Pursue a Side Project in 2009

My friend Josh Kaufman runs PersonalMBA.com, a great resource for those who want to improve their business knowledge via books. Today Josh issued a challenge to his readers to do a side project in 2009. I'm a huge fan of side projects (something you do alongside your full-time day job) and have a long article coming out soon on this topic. Here are Josh's guidelines:

  1. Treat it like an experiment. The best reason to take on a side project is that you’re curious about a certain topic and you want to learn more about it. There’s no need to freak out over “committing” to something – you’re being an adventurous explorer here, not committing yourself to years of drudgery. [BC: And it doesn't have to have anything to do with work. Take a risk and try something new on the side!]
  2. Make it positive. A project is some achievement you want to move towards, not something you want to move away from. Avoid phrasings like “I’m going to stop doing ________________”; use words like “I’m going to accomplish / create / build / improve ________________.”
  3. Make it immediate. A project is something you’re working on now, not something you “plan to work on” at some indeterminate point in the future. Avoid phrasings like “in ________________ months” or “someday I’d like to”; use words like “by ________________ date” or “I’m devoting ________________ hours to this each day”.
  4. Make it concrete. A project has a tangible result in the real world. Avoid ambiguous phrasings like “improve” and “better”; use words like “I’ll have,” “I’ll achieve,” or “I’ll be able to ________________”. Tangibility is the key – it helps you envision what this project will look like when you’ve accomplished your goal.
  5. Make it specific. You should know when you’ve achieved what you set out to do. Avoid phrasings like “________________ will be better”; use words like “I’ll have accomplished ________________”. Include as much detail as possible – it should be absolutely clear when your side project is a success.

What side projects are you going to hatch in 2009?

6 Responses to Pursue a Side Project in 2009

  1. I’m helping to start a countywide group to change some local laws that aren’t working. Stay tuned. I’ll have much more to say in the months to come.

  2. Alex says:

    I plan on learning how to put up and maintain a website (I just bought my domains last night), writing a business plan, researching where I wish to set up my future business, and starting a book outline! In short, I need to stop commenting on blogs and get back to work!

  3. Anne Good says:

    I’m lauching a blog that educates readers about responsible pet ownership and adoption.

  4. That’s quite timely as I have been evaluating and setting some side project goals for myself in 2009.

    #1: Create/Help grow an organization to evangelize the Electric Vehicles to the mass market

    #2: Get in shape via CrossFit, 3 days a week

  5. 6. Make sure you know when it’s dead, and time to move on.

  6. Dan Erwin says:

    Pursuing a side project always makes for “interesting people.” Keith Ferrazzo talks about the need to be “interesting” in Never Eat Alone–and he’s ringing the same gong. Peter Drucker was an expert in art–East Asian art as I remember. I’ve been working on building up my knowledge of American Revolutionary and constitutional history. And over the years I’ve indulged my interest in music by studying Bernstein, Brahms lieder, and Lerner and Lowe.

    A different knowledge base–non-business–not only makes for interesting people, but also enhances one’s ability to problem solve from a creative perspective.

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