Some people like to take stock every year on their birthday. For others, it's the start of the school year in the fall. For most of us, though, it's the beginning of a new year that prompts us to look back at what we have-or haven't-accomplished and set goals for the year ahead.
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It works for huge corporations, so why not develop your very own strategic plan. Here’s how to do it.
Block off time. Set aside a time when you can avoid interruptions and tap your best energy. You may even want to treat it as a retreat and go somewhere peaceful, quiet and relaxing for a few hours.
Start from your mission. Many people benefit from a personal mission statement. If you don't want to go that far, make sure you're clear about the activities and people in your life that you hold most important. The closer you tie your evaluation and planning to those things, the more effective you can be.
Get your bearings. Map out the key elements of your life-examples might be career, health and fitness, personal relationships, parenting, finances, learning, or spiritual practice. For each area that you identify, consider where you are in relation to where you want to be. That distance separates short-term and long-term goals.
Plan big. For each area, identify specific objectives. Then think about the actions you can take to move closer to those objectives and the milestones you can set along the way. Some will be things you can do immediately, others may take many years to achieve.
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Break it down. Looking ahead over the next three months, decide which area or areas you want to focus on and how much you want to challenge yourself. You may want to focus on a short-term goal that will energize you, or balance short and long-term goals. Whatever you choose, start making detailed plans to complete the first actions from your list.
Establish accountability. Set up a system to keep you checking in on your progress. It may be a friend, family member, or mentor who you can recruit, a web or phone app to log daily action, or just a time set aside each week to reflect.
Schedule a follow-up. Turn your calendar to mid-March and book a time when you can begin repeating the process.
However or whenever you go about it, you can always benefit from incorporating the elements of a successful strategic plan: assess your mission and vision, create goals and objectives, make a schedule for next steps, build in accountability, and arrange follow-up evaluation and planning.
Happy New Year!
Jeremy Kingsley is a professional speaker, best-selling author, and the President of OneLife Leadership. Jeremy holds bachelors and masters degrees from Columbia International University. He is the author of four books, his latest is titled: Inspired People Produce Results (McGraw Hill 2013). Jeremy lives in Columbia, South Carolina with his wife and two sons.