(First published January, 2015)
Every year my wife, Karen, and I sit down and start the process of revisiting our Personal Strategic Plan. This is something that we’ve been doing for a number of years. We both find the exercise rewarding, revealing and very productive.
For the two of us, this is an in-depth look at certain parts of our lives, both individually and as a team, that we have decided needed an analysis and a plan for the future.
In business, we are always creating or dealing with a strategic plan. This is an essential tool for any organization. It creates the roadmap, going forward, of where we want to be and how we are going to get there. This is exactly what your personal strategic plan can do for you.
Many of us will start the New Year with a New Year’s resolution(s): exercise more, work more, work less, go on a special vacation. Your personal strategic plan is an extension to this thought process. It actually forces you to put a plan in place to execute the desired outcome.
In a previous blog post, I talked about the concept of a personal strategic plan but my reference then was geared mostly to current or potential leaders. Today I extend that thought to all of us: leaders or otherwise.
Quite honestly, if our lives were static and never changing, a personal strategic plan would be a waste of time. But I struggle to find anywhere in my life where this is the case. Our lives are constantly bringing us change and this requires a plan to manage the process and the outcome. The looming retirement years, children heading out to college or university, a new family on the way, a new home, a change of career… a new dog!! There are so many things that will challenge our lives and require us to be organized, focused and have an end goal in sight.
In my life, the process of creating a short or long term plan with my wife has paid dividends many times over. We have always had a plan.
A personal strategic plan will address any, or all, of the key areas of your life that are important or strategic to you today: health, finances, social life, spiritual life, recreation, professional life, and more. In each case the formula is the same.
Step 1. Where are you now? What is the current state of your health or finances or whatever else you’re dealing with? In the business world this is where we apply our SWOT analysis: strength, weaknesses, opportunities, threats. A little bit of an overkill on the personal side but an interesting part of the equation if you want to go there.
Step 2. Where do you want to be in the future? Six months out, one year out, or even three and five years out if you wish. This is the opportunity to dream or deal with reality and face the coming years.
Step 3. How are you going to get there? What needs to happen in order for you to be where you want to be in the future?
There are two key ingredients to all of this:
- Do it. Actually, sitting down and focusing on the selected areas of your life and creating a current state, future state and a plan.
- Revisit it. Make a note to yourself six months or one year down the road to pull out the document and read it to yourself or to a partner. Honestly, without this second piece, the first is useless. You need to measure and hold yourself accountable. Set deadlines for completing tasks in the plan. Use your calendar to set and accomplish goals and to remind yourself every 6 months or so how important this whole process is.
My Personal Strategic Plan addresses all aspects of my life but not all to the same detail. In some cases, the analysis is short and simple and may not need a plan going forward. But other parts will need a lot deeper analysis and a fairly detailed plan.
For the parts of the plan that deal with me only, I find that having a partner to hear me out and to listen to my analysis is very important. Someone to whom I can be accountable. The other parts that involve both of us are always a joint effort in analysis, planning and execution.
If you have started your personal strategic plan, or better yet, completed it, congratulations! If this is new to you, then it may be time to pick a few of your life ‘departments’ and build a plan.
Good luck. Let’s chat again about this next year and see how you did.