In 2015 I started to think about iterative processes; I had been studying project management at the BI business school spare-time for a while, and I was finishing my bachelor’s thesis. My paper, written with a fellow student, was called “Uncertainty Management in Outsourcing Projects”.
Around then I also thought about all kinds of projects. I had been doing projects in different contexts since 1998. First as a project member, then a project manager / leader. And in 2015 I came up with this new triplet of questions:
- What is your vision?
- What is really stopping you?
- What is your next step?
The first question is long-term or idealistic, or it is something quite concrete and perhaps something you are working on Right Now. So, when my vision is formulated (and remember it has to be smart as well; I guess my version of vision is more concrete, oh well).
The second question is mostly about asking “why” over and over. “Why can I not reach my vision?” “Why is xx stopping me?” “Why is yy stopping me?” “Why is zz stopping me?” And at the end, I come up with a root cause. The root cause may be very different to the excuses I give myself in my primary conscious way of thinking.
The third question is really easy: What is the next step? Not 10 steps ahead, no project plan with 30 milestones. Just: What is the next step?
I very often ask myself these three questions, like a mantra. And I may do them over and over. Last winter, during the deepest part of my depression, I asked myself this a lot (“Vision = Be filled with energy and happy”), and every time I ended up giving myself a ton of slack, and saying to myself: “A time of more energy will come, sooner or later”. So in that case, every time, the “next step” was simply “be kind to yourself”
Right now, I may say that my “Vision” is to find a girl-friend. What is stopping me is that no girls seem to have a romantic interest me. But then I ask why some more, and some more, and some more, and it turns out that I am really not That interested in finding a new girl-friend / romantic partner. So that is really what my issue is. My next step then is to evaluate the idea of having a romantic partner some more, and perhaps seeing that in a more positive light.
Or, I may say that my “Vision” is to do something extraordinary at work. Or that my “Vision” is to have a new job for 2024 which is really giving me a lot of new challenges. My “barrier” for those visions may be different, and I may also have variations of answers, depending on where I am on my own energy cycle. My next step is often just to do x or y the next moment, or the next morning at the office, or something else.
But, here is my Current Core Questions triplet (I need to give it a specific name…); one that I have had for a few weeks now. It is not about finding a gf or a new job or even in my current job doing extraordinary work (I know already that I am good at my job).
Since April, when my energy level started to rise, I started to get curious about what I should fill my spare time with. Games, reading, staying with my son and blogging just doesn’t cut it. So I ended up being curious about “EWB” – engineers without borders. And I may find a way to get involved in that organization here in Norway. I like working internationally, and I like NGOs. I am kind of “done” with politics as such, and I am not interested in doing the same stuff as before; a new cycle would bore me too fast. But EWB is interesting. If I was a doctor, doctors without borders would be my thing. Well, I am not Really an Engineer, but I am enough of one to be able to be useful in such an organization. We will see.
I am scanning the organization now, and looking at the ways I might fit in. I guess I will have news before the end of May.
These questions are often with me. And now, I want to read some more in my current book, to move closer to my vision of reading 50 books also in 2023 (I am waaaaay behind on that target; I have only read 9 books so far this year)
[Video of process; 13m31s / 82MB]