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The Boomer Bulletin - 2012
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Developing Your Personal Strategic Plan

Posted By Sandra Wiley, Monday, May 7, 2012

Life is like a book, the phases you go through are the chapters that define who you become.  Developing the chapters of your life can be a rewarding and exciting activity if you develop a plan and follow the process.  Let’s walk through the process of developing your Personal Strategic Plan.  Much like the strategic plan that you develop for your firm, the personal strategic plan will allow you to turn your hopes and dreams into reality.  The first step in your planning process is the D.O.S. analysis.

Dangers, Opportunities and Strengths (DOS)

Create a list of the Dangers, Opportunities and Strengths in your life right now.  Think big and broad, not just about work and your career but about your health, financial situation, family, community, faith and any other part of your life that is important to you.  Start by making a list of these various categories and then write the dangers, opportunities and strengths you have in each area.  Organize the information you develop in a way that is most comfortable for you.  You can use 3x5 cards, a spreadsheet or a word document. The important part of this exercise is to think deeply about yourself and be completely honest. The graph below should assist in the categories you consider. 


The 20 Year Vision

As you analyze your Danger, Opportunities and Strengths, the next step is to visualize your life twenty years from today.  Write down how old you will be in twenty years.  After you gasp and frown, then think about what you would want to be true when you are that age.  How much money do you want to have?  How is your family unit functioning?  What are you doing in your community?  What is your health status?  What is the status of your career? Develop the list of what you believe will be real at that time in your life.  This vision is imperative to writing your own future.  Each of these statements of your future will lead to development of your "today goals”. 

Today’s SMART Goals

The next step is to create goals for today that will lead to your twenty year vision.  Have you ever felt like your life just happens and you are just along for the ride?  This feeling is created when there is no plan or goals in place.  For each of your twenty year dreams, you want to identify the 2-3 major goals that are the keys in that area. These should be challenging, yet feasible, goals that, when accomplished, will make that dream a reality! As you develop your goals, insure that each are:
Stretching (challenging),
Measurable (so that you know whether or not they have been achieved)

Don't try to create a perfect plan -- especially if it's your first one. If you're comfortable that you have a plan that will help you, go with it.

Focus Your Plan

If this is your first personal strategic plan, keep it simple and focused. Don't spread yourself too thin. Initially, try to limit yourself to at most 3 focused areas, picking one as your priority, until you've had some successes.

Create a summary version of your plan to help you focus; it should be no more than one page. Typically, a great place to start is by having a summary plan that includes your twenty year vision statements on the right side of the page and the today goal for that vision statement on the left side of the page.   The left side is your roadmap for today.  

I also encourage you to print two copies of your plan, one to post in your office and one to carry with you.  Keep the plan in front of you every day.  You may not actually read it each day, but studies have shown that writing goals, and revisiting them often, will ensure that you build the future that you are planning and allow you to thrive on your successes.    

The Dream Board

Another good tool for reminding yourself of your dreams, especially if you are more visual, is a Dream Board. The idea is to create a collage of pictures of your dreams -- pictures that evoke the feelings you will have when you achieve your dreams. This can be a very powerful tool. You want at least one picture for each dream. You can include pictures for some or all of your major goals as well.

In the old days, the primary source of pictures for dream boards was magazines. Now, images are easier to find on the internet.  Some people mount their pictures on poster boards; some use a bulletin board and some use entire wall.  Whatever will work for you to see your dream is the objective for this exercise.  

Get Help!

Don't be afraid to get input from other people. People you love and trust can often give you insights into your strengths, weaknesses and possibilities that escape you. 

No man is an island! To be the person you ultimately want to be will require help from others. In the business world, these are called "stakeholders" -- others that are somehow involved in the successful implementation of your plan. Get their perspectives on your plan. Get their feedback and encouragement, it can be invaluable. In addition, sharing your plan with others can help you increase your own commitment to your plan.

Success Requires Action

The plan is just your roadmap; you still have to make the journey. Remember, a plan is only part of the reason why people are successful. You still need HARD WORK. There are no magic bullets. 

To help you transition from planning to action I suggest you consider a calendar, and weekly/daily to-do lists if you are not already using these tools. Simple to-do lists can be kept using paper and pencil, a smart phone app, or your computer.  Don’t make this complicated, use your current time management system and incorporate your personal goals into your system.  

Update your plan yearly; typically, this will mean making minor changes at the strategy level rather than at the goal or dream level. Re-do your plan from scratch as you approach the end of the planning period – about every 5 years.

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