Many clubs evaluate their strategic objectives each year. Personally, we often think of the upcoming New Year as a time to set resolutions and treat them as personal strategic plans. According to US News and World Report, a disappointing 80% of New Year’s Resolutions fail by February. While this may seem like a discouraging statistic, take into consideration the process of making a New Year’s Resolution—are you coming up with something arbitrary at 11:59 as the clock counts down like “wake up smiling every morning,” or are you approaching your resolutions strategically?
Creating a personal strategic plan is the key to setting yourself up for success in the new year. Let’s take the ever-popular New Year’s Resolution of losing 20 pounds before summer and use this as an example as we work through the personal strategic plan process.
Rediscover Yourself– conduct a personal SWOT analysis
Think of these questions and see what 3-5 common threads appear once the questions have been answered:
Are you satisfied with your work and life right now?
What are your strengths? Weaknesses?
What can you do capitalize on your strengths? Work on your weaknesses?
Are there opportunities you can create or capitalize upon?
What will happen if you don’t take action on these opportunities?
Are there any threats of which to be aware and how can you mitigate them?
In our weight loss example, by going through a SWOT analysis we might find that we find work very fulfilling but extremely busy and stressful, and working out and meal prepping has taken a back seat to relaxing on the couch re-watching Game of Thrones and thinking about exercising. You are an expert multitasker at work, and the opportunity here is to find a way to multitask in your personal life. Perhaps watch Game of Thrones while running on the treadmill (and visualizing yourself being chased by White Walkers)?
Develop Your Plan
Now articulate your personal mission, vision and values. Write them down very specifically and in a meaningful way.
Write your vision as if you are already there. This is your “North Star” for making decisions.
Your mission is your purpose. This is what you do day in and day out to achieve your vision. I think about it like a road map – I am here (at my mission) and I need to get there (my vision). What path will I take? In what time? With whom? What will I need? Etc.
In our weight loss example, your plan may look something like this: I am determined to lose 20 pounds by Memorial Day weekend and in order to get there, I need to consume 1500 calories per day and exercise 30 minutes per day five days a week, or a cumulative 150 minutes per week. My friend will hold me accountable by agreeing to attend at least one exercise class with me per week. I will make a strict effort during the week to limit my caloric intake so as to ensure that on weekends I am able to indulge.
Prepare Your Goals and Objectives
Now, define your priorities and eliminate excuses. Priorities should be in line with your values.
Let go of your old story so you can write a new one. No matter how much you learn from the past, it will never tell you all you need to know for the present.
Don’t let ‘victim mentality’ capture your thoughts. The problem with victim mentality is that we slip easily into victim mentality when we try to get exactly what we want in less than ideal circumstances. Often, we aren't even willing to consider any choice other than the ideal choice. When we are in victim mentality, we don’t see the range of choices we have, and we wallow in resentment.
The solution to eliminating our victim mentality is to start by accepting the reality of, and taking responsibility for, the situation, instead of trying to achieve the ideal. Find the best choice available within the reality of the circumstances by turning your focus outward.
For example, your goal to lose 20 pounds by Memorial Day should be a goal that hinges on your progress rather than making excuses for why setbacks happened. In this scenario, setbacks provide learning opportunities to managing your diet, exercise and time management.
You are now ready to THINK FAST, and ACT FASTER throughout the year because you have set your path intentionally.
Align for Execution
Align your actions and priorities by developing an action plan that supports your priorities, very specifically. What will you do? By when? How will you know when you’ve achieved success?
In the weight loss example, make sure your goal is specific: lose 20 pounds by Memorial Day by exercising a total of 150 minutes per week, limiting caloric intake and consuming a balanced diet. You know that you have achieved success when you can wear the jeans you haven’t fit into since high school.
MONITOR and EVALUATE your progress.
Check on your plan regularly and adjust as necessary. In doing so, ask yourself the following:
What’s on track? Which plans need attention?
Am I tracking to achieve my priorities?
If you experience important life or work changes, do they require you to make changes?
Perhaps in your journey to lose 20 pounds by Memorial Day, you find yourself traveling a significant amount for work and no longer can attend your weekly fitness classes and stick to your diet plan. In order to keep on track with your fitness goals you download an on-demand fitness program that you can execute in your hotel room and you pack healthy on-the go meal options for breakfast and lunch and you limit snacks so you can enjoy business dinners with minimal guilt.
Don’t forget to CELEBRATE YOUR SUCCESS
Lastly, when you reach your goals by working your strategic plan, don’t forget to celebrate success for a job well done. It’s important not to dismiss achievement with ‘I got lucky’ or ‘it was nothing”, etc. Take credit for the outstanding job you did pre-planning, goal setting and execution of the plan!