract.
Add more elements to your contract.
The contract above has the minimum number of elements—goal, plan and signature--and seemed to work well for Marcello and this particular project.
More complex activities may benefit from additional parts. Here is a list of some parts you may choose to add to your contract:
* Vision: Describe the best that could happen as a result of conducting this project.
Marcello saw his book finished in fine style, with well written stories, and pictures of the family throughout its history.
* Challenge: describe what the challenge is in this activity and why it is important to you.
Marcello’s challenge was the writing. He had not written very much and wanted to do justice to the history of his family.
* Problems: Anticipated problems and possible solutions. With focused attention, you can anticipate many of the problems you will face. Name them here. Then think through how you can avoid them or solve them and add your solutions.
Marcello was concerned about scanning the pictures and improving their quality. He was also worried that he could compose a good looking page with photos and type. His solution was to ask his nephew to guide him.
* When there are many steps a timetable can be helpful. Make a list steps and add the dates by which you will have them completed.
* Resources: A complex activity may require a great many supplies and services. If so, it will help to have a list of required resources and where you can get them.
* Contacts: You may also need to meet with many different people and/or organizations. Alist of them and how to contact them will also help.
* Quality: Deciding how well you are doing can be a helpful check on your progress. One way is to decide in advance of doing the project what the levels of performance will be. Here is an example:
* Minimum: The smallest acceptable achievement. Write 5 pages with 3 photographs.
* Satisfactory: A basic, acceptable performance. Write 20 pages with 10 photographs.
* Good: The product finished as it should be. Write 60 pages with 30 phortographs.
* Excellent: An exceptional achievement with unexpected qualities.
Complete the book with 100 pages, 50 photographs, bound and finished.
These are four possible levels of achievement for Marcello’s memoir project. If this seems useful to you, use the headings and decide what would be appropriate for each level of your own performance.
* Demonstration: Showing your results to an appropriate person or group.
Marcello’s way was to call the family together and distribute the booklet he had created.
* Celebration: Finding a way to enjoy the results of your success.
With the family gathered around, Marcello had an opportunity to tell them all how much he valued the family, and that this was his gift to them. They celebrated together.
Add any of these items to the basic model at the beginning of this activity. Create a contract that suits you and helps you to shape an approach that will be successful.
Launch a great project.
Make a contract that challenges you and excites you, and then use all you have learned about self-direction to complete it successfully.
We wish you a great experience and a result that you are proud of.
Maurice Gibbons (c) 2009 Personal Power Press International