How to Pick the Right Projects to Work

When you are smart, you rarely have a problem of having no project to work on.

You have a different problem.

You may be confused or conflicted on which among the available projects should you pick to participate in.

Good problem to have.

Keyword here is not good.

It is still a “problem” you need to solve because signing up for one will tie up your capacity to sign up for others you dropped.

Here is something to consider

The sweet spot of projects is at the intersection of three things:
1. The project should slightly stretch your strengths
2. The project should product highly valuable outcomes for the stakeholders
3. The project should bring measurable boost to your future capacity to contribute meaningfully

Let us look at the three things in a bit more detail.

1. Slightly stretching on your strengths

I have been writing since I was ten years old. Published my first book when I was thirteen. A few years ago I started writing mini sagas (stories in exactly 50 words). I am glad I embarked on that journey as it significantly helped to get better at writing.

You are generally in your zone when you are operating on your strengths. It makes work easy or better yet, work doesn’t even look like work. This is a good start. What would be better is when the work requires you to slightly stretch on your strengths. In other words, the project lets you strengthen your strengths. This is a case where you are contributing to the project while simultaneously contributing to yourself.

2. Highly valuable to people you touch through your projects

One of my friends bought a luxury pen and was complaining about the packaging. His words were, “When will these people learn from Apple”?


The work may be easy for you, but that alone won’t matter much if it is highly valuable to those that are looking for outcomes from your participation. Outcome expectations have changed significantly in the last few years. people expect brilliant outcomes as they compare your output to what a best-in-class output will look like even it it is from a different industry.

3. Measurable boost to your future capacity

Multiple friends have told me and I can personally vouch for it as well – volunteering at a non-profit seriously boosts your resourcefulness. It has to. How else can you produce meaningful results with very limited resources

Whenever a side-effect for engaging in a project seriously boosts your future capacity to contribute value, it is a big bonus.

Remember that you shape the outcome of the projects you work on. In the vein, the projects you work on, shape you!