December 20, 2017 • 5 minute read • by Saeed
“A goal without a plan is just a wish.” ~ Unknown
Creating a strategic plan is about getting from Point A to Point B. Period.
First, assess where you are now (Point A) and then define where you want to be (Point B). Your final step is to develop strategies that will be your roadmap from one point to the other.
What follows below is a classic organizational strategic planning process adapted for personal development. Whether organizational or individual, everything starts with a self-assessment.
No strategic planning process would be worth its salt without a good Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats assessment (a.k.a S.W.O.T.).
Draw a grid 4 square grid and write in each corner:
· Strengths: the attributes you possess that will help advance your plan.
· Weaknesses: the attributes you possess that will hinder your plan.
· Opportunities: external conditions that may advance your plan.
· Threats: external conditions that may hinder your plan.
· How can I Use each Strength?
· How can I Stop each Weakness?
· How can I Exploit each Opportunity?
· How can I Defend against each Threat?
That’s your self assessment.
Next, turn over your sheet of paper. Write down the headings I use below and follow the instructions under each category.
1. Your Vision Statement
Your vision statement is your north star – a mental picture of what your future self may look like. Your vision statement should pull you towards your optimal desired future state. It is the sun to your flower. It should be inspirational and focused on what you want to achieve over time. Here are some vision statements from some big players. Study them and then write your own.
Ikea’s vision is to offer a wide range of well-designed, functional home furnishing products at prices so low that as many people as possible will be able to afford them.
Amazon’s vision is to be Earth’s most customer-centric company, where customers can find and discover anything they might want to buy online.
2. Your Mission Statement
Your mission statement should provide a top-level answer to the essential question: Why do you exist? Having a personal mission statement brings clarity and purpose to your life. Employees often can’t remember the company’s mission statement. That’s because they’re usually all-things-to-all-people word salads. Your mission statement is a concise statement of What you do, Who you do it for , and How you do it. Try creating one by studying the ones below.
Google’s mission is to organize the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful.
Facebook’s mission is to give people the power to share and make the world more open and connected.
3. Your Goal Statement
A goal is a specific target, a destination, an end result or something to be desired. It is a major step in achieving your vision. Ideally, each goal should be Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic and Time-bound (a.k.a S.M.A.R.T.). You could have one or several goals to achieve your vision: lose weight, gain weight, whatever. A charity might want to increase donations by 20% in one year, or maybe increase community engagement through social media by 10%. You get the idea but remember The Law of Diminishing Returns which tells us that the more goals we set, the less likely we are to achieve them. One goal distracts from another, leaving us less likely to accomplish anything. In goal setting, quality, not quantity is what counts.
Take your resources into account as well as those things that might facilitate the achievement of your goals or be a barrier to them.
4. Your Strategies
This is where the fun begins. Each goal should have 1-3 strategies: what you will do to reach your goal. Be sure to separate the things that must absolutely be done this year, from the things that would be nice to have, but aren’t urgent. What concrete action or set of actions needs to be taken tomorrow, to reach your goal?
Our hypothetical charity might create celebrity partnerships to support their programs or invest in optimizing the website to increase online giving…
5. How you know you are succeeding
Key performance indicators (KPIs) are used to measure your progress towards your goals. You may have heard the famous management axiom “you can’t manage what you can’t measure.” Your metrics will ultimately let you know whether or not your strategic plan was effective. The target is the number you need to reach to achieve your goal. It’s the number of related books you read each month, number of miles you jog a week, number of yoga classes each month and so on.
6. Putting it all together “the personal strategic plan”
If you did all of the above, you’ve completed a personal assessment of your strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats, developed a vision for your future, a personal mission statement, specific goals and related strategies to achieve your vision, and a way to measure your progress. Those are all the essential elements of a strategic plan and essential elements of your personal development plan.
Now, go execute it.
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