The Power of Propelling Yourself Forward

December 20, 2019

Whether You’re Running a Race or Managing a Project, Just Keep Moving!

Runner’s Ruminations is my collection of thoughts and ideas that I’ve processed while running.  Sometimes these things come to me out of nowhere once I hit the trail, other times I actively go running in an attempt to unravel some of the persistent thoughts rattling around in my head.  More often than not, after a good run, I’m able to make sense of things, put them to “paper”, and move on to something new.

When I’m running – especially when running long distances I get to the point where I feel like I need to stop and catch my breath.  In these moments, I’m reminded that the most important thing, especially during a race, is to keep moving forward, even if it’s at a slower pace.  I think of the same thing when moving through long projects.  Whether the project is personal or professional, it’s common to get overwhelmed or tired or frustrated and feel like I need to take a break or give up entirely.  This is precisely the time when I just need to keep moving forward – it’s alright to slow down – but progress, even in short strides, is a wonderful thing!

When it comes to project management, most of my experience is with large scale, multi-stakeholder projects in the technology field.  These are the kind of projects that can get bogged down by competing priorities and changing resources.  Over the years, I’ve developed some strategies to stay motivated in the face of frustration or exhaustion, when it’s tempting to give up.

3 Tips for Staying Motivated:

Take a moment to review the original plan and reflect on what has been accomplished so far.  I like to take time to consider what went especially well and as expected and what challenges presented that I didn’t anticipate in the original plan.  This can often inform modifications to the plan going forward.  Taking time to reflect on the progress that’s been made helps motivate me to carry on.

Another great technique, when faced with a challenging project that’s losing momentum, is to consider who’s involved.  I like to reach out to the resources involved, communicate how I’m feeling, and give an update on the current status of the project.  I take special care to outline challenges or barriers and make note of the progress made so far.  This helps to unburden me and gives others an opportunity to share their concerns and offer their support.  This kind of collaboration can create a better team culture and help each person feel connected to the project and one another.

Lastly, I like to look for opportunities to shift gears temporarily.  A great way to feel renewed, especially during long project timelines is to find something that can act as a distraction but is still productive.  As an example, I might take a few hours to update process documentation or user requirements.  This is the kind of easy work that allows me to tackle items on the to-do list and provides a nice breather so I can return to my original project feeling renewed and motivated again.

The most important thing to remember whether you’re running a race or managing a project is to keep moving forward!  Take a beat when you feel tired, or overwhelmed, or frustrated.  Give yourself the time and space to catch your breath and get inspired and communicate how you’re feeling to your team.  Move through those feelings toward your final destination.


For more project motivation, check out these articles:

How to Stay Motivated When You’re Working on a Never-Ending Project

The 70% slump: How to stay motivated during long-haul projects