What is a Personal Strategic Plan?

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Organizations use Strategic Plans to set their direction and create a roadmap to get there, but do you know anyone who has a personal Strategic Plan?

Now you do.

I created a Strategic Leadership Plan for myself, and it has changed the way that I approach my work and any new opportunities that come my way.

Every coaching client that I work with develops their own personal Strategic Plan as a practical tool to ground and guide their work on a daily basis.

A Strategic Plan has three key parts:

1. What kind of impact you want to have

First and foremost, a Strategic Plan paints the picture of your desired future—what you want to feel, be, have, and how you want to make a difference. Your vision, 1-5 years from now, should inspire you, challenge you, and be a little bit of the scary kind of exciting. This vision is the beacon that everything you do between now and then will be aiming towards.

When writing your vision, be specific. Your vision should contain both broad brushstrokes and specific and personal details. This is the time to zero in on something specific—instead of being all things to all people and watering down your impact, you are taking a targeted approach to have a particular kind of impact that is meaningful and exciting to you. In defining what you will do and who you will be, you’re also creating a filter for what you won’t do in order to ensure that your energy and efforts are aligned with what you’re trying to achieve instead of going to waste.

How you’ll use it: It’s a motivator and decision-making tool. When a new opportunity comes your way, you’ll be able to ask yourself: Does this contribute to my vision? If the answer is no, then the answer is no.

2. Why that vision is important to you and why you’re the one to do it

The heart of a Strategic Plan is a statement of what you most care about and why. Articulating and returning to this core sense of your personal mission reminds you in clear terms of why you do what you do. Your plan also captures how you’re uniquely poised to carry out this mission—what experience and skills you bring to the table.

Studies around worker satisfaction show that what motivates us most in the workplace is not recognition or rewards; the real fuel for motivation and engagement is a connection with a sense of meaning in your work.

How you’ll use it: When you get distracted or discouraged along the way, this mission is always there to ground you in what connects you personally to your work. When unpredictable things come up and you need to be nimble and adapt, ground yourself in your mission to pivot strategies and move forward in a way that is aligned with your core purpose.

3. How you’ll make it happen

This is the part where you lay out how you’ll close the gap between where you are now and your inspiring vision for your future. You define your goals and the approaches and action steps that will bring that vision to life. The fewer the goals, the better—this will help you stay focused and set clear priorities. This is your opportunity to bring your actions into alignment with what’s most important to you.

This is also where you define your measures of success. How will you know when you’ve achieved what you set out to do? What milestones lie along the way? Again, be specific. These measures both hold you accountable to progress and give you permission to celebrate along the way!

How you’ll use it: By writing your goals down, you’re committing to making this future happen. It’s no longer a dream that lives only in your head or your heart. You’re no longer meandering through your career or your life without a sense of direction and purpose. You have a plan to live your best life and do your best work, and you’re already on your way.

A final tip: An effective and useful Strategic Plan is a living document that you reference on a weekly or even daily basis. When I work with my clients to create their Strategic Plans, we work in Google Docs, not on a stone tablet. This is because we are constantly refining our understandings of ourselves and what we want to achieve, and our Strategic Plans need to evolve along with us.


Your Next Steps:

Learn more about working with me to create your Strategic Career Plan.

Check out 5 Reasons Why You Need a Strategic Plan.

Get started on writing your Strategic Plan by downloading your free Lead Your Career workbook.