Corporations do it. Entrepreneurs do it (well, some of them). Many successful businesses develop a strategic plan to help them get clarity and focus.
For years, I’ve been helping businesses develop their strategic plan. A few years ago, it occurred to me that you could have a personal strategic plan that would help you individually get clarity and focus on your own preferred future.
The world has become a complicated place in which to live. The past few decades have seen enormous, accelerating changes in:
- technology and social structure,
- the organizations in which we work.
We are faced with all the uncertainties and fears that come with not knowing what’s going to happen next; but knowing that, whatever it is, it will come very quickly and without warning.
In the midst of all this, we all have our hopes, our dreams, our aspirations; the things we want to do and the places we want to go. This is why it’s so important to make wise decisions about how we invest our time and energy. Why do you feel that there’s more to do than you can possibly do? Because there is more to do than you can possibly do. You must make choices. Often difficult choices.
It is imperative that we are doing the right things, every bit as much as doing things right. You’ve heard of the 80/20 rule — 20 percent of all activities will produce 80 percent of the meaningful results. What’s your 20 percent? What are the handful of activities that will produce the results that you want, that will make a difference, that will take you in the direction you wish to go?
This is what strategic visioning is all about. The purpose of this strategy is to identify those aspects of your business and personal life that require special attention. After all, you can’t do everything, so let’s get focused on those things where it is critical to produce results.
Set aside a couple of hours this month to contemplate your own Preferred Future for the next 3 years. Don’t get hung up on the small stuff. Look beyond today and this week and this month.
Picture yourself thirty-six months from now reflecting on your significant accomplishments of the period. What will have had to happen to make you happy with your progress? This helps us to answer the question we must ask ourselves each day — why am I doing this, is it taking me where I want to go with my life and is it helping me to become the person I want to be.
When you are establishing your personal strategic plan, it is very important that you write it down. I know, you may not want to put this in writing, but there are two compelling reasons to do it:
- The very act of putting your vision of your preferred future in writing
helps to clarify your thinking. Instead of floating around in your head, writing the personal strategic plan helps you to articulate it better and helps you to be more coherent.
- Written vision statements help trigger the Reticular Activating System (RAS). Your brain has an automatic filter (the RAS) that screens out most of the sensory overload that is imposed on us every waking minute of every day. The RAS allows sights, sounds, ideas, etc. to come through to your conscious brain if the RAS determines they are relevant. Relevant to what? Relevant to your currently dominate and clear thoughts. By writing your vision, you help your RAS to pass through to your brain important ideas, people, and other input.
For this breakthrough strategy, identify the six or seven aspects of your personal life that are seriously important to you. Generally, we see categories such as:
- spiritual journey
- social involvement
- intellectual growth
- financial health
In each of these areas, develop a crystal clear vision of where you are going with this. What’s possible. What does it look like when you’re living up to your best expectations in each of these areas? Describe as best you can what it looks like and what it feels like when you have reached the point in each of your key result areas where you are happy with each. Write in the present tense, as if it is already in place. This represents a picture of your future as you prefer it to be.
If you can articulate a clear vision of your preferred future, focusing on those areas that are important to you, that vision becomes the picture on the lid of your life’s jigsaw puzzle. That clear vision allows you to set goals in the direction of your preferred future. That vision provides motivation, energy, purpose and direction. It certainly helps you to communicate with the people around you.
Many people continuously work on personal tasks that are leading nowhere. I believe Thoreau could have been referring to those people when he wrote:
“the mass of men lead lives of quiet desperation”.
Many others have made financial objectives their sole concern and have paid a heavy price for their success – poor health, failed marriages, neglected friendships, no personal development in any area except business.
Financial success, no matter how great, can never compensate for poor quality of life. In the scheme of things, a properly functioning business is supposed to be the servant of a full and satisfying life that includes good health, close and loving relationships, an exciting spiritual journey, recreation, culture, and a powerful contribution to the community.
If you’re puzzled about how to thrive in the face of relentless, accelerating change, remember this breakthrough strategy. Develop a clear vision of your preferred future, then get laser focused on the key activities that will take you in that direction. You will see performance gains, you will achieve your goals faster and easier, you will have a happier, more satisfying life.
By developing and pursuing your own personal strategic plan, you will increase your energy, motivation, and your sense of satisfaction. In other words, your happiness. It’s your choice to make. Most people are as happy as they choose to be.
Get busy developing that for yourself… Get a Life!!
Gary Lockwood is Increasing the Effectiveness and Enhancing the Lives of CEOs, business owners and professionals.
Get the CEO Success Report at www.CEOSuccess.com
Get the Free BizSuccess newsletter – www.bizsuccess.com/newsletter.htm or send any blank email to subscribe@BizSuccess.com