Did you ever change direction? I am not talking about driving directions or a modest little change! You know what I mean, an about face, turnaround, change of heart, flip-flop, metamorphosis, reorganization, u-turn, change of course or reversal. Progress is so much better, but sometimes you have to change direction to reach your goal. It starts with identifying your goals, evaluating your progress and adjusting or changing your efforts.
In business, you must react to change or you are out of business. High tech firms seem to react to change better than most, but not all successfully. Companies like Apple, HP or Dell either lead change or must react to it. You lead change when you have a strategic plan and tweak it when changes occur. Many of the best companies have strategic plans, but they do not handle change very well.
How many of you have a personal or professional strategic plan? If you do not know where you are heading, how will know that you got there? Did I always know where I was going? Did I have a strategic plan? Yes and I made changes to it periodically. I changed careers six (6) times! My personal and professional goals have changed over the years. If your goals have not changed, you should evaluate your goals. Changing direction is not like changing your major in college!
Changing direction is evaluating your goals in light of the changes in your environment. It may be the economy, interests or opportunities. Whatever the reason, you need to adjust, adapt or change, but don’t ignore the circumstances. Albert Einstein said doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results is the definition of insanity. Companies must respond their customers, competition and new technology. Individuals must respond to many more changes.
You have to respond to personal, professional, career and other changes all the time. Many people choose to ignore changes and do nothing. For example, interest rates are very low and you should refinance your mortgage and personal loans. If you do nothing you are left with the status quo which may mean a bigger payment. It is easier to do nothing and we all do it. The consequence is called opportunity costs. Opportunity costs are the costs of a missed opportunity. In this case a lower payment and lees interest.
How is your performance? Are you on track to your goals? I know I am on track for my financial goals. I started my strategic financial plan more than thirty five (35) years ago. I made changes over time because of opportunities and changes I made. A plan helped me stay focused and helped me monitor my progress. What do you need to do? It starts with setting your goals. Strategy is defined as the framework of choices that determine the nature and direction of an organization or individual.
5 Steps to a Successful Strategic Plan
- What is your focus for your strategic plan? What are you trying to achieve in the particular timeframe that fits with your overall plan.
- What is your time horizon? Is this a five (5) year plan or a twenty-five (25) year plan? I prefer multiple five (5) year plans that fit into a longer term plan.
- Set your goals. These are goals that fit within your overall strategic plan. Break it down into daily/weekly/monthly/annual tasks or milestones.
- Monitor your progress. Change or adjust your efforts to meet your milestones or objectives. You cannot reach your goals if you do not make progress.
- Put you plan in writing and look at it often. Keeping it visible makes it more likely you will execute it.
My first strategic plan had many of the goals I eventually achieved, but some things changed. My career goals evolved from a particular position or goal to getting certain skills or experience. The experience helped me achieve a different set of goals. You have to expect change whether internally (you) or externally (environment). I have changed my plan many times and even rewrote it a few times. I managed to achieve just about everything I set out to do. Did you ever change direction?
Photo by: kvanhorn