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How many of us find ourselves simply going to work day after day, doing a good enough job, and fulfilling our main responsibilities? We may work hard to meet the expectations of others, but we too often become overly focused on the day-to-day work, forgetting to look towards the future. We neglect potential opportunities for strategic planning that could be looming on the horizon. We fail to influence our futures in a positive way simply because we forget to keep our eyes open. Our lives demand so much of us. It is so easy to routinely function this way. But, we must ask ourselves, “What opportunities are we missing that could enrich our lives?”
At CMOE, we have created a concept called Applied Strategic Planning. When many of us think of strategy, we tend to think of “corporate strategic planning,” but Applied Strategic Planning is different; it is done at the individual level. Applied Strategic Planning allows everyone, regardless of professional position or personal situation, to apply strategic thought processes into their lives. Imagine the results organizations would achieve if all team members, at all times were thinking strategically about their individual areas of responsibility.
As I have done research on, written about, and more importantly, applied these ideas to my own life, I have made some fascinating discoveries. Before I developed an interest in this topic, I wasn’t very good at viewing my job, family, or life responsibilities in a strategic planning way. Did I make plans and set goals? Sure. But I didn’t put myself in the position for future success by attending to the latest, greatest developments in my world. I was not planning my life in a strategic way. Improving my strategic mindset has been an exciting endeavor.
I began to use CMOE’s Applied Strategic Planning Roadmap—a tool developed for this program—to identify strategic targets that would help me achieve the success I want. After using this strategic planning process for a while, I realized that my “strategic” behavior was starting to affect my thinking in all areas of my life: as a leader, individual contributor, mother, wife, and so on. I now find myself thinking in a more strategic fashion every day, and these skills are reflected in every decision I make. Through regular practice, “strategic thinking” has evolved into something more, something that has become a part of who I am. An ingrained trait.
I have also discovered that strategic planning is not only a skill, it is a behavior. If you do not have the innate skills to plan in strategic ways, building that skill set, must be the first step. Over time, the skills will evolve into a behavior.
Applying this strategic planning process to my life has given me the confidence and courage to ignite positive change for myself and my family. I know that I can influence my future in whatever way I please. I have passion for the future and what I can create.
An excerpt from George Bernard Shaw’s “Mrs. Warren’s Profession, Act II” echoes this sentiment: “The people who get on in this world are the people who get up and look for circumstances they want, and, if they can’t find them, make them.”
If you find that you are like me, occasionally thinking about the future and making your daily operating plans, I challenge you to take yourself a step further: become truly strategic and change your life. Make your future.
Stephanie S. Mead is the Director of Operations for CMOE Inc. Stephanie has a Master’s degree in Organization Development and specializes in leadership development and building high-performance teams.
“Victorious warriors win first and then go to war, while defeated warriors go to war first and then seek to win.”~Sun Tzu “Strategic Assessments Art of War”
“It is better to be prepared for an opportunity than to have an opportunity and not be prepared.”~Whitney M. Young Jr. American social reformer
“The way to achieve success is first to have a definite, clear, practical ideal – a goal, an objective. Second, have the necessary means to achieve your ends – wisdom, money, materials, and methods. Third, adjust all your means to that end.”~ Aristotle Greek Philosopher and Scientist
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