You Finished Your Big Project. Now What?

There is something about finishing what we start that feeds us.

It’s a lifecycle—with a beginning, middle and end. If you work on projects, this is a natural way of life.

This week, I’m awash in the glow that comes from completing a loooong client project. One that started with a germ of an idea and is now launching fully formed (and may I say visually and strategically stunning?)

When I was in a big firm and we completed a months-long project, it always came with huge relief (“Hey, we pulled this off—woo hoo”).  And then, usually by Day 2, anxiety would creep in. Because the aftermath of a big project was always—silence. And in the silence comes the fear.

How would the rest of the world perceive our baby? What would I work on next, having flung so much of my creative self into THIS project? How long would I sit on the bench waiting for someone to choose me again? I saw it in myself and in my project-oriented teammates. We thrived and suffered in the world of projects.

But it doesn’t have to be that way.

Now, I always KNOW there will be another big project. I don’t know when, I don’t know who, but I know it will come.

That feeling—and let’s face it, it is a feeling, not a certainty—is crucial to allow yourself the respite you need to be ready for your next big move. So you can relax and enjoy the glow for a bit without sweating what comes next.

The secret? Never allowing yourself to forget that your current project isn’t your only work. You’ve got to build yourself a revenue model that anticipates the highs and lows of living “in the projects”. That gives you the space—emotional and financial—to do your very best work for clients who float your boat.

Think of it as always being in build mode: new relationships, new ideas, new conversations, new content. It’s what keeps your next big project—that you often can’t even see yet—on a slow simmer.

It will give you the confidence—not swaggering arrogance, but confidence—that the right next thing is just around the corner.

Because when you live by projects, you have to be ready for the silence.

And embracing it is so much more fun than fighting it.

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  • First off, congrats.
    Projects for me often involve political races. The political calendar often dictates when those races reach fruition (win or lose) usually a Primary sometimes in June but more often September, and occasionally election day. In the lulls, I try to ramp up the smart networking.
    An interesting challenge involves making project clients retainer clients (wherever applicable). A happy project client may just want to keep you around.

  • Rochelle

    Oh what a perfect response Corey. Having a mix of both retainer and project clients allows us to do new, big things while still serving a trusted cadre of core clients.

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