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Published on December 15, 2020

How To Create a Personal Strategic Plan That Aligns With Your Goals

How To Create a Personal Strategic Plan That Aligns With Your Goals

Creating a personal strategic plan is necessary to achieve your goals. Most companies do that. But for some reason, some talented, motivated individuals don’t. It makes no sense and yet, people broadly think about their goals but don’t create a personal strategy to achieve them.

In this article, I’m going to address that as it is one of the most critical single tasks you can do to change the course of your life.

Defining Your Personal Strategic Plan

Let’s start with the perfect example of John (pseudonym). As a child, he was never the best athlete. He played all of the different types of games, including football, baseball, and basketball. Guessing who it is yet?

At the age of 15, he tried to join the basketball team and failed. He was too short and managed to get in to carry the uniform of the star player. If you’re still not guessing it, you’re probably not a huge sports fan. The story continues as he continued to practice hard, waking up at 6 am each day, and after a year finally making it to the basketball team that lost the first three tournaments.

He continued practicing even harder and eventually became perhaps the most influential basketball player of all times—Michael Jordan.

You might argue that it is definitely a combination of raw talent and hard work for athletes. Still, no one can say that without practice and working hard for years on the same goal, this hard-working individual would have never achieved his achievements.

This is why it is crucial to define your strategy and then pursue it. It cannot guarantee that you’ll become a world-class athlete, but it can guarantee that you’ll have the best chances of getting to your goals with your unique set of capabilities. And we’re going to provide you with research-based proven methods of preparing your personal plan.

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What Is a Personal Strategic Plan?

According to an article in the Journal of Management Research, “effective personal strategy means being able to think in multiple time frames, clarifying what one is trying to achieve over time as well as what needs to be done in the short term to get there.”[1] In other words, it means setting a vision and a plan to execute it.

A growth mindset is essential when preparing a strategic plan. Otherwise, it wouldn’t be ambitious enough—and if you’re here thinking about your long term goals, it means that most chances are that you already have a growth mindset.

According to an essay in HBR (Harvard Business Review), “individuals who believe their talents can be developed (through hard work, good strategies, and input from others) have a growth mindset. They tend to achieve more than those with a more fixed mindset (those who believe their talents are innate gifts).”[2]

The main trait that is associated with success is planning. It is sometimes more important than talent.[3]

There are tons of methods for building your personal strategy, and I’m going to cover some of them. They all share an understanding of a high-level vision, a sense of your values, and practical steps on how to get there.

Horizons of Focus

David Allen is one of the leading time management specialists globally with his famous book Getting Things Done: The Art of Stress-Free Productivity. One aspect of time management is the understanding of what you need to get done. Some people tend to move forward in the younger categories without spending some time thinking about what they actually need to get done.

His method includes six horizons (including the ground horizon):

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Horizon 5 – Purpose and Principles

This is where you set your vision for life. Of course, this is a big thing that requires you to think about what you would be happy with accomplishing perhaps decades from now. Subquestions are which jobs, lines of industry, impact, and legacy are you interested in.

An excellent method to examine that is by using the “five why’s” process. In this simple method, you should ask yourself “why” to help you understand the real reasons for choosing your vision. =

For example: if you want to become a successful entrepreneur, you can ask yourself why’s that. If the cause is to make an impact, you can ask yourself additional questions, such as whether this is the best way to make an impact. If you decide that it is, you might wonder why you want an impact. Perhaps it is because there is something you deeply care about. That was a simple partial example of examining yourself and your vision.

Your vision shouldn’t be only on professional goals; it should be on every life goal you care about. A bad example would be: “to be the most successful businessman or woman ever!” It is not unique and does not address your inner wants and needs. A good one would be specific, non-generic for you and your personal goals.

By choosing a long-term goal specific for you, you can continue to the next step of figuring out how your new few years will be like.

The second part of this horizon is principles. By choosing your principles, you can re-examine your choices and see if they amount to your expectation from yourself.

Horizon 4 – Three- to Five-Year Vision

Now that you have clearly defined your goal in life, you can plan the next few years. Every ambitious goal takes time to accomplish and you should, on the one hand, plan how to get there and on the second, understand that flexibility is vital during these times as there are a lot of changes going on.

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This is when you decide on specific goals, such as career path. If you aim to be a writer and your goal is to become a columnist in the New York Times eventually, what would get you there? If your dream is to start a successful startup, what can you do to learn the right things to qualify you as a leading entrepreneur? And, if your goal is to be a world-class game designer, what should you do to get there. The examples can go on.

When considering the next specific moves you should take, it is always recommended to find a mentor to consult with. Someone you look up to and picture their life as ones that you would like to have. They are usually at least 10-15 years older and successful in achieving their goals.

What would be the next 3-5 years step to get you to your vision? This is not an easy question to answer. But broadly speaking, you should envision a road that can’t be 100% clear sometimes and still takes you in the right direction.

Horizon 3: One- to Two-Year Goals and Objectives

So, what’s the next year’s going to look like? Let’s say that you chose a specific career path. Now, you should focus on what would be the main criteria and key performance indicators that would help you get there. That may seem far from your vision, but visions are, by nature, sometimes a bit far.

If you decided that you want to be a successful entrepreneur in five years to impact climate change positively but you still don’t feel that you have the knowledge to do that, a first step might be working for a startup that’s doing that. And when you take a look at the first year of working for that startup, it might be a good idea to understand your job requirements and prepare to be excellent doing them. By doing that, you’re on the right path to your dream.

Horizon 2: Areas of Focus and Accountability

After learning what you need to in order to plan the next few years, we’re now getting to the important daily stuff. What are the primary few things that are important for your success in achieving your goal?

This is the part when you understand your day to day responsibilities and excel at making them. I’m not elaborating on that because it is very specific to each goal.

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Horizon 1: Projects

That’s the small stuff—the open loops of your goals that need to be achieved. One example can editing that company movie. Another one might be finishing that report. That can also be personal stuff, such as organizing the birthday party for your brother. You have tons of these, and every once in a while, it is suggested to ensure that they align with the higher-level goals you have.

After these add everything to your calendar, the last step is to actually—like the book’s name—get it done. You can use tons of project management systems, such as Monday, Asana, Notion, and others. In Notion, they actually have a prepared template for this suggested method.

Additional Methods

The above method is just one out of many. Another one is called V2MOM, and Salesforce’s founder invented it. The idea is to ask yourself 5 questions—some of them were also asked above, which would help you clarify your vision and get it.

The five questions are:

  • Vision – what do you want to achieve?
  • Values – what’s important to you?
  • Methods – how do you get it?
  • Obstacles – what is preventing you from being successful?
  • Measures – how do you know you have it?

Summary

As mentioned, knowing where you want to go and preparing for it has a huge impact on your success in life. That may seem obvious, but some ambitious people don’t manage their lives in a way that helps them position themselves in the best way possible to succeed. I encourage everyone to spend a few hours thinking and coming up with a personal strategic plan.

More About Goal Planning Strategies

Featured photo credit: Glenn Carstens-Peters via unsplash.com

Reference

[1] ResearchGate: Personal Strategy and Change Readiness
[2] Harvard Business Review: What Having a “Growth Mindset” Actually Means
[3] NCBI: Strategic planning: a tool for personal and career growth

More by this author

Yair Nativ

Yair is an award-winning serial entrepreneur passionate about the opportunities that technology offers to improve people's lives.

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Last Updated on April 19, 2021

How to Find Your Passion and Live a More Fulfilling Life

How to Find Your Passion and Live a More Fulfilling Life

If you could do one thing to transform your life, I would highly recommend it be to find something you’re passionate about, and do it for a living. Learning how to find your passion may not be as easy as it sounds, but it’s well worth the effort.

If you dread going to your job, find yourself constantly lacking motivation, or find what you’re doing dull and repetitive, you need to start looking for a new job.

Staying in your current job will not only continue to leave you feeling stuck and make you unhappy, but you are not realizing your full potential in life.

Imagine this instead:

You get up early, jumping out of bed, excited to go to work. You might put in more hours than the average person, but it doesn’t seem difficult to you, because your work hours just zoom right by.

You are often in that state of mind, often referred to as “flow,” where you can lose track of the world and time, losing yourself in the task at hand. Work is not work as many people refer to it, but something that is fun and interesting and exciting. It’s not a “job” but a passion that leads to a fulfilling life.

If you’ve got a job you dislike, or even hate, this will sound like a pipe dream to you. And if you never put in the effort to find what you’re passionate about, such a thing will never be possible.

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However, if you dare to ask “how do I find my passion,” imagine the possibilities, and actually search for what you love, it is not only a possibility, but a probability.

How do you go about learning how to find your passion in life? Here are some suggestions:

1. Is There Something You Already Love Doing?

Do you have a hobby or something you loved doing as a child, but never considered it as a possibility for a job?

Whether it’s reading comic books, collecting something, or creating or building, there is probably a way you could do it for a living. Open a comic book shop, or create a comic book site online.

If there’s already something you love doing, you’re ahead of the game. Now you just need to research the possibilities of making money from it.

2. Find out What You Spend Hours Reading About

For myself, when I get passionate about something, I’ll read about it for hours on end. I’ll buy books and magazines. I’ll spend days on the Internet finding out more.

There may be a few possibilities here for you, and all of them are possible career paths. Don’t close your mind to these topics. Look into them until you feel your heart is content, and this will help you get started as you learn how to find your passion.

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3. Brainstorm

If nothing comes to mind right away as you’re asking how to find my passion, get out a sheet of paper and start writing down ideas[1]. This doesn’t need to be an organized list. It can simply be a paper full of random notes or even doodles. All of this will eventually come in handy later.

Look around your house, on your computer, or on your bookshelf for inspiration, and write down whatever comes to mind. There are no bad ideas at this stage.

4. Ask Around

There are likely people you admire in life, and there are things about them that you would like to replicate in yourself. Go to them if possible, and pick their brain. See how they landed where they currently are and whether they feel they’ve discovered their passion.

The more possibilities you find, the more likely your chances of learning how to find your passion in the long run. This may mean that you spend time talking to friends and family, coworkers, or even acquaintances in your free time.

5. Don’t Quit Your Job Just Yet

If you find your calling, your passion, don’t just turn in your resignation tomorrow. It’s best to stay in your job while you’re researching the possibilities.

If you can do your passion as a side job and build up the income for a few months or a year, that’s even better. It gives you a chance to build up some savings (and if you’re going into business for yourself, you’ll need that cash reserve), while practicing the skills you need.

6. Give It a Try First

It’s best to actually test your new idea before jumping into it as a career as you’re wondering how to find your passion. Do it as a hobby or side job at first, so that you can see if it’s really your true calling.

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You may be passionate about it for a few days, but where the rubber meets the road is whether you’re passionate about it for at least a few months.

If you pass this test, you have probably found it.

7. Do as Much Research as Possible

Know as much about your passion as possible. If this has been a passion for a while, you may have already been doing this. At any rate, do even more research. Read every website possible on the topic, and buy the best books available.

Find other people, either in your area or on the Internet, who do what you want to do for a living, and quiz them about the profession.

How much do they make, and what training and education did they need? What skills are necessary, and how did they get their start? What recommendations do they have?

Often, you’ll find that people are more than willing to give advice.

8. Practice, and Practice, and Practice Some More

If you’re getting close to learning how to find your passion, don’t go into it with amateur skill level. If you want to make money—to be a professional—you need to have professional skills.

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Get very good at your future career, and you will make money at it. Practice for hours on end and learn how to focus; if it’s something you love, the practice should be something you want to do.

9. Never Quit Trying

It’s possible that you won’t be able to find your passion at first. However, if you give up after a few days, you’re sure to fail. Keep trying, for months on end if necessary, and you’ll find it eventually.

Perhaps you thought you found your passion but discovered several months on that it wasn’t for you. Start over again and find a new passion. There may be more than one passion in your lifetime, so explore all the possibilities.

Have you found your passion but haven’t been successful making a living at it? Keep trying, and try again until you succeed. Success doesn’t come easy, so giving up early is a sure way to fail.

If you need a little help, the Make It Happen Handbook can provide you with a solid action plan to help you turn your passion in your career. Check out the handbook and start to live your passion!

The Bottom Line

Don’t forget that all of this will be a lot of work, but it will be the best investment you’ve ever made. Put in the time to learn how to find your passion, and you will find that your days are more fulfilling and produce more happiness and well-being in the long-term.

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Featured photo credit: Dewet Willemse via unsplash.com

Reference

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