Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Creating A Personal Strategic Plan

Creating Your Personal Strategic Plan

This post will help you create the document that could change your life -- your first personal strategic plan! Based on earlier posts, you've already described your dream/ideal future; your SWOTs have documented the obstacles that must be overcome to realize that dream, and the skills & resources you possess to overcome those obstacles. Now it's time to analyze your SWOTs and create a roadmap to the future you've dreamed of.

Your completed plan will contain your dreams, goals and strategies. It will list all of the critical goals that you need to achieve in order to realize each of your dreams. Not only that, it will remind you of the steps you need to take in order to achieve each goal -- what you need to start and stop doing, and by when. Finally, it will make clear why you need to take each step by linking each step to a goal and a dream. For example, you need to start giving yourself a weekly allowance (strategy), as part of your new annual budgeting process (goal), so that you can realize our dream of getting your financial affairs under control and retiring with $1,000,000!

SWOT Analysis

To get started, organize your SWOTs into groups, starting with one
group for each of your dreams. (Note: see Identifying Your SWOTs for a more detailed discussion of SWOTs.) Index cards are handy for this. Or, you can use a spreadsheet, as I do; this will also allow you to easily handle SWOTs that are relevant to more than one dream. Add additional groups as needed.

Setting Personal Goals

For each group of SWOTs, i.e. for each of your dreams, you want to identify the 3-5 major goals that are the keys in that area. These should be challenging, yet feasible, goals that, when accomplished, will make that dream a reality! You are creating a multi-year plan, not a to-do list. Therefore, typically, your goals should primarily include goals that will continue to be relevant for most or all of the planning period, plus, where helpful, major milestones along the way.

As you are writing your goals, continue to refine the dream/vision you drafted initially. Often this will mean making it broader. For instance, a financial dream of "get out of debt" might be broadened to "I will have my finances under control."

Creating Strategies

For your most important dreams, typically the ones that have a lot of SWOTs, you will want to repeat the process and divide the "goal groups" that you've created above into sub-groups in order to drive your plan down an additional level. Identify approximately 3-7 strategies for each of the more complicated goals following the same process as above -- just for the smaller area.

Double-Check Your Plan

Now, double-check your plan for each dream; make sure your plan addresses all of that group's important SWOTs.  For each dream, you want your plan to take advantage of your strengths & opportunities, to overcome the identified obstacles (weaknesses & threats), and get you on the way to realizing that dream.  There will probably be some stragglers, but try to include/cover all of the major SWOTs.

The finished document can be formatted as an outline (using, e.g., MS Word), a mind map (e.g., using a product from Google DrawingsSmartDraw or Mindjet), or any other format that you find useful. All you really need is a list of the goals that need to be accomplished to realize each dream, and a list of the steps you need to take to achieve each goal.


When you are through, you will have a road map to your ideal future. However, just as a vision is only a dream without a plan, a plan is only a possibility until you implement it. The plan is just your road map -- it's not the journey. But, it is a critical first step. And, as Confucius say, "A journey of a thousand miles starts with a single step." Good luck on your journey!

Now that you've developed your plan, it's time to implement your strategic plan!

Core Posts in the Personal Strategic Planning Series

Discovering Your Vision: the first step in the process.
Identifying Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities & Threats (SWOTs) -- the previous post in this series; developing the data needed to create your plan.
**This post**

Other Posts In The Personal Strategic Planning Series:

A Sample Personal Strategic Plan: An introduction/overview, with examples & sample formats.
Personal Strategic Plan Development - Optional tasks: Help with special situations/issues, plus some other enhancements.
Mission, Vision & Values: For readers willing to spend more time to develop a more robust foundation for their plan, or developing family strategic plans.
Creating a Mini-Personal Strategic Plan: creating a plan for just one important area of your life.
A Career Planning Approach an approach to career planning that is useful in other areas as well.
Do You Need a Personal Strategic Plan?: situations where PSPs are especially useful.
Note: For a nice schematic that shows the relationship between all the planning posts, see Personal Strategic Planning Schematic

The picture is from Public Domain Pictures.

Copyright © 2009. Last modified 7/26/2020

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