Just recently, I returned from Jukkasjarvi, Sweden. This is a place that I have wanted to visit since childhood. It’s where they build the amazing Ice Hotel every year. It was on my list of things I wanted to do before I turned 30, but I didn’t make it.
It struck me as a coincidence, that just as I was returning from fulfilling one my long-term goals, Soma was writing on the things she wants before she turns 35.
She is not only looking to lose weight or buy a house, but also wants to be a career-driven person.
My first job as a project manager was with an Australian soldier. He didn’t know how long he would be in the UK so he traveled all over Europe on weekends to get as much as possible while he was there. He often spoke about his “deathbed test” – what would he think about something when he looked back on it from his grave. He would never look back and say, “I wish I’d worked harder.”
After one last conversation, which was morbid, I know, I made my own list of goals for life, which is now lost in a notebook somewhere in the loft. According to what I recall, the list included decorating a room and growing potatoes. Also, going to the Ice Hotel and seeing Polar Bears. The polar bears that I haven’t yet seen are the ones I’m familiar with, but they are all there.
Soma has inspired me to create a new list. If I had to choose five things to do before turning 35, I doubt any of them would have to do with project management. In the next few years, I will likely do a lot of project management tasks. I don’t plan to put my career on the back burner while I go scouting for polar bears. When I reach 35 years old and look back at all the things I’ve done, I doubt I’ll be counting the hours I worked or the number of business trips I took. I also doubt that my project sponsor will think I did a great job in all the meetings. As I’m sure you know, life is more than work. The fact that we do work and do great jobs is almost a given, but not a goal.
My new list? It is difficult to limit it to five things that can be done in a short time span, but here we are.
Polar bears in their natural habitat
Make a jumper I can actually wear!
Read Herodotus’ The Histories (which have sat on the shelf unopened since 1998)
Organise my photos
Write another book, which may or not be about project management.
This list has the unfortunate side effect that next month I might find out about a beautiful place or read Herodotus, and realize it is the most boring thing I have ever read. That will change the list. It’s not a plan for a project, it’s not even one. It’s just life, and that’s much more interesting than any list of tasks.