Every business has, or should have, a strategic plan. It endows the business with the fundamentals from which to exist and grow.
In its simplest form, a strategic plan means realizing an organization’s ultimate goals.
Strategic planning should not be mistaken for a business, or operational, plan. Strategic planning has enduring effects on a business, while business or operational decisions are short-term or day-to-day in nature. Any strategic plan, or any plan for that matter, must be followed by real and sustained action to achieve its objectives.
Typically, a strategic plan consists of the following steps:
o Analyze the environment,
o Establish objectives,
o Analyze specific circumstances,
o Select alternative options and strategies,
o Implement, monitor, and adapt the plan.
This is a proven, time-tested model of founding, managing, and growing a business. Does this plan apply only to business? Absolutely not!
Let’s look at individuals. Many people create their career plan and then adapt their lives to those plans. They then get all caught up in day-to-day operations of their jobs and their lives and lose sight of the big picture. That’s why, often times, they find it difficult to discover a balance in their lives.
By conforming your life to your business or career, what you’re really doing is expending massive amounts of time and energy managing your life. You’ve almost created another job or business (full- or part-time) for yourself.
What you wind up doing is constantly “finessing” your life to fit your job, and I’m not talking about the economics involved in the type of lifestyle that you’re able to sustain with your career. I’m referring to defining and creating a life and lifestyle in support of your values, beliefs, and goals – first, and then planning your career or business around that strategy.
I’m advocating developing a thoughtful design for your life – a strategic lifestyle plan – that delineates what you most want out of life.
How would this strategic lifestyle plan look given the typical 5-part business model? Let’s have a look:
Analyze the environment – Look at what’s going on in your life. Look at how you live – the external factors like how many hours you devote to work, family, friends, and yourself, and the internal factors like how well you think you’re handling your life right now.
Establish objectives – What do you want out of life? Do some soul-searching here to determine your goals, desires, needs, values, and priorities.
Analyze specific circumstances – Look at your inherent (essential) values, extraneous (non-essential) values, and lifestyle (things you want in your life).
Select alternative options and strategies – Circumstances and needs (financial, career, family, friends, solitude, developmental, leisure, health, and spiritual) change over time, and at various stages of life. Be ready to flow with things and changes.
Implement, monitor, and adapt the plan – Take action and remain flexible. Live the life that you choose.
Living a life in support of your values and beliefs – implementing and taking action on your strategic lifestyle plan – will keep you focused on what’s most important to you, thus allowing you to live the life that you choose , both personally and professionally.