Nix New Year Resolutions: How to Write a Personal Strategic Plan Instead
Are you a “new year, new me” type of person? Well, there’s nothing wrong with that! New year resolutions help some of us reenergize, revive our goals and move forward with a charge of optimism. But as holiday celebrations and champagne bubbles start to fizzle, so do many of our new year resolutions. It’s up to us to keep grinding toward our goals long after the newness wears off. Writing a personal strategic plan helps me maintain momentum.
What is a personal strategic plan? A strategic plan, in general, is a document that outlines what your objectives are during a particular period of time, as well as what resources and activities are required in order to achieve those objectives. All businesses or organizations (should) have a strategic plan. Some span 3-5 years and others may focus on a 6-month or one-year period. I decided to take the experience I gained working on strategic plans for nonprofits and small businesses to help create a tangible vision for my own personal development. Here’s how I approached it.
1) Figure out what legacy you want to leave.
I believe that people who can articulate what impact they want to make on the world are better equipped to lead a fulfilling life. When you know what motivates you at a foundational level, it gives you a framework for choosing activities and pursuits that ultimately serve that mission. At the beginning of last year, I answered the question about legacy for myself in three bullet points:
- I want to be a thought leader in culturally and socially responsive branding
- I want to be a leading strategist for authentic relationship-building between organizations and audiences, using impactful visuals and stories
- I want to champion empathy, vulnerability and emotional transparency as the foundation of cultivating confident leaders
2) Divide your plan into categories to make sure it's holistic.
My go-to categories include physical wellness, emotional development, intellectual growth, and professional progress. Under each of these categories, I list target goals and specific activities that will help me reach them. For example, under professional progress, my goal this year was to learn 2 new creative skills. The activities I chose to support that goal were to take a 6-week evening course at a local creative academy and to teach myself new software through practice and online research. Done and done!
3) Build in benchmarks and check-in points.
None of us can predict the way a year is going to go, despite how much planning we do in advance. Sometimes plans go awry or our trajectory changes for any number of reasons. Give yourself benchmarks to make sure you’re progressing toward what you set out to do. But once per quarter, take a fresh look at your vision for the year and allow space to revise your plan. A personal strategic plan is a tool to make sure we’re proactive about our growth, not a rigid set of guidelines. It’s only as valuable as it is authentic. So, prioritize what feels right in your gut instinct, but try to ground everything in your own personal mission. Even when your tactics or resources fall out of whack, your legacy should be your anchor.
I’d love to know what some of your biggest objectives are for 2018. Drop a comment and share!