Develop your personal strategic plan

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I love the hum and buzz around New Years: the awe-striking resolutions, the zest to have the New Year be the best year ever. The atmosphere is always filled with such hope. Waking up to a new year is undoubtedly a blessing. Everyone loves a fresh start, whether to right the wrongs or to continue in their exploits. I have often thought that the world would be a much better place if people maintained the same can-do spirit they have at New Year, don’t you? I mean; what if everyone lived out their resolutions! Unfortunately, the majority of us are guilty of losing track of our resolutions and goals somewhere between one New Year and the next.

2023; this narrative needs to change. There is that saying about doing things the same way and expecting different results, by Einstein; was it? Breaking it down: a resolution is basically a goal and every goal needs a strategy for it to be realized.

Personal Strategic Planning
I imagine many that will be reading this article have been involved in strategic planning in different organizations. Organizations develop strategic plans so as to remain on course and allow for the tracking of progress toward goals. For those that may be new to the concept, strategic planning is about analysis: i.e., breaking down a goal into steps, designing how the steps may be implemented, and estimating the anticipated consequences of each step, according Henry Mintzberg’s article ‘The rise and Fall of Strategic Planning’ in 1994.

We can develop personal strategic plans in order to have a way to assess ourselves through the year to see what was achieved, what wasn’t, why it wasn’t and what can be changed in order to achieve it the following year or strategic phase. In the words of Dorothy Canfield Fisher (an educational reformer, social activist and author), “If we would give, just once, the same amount of reflection to what we want out of life that we give to the question of what to do with a two weeks’ vacation, we would be startled at our false standards and the aimless procession of our busy days.”

Steps to developing a personal strategic plan
The science and art of strategy formulation remains constant, whether it is for an institution or for an individual. These are some of the questions that would guide your personal strategic plan:

  1. Who am I?
    This is not necessarily a definition of who your entire self is comprised of; that is too wide a spectrum. However, you should be able to define your core values and the things that matter most to you. Perhaps it is family or health or honesty or career or faith, what comes first for you.
  2. What am I trying to achieve?
    After determining who you are, then you decide what you want to achieve:

    • Vision – The overall goal.
    • Mission – This indicates how you will achieve the vision.
    • Objectives and expected outcomes – It is critical to breakdown your vision into short-term, mid-term and long-term objectives and also to identify the associated outcomes which will act as key performance indicators (KPIs).
  3. How will I effectively achieve my goals?
    This is the meat of any strategic plan; answering the question “HOW?” Just like for institutions you can perform a SWOT and PESTEL analysis on yourself. It is prudent to involve another party that knows you well enough to establish issues like your strength and weaknesses accurately. The assessment of external factors is also paramount to know how they relate to your strategy; identifying externally induced challenges and opportunities. It is also helps to consider the past and learn from internal reflections and experiences.
  4. How will I measure progress or need for change?
    Many strategic plans die on the onset of implementations. In fact many organizations are never sure how far along they are implementing their strategic plans, and how well or badly it is going. This is because of lack of monitoring and evaluation frameworks. Establish timelines for every objective and be sure to follow the timelines, measuring success by the KPIs or expected outputs for each objective. You could decide to sit and evaluate your strategic plan implementation bi-weekly or so, see how your progress has been, and what may need to be changed. Alternatively, you could establish an accountability system, with a friend or family member and hold check-ins meetings every so often.

It is absolutely fulfilling to see through a strategic plan and much more a personal strategic plan. Think about it by December 2023, you could actually have the answer to, “Where did the year go?”