Let’s Play Ball
In honor of the start of baseball season, we are going to put on our brilliant strategic ball caps and get our strategy game on. By the way, go St. Louis Cardinals! This is your year.
When it comes to strategizing, it all starts with a plan. If you don’t know where you’re going, how do you really expect to get there honestly? I mean, you might get there by accident. You may get there eventually by pure luck or maybe after 222 illegal u-turns after going the wrong way too many times. But is this the way you really want to get to your destination? Or do you want to get to your destination in the most efficient and effective way possible?
Learn From The Lion
I know I want to get to my destination, to my vision and my goals, in the most effective and strong way possible. I want to enter like a lion on the prowl with my GPS targeted on my prey. And I’m coming in hot and strong with full knowledge of how I’m arriving too. Because the lion knows exactly where it’s going when it’s stalking down its target. Those lionesses, they have a well thought-out plan when they are tracking down their dinner for the night. They absolutely do. That is life or death for them. Failure to plan literally means failure to eat and death out there in the African Safari lands.
So it may not be as extreme as life or death for us here in America (thankfully). But it certainly can be. If you’ve ever been out of work, needed to slay some debt like we discussed in the last podcast Debt Slayer or just needed some major boost in income, it can certainly feel like it’s sucking the life out of you. So the first step of any good strategy is developing a plan!
The Strategic Planning Process
So let’s talk about the planning process. The planning process can look many ways depending on what you are trying to accomplish and your unique personality. Read the blog or listen to Goal Digging for help with establishing goals.
I am personally a fan of setting a vision or setting overall intentions before deciding on how you will actually reach those targets. I know this can stress people out, but I feel strongly that the first step of a plan should be just setting a vision without necessarily knowing how you will achieve that vision.
We all have our own unique visions or destinations or purposes (whatever you want to call them) in life that we want to achieve. And this vision must come from you, and you alone. It can not come from anyone else. I know sometimes it can be hard with all the hustle and bustle of everyday life to actually know what the heck you want to achieve or where you want to land for your destination. I totally get that.
Finding Your Vision
If you are struggling with understanding your personal vision or intentions and are feeling a little lost in this area, I highly recommend taking 10-15 minutes per day to meditate or clear your mind.
I know this can sound a little strange at first or may take you out of your comfort zone, but try a free meditation app to help guide you. Or just go for a walk in nature. What you are trying to accomplish is to really unplug. You know, just not think about anything except existing in the present moment.
Do this each day for a week or so, and you’ll notice a huge difference in how connected you are with yourself and your inner guidance. There is just something magical about it, I can’t say it any other way. Just try it! What do you have to lose? Then do some soul searching, and I think you’ll have a clearer picture of what direction you want to go with your goals.
Once you have your vision clear in your mind, it’s time to develop a strategy and a plan to conquer and reach your vision.
Creative Strategic Planning Guide
First up in the strategic planning process is what I call the Creative Strategic Planning Process. This creative planning consists of the following:
Throw A Brainstorming Party
During the brainstorming partay, just let your brain go wild on how you can achieve your vision. Don’t put any limitations on yourself or tell yourself no. Throw everything against the wall to see what sticks in this session. If you have some trusted friends or a mentor, invite them to this party to get their ideas as well. The more ideas the better! It doesn’t mean you are going to use them all. But the more ideas and the more collaboration you have in the brainstorming session, the more options you will have to choose from down the line when you are choosing your final strategy.
Complete a SWOT Analysis
The SWOT Analysis is a common practice used by businesses across the world in the strategic planning process. It is an acronym for Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats.
So the first two letters of the acronym which are Strengths and Weaknesses are internal, meaning they come from within YOU. So the S questions: What are your strengths? What are you really good at that you can capitalize on? And then the W asks: What are your weaknesses? What do you need to be aware of that you’re not so great at which could possibly hurt you on your quest?
The next two letters of the acronym are external forces that are a little more out of your control. With the O and the T, you must determine the following: What are your opportunities and what are your threats? You will often need to complete some research to fully understand these outside forces. So for example if you are looking to switch careers, you would look for career opportunities by checking online or through social networking outlets. A threat could then be high existing unemployment numbers in the economy.
So the last practice I’m going to cover in the creative planning process is scenario planning. Think of this type of planning as “if-this-than-that” type planning. This requires thinking a few steps ahead and determining a game plan for events which are likely to occur in the future. You don’t want to “what-if” yourself to death with this because you can’t control everything.
However if there is a likelihood or risk for certain scenarios to take place based on your SWOT analysis, it is a good idea to plan ahead for those possible events. This way you are already prepared in the event the scenarios happen. You will be ready to swing for the fences when the curve ball comes in because you were expecting it. If you don’t plan ahead, the curve ball can come in and strike you out. So be proactive and have a game plan ready for likely risks and scenarios.
Once the creative planning stage is over, it’s time to analyze the data and then make a decision on the best strategy you believe will get you to your desired destination. Listen to the prior podcast Complex Decisions if you need added help with the decision making process.
Write It Down With Deadlines
Once you’ve made your decision on your strategic plan based on all your creative planning, you must write it down! Writing it down holds you accountable to actually executing your plan. Because a great plan doesn’t mean much until it’s brought into action.
The best way to hold yourself accountable is to write down your plan with each action step you plan to take to accomplish your goals. Then assign each step a deadline. For example if your strategic plan involves getting out of debt and step one is calling your bank for advice on debt consolidation, then write this as your first action item with a clear deadline next to it.
Remember you want to stretch yourself with your plan by going outside of your comfort zone. The deadlines should also be realistic, but somewhat aggressive. Get competitive. Challenge yourself and seize the momentum of your creative planning process! If you put your actions off for too long, life can easily get in the way, and you can lose your focus. So stagger your deadlines so not to overwhelm, but make sure you are still consistently working towards your vision.
Get Outta Here With The Negativity
Also ensure you are aligning your mindset with your strategic vision that you want to accomplish. Discard any old thoughts which are not serving you and your strategic mission, including any nasty self-talk like you are not good enough. You are good enough. You were born good enough, and you will always be good enough. Period. So get that nonsense out of your mind.
Unfortunately expect to receive plenty of negative talk from other people around you. There will be nay-sayers who are 100% going to tell you that you can’t achieve your vision. They will even happily provide you with a laundry list of reasons why (thanks, but no thanks…ick). Some of these negative energy vampires are even going to be people that you really care about. But are you going to listen to them? Let me go ahead and answer that one for you. NO. You’re not.
You are going to listen to your own inner guidance first and foremost. You are then going to find a mentor and/or support group of like-minded people who’s opinion you respect and who you genuinely know want the best for you. These are the people you can collaborate with, vent to when having a bad day or get advice from. Ultimately though you and your opinion are the best determining factor in what goes on with your own life and your own goals!
Just don’t be your own worst enemy. You are going to have plenty of negative people you’ll need to block or battle in your energy field. So it is absolutely necessary to at least have your own back and have faith in your own plan and vision.
This doesn’t mean you won’t need to be flexible with your strategic plan if the time calls for it. You definitely need to stay agile and open-minded. And if you need to adjust your plan, do so! Just make sure you are changing course because you feel it is the right thing to do, not because of someone else or because of fear.
Your Mindset Is Your Weapon, Use It Wisely
Remember our thoughts create emotions and our emotions drive our actions which then produce our results. So if you start feeling a certain way, trace the emotion back to the thought causing that emotion. Then determine if the thought is factual or legitimate; or if the thought needs to be replaced with a different thought to better serve your strategic plan.
Use your mindset as your arsenal to help you achieve your vision. It is your weapon. You can do it. I know you can! Where there is a will (and a plan, I might add), there is a way.
There is a powerful anonymous quote which states the following:
“The hardest battle you will ever have to fight is between who you are now and who you want to be.”
I’d just love to know who was able to write such beautiful, powerful words of wisdom.
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