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Last Updated on November 26, 2020

How to Start Setting Strategic Goals for a Successful Life

How to Start Setting 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 can take care of everything and help you get to where you want to go.

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.

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, aim to achieve over a period of time, usually three to five years[1]. They are long-term goals and often emerge when you engage strategic thinking or undertake a strategic planning process.

Perhaps, what differentiates setting strategic goals from other types of goals is that they are based on strategic responses 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, the environmental scan and SWOT analysis are two important tools you can utilize in your evaluation. Although these tools are primarily used in business strategy, 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 affect your success and future, as well, and you need to track them to be successful. 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 share and 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 stands for Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats[4].

SWOT Analysis for Strategic Goals

    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 and objectives towards making the needed changes.

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    Identify Strategic Issues for Strategic Goals

    Strategic issues are issues that 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.

    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.[5]

    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 around them.

    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. 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 develop an action plan. It will help you influence others as you become attractive and noticeable. It can also earn you a promotion at work.

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

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

    If you have identified a lack of self-confidence, you can set a strategic goal to boost your confidence by reciting daily personal affirmations, reading books on personal development or attempting things that scare you.

    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 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 posture, 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 be 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 a 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 study in that area so that you can acquire the requirements by the time such an opportunity presents itself.

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    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 a skill-gap in your analysis, it’s about time to set strategic goals to acquire or develop those skills.

    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 definitely requires some strategic planning 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 for the next three to five years, so that you can confidently say that no aspect of your life is suffering as a result of the other.

    Now that you know some examples of strategic goals, check out this video to learn more tips on how to achieve them:

    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 potential and limitations, as well as 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.

    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 January 15, 2021

    6 Ways to Finish Strong (When Your Momentum Is Low)

    6 Ways to Finish Strong (When Your Momentum Is Low)

    There are times in your life when you will have to define a path to achieve your goals. These are moments to decide how you will push through to finish strong.

    Will you give up or give it all that it takes? Will you bring all your energy and skills to bear or provide an excuse? The only person that possesses the power to choose your response is you.

    It may sound impossible anytime you hear the phrase “finish strong.” This is because your natural tendency would be to settle for the status quo or accept fate, and when you are facing life’s biggest challenges, you may face the temptation to quit or compromise your standards.

    The story of Tyrone Muggsy Bogues will inspire you. He lived in abject poverty while his father languished in prison. He was hit by a stray bullet at age five and grew up to be 1.6m tall[1].

    All these challenges did not deter him from becoming the shortest player in the history of the National Basketball Association. Tyrone had 6858 points, 1369 steals, and 6726 assists all through his NBA. career. Just like Tyrone, you should not allow life challenges to stop you down from finishing strong.

    Here are some fun facts to buttress why you need to push through the end:

    • Most of the points scored in football occur a few minutes before the game ends.
    • The last seconds in a race determines who wins as every runner wants to give the most effort.
    • You work harder when there are deadlines to meet.

    Here’s more proof of why the finish is highly significant. People rate the quality of life higher when it ends better, not minding if it was short. This is often called the James Dean Effect[2].

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    These five proven steps will enable you to finish strong if you already have goals you want to accomplish.

    1. Write Your Goals Down

    A study revealed that people who write their goals down have an eighty percent chance of finishing strong[3]. You can create a Goal Journal or adopt the S.M.A.R.T goal technique.

    Don’t forget, your goals have to be:

    • Specific
    • Measurable
    • Achievable
    • Realistic
    • Time-bound

    While it might look like an additional task to write down your goals instead of storing them in your memory, there are more sides to it.

    Two things happen when you write something down:

    You are documenting the goals on paper, which makes it easier to assess and audit in the future. Neurologists believe you will recollect visual cues more compared to non-visual cues.

    Furthermore, you are encoding those goals as they travel to your brain’s hippocampus, where analysis takes place. From that point, sorting happens. Some goals are stored in your long-term memory while others are discarded. Writing facilitates the encoding process, so write down those goals!

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    2. Break Your Goals Into Milestones

    Breaking down goals into small bites will help you celebrate your small victories. You need that momentum to finish strong.

    For instance, if you are writing a book, you can:

    • Write the book concept or blurb
    • Conduct keyword and content research
    • Create an outline
    • Write the content
    • Edit and proofread
    • Format and publish
    • Market the book

    Establishing milestones provides you a clear format that will help you not burn out when working on your goals. Moreover, milestones are those actions you need to take to finish strong.

    A study conducted by Gail Matthews shows that those who write their goals have a 33% chance of actualizing them compared to those who only have their goals in their brain[4].

    3. Build Momentum

    As I stated earlier, you need momentum to finish strong. You can gain momentum when you meet each of the milestones. In his book, Darren Hardy recommends consistency as a sure way to generate all the momentum[5].

    How do you build momentum by being consistent? Hardy recommends five actionable steps:

    Establish a Morning Regimen

    According to Hardy, you may find it hard to take charge of your mid-day, but you can determine how you start the day and end it. Therefore, design your rise-and-shine routine. Do your Most-Important-Task (M.I.T.) in the morning.

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    Morning routine to finish strong

      Create an Evening Schedule

      Hardy defines this period as when you cash out on your day. It is a moment to assess if you have accomplished all you wanted to that day. You can ask yourself these questions:

      • Which items do I need to carry over to the next day’s M.I.T. list?
      • What item on my to-do list is still relevant?
      • Which of the tasks do I need to cancel?

      Restructure Your Routine

      It can be boring doing the same thing over a long period. Therefore, inject some excitement into your plan. Visit the park, prepare new food, or take a short, online course. Shaking up your routine will naturally assist you in building momentum.

      Keep a Log of New Habits

      Track new behaviors and log the number of times you perform them. That way, you can compare your goals with the outcome.

      Avoid Negative Self-Talk

      What you say affects how you finish your goals. Positive self-talk is a time-tested method to set goals and follow through. Any time you doubt your ability to finish strong, respond with positive affirmations.

      Do not bow to negative pressure to give up. Control your thoughts, and do not permit external forces, such as fears and doubts, to control them. Here are ten positive affirmations to help you finish strong.

      5. Find a Mentor or an Accountability Partner

      You need all the support you can find to stay the course. A lot of successful individuals attribute their success to the influence of a mentor or an accountability partner.

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      The right mentor will offer you insight, advice, and connections to help you finish strong. A mentor’s role is to guide you on self-reflection and help you ask self-discovery questions.

      Here are ways to maximize mentorship:

      • Be curious: Ask questions that provoke deeper thoughts.
      • Be honest: Feel free to share your challenges and be open to feedback.
      • Be punctual: Be timely and stick to appointments.
      • Be specific: Establish what you want from the relationship.
      • Be respectful: Respect should be mutual. You should respect the boundaries set by your mentor, and your mentor should do the same.

      You can read more on How To Get The Best Out Of Mentorship.

      Bonus Tip: Engage the Self-Awareness Technique (S.A.T.) to Finish Strong

      It is not enough to be an enthusiastic starter; you must also be an optimistic finisher. What is self-awareness? Self-awareness is getting in touch with how you feel and think. It could also mean connecting to your core values and beliefs to live a life that aligns with them.

      Self-awareness can help you figure out your strengths so you can focus on them. It also helps you discover your weaknesses. The moment you accept what you can’t achieve, you will bring together all of your strengths to achieve what you can.

      An HBR report confirmed that when you have a clear picture of yourself, you can be more confident and unleash your creativity. You will also build long-lasting relationships and communicate better[6].

      Final Thoughts

      As you assess the aspects of your life, you need to finish strong, take time to study your past achievements, and apply the lessons to the last phase of your present pursuit.

      Always remember, you have all it takes to finish what you started.

      More Tips on Completing Your Goals

      Featured photo credit: Ethan Hoover via unsplash.com

      Reference

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