I spent far too much of my working life on large projects, sometimes as a manager, sometimes as a doer. Very few were total successes, several were abject failures. Most were disappointments, their results nowhere near meeting their initial objectives – things like major cultural change, rocketing productivity, big cost reductions, higher sales or reductions in staff turnover. After projects ended in disappointment or failure, there was of course plenty of finger pointing, and I was always willing to blame myself, at least in private. No wonder I got depressed so often.
Now I’m long retired, I realise that many of the “objectives” of these projects could have been better described as hopes, wishes and dreams, and meeting them all was more or less impossible. In retirement, however, I have a similar (although much lower-level) problem: I’ve been doing a lot of house projects, and getting involved in the running of several charities/not for profit groups, and I often feel frustrated at not being able to get the results I want. I’ve had my share of modest successes, but the big, transformational, breakthroughs are frustratingly few.
I’ve come to realise that the desire to “make a big difference” or “make it happen” is something deep-set in my psyche. When I get involved in a something I find it really hard not to get carried away with unrealistic goals. I need to learn to celebrate small victories more and set myself achievable goals.
Not easy, but at least it’s a starting point.