Mindfulness Minute for Project Managers

Mindfulness is a state of awareness where you attach your attentiveness to the moment you’re experiencing. It is an effective tool for personal development, business improvement, and leading a richer life.

So much of project management is about results, about pressures, about thinking on your feet and getting it done no matter what gets thrown your way. At the same time, project managers are often the rock of the team, the chief cheerleader, the one who gives motivation to everyone and keeps the project humming like a fine-tuned engine. When things go wrong, the team looks to the project manager to map out and implement recovery. When things go right, the project manager is still working in the background making sure everything continues the way it needs to. Deliveries and outcomes costing millions or more, and sometimes the future of the company, ride on the success or failure of a project. This is a high-stakes job! No wonder some people start to feel burned out, taut like piano wire, and wondering how they’re going to keep going.

From time to time, it’s important we remember to pause, center ourselves, and come back to our inner strengths and skills. 

You can make a small island of relaxation and tranquility in your mind.

It’s easy to take negative things to heart, to second guess ourselves, and to engage in the kind of self-criticism that leaves you feeling like a fraud or worse. It’s easy to beat yourself up over failures, personalize things (such as when “the project failed” turns into “I’m a failure”), and wallow in comforting self pity.

The thing is, this kind of thinking and feeling does nothing for you. It doesn’t motivate you to be better. It doesn’t get you working harder. It just drags you down, and spins into self-defeating cycles where you feel you can’t do it, so you don’t do it, which reinforces your feeling, and continues.

If a project had a beating heart, it’d be the project manager. If you’re down in the dumps, you’ll drag the team down with you. If you’re on fire, enthusiastic, excited about the project – your team will be too. You set the environment for the team. Environments matter.

“Okay,” you’re saying. “Sure, it’s all about the project manager. But we are human too! How is a project manager supposed to get out of negative emotions? It’s natural and normal to feel bad when things aren’t going well.”

Agreed! It starts with remembering you’re human.

Our emotions are definitely a big part of our perceptions, but there is another way to shape those. Mindfulness is a technique that can help you get beyond what you feel – and eventually, change it.

Put another way, we all know you can trigger change. What we don’t necessarily know is that you can change triggers, too. With some mindfulness, you don’t have to go down the rabbit hole in the first place.

Make yourself a few minutes a day where you put your worries and problems on the side. Don’t “pretend they’re not there,” because that never works – and actually calls attention to them while you’re telling yourself not to pay any attention to them. Instead, acknowledge what is worrying you, but then place it aside for a few minutes – on the “back burner,” so to speak.

Start now! Take a middle of the day, rejuvenating, meditative break. Here’s a five minute guided mindfulness video to get you started.

 

Breathe. Relax. Focus on the moment, on your self, and your awareness. Calm, in control, centered – and ready to tackle whatever it is. You got this.