Your Project Story Arc

Stories have a familiar arc. You can picture it as a mountain with several dips as you climb towards the top, which is the climax, or most exciting point, in the story. Usually, in a story, there is a problem that has to be solved. The characters start to move forward, and sometimes they think that they have almost solved the problem. Then they run into more obstacles, and sometimes they get to the lowest point in their story/life. It is the point when nothing has gone right, everything seemed turned against them, and there is no way that they are going to be able to solve their problem and get what they want.

Your projects will follow this same story arc. You will start your project with all of the energy and optimism in the world. You might encounter a few problems, but you can see how they will easily be resolved. Then some more issues crop up, and soon you are at the lowest point in the project. Nothing seems to have gone right, and there is no way to fix it.

Your Response

When you get to the worst part of your project’s story, there is one stance that you should take: a determination to continue. You should always anticipate that a project is going to have this low point, and you should plan accordingly. When your project hits the low mark:

  1. Restate the vision to yourself and everyone involved. Thinking about the vision will focus you on the change that is coming in the future, not the problems that you have today.
  2. Lay out the next three steps. A plan for your project’s next steps will give you concrete action to complete. It keeps you moving forward, plus it gives you some encouragement to know that you were able to get SOMETHING done, even if it didn’t solve all of the problems.
  3. Check in with your project team. If you feel that you are at the bottom of your motivation, sometimes encouraging others can help you gain perspective and focus. You might find that by being an encouragement, you will see aspects of the project that you hadn’t before.