Personal Strategic Planning

At the end of the year, we turn inward and consider New Year’s Resolutions. This reflection can be powerful, but let’s face it, it is often superficial. Life isn’t about losing another 10 pounds, running a marathon, or finally learning how to play the guitar. While those things might bring you a measure of satisfaction, they are not life altering. (Well, maybe the marathon is, but that’s a whole other article.)

About this time each year I sit down with my wife and update our long-term personal plans. We have our own Personal Strategic Plan. We credit this plan with keeping us on track, allowing us to spend time at the beach and in the snow, achieve professional goals, and keeping us happy together after 22 years of marriage.

I also invite our employees to do the same and to share the aspects of their plan that apply to their job. This creates a powerful place to develop people and align their work life with the rest of the their lives. Everyone loves it when you show that care about them and want their whole life working. Plus, it really boosts retention. Fulfilled employees are happy and productive employees!

Here are the key questions I like to ask when wrapping up the last year:

  1. What are all the great things that happened over the last year? Look through your calendar, your photo streams, and maybe even review your social media timelines.
  2. Where did you succeed and what are you proud of?
  3. What setbacks, breakdowns and disappointments did you have?
  4. What regrets do you have?
  5. Do you need to apologize to anyone? Do you need to thank anyone? Is there anything else you need to communicate to be free and complete with the last year?
  6. The next step is to look 10-20 years into your future. How old will you be? Where do you see yourself, your family, your parents, and your kids?

What would you like your life to look like in that year?

Think about how you want your relationships, family, friends, fitness, health, spiritual practices, hobbies, your home, work, and your finances to look. What accomplishments and regular traditions do you have in that future?

Now, considering this long-term vision, what should the next year look like? What will you be doing in all those areas at this time next year? How will your actions over the next 12 months advance your goals for 10-20 years from now? Just a little movement forward towards your future goals in each area is all you need.

Next ask yourself what new habits and routines do you need to start in the first 90 days of this next year to hit your goals for the end of the  year? What can you start doing and, sometimes more importantly what do you need to stop doing? A few small changes, sustained over time, will yield big results in the long run.

Once this plan is complete, share it with the important people in your life. Your partner, other family members, and even some parts with your boss, board, or team. By doing this you will bring the various parts of your life and your plan into alignment with your goals.

The very last step is to set up a system to remember the new habits and actions for the next 90 days and beyond. Book recurring times in your calendar for things like:

  • Date night
  • Family time
  • Exercise
  • Health practices
  • Spirituality
  • Friends
  • Hobbies
  • Fun
  • Personal finance
  • Etc.

These times and reminders may need adjustment to ensure that they are at the right times, frequency, and duration to keep your life in balance and on track. Don’t be afraid to make a change to your design. And don’t lose sight of this inspiring future!

A worksheet for Personal Strategic Planning

A video tutorial on Personal Strategic Planning

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