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Strategy 101 | How Strategic Planning Can Help You Move Toward Your Goals

You can be more strategic. What does it mean to be strategic? If you look in a dictionary, you'll find the definition of strategy being something along the lines of, "a plan to achieve a major goal."

Plan. Goal. We're not just doing things. If we find ourselves just doing things for the sake of doing them or because that's how it's always been done we'll find limited success advancing toward the goal. Even worse, we don't even know what the goal is.

If we're going to advance our careers, our family, or our communities, we have to be strategic. So, how do we add more strategy to our action?

The first step is unpacking that definition. Start with the goal. What is the goal? If you had a sports team and you don't know what the goal is then you could never get anywhere. You have to define the goal. How do we know when we've achieved success? What does success look like? You've got to define the goal to be able to know where you're going.

Once you have a goal, then plan to get there. It sounds simple enough but there are several things that you can remember that make this process a little easier. First off, you may have no idea how to get there. Look to experts. Look to folks who are on a similar path. Look for folks who have done similar things and reach out for their expertise. We live in a time where you can learn and find anything you want. Yes, you can also spend hours watching cat videos, but if you want to you can go on YouTube; you can go on Google; and learn anything from anyone. Find the experts and figure out what steps are needed to go from point a to point b and eventually to the end zone. Plan.

Finally you've got to work the plan. It's great to have goals; it's great to have a plan on how to get there; but, if you never take that first step then you're not acting strategically. So, take the steps.

And then like any sports team, read what's going on and adjust. Plans need to be fluid. Plans need to be revisited, reworked, and redone. Coaches of football teams are constantly calling different plays; they're reacting to what's happening on the field; and their strategy is fluid. We know what the goal is, we have a plan, and then based on what happens we adapt and keep moving.

I like to have something called "CEO Sundays" where at least once a month I take a block of time–three or four hours–shut out everything else and just put all the goals on a whiteboard. Rework the strategy, reflect on where we've come so far, and plan on what we need to do going forward. Do this project by project by project or goal by goal by goal.

How can you add more strategy to your life? Set clear goals, find out the steps you need to get there, start taking steps, and then always adapt to what's going on around you.

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