In a world that changes every minute, self-improvement would be the most outstanding contribution you can make to your future. Growing your mastery, honing soft skills, and building a clear vision of your goals are the keys that may open any door to you. Though, not everyone is so fond of planning and goal-setting processes. Survey has found that almost 75% of adults don't have a particular life plan. So basically, most people prefer to go with the flow, like "the smaller expectations, the less frustrated you get.
"Still, if such an approach doesn't lead you to the rock bottom of your career, then just imagine which heights you can reach with the strategic plan! You may think that such planning relates only to corporations and huge companies because any unforeseen oversight could cost them millions. But why should you be different?
Lack of a clear plan can lead you to the point where you waste years of your life on the career path you've never chosen. In turn, personal strategic planning is a smart tool to help you achieve your bold ambitions. Meanwhile, you may avoid the extra fuss and years wasted finding yourself and go straight to results.
Today we're going to discover the essence of personal strategic planning - how it may help you pursue goals and keep the focus on what matters most. Dive in and build the strategy that will support you on your way to a flourishing career.
What is Personal Strategic Planning?
You may think that a personal strategic plan doesn't differ from the resolutions you set every New Year. Still, there's an enormous gap between them. These resolutions can be abstract, too distant from what you could actually achieve. They're more like utopian dreams, so no wonders only 16% of people fulfill them.
In turn, a personal strategic plan is like a step-by-step guide, easy to follow and helpful in times when you lose focus. It's a flexible set of your goals and tasks with precise time frames and steps for accomplishing them. Since it should be based on your strengths and weaknesses, this plan is more approachable, realistic, and actionable.
At the same time, a personal strategic plan is flexible - you can add new objectives or eliminate the old ones if they make little sense. It's not you living to fulfill the plan - the plan exists to meet your needs and support you on your way. Therefore, if you want to turn it into a tool, then make sure your strategic plan is:
Now, when you have a clear vision of personal strategic planning, let's figure out how to build your own strategy.
Five key elements of a personal strategic plan
Just putting your thoughts on a paper wouldn't work. A successful personal strategic plan consists of five essential elements - each of them contributes to the accomplishment of your ambitions. David Allen, a creator of the trending "Getting things done" method for staying productive, has described some of these elements (horizons) in his book. Our overview offers a complete step-by-step path to creating your personal strategic plan. Take a closer look at it.
Personal purpose statement
Most of us have a bigger picture of our future - someone imagines a successful career, others want to build a million-worth business. Set clearly who you want to be in your career and personal life. This statement reflects your core values and motto. It serves as a final stop on your path - at least for the following years. By confirming your personal mission statement, you'll find it easier to make decisions and decline the offers that won't help you achieve your goal.
What would your life be like if you never had a personal mission statement? Here are some of the things that could happen. You may get stuck in jobs you don't enjoy. You could find yourself lonely and thinking about what other people think of you. You may take extra tasks that will eventually lead you to burnout. If you prefer to stop wasting your time on useless things, clear out your personal purpose statement and always keep it in mind when making decisions.
Personal action vision: long-term objectives
When you know your ultimate goal and keep in mind your ultimate purpose, it's time to build the vision of your actions for the long-term objections. Whether you want to become a top manager in your company or change a field, you need a plan to follow. Remember that the steps you describe should cover a bigger goal and still be flexible. So write down what you need to learn, which habits to develop, and what you may lose in the process.
It's always a marvelous idea to find mentors when considering the next steps in your life. Mentors act as role models and are people you admire from afar. They often have deep knowledge that can help you chart a better path for yourself. Such people usually consult other achievers - try to book one, and your investment will definitely pay off.
Personal action vision: short-term objectives
When building your personal strategy, the next step is to define your vision for the next few years. Here you should be more concrete and precise - write the steps in achieving your long-term objectives. So if you wanted to learn a new language, your following steps could be entering the language school or visiting personal lessons.
A crucial thing in building the short-term action vision is to verify your performance constantly. Ask yourself: "Do my actions actually help me move towards my goal?". If not, then you may change the approach or revise your long-term goal and check if it fits your ultimate purpose.
In this step, you should define how to perform your daily tasks to accomplish your goal. For example, you need to be persistent, hungry for knowledge and stick to the time frames if you want to change your profession. In turn, honing your soft skills and spending more time with your colleagues could be helpful if you want a promotion to a manager or HR position.
SWOT-analysis: learning your strong and weak sides
If you have already decided which objectives you have on your plate, it's time to find out - are you capable enough to pursue them? Conveying SWOT analysis may help you since this method defines your strengths and opportunities while keeping in mind your weak sides and threats. It gives you a balanced and honest vision of your personality, so you can evaluate whether you're ready for a new challenge or need more time for self-improvement.
First, write down your strengths: they could include excellent soft skills, creativity, problem-solving skills, and everything else you've mastered. These are the allies you can rely on at hard times or use to climb higher. The next step will be defining your weaknesses: here goes fear of public speaking, laziness, communication difficulties, and whatever holds you back. Considering these weaknesses will help you decide whether you can manage your ambitious plan.
Then think about your opportunities: do you know a few languages? Or maybe you have good connections which could help you get a job in the company of your dream? Keeping these opportunities in mind may be helpful when you think about your next steps. At the same time, don't forget about your threats. For example, when you want to go head over heels into a new project, having a baby could be a threat to your career. Or if you've planned to move to another country, which may negatively affect your career progression. Considering these risks will help you evaluate whether your objectives are worth the effort.
Strategic areas of focus
The final stage of building a personal strategic plan is defining your everyday focus areas. Actually, your daily assignments matter for your ultimate purpose. The way you spend your day could show you what you'll gain later. So choosing a few significant focus areas will help you spend your time and efforts more efficiently. To keep pursuing your ultimate goal, you may highlight the main areas of your life: family, career, self-development, health, and so on.
Then it would be helpful if you found out which activities and accountabilities each area brings to your life. Are these areas balanced or not? If you notice that a career takes too much of your time, try to spread more of your time on self-care and family - burnout won't lead you to success. Choose three main areas you'd like to focus on during the next few years. If they align with your ultimate purpose, then you're on the right path!
Personal strategic plan: how it can look
Now let's see a particular example of a personal strategic plan that may help you achieve your ambitions.
Personal purpose statement:
I want to lead people around me by example, help them pursue their goals, and feel appreciated.
Long-term objectives with related short-term goals:
1. Build stronger relationships with my family, colleagues, and friends
- organize family dinners and trips;visit team-buildings, be attentive and ready to help
- invite friends at home parties and dinners.
2. Become a Lead HR-manager in my company
- hire at least five high-quality specialists
- support healthy company culture.
3. Grow my leadership skills
- enroll in public speaking courses
- convey a corporate event and make a speech.
4. Create an educational course for beginners in HR
- choose a platform for a course;gather educational materials
- ask for guidance from famous HR professionals.
Tips on how to make your personal strategic plan work
All plans and strategies look brilliant on paper or in your mind, and you may think there's nothing more straightforward - just make a plan and stick to it. Though, the reality is a bit different. You should build a certain mindset if you don't want to forget about your personal strategic plan after a few weeks. We have gathered practical tips which could help you make your plan work.
Write your strategic plan on paper and keep it on your devices
Writing your goals is the main step to accomplishing them. A study has found that people who describe their plans vividly are 1,4 times more likely to fulfill them. And keeping your written plan at hand will assist your encoding - biological process of analyzing and remembering tasks. Duplicate your plan in the app you're using as a reminder and where you usually keep notes. That way, you can continuously align with your strategic plan and adjust it if needed.
Pursue your risks
The safest plan isn't necessarily the best for your growth and career. You can't calculate all risks and make sure everything will go as planned. Then why don't you try pursuing them and grow your courage? You're always more capable than you imagine, and a personal strategic plan will show you that! Identify your vulnerabilities and start working on them by taking on new challenges. At some point, you will notice that your fears melt away as you become stronger and more capable.
Get an accountability partner to stick to the plan
Sticking to the plan is the most complex challenge you'll face on a self-development path. Research shows that 80% of people who make goals at the end of the year drop them after two weeks, and it works for all kinds of plans and strategies. You need solid willpower or external support to keep pursuing your goals. Getting an accountability partner may help you! It's a person who supports, coaches, and provides feedback on your performance. This person could be your colleague, friend, or partner with an unbiased view and a good knowledge of your personality.
Include only goals and tasks that are under your control
Unrealistic goals can be the worst evil of your strategy. If your plan is full of tasks that depend on other people's will, you may find yourself running in circles with no result. You will be stuck with them, which may eventually make you drop the strategy. So make sure that you can accomplish every goal and task in your plan yourself or with little help.
Evaluate your progress
An essential part of a successful strategic plan is stable performance and progress review. So every few months, take some time to look at your progress, review the accomplished tasks, and see what you could do better. Don't forget to reward yourself for minor successes - you may take a retreat day or watch your favorite movie in the cinema (whatever makes you feel better). That way, staying on track will be easier and more pleasant for you.
- Survey Finds Two-Thirds Of Americans Do Not Have A Plan For Their Life (2017)
- Six Reasons Why Your New Year Resolutions Don't Work (2022)
- Join The Global Productivity Movement (2020)
- 4-Step Action Plan To Strengthen Your Personal Skills (2021)
- Create Your Personal Strategic Plan (2022)
- How To Create Your Personal Strategic Plan And Align Your Actions Toward What Is Most Important To You (2020)
- Neuroscience Explains Why You Need To Write Down Your Goals If You Actually Want To Achieve Them (2018)
- A Study Of 800 Million Activities Predicts Most New Year's Resolutions Will Be Abandoned On January 19: How To Create New Habits That Actually Stick (2020)
- 5 Steps To Succeed With An Accountability Partner (2021).