There's Nothing Scary About a Solid Strategy
As we enter autumn, there are many wonderful things to look forward to - a bountiful harvest, colorful leaves, creative costumes and pumpkin spice (I don't judge). The holiday season rapidly approaches and we have all those spinning plates full throwing football parties, hopping on hayrides, and booking fall break vacations. In all the planning and decorating and celebrating, we often miss something exceedingly beneficial about this time of year. The period of time between now and Thanksgiving is the perfect time to build a personal or professional strategy for next year. For those who create a yearly plan, waiting until the holiday season is too stressful and skipping this work until January means missing out on getting the year started on the right foot. The peaceful lull of October and early November is the ideal time to reflect, gather your thoughts, and jot down your strategy to carry you through the new year.
Whether it's personal development, spiritual discovery or business success - a solid strategy will guide you, provide clear direction, keep you on the right path and prevent you from making it up as you go. If you struggle with decision-making or find yourself being more reactive than proactive, what you need is a strategy that continues to circle back to the direction you've pre-set.
When Do You Need a Strategy
Naturally, if you own a business you need to create a strategy. How else will you hold yourself accountable to your goals? How else could you be intentional when it comes to growth? Sitting around and waiting for success to drop into your lap is a terrible business plan. Companies that decide what they want, how they serve and when to measure progress never have to worry about whether their business is struggling or striving because they have a roadmap to follow and a process for tracking success.
The same can be said for individuals who set intentions and goals each year. A New Year's resolution, for example, is not a strategy. It's simply a goal with no method of measurement or process for accountability. What if you took that resolution and made it a strategy instead? You would set a yearly goal, broken down into quarters and then would schedule a time to evaluate your progress regularly so you can adjust things as necessary to keep on track.
Perhaps you want to save up money for a certain vacation? Or you want to develop a particular skill set. It could be time to finally write that novel or learn how to do Reiki. Whatever it is you want to bring into your life, a strategy is always going to be more impactful than a wistful someday. Stop telling people that you're going to learn Spanish (someday) or that you want to visit Hawaii (someday). Instead, create a solid plan for making it happen.
Why People Avoid Strategy
Not everyone embraces the value of plotting out their annual intentions. Procrastination is easily the biggest enemy of our friend, strategy.
I feel like this quote sums it up best:
"Strategy requires making choices about an uncertain future." Roger L. Martin
Frequently, creating a strategy can feel like a combination of attempting to predict the future and making up something we want to happen. Plus, there is no clear place to begin. Much like staring at a blank paper and expecting inspiration to strike - not knowing what to strategize (and how) keeps folks from getting started.
Where Should You Start?
People tend to dive directly into jotting down goals and intentions. I recommend a different approach. Regardless of whether your strategy is personal, spiritual, or professional - start with reflection. Allow yourself time and space to think, to meditate, to journal, to dream, to examine where you are, how far you've come and the direction you'd like to head next. This is a solitary task and cannot be done while working, caring for your children or running errands. Make time to be alone and present.
How effective will your strategy be if you are busy ignoring who you truly are? The masks we wear, the lies we tell ourselves, the intentionally not examining certain areas of our lives too closely - these things hold us back. The key to unlocking your highest potential is first exploring who you really are. Growth does not happen in the dark - it needs the harsh light of day.
"To be self-aware is to, in a sense, have a different level of control over your actions and choices—and to operate from a perspective that is not fueled by short-sighted and often ego-driven desires." Nicolas Cole
There are a variety of tools that will help you become more self-aware including mindfulness, personality tests, meditation, acceptance, and feedback from others. Pooling all of this data into one place will give you an authentic overview of what makes you tick, your strengths and weakness, how you give back to the world and what makes you special. These insights will change your life.
Reputation or Brand
Now that you've set aside time to be present and think, as well as identify who you really are, it's time to determine how you want to present yourself to the world. In business, this would be the time to build your brand. This process is all about being intentional about how you show up, whom you want to be and how you are remembered when you leave a room. Taking the time to make these choices is the foundation for creating your strategy.
It's Strategy Time
Once you've done all the preparation work, you need to set aside time to create your strategy. You should have a clear vision of where you want to go after you've done your reflection, self-awareness work, and decided how you want to show up. Now, it's time to put down on paper exactly what you want to accomplish next year. Don't forget to include all the steps and milestones it will take to get you where you want to be. A list of goals without a plan and regular milestones is merely a list of wishes.
Take a moment to imagine what all you could accomplish next year once you decide to be intentional about your course of action.
If You Still Need Support
In the fall, I participate in two separate events that prepare me for the new year.
First, I always sign up for the Candles of Intention Workshop at Discover Your Spiritual Gifts. This gives me a day to sort out my personal wants and needs and to focus on what I need to get there. These twelve candles allow me to be intentional about my own life experiences and serve as a monthly reminder of what I wanted to get out of each month of that particular year.
When it comes to my business, I set aside a full day to do nothing but build my strategy for the next year. This is a detailed process where I walk away with a roadmap that includes everything from my goals to my target audience, from product launches to networking events. At the end of the day, I will have a marketing calendar for my entire year. No more guessing. No more chasing every idea. No more throwing spaghetti at the wall just to see what fits. I have a plan and I get to wake up on January 1st with purpose and direction (and possibly some of the work already done). This November, I'm sharing my process with other business owners. If this sounds beneficial, I'd love to have you join me.
If you'd like to participate in either of these workshops, you can find out more at these links:
Nikki Milton is a Brand Champion & Storytelling Superhero! Her company, Marvel Marketing Squad, exists as a resource for entrepreneurs and small business owners looking to tackle the digital marketing tasks associated with growing a successful company. By recruiting her Squad to work on these projects, you free up time to focus on strategic planning, projects, and growth.
Let Marvel Marketing Squad help you Protect Your Brand by staying on top of your content and inbound marketing. They want to be the Superhero for Your Small Business!
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