According to Wikipedia, Strategic Planning is an organization’s process of defining its strategy, or direction, and making decisions on allocating its resources to pursue this strategy. Businesses, utilize strategic planning tools to lay out their visions, missions, long and short-term goals, as well as all the steps that would need to be taken care of, in order to achieve all, they have documented.
Even though strategic planning tools were developed to guide businesses, in the right direction towards their organization’s goals, it is worthy of note that individuals can also adopt this same strategy to achieve their life’s goals. The way to go about this is to come up with a strategic plan, which is a written document that demonstrates the direction you need to go, in order to achieve your goals.
Very too often, we all set out with goals for ourselves, but may be disappointed to find that at the end of every year, we were unable to make reasonable progress towards them. While the feeling may be somewhat disappointing and frustrating, it could be a pointer to the fact that, we may not be going about it the right way. And in this article, I propose the application of 2 strategies, in order to give more life and power to your goals.
- Make sure your goals are SMART
- Specific: Instead of going about and setting several goals at once, it may be more efficient to set specific goals. If your goal is gigantic with several parts to it, it may be more worth your time and resources to break them down into tiny pieces, and then prioritize them based on their importance. That way, you can focus on accomplishing one specific part of your goal, per time.
- Measurable: Setting goals without a measuring instrument or checks and balances, may just be akin to a ride in a roller coaster. i.e., you may find yourself just going around in circles, if you do not have tools in place to measure your successes or failures. Every sustainable goal, must have a way for it to be validated frequently, otherwise, your efforts may end up in futility yet again. For example, you could decide the yardstick to use to measure your progress after every quarter of the year.
- Achievable: No matter how ambitious your goals are, they should be achievable. Meaning they should have the potency or capacity to be attainable. For example, you can not say you want to fly into space, if you have never gone to space training school, or even learned how to fly a spaceship.
- Realistic: Your goals should be sensible or practical enough with the ability to be achieved. They should be reasonable, rational, logical and plausible. For example, with no prior knowledge of engineering, I cannot have a goal to build an aircraft. That would be impractical and unrealistic. Therefore, setting goals with some form of credibility, stand a better chance of becoming successful.
- Time-Based: Your goals should be bound by time. You should not set goals without time targets, or with infinite end dates. Your goals should have a start date, and a plausible end date. If you set open ended goals, without time points to them, you may end up not achieving anything, yet again.
2. Carry out a SWOT Analysis: Now that you have your SMART goals documented, it is time to evaluate the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats to its success.
- Strengths: What are the strong points you have going for you? What positives can you draw upon to inch you closer to your goals? Your education, skills, career, family support etc.
- Weaknesses: What are the weaknesses that may affect the success of your goals? What factors do you need to work on to convert them into strengths? Do you need a better education? Do you need more financial support? Do you need to take a new loan? Do you need to change your location? These are some questions you may have to ask yourself depending on your peculiar situation.
- Opportunities: What opportunities do you have around you to bolster your ride towards achieving your goals? Have you done a critical review of all the circumstances, scenarios or actions that may make achieving your goals more plausible? Remember that there are always opportunities around us. It just takes the extra patience and insight to really see and appreciate them.
- Threats: What are the things that could pose as threats to achieving your goals? A bad or toxic relationship? A demeaning work environment? Self-doubt or lack of self-confidence? A failing health, bankruptcy or bad credit score? These are things you need to evaluate, so that you can begin to take the necessary steps towards fixing those that are amenable to being fixed.
In wrapping this up, strategic planning is not only god for businesses; it is also a useful means to help individuals achieve their goals. Be pro-active about your goal setting, rather than reactive. It is better to be prepared with the right tools on hand when setting your goals, by making sure they are SMART, and by conducting a thorough SWOT analysis, to increase the chances of success. Remember that, “if you do not plan to succeed, you may fail to succeed.” I hope you will take the next best steps in making sure that your most cherished dreams come to pass.
To your continued success. Cheers!!!