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Last Updated on June 16, 2020

How To Set Strategic Goals For A Successful Life

How To Set Strategic Goals For A Successful Life

There are different types of goals that you can set in your quest to become successful in life. However, when it comes to taking a leap, changing status, identifying opportunities, maximizing possibilities, and surmounting obstacles, Strategic goals are the kinds of goals that can take care of everything in the bottleneck and help you move from your current state to wherever you desire to be.

Strategic goals produce strategic results and these include attaining positive change and repositioning of your life and status, gaining competitive advantage, achieving optimum performance, and living a balanced life, etc.

In this article, I will share some insight into the thought process that leads to setting strategic goals, and how you can develop and make use of strategic goals to boost the key areas of your life. You will also find specific examples of strategic goals for your personal development.

What are Strategic Goals?

Strategic goals are specific objectives and results that you as an individual aims to achieve over a period of time, usually three to five years [1]. They are long term in nature and often emerge when you engage strategic thinking or undertake a strategic planning process.

Perhaps, what differentiate setting strategic goals from other types of goals is that they are based on strategic response to some identified opportunities or challenges. When you want to make a new move or make major changes in your life, what you need are strategic goals.

How to Plan for Strategic Goals

In the strategic planning process, Environmental scan and SWOT analysis are two important tools you can utilize in your evaluation. Although these tools are primarily used in business, they can be applied to your personal situation as well and will be very helpful to you in setting your strategic goals for success.

Environmental Scan

Environmental scanning is an ongoing tracking of trends and occurrences in an organization’s internal and external environment that bear on its success, currently and in the future [2].

The results of this scanning are said to be extremely useful in shaping goals and strategies.

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As an individual, internal and external situations affects your success and future too and you need to track them to be succesful. Your internal factors include your strengths and weakness. You have control over these two and you can utilize, manage or improve on them for your own success.

Brian Tracy highlighted 9 factors that can influence your personal success, they include education, skill, contacts, money, good work habits, positive mental attitude, positive image, creativity, and character.[3]

Other factors that can affect your success also include market trends, economic outlook of the country you live in, government policies, advancement in technology, family situation, social influence, etc.

You need to study these factors and review how they impact your success and progress positively or negatively.

Personal SWOT Analysis

The SWOT acronym stand for Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats.

Maximizing your talents and opportunities and managing your weaknesses and threats can boost your success rate in life. The personal SWOT analysis will help in ordering your thinking and give you different perspectives about your life. It will also help you to identify areas where you need development.

How to Set Strategic Goals

When you have identified the areas mentioned in the previous section, you will then be able to set strategic goals towards making the needed changes.

Identify Strategic Issues for Strategic Goals Setting

Strategic issues are issues that their presence or absence can contribute to your success or failure, or are capable of affecting a needed change in your life. When you carry out an environmental scan and SWOT analysis, you will be able to identify strategic issues and goals towards the end of the process.

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These issues and goals usually come from strengths to be built on, weaknesses to be strengthened, opportunities to be taken, and threats to be avoided.[4]

Clarify Strategic Priorities to Set Strategic Goals

From your analysis, there is the likelihood that many issues will come up. Also, you might find that some of the problems are urgent, while some are important. Therefore, to be able to come up with more definite strategic goals, it is better to focus on the important issues.

These important issues will represent your strategic priorities. When you know what your priorities are, you will be able to set your goals based on those priorities and create strategies based on your priorities.

Examples of Strategic Goals for Personal Development

To illustrate examples of strategic goals for personal development, I will assume that you have taken the environmental scan and SWOT analysis, and you have also been able to identify the issues of importance due to the gaps you have found and what you need to get to the next stage of your life. These have now become your top strategic priorities, say over the next three to five years.

For example, your strategic priorities for your personal development for the next three to five years can be the following and they can be turned to strategic goals:

  • Develop Self-Confidence
  • Boost Personal Image
  • Advance in Education
  • Acquire More Skills
  • Achieve Work-Life Balance

1. Develop Self Confidence

Whatever it is that you do, exuding self-confidence is crucial to your personal success. Having self-confidence can help you perform to your highest potential as it gives you the energy and confidence to take action. It will help you to influence others as you become attractive and noticeable. It can also earn you a promotion at work.

Plus, you’ll be more positive and make better decisions. Other than that, you will be more productive and be happier.

The lack of self-confidence can bring apathy. You will be unable to take the necessary actions that can lead to your success thus missing out on great opportunities.

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If you have identified a lack of self-confidence, you can set a strategic goal to boost your confidence through daily personal affirmations, reading books on personal development, relating more with people who exude confidence, attempting the things that often scare you, and probably also taking the 100 days challenge .

2. Boost Personal Image

Like self-confidence, the way you appear to other people says a lot about you and your chances of success. Paying attention to personal grooming; how you look and what you wear can boost your personal image and open more doors of opportunities for you. There are specific ways to dress for success. You can achieve this and still be on a budget.

Besides dressing, you will also need to learn other attributes like wearing a warm smile when meeting people, giving a firm handshake, practice good walking steps, carriage etc. All of this will say much about your self-image. When you consciously develop this habit over an extended period of time, it becomes part and parcel of you.

3. Enroll for Professional Masters Degree or Doctorate

There is no end to learning and education is key to success at any stage in life. No matter how confident you are, there are some opportunities you will never able to access if you do not have the required academic qualifications.

In your analysis, you might have identified some opportunities in your industry which you have not been able to access as a result of lack of qualification. It may also be that you sense that some new opportunities are emerging in your industry and the technical skills are not readily available. It could be your strategic goal to take an advanced study in that area so that you would have gotten the requirements by the time such an opportunity presents itself.

A woman once took a study leave at her place of work to earn a doctorate in a reputable institution. She had sensed that there would be an opening in a tenure-based office in her organization and she was interested in that position. She got her degree around the same time the office became vacant. She applied and got the job.

What a strategy! It may not work out for everyone like that but in her own case, it did.

4. Acquire More Skills, Develop Existing Ones

Skills are one of the most important assets that determine success in life. Skill-gaps limit growth, productivity, and opportunities. If you have identified skill-gap in your analysis, it’s about time to set strategic goals to acquire or develop those skills.

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Some of the skills you’ll probably need most are problem-solving skills, creative thinking skills, management and leadership skills, IT skills, and communication skills. Acquiring and developing any of these skills will require some training, reading, learning, and conscious practice.

5. Achieve Work-Life Balance

One of the markers of a successful life is balance. Attaining work-life balance in this ever busy world would definitely require some strategic planning which revolves around time management.

You have to allocate time and resources to every important aspect of your life: work, family, health, social life, spiritual life, etc and stick to your schedules as much as possible. This can be a long time strategic goal to work your way through such that in the next three to five years, you can confidently say that no aspect of your life is suffering a result of the other.

The Bottom Line

Climbing the success ladder in life requires strategies. In order to make strategic moves, you might have to carry out an environmental scan and SWOT analysis to identify your potentials and limitations and also identify the opportunities around you.

This analysis will open you up to issues in your life that require attention in order to become more successful. You will then be able to set your strategic priorities based on the issues you think are most important to you.

This then forms the basis for your strategic goals which you can set to achieve over the next three to five years.

More Goal Setting Tips

Featured photo credit: Estée Janssens via unsplash.com

Reference

More by this author

Leon Ho

Founder & CEO of Lifehack

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Last Updated on August 4, 2020

How to Make Time Go Faster When You’re Having a Bad Time

How to Make Time Go Faster When You’re Having a Bad Time

Standing at the front of the room, your heart is pounding as people stroll in, and you’ve been up since 5 am rehearsing. You’ve spent weeks preparing for this moment. Your slides are perfect, and you’ve memorized your talk.

As the clock shows 9:30, you begin with a customary “good morning” and then zilch. Nothing. Your mind goes blank. Suddenly, time seems to stop. Everything goes into slow motion, and you can feel your face begin to burn.

For anyone who has done presentations in front of a live audience, freezing at the wrong time is a nightmare waiting to happen, and when it does, if feels like time has frozen. The feeling of helplessness drags on, and you just wish the clock would fast forward so you can escape from the nightmare.

Of course, the reality is that time does not speed up or slow down. Time is constant; only our perception of passing time changes[1]. This is a good thing, too. What is happening is that your fight or flight response is kicking in, and you have become hyper-aware of your situation. Your brain is recognizing you are in danger and responding in the best way it knows how.

This perceived slowing down of time is an illusion[2]. It is your brain creating and processing more memories of your current environment and searching out the threat it has detected. It’s searching for the predator that has decided you look like an exquisite meal, and it is doing this incredibly fast — much faster than it typically would. It is how we protect ourselves, and, in most cases, it is a beneficial response.

However, in many cases, it can be torturous to be in this situation, feeling helpless and frozen and being hyper-aware of our unfortunate situation. So what can you do to speed up the perception of time?

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1. Have a Backup Plan

If you cast your mind back to the situation at the start of this article, your brain has frozen and your carefully crafted words are lost somewhere inside your head: What do you do? Most people panic, and, despite their careful preparation and rehearsal, one part they did not rehearse is when or if something goes wrong.

Freezing on stage can happen to even the most seasoned presenter, and having a script or a set of queue cards on hand can quickly refresh/reboot your brain to get you back on track and avoid the torturous feeling of being in a slow-motion crash.

Steve Jobs was a very experienced presenter. One of the best. Yet even though his preparation was meticulous — often taking as much as six months to put together a keynote presentation — things still went wrong. In this famous clip of a keynote Steve Jobs gave back in 2010, the WIFI network was very slow. When you watch the clip, it feels like it goes on forever, yet it only lasts around two and a half minutes. For a presentation that lasted about two hours, two and a half minutes is around two per cent. Not at all long, yet for Steve Jobs and the audience, the whole incident felt a lot longer.

Fortunately, as a seasoned presenter, Steve Jobs broke the tension and the feeling that time was slowing down by using humor and eventually moving on to the next part of the keynote. He had a backup, and his backup was to quickly, and without fuss, move on to the next segment.

Always have a backup plan and an exit strategy. Be prepared for the worst and be ready to switch to your backup plan if things do go wrong.

2. Focus on What You Have Control Over

You have control over three things: your thoughts, your emotions, and your actions. Nothing else. You cannot control events, how other people judge you, or whether another person will get upset by what you say or do.

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Most bad days are a result of the way we react to something we have no control over. A client takes their business to your rival. You had no control over that. That was a decision your client made based on a set of circumstances and the way they felt about those circumstances. The only control you have in this situation is how you feel about losing a client. You could be angry; you might look around for someone to blame or for an excuse. But in the end, none of that will change the fact you no longer serve that client.

In these situations, always begin by reminding yourself about what you have control over. Are there any positive action steps you can take that will solve the problem? Are you allowing your emotions to influence your mood? Are you thinking negatively or positively about this situation?

In all these scenarios, you can instantly decide to change your thoughts, your feelings, and the action you take. You have to make that decision.

If you do lose an important client, and there is no solution, you can use the experience to learn. Use it as an opportunity to analyze what went wrong and implement changes to the way you do things that minimize the chances of a similar situation happening with your other clients in the future.

Dwelling on the loss will prolong your suffering, slowing down perceived time and making you feel dreadful. Using the situation to learn from your mistakes will help you to get back on track and keep time moving forward at a pace you are satisfied with.

3. Take Full Responsibility for the Situation

Accepting full responsibility for your life allows you to overcome adversity and difficulties. While a massive viral pandemic may not be your fault, what you do in the circumstances is your responsibility.

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Being in lockdown, where you must remain in your home, is something beyond your control (see number 2), but what you do with your time, how you manage your work, and how you maintain your health is your responsibility.

Governments may order you to stay at home, but what you do with your time while you are at home is something you are responsible for.

In these situations, you have a choice. Use the extra time you have positively, or pass responsibility for your life to the daily negative news cycles.

When you take responsibility for your life, you take back control[3].

Complaining about the situation only ensures you stay stuck in the same miserable place. Accepting responsibility for your life gives you so many more options.

You could take that online course you have been thinking about doing, or paint that picture you have wanted to do for years. You could clean out your old clothes, do the spring cleaning, or clear out your garage. There are hundreds of things you could do that, before this global pandemic, you always complained you had no time for. Now you do have time.

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Busying yourself with these tasks turns any bad situation into an opportunity, and time will no longer seem such a drudge; instead, it will feel like a godsend.

Key Takeaways

There are many inevitabilities in life. One of those inevitabilities is that you will have bad times. Dwelling on your lousy situation, complaining, and reliving the experience over and over will only cause time to slow down perceptually.

Accepting the inevitable, approaching it with a “cest la vie” mindset. and looking for the positives will soon pull you away from the difficult times and back to more fertile areas where you can thrive and grow, and time will begin to feel much faster.

More to Make Hard Times Go By Easier

Featured photo credit: Johnny Cohen via unsplash.com

Reference

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