Source: Unsplash/Sebastien Gabriel

5 Ways to Master the Art of Letting Projects Go

Projects do indeed end and the key is to have them end well. After all, according to the Project Management Institute, “A project is temporary in that it has a defined beginning and end in time, and therefore defined scope and resources.”

Here are some steps to take and questions to ask for a smooth takeoff and landing.

“There is an end to everything, to good things as well.”

— Geoffrey Chaucer

Step 1: Plan for a Project to End

So how can you plan for your project to end well vs. well…just end?

Set the parameters for the how the project will be measured as “done” at the beginning. Envision what the finished product looks like. Complete the project in a step-by-step fashion and gain agreement and acceptance on each step. This will help ensure that all parties are progressing against the plan in a positive fashion. What’s done is “done.”

“It does not take much strength to do things, but it requires a great deal of strength to decide what to do.”

— Elbert Hubbard

Step 2: Are we there yet?

With most projects, the end is in sight–but like a football game, it can be difficult to cross the goal line. This can require taking a time out to assess what remaining activities need to be completed to finish. And often this requires an intense focus at the end. The activity list that is created and updated along the way should serve as the roadmap to complete things and not miss anything.

“Life is a succession of lessons which must be lived to be understood.”

Helen Keller

Step 3: Lessons.

All projects provide opportunities to learn something. What went right? What went wrong? What could have gone better? How would you handle things differently? What can you take from this project and apply to another one?

“It’s the little details that are vital. Little things make big things happen.”

— John Wooden.

Step 4: Tie up loose ends.

Don’t forget to make sure that all contractual obligations have been closed out and that there are no missing activities left undone. Now is a good time to review the statement of work and contractual agreement. Are the files up-to-date? Has there been a turnover memo and/or client call to answer any remaining questions? Are you pleased with how the project turned out?

“When I let go of what I am, I become what I might be.”

— Lao Tzu

Step 5: Let it go!

Ask yourself and others if there is anything else that they need at this time? Has the project officially been closed out with all relevant materials completed? Is the end of the entire project or just this phase of the project? Do all parties feel good about the results of the project?

OK. Everything has gone well. Now is the time to let the project go and send best wishes for a successful journey and landing.