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
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:
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
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.
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.