What could happen if you treated the next year of your life like a Project? That question is where The Lifelong Project starts. However, this is not a book about setting goals – but about achieving them. Written by Joesph Phillips, who, in his own words, had reached rock bottom and pulled himself back from the brink of the cliff by setting himself a challenge. He felt he only had Project Management left to him, so he challenged himself to run the next year of his life as a project. While developing the Lifelong Project he has dropped 50 pounds (or roughly three and a half stones) in weight, run 7 half-marathons and generally become happier, healthier and more successful.
Today, Philips is the author of eight books on project management, a leader in adult education and a professional public speaker. Joseph also runs a website and Facebook group dedicated to the Lifelong Project, where there are regular updates on different topics. It’s also a way to ask questions and get help as needed from Joseph himself. As he states regularly – if he can do it, so can you!
The book covers all the stages in a project: Initiating, Planning, Executing, Monitoring & Controlling and Closing, covering the processes and documents you should create at each stage. It encourages you to do a lot of internal thinking to discover what you really want, and to keep records so you can review how you were feeling at a later date. It also includes a handy summary towards the end of all the documents you should create in order to follow the system. I liked the comparisons drawn with business, and the explanations about why each step was important. The book also did not make light of the effort involved, it was very clear that to make the Lifelong Project a success you would need to work hard and stay motivated. To help with this, though, there were many tips throughout the book, both for self-motivation and on how to get help from family & friends. It finishes by looking at how to live with the principles over the longer term if you wish to keep going. As Joseph had lived this system himself, he included many anecdotes about how he covered each step and what he included and how he found motivation and help.
Overall, I found it a very engaging book, easy to read and with the right level of detail. The chapters and sub sections are well thought out, so you can skip through to find just the areas you need help with, or follow it all in detail if needed. It is a very good system for someone little or no project management experience as it goes through in detail what is needed and why. The experienced project manager can also find the book useful, as it provides a different perspective, and helps you apply existing skills to improving your own life. I liked the way the book concentrated on helping others as well as yourself, encouraging you to live your life to the full, engaging fully in your family, your community and reconnecting with everyone around you.
March 2011 – Reviewed by Anne Workman
ABOUT ANNE WORKMAN: Anne Workman has been working for IBM for the last 8 years, moving into Project Management in 2008, where she is now delivering Java Technology projects. She is PMP accredited, and learning agile methodologies. Anne is a member of the BCSWomen committee, encouraging women & girls to join and stay in IT. She is also actively involved with the Southampton branch of Cats Protection and Inspired Living, raising money for Cancer Research UK.