Personal Strategic Planning Can Change Your Life
Not many years ago, a friend confided that she was less than thrilled with her life -- especially with her career. This came as a surprise to me since she was a young, up-and-coming professional earning a good salary. However, she confessed, her real dream was to become a doctor. This is probably not a career her college science professors would have recommended; she had not done well in their classes.
Three years later, after completing the required pre-med science courses (going to school at night), she was in med school. Four years after that, she was a doctor. She is now living her dream.
Why was she successful? She had a compelling dream; she worked hard; and, she had a personal strategic plan.
Example of Personal 5-Year Strategic Plan (high-level view)
I hope this example will make it easier for you to understand the purpose of each step in the planning process. The partially completed strategic life plan above is for an individual; however, the process works equally well for a family.
The above "mind map" was produced using SmartDraw (click on diagram to expand it); it supplements the discussion below. Here's the same plan using a more traditional format. (again, click to expand.)
Personal Strategic Planning Starts with Your DreamsLet's assume that as you dream about the future you'd like to create 5 years from now, you decide that
three of your important dreams are:
- I will have a sound, long-term strategy for managing my financial affairs, have my finances under control, and be on track to have $1,000,000 when I retire!
- I will have a healthy life-style, striving for the presence of good health -- not just the absence of sickness and disease.
- I will be a Group Project Manager for my current company or a company in a similar industry.
Remember, this is just an example. Your actual plan might well include more than three dreams (e.g., what about family? friends? fun? etc.). You might even have an overriding "life vision." (For more detail on this part of the planning process, see Discovering Your Vision.)
Examples of 5-Year Personal GoalsAfter you have developed and analyzed a list of your strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats, you begin writing personal goals that you need to achieve in order to realize your dreams. Below is an example of four goals you might develop for your financial vision.
Financial Dream/Vision: I will have a sound, long-term strategy for managing my financial affairs, have my finances under control, and be on track to have $1,000,000 when I retire!
- Reduce my on-going credit card debt to ZERO, and keep it there.
- Develop & implement an annual budget, saving 10% of my salary.
- Build an emergency fund that will cover my basic/required expenses for 6 months.
- Develop my initial retirement plan to retire with $1,000,000!
Again, these are just examples. There could well be additional goals that you need to achieve in order to realize your financial dream. Your actual plan would include goals for your other dreams as well.
Adding Strategies to the Personal Strategic Planning ExampleThe final step is developing strategies for achieving each of your personal goals. For example, you have decided you would like to save 10% of your salary, but how are you going to do that? What do you need to start or stop doing in order to save that money? That part of your plan might look like this:
Goal: Develop & implement an annual budget, saving 10% of my salary.
- Buy Quicken or Microsoft Money this month to help with tracking expenses and budgeting.
- Track all expenses for one month to figure out where my money has been going and establish a baseline.
- Do a budget for the remainder of this year, then every December for the following year
- Start giving myself a weekly allowance (and sticking to it)!
- Begin doing monthly spending reviews to stay on track
Your actual plan would include strategies for your other goals as well.
That's All There Is To It!All you really need for your plan is 1) a list of your dreams, 2) the key goals you need to achieve to realize each dream, and 3) the steps you need to take to accomplish each goal -- written in any format that you're comfortable with.
Start Planning to Realize YOUR DreamsIn just 2-3 hours, you can have a workable personal strategic plan that will include your dreams, goals and strategies. You can have a description of your dream future, and the key steps you plan to take to make that dream a reality -- a plan that could change your life!
How about you? Are you still dreaming of a better life? If so, click here and start PLANNING for a better life.
Posts In The Core (3-Step) Personal Strategic Planning Series:1. Discovering Your Vision -- the FIRST STEP in the planning process.
2. Identifying SWOTS (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities & Threats): creating the information that you will use to develop your goals & strategies.
3. Creating Your Personal Strategic Plan: using SWOTs to develop your goals & strategies and write your plan.
Some Additional Personal Strategic Planning Posts
Creating a Mini-Personal Strategic Plan: taking about 1/2 hour to create a plan for just one important area of your life.
A Career Planning Approach: a modified process that focuses on career
Note: For a nice schematic that shows the relationship between all of the planning posts, see Personal Strategic Planning Schematic
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