Chaos gives birth to confusion, which in turn renders us motionless. In simpler terms, confused people do nothing! Personally, when I am confused, I do something but it’s usually the wrong thing and hinged on poor decision making. The remedy is having direction – good direction. Today, we have standard paper maps and then there is sophisticated GPS (global positioning systems). But what if we had a GPS for our lives? A pleasant voice melodically calling out directions to us as we followed? Still, a GPS has to be programmed and is only as good as the information we input and how current the maps are. So we are going to still have to do something and create motion! But what a happy day it’ll be when we can plug in our new GPS for life and cruise into our destiny…
The alternate term for such magical guidance is called a goal plan or strategy. Companies do this thing called strategic planning. It’s a long drawn out process to find out what’s wrong, where are we vulnerable, what resources do we have, who’s our competition and what we need to do to fix it! To be honest strategic planning is an ingenious way to keep companies on target with fulfilling their purpose, mission and vision while standing on the core principles and values it was founded on. So we should try this thing out for our lives. Why not?
So… here are the components of a basic strategic planning process for life:
Let’s take a real good look! We guessed it. We’ve got to do some self-assessment. The big corporations do a market analysis or needs assessment and then do a SWOT (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats) analysis and compare and contrast the two. In this non-corporate case, we catch a break because all we have to do is the SWOT analysis! We need to do this so we know what we are working with. This tells us what’s good and working and what’s bad and busted.
Next we need to take an inventory of all the things we really want to do in life. Some call this a Bucket List that can be a bit morbid for some of us so let’s call it a Mark On Life List (MOLLi). This thing can be pretty long or super short and should reveal a lot about who we are as people, what we think will actualize our lives, and where we need to begin to get all of this accomplished. For instance if we want to learn how to fly a plane, we must first conquer our fear of heights if we listed it as a weakness or threat in our SWOT. We can see how all this is starting to work together.
Ok, some list tips: If our MOLLi starts to get a little out of control, we will want to think about using categories such as Places to Travel, Life Experiences, People to Meet and so on.
So now that those two pieces are done let’s move on to the next one: Defining our purpose. We need our SWOT and our MOLLi to help with this. This can be a very spiritual thing for many people. The SWOT should tell us what we are good at and the MOLLi will tell us what we like and desire. Let the two get married and whala! We have a road map to our purpose. Ideally we will see a pattern to our life between our strengths and our likes and desires. Therein lies our purpose and also our passion. Usually how this works is that the SWOT will lean toward helping us define purpose and the MOLLi will weigh heavier on what our passions are. Some of us are brave enough to marry the two, however if our strength is computer IT but we have a passion for cuisine, we are not going to jump out of our professional strength to become a chef or food taster. But…we could become an online food critique!
Now that we know what we are good at and what we are passionate about, we need to define our mission and vision. These can be one in the same or separated into categories like literature into prose, poetry, comedy, and tragedy. Whatever! It’s our lives; we make them how we want them. Just have a mission, and in order to actualize it, have a vision.
Alright, once that settled we need clarity! We must be clear what our values are. What we value will tell us how far we are willing to go, what we are willing to sacrifice to fulfill our mission and see our vision come true. Values clarification is our Risk-o-meter. Success takes risks; our values shape our perceptions or our life philosophy and this will give us our measure of risk taking. Those of us who have children will usually take fewer risks than those who don’t. Those with spouses will take fewer risks than those without. Folks in jobs instead of careers will take more risks than those who’ve been in the trenches of an occupation for 10 years. Get the picture? Values clarification will also help us keep our logic straight. If we value relationships and education, how can we be afraid to network with people?
Get all of this squared away and we will pick up our Strategic Planning for Life in the Next issue. Until then, I am wishing you the very best of life! Ciao!