It’s easy to start projects, it’s much harder to finish what you start.
So I’ve been exploring how to start well and finish well… and how to overcome the obstacles in between.
One of the things that can screw up your ability to finish well is your start. You need to start smart if you’re going to see a project all the way through to the finish. Unfortunately, an optimistic start is not always a good start.
As an optimist, I love seeing the glass as half full but that optimism makes it difficult for me to start in a way that improves my ability to finish. Your optimism misleads you.
Here’s how optimism can hurt your project:
- Optimism can convince you that the project, as you envision it, will be an immediate success. In reality, projects can take a lot of work to get through.
- Optimism can convince you that no additional work will be required above the original plan. In reality, most projects require additional work to augment the original plan because things change and because projects can require more work than initially thought.
- Optimism can convince you that nothing unexpected will arise to create more work or reduce the time allotted. In reality, unexpected things arise in projects and they change things — sometimes dramatically — requiring you to adjust your course.
- Optimism can convince you that the project will hold my attention all the way through to the end. In reality, as things become difficult, new projects can tempt you away from sticking to the original plan.
- That the my original scope was 100% accurate. In reality, the scope of a project can change (whether or not you want it to!).
- That all risks have been mitigated. In reality, you can only foresee some risks. Other risks are ignored, underestimated, or just remain invisible until they become problems.
I love being an optimist but it sometimes messes with project plans. The best course of action is to embrace your optimism as fuel to get you started but to also dial in a healthy dose of realism to ensure that your project is more accurately planned.