A lot of report work has characterized my last few days in office as I look forward to the December holidays. Board briefs on performance through the year, budgets and projections for the coming year and such. Every other organization does this at such a given time. As the year ends, I also find myself regularly reflecting on who I have been, what I have managed and failed. The challenges I have gone through and the lessons I have learnt in the process.
I was reading an assessment manual for a project I have been doing in the past few months when it occurred to me that I could formulate some questions that could reflect on personal assessment. Five short but very wide questions that can really help measure my progress and define my way towards something I intend to become, have or realize …
- What has been your greatest success this year? Have you been successful in meeting your (business, personal, professional) goals? What specific examples can you provide?
- What has been you biggest challenge this year? How have you adapted your professional or personal practice to meet and overcome this challenge? Do you feel you were successful? Why?
- What has provided you with the greatest joy in your (life/ work) this year? How have you found your (life/ work) enjoyable?
- What lessons have you learnt in the past one year with regards to business, personal life and professional life respectively?
- Where do you go from here? What is next for you as a (business, personal or professional) challenge for next year? Look ahead and predict what type of goals you would like for yourself in the one to three or five years.
After these questions are answered, it means that one has to come up with a Personal Strategic Plan or whatever one may choose to call it. Great companies do it every year. Top executives consider its maintenance among their top activities. Top-performing departments do it in addition to whatever the company comes up with overall. Successful individuals do it almost without thinking about it. What is it? ; Strategic planning. Corporations practice strategic planning to provide a greater return on equity. They want to make sure all departments and employees are utilizing their time and activities in a way that will return the greatest amount of profit. Personal strategic planning then is a method used to ensure that you are utilizing your time and activities in a way that will return the greatest amount of energy, or life experience.
This requires that as individuals, we imagine for a moment that our lives are a business. Your goal should be to get the highest return possible on the investment of yourself in everything you do. Your time and energy are your personal equity. A business wants to maximize how it invests its equity, because in business, everyone knows and understands that equity is limited. We have only so much. Isn’t the same true of our personal time and energy? So it makes sense then, that we need to strategically plan how our investments are being made, so that we can maximize them to get what we want.
- You must know and have defined your values. What are your core beliefs? What matters most to you? Every institution that understands what it requires to realize a certain target requires core values.
- Second, you must have a personal mission statement. You need to know your ultimate final destination.
- Third, you must have clearly defined goals. For me, this is a constant work-in-progress. Why? Because I’m human and constantly changing my mind!
Don’t try to strategically plan a goal that you’re not perfectly clear on. It’s not ready. You’re not ready. Strategic planning is for all your goals that you know in your gut are what you want. The other ones will happen in their own divine timing. You’ll eventually make up your mind, and you can strategically plan it then. Once you have defined your values, written your personal mission statement, and clearly defined your goals, you’re ready to begin strategic planning. First, you must set the scene. A lot of companies will take their executive team to a nice retreat center to do their annual strategic planning. I suggest you take a clue from them and do that, as much as possible, for yourself. If you can’t go away for the weekend, plan to do your personal strategic planning on a day where you can really pamper yourself.
The overall purpose, and how this will help you most, is to get you started on your true path for this life experience. You won’t necessarily know all the steps you’re going to take. As corporate do; they plan as if the company will go on forever, because it may very well outlive all of them – and that should be what they’re hoping for – to continue the company’s mission beyond their lifetime. They plan for the next year, five years, and maybe 20 years, and they come out of that session knowing what they’re going to do on a daily basis to make each day as productive as possible. Personal strategic planning ensures that your days are full of purpose. As said, “Dream as if you’ll live forever. Live as if you’ll die today.” Strategically planning your dreams either makes them come true, or helps you enjoy the ride.
A certain quote from a certain TV Sitcom goes like; ‘There comes a time when every life goes off course. In this desperate moment you must choose your direction. Will you fight to stay on the path while others tell you who you are? Or will you label yourself? Will you be honored by your choice? Or will you embrace your new path? Each morning you choose to move forward or to simply give up.’
So, after boring you with so much of what I’ve read (Debra Moorhead), experienced, imagined, thought… I need to embark on finding my way towards a better personal path… will you?
Well, Have a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year ahead… there is every likelihood I will not be writing here till the new year… Be blessed.