Does Project Management Make You Happy?

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Categories: Human Aspects of PM

Alfred Lord Tennyson once said, "The happiness of a man in this life does not consist in the absence but in the mastery of his passions."

I think this directly correlates with project management. To me, part of the secret to happiness is being able to connect how you approach life with what you do for a living. Then your passion will come out naturally.

Let me explain: I tend to classify people in three groups. Each group finds joy in what they do in life and that is related to their approach to project management.

Searchers are always looking for the next thing. If they don't like what they are doing, they simply change their direction. They like freedom and avoid tight schedules. They approach life from a "big picture" perspective.

Searchers are better at the beginning of a project. They are passionate about thinking how to approach the project to achieve the best results. That's what makes them happy.

Wrestlers have clear, defined objectives. They don't give up until they achieve their goals. From a project perspective, they are very passionate about doing the job until they get results. That is what makes them feel fulfilled.

Balanced people are equal parts searcher and wrestler. Life has taught them that both traits are needed to get results. I tend to think that seasoned project managers are balanced.

They find satisfaction in the ability to propose the big picture -- like a searcher -- and then pursue it until they get there -- like a wrestler. They are happy because they know they are contributing to build a better world.

If you are lucky enough to find and establish the connection between what you enjoy most in life and how you approach a project, you will enjoy every second of your profession.

Perhaps it will happen to you as it happens to me: You won't care whether you get paid for your work on a project because you've enjoyed the process so much.

The only thing that you'll seek is personal and professional satisfaction with your daily duties. It makes you happy and will bring out the spark you need to stand out of the crowd.  

If you don't feel happy with your current job in project management, perhaps you should try to answer these three questions:

What are you looking for in a career?
What kind of person are you?
What are you willing to do, even if you are not going to be paid?
Posted by Jorge Valdés Garciatorres on: August 08, 2011 12:16 PM | Permalink

Comments (9)

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Himanshu Bansal
Nice article Jorge. I definitely agree that project managers are balanced. They need to bring in the enthusiasm yet ensure that enthusiasm does not take you too far from the milestones. Their job is to make it happen and they enjoy their job - sometimes very stressful though.

EL Bourkhissi Zineb
Thank you, Jorge! Nice one!!!

PM Hut
Hi Jorge,

I like how you classified people into these 3 categories. It's hard for anyone though to be honest with himself and admit that he definitely belongs to one category. Additionally, in some cases some people are wrestlers, in other cases they are searchers.

Petros Rigas
More than anything, Project Management installs a sense of added security in that I know the initiative the team is about to embark on follows a well-structured plan. This notion of security a project manager feels is what drives the team to deliver.

Satish Seetharam
You need to be honest and classify yourselves among those you belong to: wrestler or searcher.

Ultimately, the question to be asked is what did you learn at end of day?

Souto, Guilherme
It is really a nice point of view. Yesterday I was discussing about people profiles with my team and we got similar results.

We defined:
- Pilgrims: The one that are aiming to find new land spots, cutting the forest, setting new targets to growth. They avoid to work with too close scope, they prefer room to innovate and they get excited with uncertainty.

- Farmers: The ones who love to produce in a given land defined by clear fences. These folks avoid too many changes, they prefer a clear view of the future.

- Community Leaders: They are always looking for the balance, making other to listen what is the major need to integrate expansion of the lands of more farmers…

Saket Bansal
Nice Article, I do agree that happiness is the source of long term consistent performance..

I feel the Project Manager should also feel passionate about communicating and connecting with people. In all stage of project management, this passion helps in transferring PMs own satisfaction to the team members. Ultimately, the team should also feel great about the project they are in.

Steve Robinson
Love the article.

I like the question it puts out there at the end.

As a volunteer at PM-V I know that the organization helps answer the question because the answer is right within our NFP communities as to who would benefit hugely from the solution focused skills PMs have. we're growing!

Emad E. Aziz
Wonderful article!

The best sentimental element of project management is "seeing" your achievement and being able to reminisce on the process of its realization, re-living the whole experience with teammates and even friends or family.

The second most appealing sentiment is right in the midst of project execution, when all resources are mobilized and productivity at its highest!

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