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Adjust the size of your world

We've all experienced it. More month at the end of your money. More tasks to complete long after bedtime. More maintenance or mouths to feed or lessons to teach than any normal human can handle. So, what do we do?

Let me suggest to you that adjusting the size of your world is in order!

Many times I have had to adjust my world to fit new circumstances. I have been lucky enough to have had many wonderful opportunities to manage and be involved in projects all over the world. Flying NY to Paris became routine - I could pretty much do it in my sleep. I've worked all nighters on trains across Europe. I've fought (and won!) rush hour traffic in Chicago. I've worked with teams in other languages I could barely understand, and I've felt the stress of knowing a project was about to succeed or about to have the plug pulled. So, how did I keep my sanity knowing that my livelihood was about to come to an end for whatever reason? I knew that I was about to change the size of my world - either temporarily or long term. And, most importantly, that it would be OK because I was ready.

Here are some tips to keep the size of your world manageable:

  1. Let's face it, the age of long term, "job for life" situations are mostly over. It's a project warrior world and we are all in it together. So, have a home base with a mortgage you can afford. If it's near a major national or international airport hub all the better. Sometimes you'll be able to telecommute from home, and sometimes you'll have to be on site. So, be ready to pay someone to mow the lawn and have your mail forwarded, and rest easy knowing you can always return to base when the project is over. In certain circumstances, maintaining an RV can be well worth the expense, plus, after the project is over, you can enjoy traveling in it.
  2. Don't make long term commitments for short term projects. Don't buy a house or take a year lease if you expect your project to last only six months. The break even points don't add up, and you can't quickly relocate for the next job.
  3. Don't jump in without looking around a bit first. For example, don't take an apartment for a new gig right away. Instead, rent or lease short term using many of the excellent new online tools (airbnb, VRBO, etc) until you can see where you want to locate (near the subway, short commute, handy access to bike trail heads, whatever).
  4. Let your world expand when times are good. You're on the hot new dream project you always wanted. Enjoy it! Eat good food, stay in hotels or bring your kids out for long weekends, taste the local culture, live your life! You are working hard for a reason, and life is too short not to enjoy being on top of the world! But...
  5. Stay out of debt! Pay off cards monthly and live within your means while saving up for the rainy day sure to come. Economies have ups and downs, and the key to being able to ride out the rough spots is planning ahead. You know you'll be alright if you keep your finances and needs under control. A sensible mortgage and car payment should be easily manageable for most professionals. You can always cancel short term subscriptions and go back to cheaper alternatives, but long term debt has to be manageable not just during times of plenty but also during lean times. Plan accordingly.
  6. Don't burn bridges. Sure, you may have to leave town at the end of the gig. But, your online world can stay large with many connections and an active network. Maintain a web presence and keep your contact list from all past projects so you can reach out for any needs you may have.
  7. Start your own business. Sure, some employers may want you as a full time employee. No problem. You can always go W-2. But, some consulting firms or short term projects will prefer you to go 10-99 (also known as B2B or corp to corp). If you have your own business, you'll have the tax ID numbers and accounting experience to take full advantage of all the deductions you can claim as a contractor. These savings can be substantial and help offset the benefits you miss out on not being a full time employee (insurance, retirement plan, etc.). The best part is if you get laid off or the project ends and you aren't immediately snapped up on a new job, you can always go back and refocus on your own business.
  8. Stay in shape. It's always a good idea to maintain your body and good health. Regular exercise has many benefits not the least of which is being able to package and move all your stuff by yourself when the time comes.
  9. Maintain your equipment. Keep hardware in good working order and software up to date. You'll have enough to worry about during transition phases without having to repair your job related equipment. When times are good, invest in your gear.

Adjusting the size of your world is an easy skill to master once you accept it as necessary. The overall plot arc of our lives suggests that we start off in a single room with a single bed at birth and gradually grow to a peak of possessions and lifestyle in mid life only to once again begin simplifying as we get older and eventually end up back in a single room and bed in old age. So enjoy the ride, and don't be afraid to adjust the size of your world to match the ups and downs of life as you go along.

"Project management is my life. I love what I do!"

I will measurably enhance your project budgets and solve the biggest problems on your plate with real-world efficiency gains by empowering others and applying over 23 years of strategic and critical decision making experience.

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