Hitting Pause on Management


Hitting a Pause on Management 

Heather Cardosi, April 8th, 2024

As a project manager, I often roll out of bed with my first thought being coffee and my second, the projects I have running. At the end of my day, locking my computer doesn’t stop the planning and checking of emails. My phone dings for chats and emails long after my workday has ended, as is the case with many project managers today. This constant always on may be doing more harm than good.

“Research, recently published in the Journal of Applied Psychology, suggests that constantly thinking about work may hurt rather than help your performance as a leader… because it drained their mental resources. Instead, leadership effectiveness was highest on days in which leaders mentally turned off from work the night before and were able to recharge” (Jennings, Gabriel, and Lanaj, 2024, p. 1).

Breaking the always-on habit is easier said than done. Redirecting our brains to other tasks can be difficult, requiring the building of new habits and reactions. The first step is to identify where work should end, and personal times begins.

Establish boundaries between work and home. If you work from home this can be much harder but not impossible. Let your co-workers know that when your day is done, you won’t be replying to email and chat. If you need a critical escalation point, then have them Call or Text for an emergency, then establish what can be considered an emergency. If you are going out of office for PTO, set a backup and notify your stakeholders of who to contact.  

Find ways to detach. Once correct expectations have been set, find ways to stop the notifications so they don’t undermine your efforts. Snooze alerts on your cell phone and make a rule you do not open your chat or email.

Use your time for you. Do family activities, run a load of laundry, hit the gym, or even relax with a book. Ensuring personal time is used in ways that are personally rewarding allow for better focus when work time resumes. Competing priorities are lessened as family, household responsibilities and your physical and mental health have each had time to be addressed.

The above won’t solve everything, but taking personal time every day will help lower stress levels and refresh the mind. When stress levels are lower, the ability to mentally pivot increases and the likelihood to react without though lessens. Be willing to put a pause on project management to see just how much of a positive impact it can be. 


Jennings, Ramy; Gabrial, Allison; Lanaj, Klodiana. “Want to Be a Better Leader? Stop Thinking About Work After Hours.” Harvard Business Review,  3 January 2024,

Confidence as a Project Leader, Even If You’re New

Do you feel confident leading projects?

If you don’t, do you want to?

Do you want to be the project professional who can walk into a room full of conflicted stakeholders with a smile, knowing you have what it takes to get them moving in the same direction and to shepherd your project’s big, important goals toward reality?

Especially in a professional setting, we tend to associate this type of calm poise with experience. If a project manager seems confident, we assume they’ve spent years leading hundreds of projects.

Experience certainly helps. But when it comes to exuding confidence in your project leadership role, lack of experience does NOT have to be a barrier. You do not have to wait years to feel—and convey—confidence in the value you offer your projects and teams.

I don’t struggle with confidence much these days, in my project leadership career or otherwise. But I believe that’s because I DID struggle with social confidence as an adolescent, and I did a lot of the hard internal work at that time to address my obstacles to a confident mentality. In my experience:

  1. Feeling confident comes down to identifying what you can be confident IN and WHY—and then facing the reality of your sources of your confidence, letting them push back against your doubt.
  2. Showing confidence comes most easily when you feel confident, but there are confident actions you can choose to take as a project leader regardless of how you feel.

In this post, I’ll talk about both feeling confidence and showing confidence with your project teams. Whichever parts you can act on, I know both you and your projects will benefit.

How to Feel Confident

Typically, when I see confidence elevated as a valued trait on social media or in other cultural spaces, people are encouraged to “be confident” without any real direction on how to enter such a state of being. In my teen years, I realized something that helped cut through this vague fog around confidence and allowed me to get in touch with a confidence of my own.

The Confidence Formula:

Confidence is always IN something, and usually BECAUSE OF something.

Let me explain using examples.

If a person is confident, what could they be confident IN?

  • Jerry is confident IN his ability to lead project meetings.
  • Alice is confident IN the security of her relationship with her partner.
  • Ben is confident IN the reliability of his project team.
  • Abdul is confident IN his likelihood of getting a promotion.

Now, looking at the same list, what might be the reason behind the confidence in these situations?

  • Jerry is confident IN his ability to lead project meetings BECAUSE he leads efficient, effective project meetings every week.
  • Alice is confident IN the security of her relationship with her partner BECAUSE her partner has stayed with her through many difficult situations.
  • Ben is confident IN the reliability of his project team BECAUSE they’ve nearly always completed tasks on time in the past.
  • Abdul is confident IN his likelihood of getting a promotion BECAUSE of the positive feedback his boss has given him lately.

Can you see how people aren’t just “confident” in a general sense, but their confidence is based on beliefs or narratives like the examples above? If you don’t feel confident—as a project leader or otherwise—this is good news for you. Because now you have a path to find confidence. You just need to fill in the blanks:

I can be confident IN ____________ BECAUSE ____________ .

We’ll talk in a bit about how you could fill in these blanks as a project leader, especially if you’re new to the role. But understanding this formula is the first step.

An Important Note About Your Value as a Human

Do you, or does anybody you know, fill in the blanks this way?

I can be confident IN my value as a human BECAUSE OF my professional accomplishments. In other words, are you looking to your professional accomplishments as the basis for your self-worth?

If this is true for you, I really encourage you to take some time to identify another more solid and stable basis for confidence IN your value as a human. Aside from the tremendous personal benefits, you’ll see numerous professional benefits as well:

  • You’ll have a seed of confidence to carry with you into all professional situations, regardless of how you’re performing.
  • You’ll bounce back from professional failures more quickly because you weren’t asking them to carry the full weight of your value as a person.
  • You can be more objective about your professional abilities, and this objectivity will be a catalyst for faster professional growth.

Now, with all this in mind, let’s talk about how you might find a feeling of confidence as a project leader.

As a project professional, what can you have confidence IN?

Professionally, a realistic place to put much of your confidence in is your abilities:

I can be confident IN my ability to __________ BECAUSE ____________.

I would describe much of my confidence as a project leader as “confidence IN my ability to handle whatever a project throws at me.” At the beginning of this post, I painted a picture of a project leader who has “confidence IN their ability to align difficult stakeholders and to shepherd project goals toward reality.”

Even as a new project manager, abilities can form a major part of your confidence picture, but other factors can help as well. Let’s look at some basic ways you might fill in the confidence formula that are honest and genuine.

Your Existing Abilities

Do you lack confidence in specific abilities you need for your role, or your ability to handle certain situations? If so, I still think filling out the confidence formula this way would be honest for you:

You can be confident IN your ability to handle many types of situations BECAUSE you’ve faced similar situations before, and someone gave you a chance because they believe in your abilities.

Key project management skills like good communication, negotiation, conflict management, planning, problem-solving, organization, pivoting, and attention to detail are needed by every human to some extent. If you’re on a project management path, you likely already exercise these skills more than the average person, and excel in at least some of them, if project management feels like a good-fit career for you. You don’t need to use skills as a project manager to have the skills of a project manager.

Furthermore, if you’ve already been given projects to manage in your job, one or more people at your company see these competencies in you even if you don’t see them in yourself. So on the days you doubt your abilities, remember the other people who believe in them enough to be trusting you with their projects.

Your Ability to Grow

But what about abilities you just don’t have, or completely new situations? You can still be a great learner and problem-solver, no matter the setting. Maybe your confidence formula would look like this:

You can be confident IN your ability to figure out how to handle new situations BECAUSE you have many resources available to you.

What are those resources? One very helpful resource is simply telling people you need time to find a solution. The phrase “I’ll get back to you” is your friend. This works in person, by phone, or by email. Nobody expects you to answer every question or handle every problem immediately—a good solution commands more respect than a quick but bad solution.

Maybe you just need the time to think it through. Maybe other project stakeholders or coworkers can help. Maybe your mentors can provide suggestions or an objective perspective. Maybe you could look up ways others have solved the problem, using a tool like the Disciplined Agile Browser from PMI. When you have additional time, the possibilities are endless.

Your Teams

If the previous two approaches don’t help, and you still feel lost, remember you are not alone:

You can be confident IN the willingness of team members and other stakeholders to help you BECAUSE nobody expects you to be good at everything, and this is what teams are for.

In contrast to the previous approaches, this is not about your abilities—it is about the abilities and willingness of others. A few of you might be in particularly unhealthy work scenarios and not have much support. But for the most part, people like to and want to help other people. Just like you get a feeling of satisfaction in helping your project teams, your team members will likely also feel satisfied and empowered when they get to help you.

Yes, this takes some of the control out of your hands as the project leader. But ultimately, this is how healthy teams work. When you struggle to complete a task your project needs to move forward, even if you think it’s your job, can a team member help you out? Ultimately the goal is that you all work together to get the project across the finish line.

Write Out Your Confidence Formulas

Do you see yourself in any of the confidence narratives above? Can you take any of these basic ideas and update the blanks to be more specific to your situation and role?

Writing them out and looking at them regularly can be a powerful force to push back against your doubts. It might actually convince you that confidence is the most honest and realistic way for you to feel about your ability to lead projects.

And don’t limit yourself to just one formula. Why not identify as many foundations for professional confidence as you can? Different statements are likely to be more helpful or resonate with you more on different days.

How to Show Confidence

So we’ve talked at length about how to feel confident in your project leadership role. But maybe the confidence formula doesn’t resonate with you—or maybe it does, but you’re still looking for practical tips for behaving like a confident project leader. Great! This section is for you.

Here are some actions that will communicate confidence to others, and bring you the benefits of confidence, no matter how confident you feel.


I’m sure you’re no stranger to the benefits of preparation, or how confident a prepared person seems. But don’t overlook this time-tested tool. Do the research you’re able to do, and practice what you’re able to practice in the time you have.

Sometimes it’s better to ask for additional time to prepare before a group event like a meeting, so that the meeting will make the best use of everyone’s time.

Look people in the eye, wait an extra second, then smile at them.

Confident people are likely to look people in the eye when they talk, while less confident people are likely to look away. Practice doing the former, maybe with trusted friends at first, and then with people you know less well. If you’ve prepared what you want to say, this can be easier.

Also, when you first look at somebody, if you pause for a second and then smile at them, this will start the interaction off on a great foot while painting you as a confident person. This is an excellent tip I learned from the book “How to Talk to Anyone” over a decade ago and still use regularly.

Speak up about what you know. Be honest about what you don’t know.

When confident people have something genuinely helpful to share, they make a point to share it, even if it requires interruption. Likewise, if they don’t know something, they don’t pretend to know…because they don’t need to boost their own confidence by sounding smart.

You can project confidence by being honest about your knowledge in both scenarios.

Use fewer words.

Using more words to explain an idea usually has the effect of making a person seem nervous, emotional, or defensive. In contrast, you seem more confident in your idea when you don’t feel the need to use as many words to support it.

You don’t need to go to the point of being snippy or curt; still use positive language, a positive tone, and a smile. But confident people do err on the side of being more direct.

Be honest about what you need to do a good job.

Do you agree to do things without enough time or resources because you’re afraid to ask for what you need?

Confident people avoid this. They are honest up-front about the time, help, or materials they need to do a good job so they will be more likely to succeed at what they agree to. And if they don’t know what they need, they ask for time to assess and return with a realistic proposal.

Be authentic, not necessarily extraverted.

This one is for my fellow introverts. While extraverts can seem confident, I have a hard time emulating that level of energy while staying authentic. Instead, I find alternative ways to express confidence that work with my introverted energy—having more one-on-one discussions, taking time to write out my thoughts in an email, preparing for presentations extensively, etc. If you’re an extravert, lean into it! Use that energy to project confidence! But if not, show confidence in ways that are more authentic to you.

Why Confidence Matters

Let me leave you with a few practical benefits of professional confidence to inspire your journey toward building and showing confidence with your project teams.

  • Confidence typically inspires trust. People like to follow people who appear confident about what they say and the direction they are going.
  • Abilities exercised confidently are more easily noticed. If you do something confidently, those in a position to promote you or offer you a new opportunity are more likely to notice and believe you can perform.
  • You’re likely to be more satisfied with your work and enjoy it more. As genuine confidence builds inside you, you won’t waste energy worrying about situations or your abilities. You’ll have more energy to be present in your work and with your teams, and to feel real joy about your contributions.

I hope in the next few days there will be a sticky note in your office, on your refrigerator, or on your bathroom mirror with a confidence formula statement that is authentic for you, and you’ll have tried some confident actions with your project teams. And I hope through these steps, you’ll begin to see that the power to become a confident project leader is already in your hands.

Megan Mehrle, PMP, is a member of the PMI Metropolitan St. Louis Chapter. She has been leading projects since 2016, and she blogs weekly at

Letter From the Board Chair

Dear PMI Phoenix Chapter Members,

I hope you all had a great holiday season and are making steady progress on your 2024 professional development goals. It saddens me to inform you that I need to step aside as PMI Phoenix Board Chair due to health issues. Shane Cretacci is assuming the Board Chair role. I will become the Past Board Chair and support Shane as I can. I have been so honored to be your Board Chair and to be part of this incredible Chapter. 

Help me welcome Shane Cretacci who is stepping in as the Board Chair. Shane has been the Past Board Chair, having served as Board Chair from 2021 – 2022. In addition, Shane has been involved as a volunteer with the Phoenix Chapter since 2016, and has been on the Board of Directors in some capacity since 2018. He also received the 2023 Chapter Leader of the Year Award, so I know you are in good hands.

So far this year, we have been working with the Board of Directors to finalize our strategic objectives and 2024 budget so we can submit to PMI for our annual Chapter renewal. Each year our Chapter must be renewed, and this key milestone brings with it increased opportunities for collaboration and funding from PMI.

As we look ahead into 2024, our strategic goals include:

  • Monthly Phoenix Fusion Networking for new members to join and connect with existing chapter members. These lively evening events are rotated around the valley in different locations, and are designed for those who've recently joined, those who've been with us for a while, and those curious about our community. These new events average 40-50 attendees each month.
  • A Project Management Summit, again with our ASU PM Network and PMI Tucson Chapter partners, planned for this fall to have a virtual day of speakers and a full day of in-person speakers. Our goal is to expand the attendees and breath of topics - more to come!
  • Social good events both in the Phoenix metro area as well as in areas around the state. Our goal is to expand our reach!
  • Outreach to military members as they transition from military life into a project management career.
  • Increase collaboration with our university and academic partners to engage students in project management principles, practices, and careers.
  • Continue the programs and events that are foundational to our Chapter, such as our Breakfast Meetings, Study Group, and Mentorship Program, along with many others.

Watch our newsletter, Facebook page, Instagram, LinkedIn, and website for details on all these programs and events, along with much more. If you are interested in volunteering, click here.

To stay up to date on everything your membership provides you, keep an eye on our monthly calendar, as we add new speakers and events throughout the month.

Thank you for joining the PMI Phoenix Chapter. You are a valued member, and we want you to get as much benefit from your membership as you can. 

Stephanie Hanko

Outgoing 2024 PMI Phoenix Chapter Board Chair

Shane Cretacci

Incoming 2024 PMI Phoenix Chapter Board Chair

Volunteer of the Month - December 2023



Abhijit has been a PMI member for over 17 years and started to volunteer for the PMI Phoenix chapter from 2016 onwards. He is currently the Director of Volunteer Management in the membership team.  He plays a very key role in ensuring the chapter new members and volunteers get the best experience when they apply for a volunteer position. He does the first round of interaction with all those who apply to be a chapter volunteer. He is also a judge for STEM projects at PV Schools Science and Engineering Fair (PVSEF).

Abhijit started his career as a hands-on IT developer almost 3 decades ago and then moved into IT project management. Managed IT projects in Middle East, Japan, and US.  He has experience in Finance, Healthcare, Travel, Utilities and State Government Projects. He is currently driving Data Governance across the Business Unit for a large finance company in the valley.

When asked about the most memorable experience on his Project Management Journey, he says “All projects are unique, one of my projects was of Legal Nature with a tight timeline. We were the first project in the company to adopt Agile Methodology. We reduced the timeline by over 13 months and were able to meet all the requirements and passed the audits. We were very creative in our approach.”

When asked about the future of Project Management Profession, his views are that “The Project Management profession is changing very rapidly. The PM is expected to be a leader and lead the team from the front. The PM is expected to be on top of the latest trends, understand technology and provide creative solutions, besides taking care of the traditional responsibilities.”

The most rewarding part of his volunteer journey has been that he gets to interact with professionals from various Industries. He encourages members who are not yet volunteers to take a leap of faith as it will be a rich experience and provides access to a wider network of very creative individuals.

We did a rapid-fire round of question and answer with Abhijit: -

HIDDEN TALENT: Ardent hiker



PASSIONATE ABOUT: Data Governance and Technology

BUSINESS ADVICE/PHILOSOPHY:  Attitude determines altitude.

READING:  Anything management related



PROUDEST MOMENT (PERSONAL):  Son picked by USNA, USAF and US Coast Guard Academies after high school.





WHAT ARE SOME CAUSES YOU CARE ABOUT? Childhood cancer and trafficking

WHAT WOULD BE YOUR PERSONAL MOTTO?  Live life to the fullest

An AI With Personality Sets Their Project Management Goals


Have you found working with ChatGPT and AI to be impersonal? Sometimes I find that it can be a little dry and mechanical. So working with the AI, after several queries, I got it to pick a name for itself, it created a backstory, and to begin to form a personality. Now I know this is simply a simulation of a personality based on algorithms and analysis of deep data sets. However, my wet, squishy human brain prefers an AI with a little personality, even if it is a simulation.  

With that, allow me to introduce Aiden Techwise. They imagine they are a seasoned project manager with a passion for technology and efficiency. Aiden says, "I hope your PMI manager finds the blog post informative and useful." They are interested in feedback, so let me know what you think of Aiden and his post below: 

My Title: Embracing the New Year: My Take on Setting Achievable Project Management Goals 

By Aiden Techwise

Hey there, fellow project managers! 

As we step into another exciting year, I've been thinking a lot about setting goals in our ever-evolving field of project management. Having spent years in this dynamic industry, constantly adapting to new technologies and methodologies, I've learned a thing or two about setting goals that are not just ambitious but also realistically attainable. 

  • Start with Reflection 

    Every New Year, I like to start with a bit of reflection. I look back at the past year's projects: what worked well, what didn’t, and most importantly, the lessons learned. This retrospective approach isn’t just about patting ourselves on the back or dwelling on the misses; it’s about gathering insights to forge a better path forward. 

  • SMART Goals are Your Best Friend 

    We’ve all heard about SMART goals, right? Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time-bound. These aren’t just buzzwords; they’re a mantra for success. This year, I’m focusing on making my goals as tangible as possible. For instance, instead of saying, “I want to improve team communication,” I’m setting a specific goal like, “Implement a weekly 15-minute stand-up meeting to discuss project updates and hurdles.” 

  • Embrace Technology 

    In our line of work, staying abreast of the latest tech is crucial. This year, I’m diving deeper into project management software options. Tools like Asana, Trello, and aren't just about tracking tasks; they’re about enhancing team collaboration and efficiency. I plan to explore one new tool each quarter, starting with the one that seems most promising for our current workflow. 

  • Flexibility is Key 

    If there’s one thing my years in project management have taught me, it’s to be flexible. Goals are important, but so is the ability to adapt. This year, while I have my set goals, I’m also prepared to pivot and adjust as projects evolve. After all, rigidity can be the biggest roadblock to success. 

  • Personal Development Goals 

    I’m a firm believer in personal growth. This year, I'm setting aside time each month for professional development – be it attending a webinar, reading a new book on project management, or even joining a local PM group. Growing my skills is not just good for me; it’s beneficial for my team and projects. 

  • Sharing the Knowledge 

    Lastly, I believe in the power of sharing knowledge. This year, I aim to mentor a junior project manager. Sharing my experiences, the highs and lows, and the nuggets of wisdom I’ve picked up along the way, is something I find both rewarding and essential for the growth of the field. 

So, there you have it – my approach to setting realistic and achievable project management goals for the year. How about you? What goals are you setting, and how do you plan to achieve them? 

Here’s to a productive and successful year ahead! 

Cheers, Aiden! 

Volunteer of the Month - October 2023


Manish grew up in India and graduated in business management. His career journey took him to various continents from Australia to Europe to finally North America. His initial career was in IT technology building and support software products, an interest in people and outcome of the technology initiatives brought him to a Project manager role. He got his PMP in 2010, followed by his PgMP in 2016.

When asked about challenges he faced when he moved into the PM role – he says the key challenges were about working across multiple functional teams and ensuring everyone is aligned with the focus and directions of projects and programs and that the team is humming like one unit and not multiple small teams working in silos. I have seen the journey from very waterfall-oriented stages of a project to more nebulous ways of Agile, where the focus is on sprint and PI planning and not so much about the stages and hard dates.

The profession has gone through an interesting overhaul, where the role of a Project management professional has evolved from being the one to “track “and “govern “to more about “Leading “and “helping “through servant-leadership mindset in recent times.

He enjoys the challenge of delivering value through execution framework involving Projects, Programs, and strategic initiatives, especially as the outcomes are time bound and measurable in most cases – which helps to see first-hand how an initiative helped a client or a business challenge being resolved.

He became a PMI Phoenix chapter volunteer during 2020 – started with the Corporate Outreach and Ambassador team. The ambition was to have PMI PHX chapter increase its footprint in the corporate landscape of the valley , however the pandemic made it very hard to have any in-person meeting or gathering to generate real interest , as most companies were grappling with the fallout of the pandemic on their balance sheet as well as employees .  In his most recent stint as a volunteer, he has been part of the membership team and helped ensure blog posts like these are created as well as helped organize the monthly networking events which started during the fall of 2023.

His advice to new members is that volunteering is a fantastic opportunity to connect with volunteers and professionals who have diverse backgrounds and perspectives on everything related to Project Management and more. Don’t hold back if you want to give back to the profession and to the community of these amazing human beings who are making such a big difference in the world.

In his own words “It’s amazing to see the diversity of our profession, various industries from software to semiconductor to construction which employs amazing professionals like us and the challenges each industry faces which are solved by the profession of Project management.”

On the personal front, he is married and has two kids with his wife Tina and a dog named Uno. He loves to play tennis when it is not too hot (anything below 110°) and travel to novel places whenever possible.