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A Strategic Plan

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Strategies for achieving your preferred future

When completed, your Strategic Plan will have four key parts:

  • Your vision of your future.
  • Your strategies for achieving that vision.
  • An Action Plan for implementing your strategies
  • A Contingency Plan

Your vision of your future

This will be a sentence or two that describes your image of what you would like your life to be in the future. Emphasis here is on your desired or preferred future. You can have a vision for your entire life, and a more specific one for one stage of life.
If you find it difficult to envision your future, review your domains and your scenarios. A helpful tool for developing a vision of your future is the Personal Futures Wheel, which builds on basic mind maps or futures wheels. You can downoad an example on the Downloads page.  Ask yourself what you want your future to be in each domain of your life, then summarize that into a statement.If you have trouble coming up with a vision, try going somewhere quiet, where you can be alone, close your eyes and think about your preferred future, and what you want life to be like for you at that time. If you aren’t used to thinking or contemplating like this, try it. It works!

Strategies to achieve your vision-

For your preferred scenario, develop strategies to achieve that scenario. Review your other scenarios and devise strategies to deal with futures that may occur. For the negative or “worst plausible” scenario where everything goes wrong, devise strategies to prevent or avoid that future. Also consider “If…then” strategies. “If this happens, then my strategy becomes…”

Scanning your environment-

It is important to be aware of changes in your community and the national economy as well as changing social or technological trends in the world around you. This awareness of your environment should be built into your strategies and action plans. This can translate into simple awareness – for example, when you make travel plans be aware of trouble spots and know where your currency is strong or weak.

Action plans for your future-

Now you must turn your strategies into actions. What actions must you take, starting today, to achieve your preferred future? One technique to help develop action plans is called “backcasting.” Imagine yourself in a future scenario, having achieved your goals and preferences for that stage of life. What year is it? Write that year at the top-left of a page of paper, then list each year backward to the present. From the top, identify the steps you took in each year to achieve your vision and that scenario. Identify key steps, which will become goals as you work toward this future.

Contingency plans

Contingency plans focus on high impact, low probability events that are not included in your strategic plan. Your contingency plans prepare you with strategies or actions in case such an event actually occurs. Where I live in Texas, hurricanes are a low probability event, but they are a clear possibility. So we have a plan. If a hurricane appears headed our way, we start executing the plan, continuing through the steps as the hurricane approaches. The same approach can work for positive events or negative events.

 
Below are three worksheets that will guide you as you complete your strategic plan. Keep in mind that your plan is intended to be flexible and changeable. You can change the plan to fit new realities in the world. You can also change your plans to reflect changing desires for your future.

Domains

High Impact and LOW Probability Events

Strategies or Contingency Plans for Each Event

ACTIVITIES

School, training, career, work, sports, hobbies

   

FINANCES

Income, investments, expenses, debt, insurance, taxes

   

HEALTH

Physical condition, medications, care

 

   

HOUSING

Home, community, country, region, climate

   

SOCIAL

Family, friends, community

   

TRANSPORTATION

Mobility, personal, public

   

Strategic planning emphasizes creating strategies to deal with events that (a) have a high probability of occurence during the life stage for which you are planning, and, if they occur, (b) will have a high impact on your life. Use the above worksheet to identify those high probability/high impact events, then to create strategies for dealing with them.

Action Plan- Actions to take toward your preferred future, by year

Year

ACTIONS TO BE TAKEN    (Activities-Finances-Health-Housing-Social-Transportation)

   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   

This is the worksheet that will start you on your way to the future. Start by putting the present year at the top of the first column, then listing each succeeding year until you reach the last year of the life stage you are planning for. You may need more than one page. Now, list the actions that you are going to take during each year that will help you achieve your preferred future.

If you find this task difficult in some years, an alternate approach is to return to the visioning exercise and picture yourself in the future. Ask yourself what steps you took to get there--that year, the year before, and the year before that, all the way to the present. Futurists call this technique "backcasting."

Contingency Plan

Domains

High Impact and High Probability Events

Strategies for Each Event

ACTIVITIES

School, training, career, work, sports, hobbies

   

FINANCES

Income, investments, expenses, debt, insurance, taxes

   

HEALTH

Physical condition, medications, care

 

   

HOUSING

Home, community, country, region, climate

   

SOCIAL

Family, friends, community

   

TRANSPORTATION

Mobility, personal, public

   

Contingency planning focuses on high impact, low probability events. To start, look at the high impact events for this stage of life in the common events list that you did not include in your strategic planning. Then think about other high impact events that are possible, but not likely. Look at each domain and consider the possibilities.

For the events that you have added to the worksheet, think about strategies you could or would use to deal with that event. One popular approach is "If...then" strategies. If this event happens, then this is the strategy. You may only need a few of these strategies in the future, but being prepared may give you an advantage.

You have now created four future scenarios, devised strategies to achieve your preferred future and developed an action plan to take you to that preferred future. You have also considered contingencies and should be prepared to make adjustments to your plan. The next, most important step is very simple:


                         LIVE YOUR PLAN!

The Personal Futures Workbook is available as a FREE download on the "Downloads" page.

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