Okay. I have come to the following realization:

While we have been talking quite a bit about projects, I have not actually explained what I mean by “project”.

Projects? Adventure, missions, episodes, whatever your projectizing metaphor happens to be.

So let’s talk about what I’m trying to say when I’m talking about projects.

Because this is important.

And also because I’m pretty sure the definition that I’m working with is much broader than people suspect.

Thank you, commenter mice and people who come to Rally (Rally!) and members of my Kitchen Table program for helping me understand that I need to define my terms!

Projects are about exploration and discovery.

Any time you ask a question:

“What can I do to make this phone call less painful or stressful?”

That’s a project.

Any time you express a thought that is a desire or a gwish:

“I’d like to learn more about my relationship with my body, and what would need to happen for me to be able to treat myself with more kindness.”

That’s a project.

Any time you wonder about some aspect of how you are in the world:

“I wonder what would happen if I had designated time in my week for something creative and messy…”

That’s a project.

There are no RULES about projects.

Except discovering what your internal rules are.

Or what external rules you have internalized. cough, GTD.

There are lots of systems and methodologies out there for working on projects. They all work — for the person who came up with them. And maybe for some other people.

But not for everyone. Because of the People Vary principle.

The important thing about projects is NOT the rules that various expert-ey biggified people have invented. (Like: “If it doesn’t have a due date, it’s not a project” or “You should never work on more than X things” or whatever.)

The important thing about projects is that you get to learn what works for you and what doesn’t, in any given situation.

Of course, if a particular rule happens to help you and it feels supportive and it’s nonviolent, go for it! Use it and enjoy. Just pay attention to the fact that you are consciously choosing to take it on.

And if a particular rule stresses you out and does not help you feel supported and cared for, give yourself permission to drop it.

It’s your kingdom. Do things in a way that works for you. And maybe take some notes about that for the Book of You.

Projects are never about the thing. They’re about your relationship with the thing.

Maybe you want to sleep better. That’s a project.

And everything you do to explore and learn what will help you get more sleep or higher quality sleep or happier sleep is a part of that project.

But the real project is not about the sleep itself.

The real project is your relationship with sleep, your relationship with discovering what you need, your relationship with yourself.

If you’ve been on Rally (Rally!), you’ve already experienced this.

Because part of the magic of Rally is really that what you do there is so much more than making giant progress on your projects.

What happens is this: you learn how to approach projects:

How to make the process of interacting with them fun, adventurous, playful, creative.

How to work on your stuff while working on the thing you want, while also resting in a hammock and eating pretzel sticks.

How to use fractal flowers and the video game and all sorts of other things to your advantage. And then you can do that with any project.

Examples of this broader definition of “project”.

Here are some of the more traditional projects people have worked on and played with at Rallies.

  • Starting something (a book proposal, grant proposal, ebook, product, outline, table of contents, marketing plan, business plan, website plan, art installation, a business or a non profit organization or a new career).
  • Finishing something (see above).

But here are some other equally legitimate projects people have worked on and played with at Rallies.

  • What am I like when I’m on vacation?
  • What would it be like to not be stressed out about time all the time?
  • What do I want to do if/when I grow up and is that even the right question?
  • What do I know about my relationship with money?
  • What am I going to do with this grief and pain about X?
  • How can I invent rituals and/or games to make my straight job more bearable and more supportive of my destuckification practice?
  • What needs to happen for my relationship to work?
  • How would I go about building an underground lair?

See what I mean?

And many, many people come to Rally having no idea what their project is or if they even have one. It always works, either way.

Projects: not just for work.

They aren’t about a job or a business, though they can be.

They aren’t about getting a certain thing done by a certain date, though they can be.

They aren’t about making something to sell, though they can be.

Projects are about you getting to know how you function. They’re about a certain aspect or piece of the ongoing process of you working on your stuff.

They’re about playing and finding out. They exist to help you. And they want to tell you things. And they want to be put to bed at night, but that’s another story for another day.

Play with me. And with projects. And comment zen for today.

This is, of course, my personal definition of projects. Which you do not have to use unless you happen to want to!

If you would like to invent fun projects with me, that is welcome.

I am also setting up an impromptu daycare center here in the comments section in case you would like to deposit some project-monsters and old rules about how things supposedly have to be.

Leave them in a comment and we’ll be happy to entertain them for you while you sneak off to proxy something or play with something.

As always, we all have our stuff. We make room for other people to have their stuff. And as part of that, we don’t tell each other what to do, how to feel or how to be.

Lots of love!

The Fluent Self