“Always focus on the front windshield and not the rearview mirror.” ― Colin Powell.
Planning is for the future. It’s about building on what we have achieved in our life to date. So our strategy is to look ahead and to visualise what the future holds for us. To identify the new knowledge and skills we will need to thrive in it. To plan how to kit ourselves out with these attributes now.
Our present and past form the foundation for us to build the future on. It is about getting from here to there. At the heart of strategy lies the ability to analyse our progress to date. To visualise the future and the part we wish to play in it. It is not just more of the same. But about climbing up to a new and different level of performance. Lets reach for the stars.
Writing a good strategy is a lot easier than it sounds. You just need to answer the five questions below. These questions build on each other to form a series of steps. Steps you can use to write a strategy that works for you.
Strategy Question 1: What is your broad aim for the future and what concrete goals will measure your progress?
Examine how well you are using your intelligence? Is it helping you to get what you want in the key areas of your life. Just how well are doing in the physical, mental, emotional and spiritual areas? And what can you do to improve your performance in each of these areas? Then pick a number of things you need to work on in each of them. To improve your performance now and in the future.
This will give you the broad areas you need to work on for the future. Now you need to set yourself concrete goals to measure the progress you make in each of these areas. A rough draft of these goals will do for now. You can refine them later in the goal setting section.
Strategy Question 2: In the possible areas available to you what will you choose to work on and not to work on?
Score each item on your list on a scale of 1 to 10. To help you do this you may need to think through each of them. For example, under Physical Intelligence you need to think about what you want to develop and why. And where you expect it to lead you to.
Do this in all the areas and you will begin to get a better feel for what you really want to do with your life. When you have worked through all the areas list them in order of preference. Then move on to Question 3.
Strategy Question 3: In the areas you choose to work on how do you plan to move forward?
Identify how you will work in each of the areas you have chosen. How will you develop better knowledge and skill? Get better results? Move satisfaction? And higher levels of achievement?
This analysis should help you to home in on the key area of your choice. When you have narrowed it down to one or two options/ Go back to Question 1 and complete it. Then complete Question 2 and Question 3.
Strategy Question 4. What capabilities do you need to build and keep up to date in your chosen area?
Identify the knowledge and skill you need to acquire to lift your performance. Be as specific as you can. Because you future is going to depend on it.
Strategy Question 5. What Personal Development Systems are necessary to build these key capabilities and to use, maintain and update them?
Your answer to this question is the final piece of the jigsaw. For your strategy to work your answers to all five questions must be consistent. They must build on each other and fit together well. And reinforce each other.
Example of a Personal Development strategy.
1. I love the idea of the four intelligences. Physical, Mental, Emotional and Spiritual. To learn more about them I plan to read Stephen Covey’s The 8th Habit from Happiness to Greatness.
2. In the meantime this first draft is based on how I understand them now. A. Physical Intelligence: 1. Become physically fitter. 2. Eat a better diet. 3. Control the amount of alcohol I drink. 4. Get my weight down. 5. Be healthier. 6. Have a greater sense of well-being.
B. Mental Intelligence. 1. Develop both my verbal skills and my writing skills. 2. Analyse problems in greater detail. 3. Learn to understand both people and things more clearly.
C. Emotional Intelligence. 1. Learn how to be more sensitive to others needs. 2. Become better at relating to other people. 3. Deal more effectively with my negative feelings.
D. Spiritual Intelligence. 1. Identify my personal values and learn to live by them. 2. Close the gap between what I think and what I say.
While all this analysis takes time to do. It is a great investment. And you will reap the benefits of it for years to come. It helps you to build your strategy in small steps. And to refine your answers to the five questions until they fit well together. As a result you will have a really good strategy.