Whenever I present to audiences about strategy or strategic thinking, our minds always go to our organisations, divisions or departments – our corporate lives.
But strategic thinking actually starts in the home.
In my mind, our lives roll out in one of two very different ways: let the wind and the currents and the times take us where it wishes or take control ourselves and direct our own destinies.
There is no right or wrong approach here. Each of us is so different in the way we live our lives. But many of us are looking back these days and either wondering how it all happened this way or regretting some of the decisions we made.
Strategic thinking and planning have benefits in all corners of our lives. I think, most importantly, if there is a plan, or the outline of a plan, we at least have something that we can go back to, or refer to, when those curveballs get thrown at us or when we need to make those important decisions.
My wife, Karen, and I have had a Life Plan almost since the day we met. Those early days were both exciting and chaotic at the same time. Very early on, we forced ourselves to sit down and think strategically about our lives together and everything we were doing. We recorded our thoughts and our plans and set goals for ourselves 1, 3 and 5 years out, I remember those meetings fondly. They were somehow calming. It was nice to take this time out, see some light at the end of the tunnel and to go away with some action steps that we were committing to in order to make it happen. I was always amused when we looked at those five years goals. I often heard the words ‘what were we thinking?’.
But in my mind, at least we had a plan. We had something to help guide us and to help bring some kind of structure to everything that was going on around us.
One of the critical components to any strategic plan is the notion of agility. It can’t be so rigid that change isn’t considered or expected. As opportunities arise and things happen along the way, we need to be able to adjust the plan and re-synchronise our thoughts for the coming year(s). In the end, there was always a plan to come back to.
Strategic thinking does start in the home. If you look at your life and chunk it into sections that sound like health, relationships, spiritual life, fun things to do, reading and other activities you will have slowly created the foundation for a plan that you can revisit for many years to come.
Take it from an aging baby boomer, I’m glad we had a plan. I am pretty sure things would have worked out very differently if we hadn’t.