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PM Believer: Look Back, Move Forward

I am a believer in the power of project management.

As a professional project manager for nearly twenty years, I have witnessed project success drive business results. I have also proven that project management can change lives and help achieve personal transformation. Now I am sharing some practical tips and techniques that you can use to help achieve your own personal goals, live your best life and become a PM Believer.

Living The Agile Life

This week I am continuing my focus on tips inspired by the “Agile” approach to project delivery. As I previously described, Agile is an alternative approach to delivering projects that are focused on delivering project value more quickly and more frequently with a much smaller project management process footprint. Agile is growing in popularity and includes many techniques that can help us achieve our personal goal projects.

Look Back, Move Forward

In our lives, small improvements to things that are repeated over and over again are very powerful. The repetition amplifies the impact of the improvements and they pay huge dividends.

This is the premise behind the Agile retrospective exercise.

Agile projects are executed through a series of sprints that are repeated over and over again until the project is done (see Living the Agile Life). Efficiency and continuous improvement within each sprint are critical. So teams conduct retrospective exercises for each sprint.

On the final day of each sprint, the team meets to review the concluding sprint. What did & didn’t go well during this sprint? They agree on what improvements they will incorporate into the next sprint. They adopt the improvements and the process continues and never stops improving.

Retrospectives are tremendously valuable for our personal goal projects too.

We naturally execute our projects, and our lives, in a sprint-based manner. We live one day, one week, one month at a time. What if we got better at pursuing our goals every week or every month? How powerful would that be and how successful would we be just a few months in the future?

Here’s an example of how I have applied retrospectives to my personal goal projects that could work well for you too.

At the end of your sprint (usually each week or month) pause to reflect on the events that transpired. Then make some notes about these events.

In my retrospective template (which you can download for free in the Resources section) leverages a 4-box approach where I separate a piece of paper into the following four quadrants:

  • Smiles: what went well during this sprint?
  • Frowns: what didn’t go well or what do you wish have been different during this sprint?
  • Flowers: what events and/or people are you grateful for from this sprint?
  • Lightbulbs: what ideas do you have that can improve the next sprint, your project or your goal in general

I only spend about fifteen minutes brainstorming items for each quadrant. Limiting the time spent is important to prevent over-thinking or stretching to invent items. Just go with the top-of-mind things.

Finally, it is time for action planning and commitment. Review the list of ideas in the lightbulbs quadrant and determine what one or two items you will commit to adopting for your next sprint. You can even combine, revise or otherwise alter a lightbulb item if you’d like. You are the one creating the rules here!

Pro Tip: Don’t bite off more than you can chew. Just make small changes
in your sprints so you maximize your opportunity for success.

I have one last suggestion on how to maximize the impact of your retrospectives. In the flowers quadrant, you identified events and people you were grateful for from the concluding sprint. This would be a great time to share your appreciation directly with the people for whom you are grateful.

Are you ready to be a PM Believer?

Take time to regularly pause and reflect on what you have done so far in your project. What went well? What would you have changed? What are you going to do differently in the next sprint? By doing this you will not only be able to celebrate your successes but you will be able to move forward even stronger and crush that goal. When is your next retrospective? Download my free retrospective template to help.

How have you applied project management for your personal success? Tell me about it at and make sure to join my email list to have updates delivered to your inbox weekly.

Make sure to help your friends achieve their goals by sharing this post on your social network and by following me on LinkedIn, Facebook and Instagram.

Want to know more about how I changed my life with project management? Pick up your copy of my book Operation Melt: How I Used Life-Changing Project Management to Lose Over 100 Pounds In Under a Year.

About Operation Melt

Operation Melt started as a blog to share my personal transformation and weight loss story. After achieving success with that goal, Operation Melt has evolved into a platform to help inspire, motivate and equip people to achieve their own personal and professional goals so they can live their best lives. My vision is to build a world where no goal ever dies of loneliness.

Published inPM Believer

Disclaimer: The Operation Melt website and blog does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. The information provided on this website is intended for general consumer understanding and entertainment only. The information provided is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice. As health and nutrition research continuously evolves, we do not guarantee the accuracy, completeness, or timeliness of any information presented on this website.

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