The Power of Thinking Strategically: Plan Your Life – Live Your Plan

Posted by Kristin Arnold on December 30, 2013

I hope you had the best business year possible. Unfortunately, the economy is still hopping like a rabbit and there is still much political and economic uncertainty around the world.

The good news is the outlook is significantly brighter, and we are witnessing many signs of sustainable improvement.

The holiday season is a busy period for business owners and managers, as well as the time to spend with family. But, it is also the perfect time to reflect on how you did last year, both personally and professionally, and to plan your strategy for the year ahead. It is important to know how you will continue to develop and grow in 2014?

This is the time to sit with your team, your managers, business partners and significant other to determine how you can work towards common objectives in your business and personal life.

Most of us remember the response from the Cheshire cat when Alice (in Wonderland) came to a fork in the road and asked “Which road should I take?” The cat responded, “Where do you want to go?”  When Alice answered “I don’t know”, he said, “Then it really doesn’t matter what road you take”.

To be happy, healthy and successful, the path we will choose does matter. We need to know where we are going and determine which road will take us there in the most efficient way. Planning proactively takes our complex challenges and breaks them down into bite-sized, manageable portions.

Thinking strategically can help you simplify your everyday life as well as organize your management responsibilities. It helps you become more efficient, maximizes your strengths and provides a direct path toward achieving your objectives. The Spanish novelist, Miguel de Cervantes, once wrote: “The soldier who is prepared, already has his battle half-won.”

Unfortunately, most people spend more time planning a two-week vacation than they do the upcoming year, or even their life. If your goal is to have a wonderful family vacation in Florida you would go through the following process: First you would decide the dates, then book the hotels, plan the route you are going to drive, fill the car with gas, arrange the activities you will engage in and prepare an appropriate budget.

You would also make contingencies for any unforeseen problems you might encounter, such as an unexpected snow storm, a flat tire or an engine problem. But, just because you cannot predict these events, does not mean you do not plan the trip at all.

Planning the year ahead, and your life, is exactly the same. Many people say to me “Why plan? You can’t predict things that will happen in the future,” a relationship might end, a job could terminate, even a friend could die.

Well, that is misguided thinking. People who think that way might never get to take a vacation or experience the richness of life that is possible.

While some people do the planning, many fail to monitor their progress. What gets measured gets done.

As you track, document and evaluate your activities, you may need to make adjustments in order to meet your forecast. Other times, you will adjust your outlook in response to the dynamic changes taking place in the economy or environment.

Some of your initial assumptions might not be precise or completely accurate. But, that is not a reason to avoid this important activity.

My question for managers this week is, “When are you going to plan for a successful 2014 by engaging your people in formulating a positive outlook for your business this year?”




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