A life fulfilled
Applying a project management mindset to one’s life may seem like a rigid way to live, but Regi Dittrich is quite the opposite. Possessing an enviable zest for life and a love of all things adventurous, she shares how you can have it all – just not all at once.
For three decades, Regi Dittrich has been a career mum and applied a project management approach to life for as long as she can remember. But in 1998, when her husband was diagnosed with a terminal illness and she subsequently lost him, her home and all she had worked for financially, Regi’s life was thrown into disarray.
“It seemed like a good idea for me to treat my life like a project, because all of the elements were relevant – I had a finite amount of time, money and a huge scope of what I needed to do and the challenge of building quality parenting into all of this,” she says.
“I developed my skillset around surviving, flourishing and prospering and then it was time to share that around. That’s where the mentoring came in, from women hearing my story and wanting to know more. It started casually and socially, and I became a business coach.”
Complimenting her organic transition, Regi formalised her learnings and became a corporate project management trainer, teaching local and international students at TAFE Queensland East Coast.
Along with teaching project management, Regi considers it to be the core of her success and uses the constraints of scope, cost, time and quality to organise her very full life.
“The thing that we normally surrender first is the quality. If we can’t fit the scope of what we want with our limited time and limited money, or we need to work extra to get the money to do what we want, then the quality diminishes, and usually that’s family quality and parenting quality,” she says.
“But one of my favourite stress mitigation strategies is abandoning the notion of having it all now – we can push things out a little bit, we can take the time to do things a little bit later on and reduce the scope of what we want, rather than what we need.
Project managing the work/life balance
Scope, cost and time are the triple constraints of a project and our work life balance.
Scope is what we need to achieve in order to manage on a daily, weekly, yearly basis. The scope also includes our goals and desires, both tangible and intangible.
Cost is our financial position, both earning and spending.
Time is that thing we usually can’t get enough of in order to achieve our scope, earn more or save money.
Quality is often the first element to be compromised so that we can cut corners, save time and money and squeeze in some more scope.
“With a life well played it is possible to save the best for later on if we are able to nurture ourselves towards an ageless and timeless state.”
For instance, Regi says she always wanted to be a surf lifesaver, but waited until she was 51 to complete her certificate. And in November she fulfilled a lifelong desire to sail across the Pacific Ocean, hopping aboard a 41-foot yacht with a girlfriend and having the time of her life.
“We put a lot of pressure on ourselves to achieve in a short space of time, more than what can be sustained without compromising our quality of life,” she says.
Since January, Regi has also been finishing her MBA and has a number of incubating businesses on the go – one of which is adventure hiking in the Sunshine Coast Hinterland.
“I’m very high energy with achieving things in my work life, I consider myself to be a little overactive and very energetic in setting and achieving my own targets. But that’s what it’s had to be about because I’ve worked from home for TAFE for the last year-and-a-half, so I’ve worked autonomously by building my own KPIs.
One of my favourite stress mitigation strategies is abandoning the notion of having it all now…”
“The polar opposite of that and my release from that is my adventure hiking. We do overnight hikes and I know where there’s a deposit of green clay that we can use for facials and swim in rockpools and do body scrubs, and then we forage for and harvest bush tucker along the way and use it to make the meal at night.
“Another hike is with a group of girls who are doing their PHDs at the uni, they’re our next wave of work/life balance challenges, and that’s extreme hiking with minimal food. It’s a way to relieve stress.”
As I sit and chat with Regi about her expeditions, she reminds me how lucky we are living on the Sunshine Coast, being able to slip away for a day or two to escape the mundane daily grind.
“This is a big plus for us when we seek to add some quality to our lives with limited time and finances.”
- Invest in your future whenever you get a spare moment. This can include building assets that make the busy or poorer times easier. Ideas include improving your knowledge to boost efficiency; or optimising your mental and physical health for high energy performance.
- Set targets that can be sustained comfortably and without sacrifice.
- Understand that we have good days and bad days and that pressing the pause button may be a necessity if we have recently been on fast forward.
- Set long term goals as well as immediate goals, so that we can trade off high and low achievement periods.
- Be present in the moment when it’s play time, it’s play time.