I apologize in advance as I'm writing from my own experience if some details may deter from the main point I'm trying to make today. This article isn't so much as "here's what you need to do," it's my personal journey and how my strategic plan has evolved.
The one assignment that nearly killed me.
During my final semester working towards my MBA, one of my requirements for my Capstone class was to create a personal strategic plan. A lot of people had different approaches to it, but from everyone I spoke to, no one collectively hated the idea. The challenging part was to actually figure out what to put down. Our professor gave us the advice to save the plan we made and add to it as the years go on. Keeping the plan in our wallet or a flash drive. Somewhere we could reflect on it. Seeing how we would grow as time went by.
In March when a family member of mine unexpectedly passed away, I emailed my professor, who had supported me for the past few years and always engaged in conversation with said to "don't worry about" me completing this assignment or any other major papers due (other than the final business plan). I told him I would have it for him, but since a part of me had died then, I didn't know when I would submit the plan. My plan. I felt as if I didn't have a plan anymore because that member died. I had three people in my family that I planned my life around and bent backwards for, and now I only have two. To be perfectly frank, I believe my professor was one of the few people who understood that I wasn't going to go back to being my normal "self" after a few weeks. I'm still in mourning.
Break-down of the plan.
When I first finished my strategic plan, I wanted to bash my head against the wall because it was a bit repetitive. But(!) I'm not saying that anymore. Once you beat yourself to a bloody pulp of what you want out of life and and repeatedly ask yourself "who do you think you are?" the process is much more manageable. Referring back to our article on The People Want to Know! Who Are You?: The +/- of combining personal and professional branding., we discussed how a variety of creatives were having their own problems with their brands, when really no one is alone in this process. Going off word-of-mouth from a friend, another recommendation that may help during this process is Option B: Facing Adversity, Building Resilience, & Finding Joy by Sheryl Sandberg. She discusses not only coming up with a second plan and moving forward from inevitable setbacks, but for a much broader area that can affect numerous facets of your life from death to natural disasters.
Let's say you get into the most boring elevator in the world and all of a sudden, your favorite professional gets in on the next floor. You've been dying to be mentored by them for as long as you remember and you only have a few seconds to tell them why they should take you under their wing. That is an elevator pitch. A few seconds not to rant, but to persuade them into wanting to learn more about you.
There's a wonderful book called What Color is Your Parachute?: A Practical Manual for Job-Hunters & Career-Changers by Richard N. Bolles and I mostly read it for the fact Disney prescribes this as a required textbook for their Disney College Program. At least the last time I wanted to join the program, that was the book - it's been republished and updated since the 1970s.
Back to my point, there was one section I took to heart that has really helped shape my brand this past year: the flower diagram.
Not the most colorful flower in the meadow, but the color clearly comes from you. The purpose of this particular diagram is to help you narrow down who you are. Friends I've recommended this to have confided in me that this scares them and that's nothing to be ashamed of! You may think you're gambling with your future by working on this, but let me tell you something: you are in a much better position than someone who isn't.
Using my own personal reflections as an example, here is what expresses yourself far more than your success rate:
S.M.A.R.T. Goals are specifically designed for you to achieve either a simple project or a lifetime dream. Their specific, measurable, achievable, results-focused, and time-bounded. I write mine in a table with the definitions next to them so I don't deter.
Short-, Mid-, & Long-term Goals.
Defining your short-, mid-, and long-term goals helps you to clarify when you would like to accomplish certain takes that will lead up to your "ultimate dream life." I define the length of these goals by the following:
- Short-term goals: six months to one year
- Mid-term goals: one year to three years
- Long-term goals: over three years
Personal Action Plan.
Like the flower diagram, this chart is to simplify where you stand at this place in time. Included in my action plan, I have current skills, skills to improve, my goals, my resources, and action plan of how and when I'd like to pursue everything.
Woken up inside.
When I began to work on my personal strategic plan this past spring, I already knew a lot of what I wanted to accomplish in life and when I wanted to accomplish them. When I originally submitted the "final" version for my school assignment, I didn't think much of how I would achieve some of my career goals, but more of what I yearned to feel again.
This summer, I began to write up some other plans for my home to fix-it up and be able to move on in the next few years. Then I wrote down an outline for one year of what I needed to accomplish if I wanted my home to be in a different place and to achieve some career goals. I began to felt like myself again. I was planning for a future I could live in.
At this time, I haven't updated my personal strategic plan that I originally drafted this past spring, but I'm looking forward to updating it once spring comes again.
Downloadable: Basic Outline of Personal Strategic Plan
Please take a moment to download this outline to begin drafting your personal strategic plan. You have the freedom to follow what we have to start, but ultimately, we want you to be able to create your own!
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