Creating Your 2014 Personal Strategic Plan

End-of-year is a great time to work on (or update) your personal strategic plan. If you’re not convinced, consider for a moment the benefits of having a well-thought out plan to help guide your life over the coming year. Some people have no plan and are passive spectators as their lives unfold before them. Those with a plan have more clarity about where their lives are headed; their plans provide an anchor for them to connect back to when things change and new opportunities appear.

Needless to say, planning’s a hot topic – think career planning, financial planning, retirement planning, family planning, vacation planning.  A personal strategic plan usually encompasses some of these things – you decide what you want to include in your plan.

To craft your plan find time over the coming weeks to break away from your day-to-day duties and responsibilities and dream about the coming year and what you want from it.  Begin by Clarifying Your Values: what do you most value in your life. It’s easy to get stuck on family, happiness, and good health (all good values!). But I’d encourage you to continue to push further; what else do you truly value and want to be sure you honor in the coming year? Consider things like leadership, close relationships and connectivity, recognition and/or influence, time freedom and/or flexibility, life/work balance, growth, challenges, wealth, service, meaningful work.

Then, Create Your Own Mission Statement based on the values you want to honor. Your written statement serves as a clear guide to the kind of person you intend to be in the coming year. Your statement shouldn’t be a radical departure from who you currently are, just a guiding statement that you can anchor back to throughout the year.

Next, Do a Personal SWOT focused on you. What is a realistic analysis of your personal strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats?  Who could provide you with some honest input about your strengths and weaknesses?  What’s the forecast for the coming year’s economic realities? There are lots of good SWOT (planning) resources. Check out this Harvard Business Review blog on another way to approach your SWOT process: http://blogs.hbr.org/2007/03/from-swot-to-tows-answering-a-readers-strategy-question/.

Finally, Clarify Your Goals and Determine What Support You Need to stay accountable to your plan. I’ve written previously about the suggestion of not setting specific goals; rather clarifying the path you will take to get the results you want: http://hbswk.hbs.edu/item/6114.html

See what works best for you in terms of setting goals, but most importantly, create a living, breathing plan. Refer back to it frequently, including when the going gets tough, and allow for modifications, depending on what 2014 brings.

I’d like to hear what works best for you. Do you currently have a personal strategic plan? What obstacles can you remove to ensure you have one, and use it, in the coming year?

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