Now is the time in the personal strategic planning process to take all the individual pieces and begin to put them together. Schedule some time to review your mission statement, your values, and your assessment results. Evaluate those items. What are your strengths? Where can you grow and improve? What would you like to change? What would you like to accomplish? What areas of your life need the most attention (i.e., finances, friends/family, intimate relationships, career, health, social/fun, personal development, home/work environment)? Be sure not to limit yourself as you answer these questions. Write your thoughts down in your notebook. Spend as much time as you need to flesh out each of these areas. We'll pare these ideas down soon enough, but you want to start by tapping into your ambition and creativity. There's no bad idea here.
Take your time and don't rush yourself. You may want to pick this task up multiple times over the course of a week. Try looking at it in the morning. Again in another afternoon. Try again in the evening and before you go to sleep. Give yourself as many opportunities to change your perspective and mood as possible. Give yourself the freedom to dream and stretch outside of your comfort zone. Work on it until you have exhausted yourself.
Now, go back through your notebook. Ask yourself the following questions:
- Which ideas are in line with my mission statement? (Highlight those ideas in your notebook!)
- Which of these are in conflict with the key values I identified? (Cross these ideas out!)
- Which of these utilize strengths that I have? (Underline these ideas!)
- Which ideas do you feel excited about pursuing? (Star those ideas!)
You may find that there are certain ideas that generate energy in you. For instance, you might be interested in obtaining additional schooling or training. Just thinking about learning something new may ignite something in you. You find yourself imagining the fun you'll have expanding your knowledge base. You might be catching yourself browsing programs online or exploring ways you'll be able to incorporate this new skill in your work. This is your energy building. It's an energizer.
Other ideas may have the opposite effect. For instance, you may recognize that you've outgrown your existing office space. You need to move, but the idea of moving just overwhelms you. The thought of finding another place, packing everything up, changing your address with all of your clients, etc. makes you want to run away - or at least push it to the back of the list. This idea is an energy drainer.
Evaluate your ideas in terms of how they impact your energy. This doesn't mean that you can't add an item to your plan that is an energy drainer - it just means that you'll have to figure out how to make that a task you will actually accomplish. For some clients, that means they will put that item at the top of their priority list. For others, it means they will need to build a good reward in it for them or find a way to reframe the idea so it is more appealing.
Now that you've studied your ideas through all of these different lenses, it's time to pick your priorities. What do you want to accomplish this year? Make a list. Ensure that whatever you put on your list is able to be accomplished within this year. If it's on your list, it should fit with your values and your mission statement. Pick things that are important to you. Things you are motivated to accomplish. Things that will give you joy. When you've finished this list, review your list as a whole. Could you accomplish all of this in a year? If not, pare it down a bit. You may need to only tackle parts of a task. Or you may want to wait and put something on your list for the following year. Try to be as specific and detailed as you can be in your list. Make it very clear what you want to accomplish. We'll be using this list to write your strategic plan.
You're only two steps away! And the great news is that the hard work is already done. Now you just have to organize the information and get to work on it. Reward yourself for being more than halfway through the personal strategic planning process. The investment you are putting into yourself is priceless.
This post is the fourth in a series of posts about personal strategic plans.