Session 2: STRATEGIC PLANNING

Welcome to the sophomore experience.  That's how it feels, right.  Anyone can show up for the first class, but when the second one rolls around and you may or may not have gotten your homework done - well, that is the measure of a person.  We will talk about this more in a few posts; look for things like Show Up or Do the Work.

Session 2:   PLANNING, GOAL SETTING & KPI’S

In our last session, we did an overview of the business and determined where you are both with the business and personally.  This should have helped you see where you need change the most and where you are already succeeding and can leverage that to build.  So, this month, we are talking about your priorities and how to establish a plan and use it as a way to measure your work and your success before it results in something as easy to count as money.

Last month we had a time management exercise.  It's more than just curiosity about what people are doing and how many hours they are working.  Those things are important in terms of evaluating where stress management needs to be emphasized, but it's important to measure your time spent against your priorities.  

So if you are trying this at home, take a few index cards and answer these questions:

  1. What are do you spend the most time on? 
  2. What do you enjoy the most or feel the best while you are doing it? 
  3. What do you avoid or feel bad while doing it?

In completing the exercise, things will surface about what you may need to learn or where you need support.  Listen for how you might criticize yourself.

This month, we will dive into a 1-year strategic plan using the Soulful Strategic Planning process developed by Yvonne Dodd.  We have modified it for the Bootcamp group to include a 90 Day Action Plan.  There are a series of questions to answer:

How do I want to feel?  When I have accomplished the goal I have in mind, what do I expect to feel?  This is a really important question because often we are chasing something that won't produce the desired results.  This is why people experience disappointment after a big success.

What does that look like in reality?  Dig down into what is in your imagination.  What does success look like to you.  What will you do with the success?  Do you reward yourself?  How?  What does that success enable for you, your family, your friends, and your community?

What are my goals?  We think about this, but are they written down?  Have you described what reaching the goal is?  Doing this simple step means you know what crushing it looks like too.  It's easy to minimize a win - and it's bad for morale too.

What are the barriers to success?  We all have hurdles to jump.  So, take a minute and think about what usually gets in your way.  You have your own areas to work on, but you also need to be honest about the ways your team and support network have let you down.  Think about how that might be different, if you took a different approach.  Finally, what about this project is new or needs more time or needs research.  Is there any baggage hanging around that you need to handle before you can proceed.

After you have answered these questions, it's time to do a Comprehensive Assessment of where you are today and then establish your Priorities moving forward.  I like to look back 1-year and forward 1-year.  (This is in the context of being in business for 5+ years and I have a 5-year plan moving forward.  This gives me some context.)  In this part of the process, Yvonne asks people to look at the following:

Wins & Challenges:  Over the last year, what went right and what was a challenge.  This is a moment (or a few hours) to just relax and tell it like it is.  Over the years of using the method with Yvonne's guidance, I have had to cultivate a sense of assessing someone else's work.  This helps me be more honest while also creating some necessary separation between my self and the business.

Write a Mission Statement:  This is a guiding force in your life and business.  It's not something you will be able to write in 10 minutes.  You may want to start with a list of words that mean something to you.  Think about what you want the sum total of your life to be when it's over.  This might sound lofty, but it's real.  This is a big deal.

Articulate Priorities:  Write out the goals and all the projects.  Now, take the time the decide what is more important.  It can be hard to address this as absolutes.  So to make it a little easier I put each item on a post-it note and then move them around on a large sheet of paper.  The top is most important and the bottom is least.  Things can be of equal importance and on the same line.  And then, you might move something just a tiny bit above the other.  And at the end of the process, remember that we can really only juggle 3 things at a time.

Draw Your Timeline:  This is about understanding your expectations, noticing where you need to shift focus and even taking into account the external factors of life - like vacations and holidays.  I always recommend that you write it down.  Look for overload and revise.  Make sure to look at the whole year.  Make sure to narrow your priorities to 3 things in each segment of time.  Finally, see if you can engineer some breathing room and time to assess your progress.

Review Strengths & Weakness; Take a look back at what happened last year.  Take an inventory of your self - you did this in Session 1.  These are things you can work on to improve the likelihood of success.  Don't let it slip up on you.

Create Measures of Success:  Make sure that you what needs to be done and how often.  Many things in business are about consistency and we need to know what is required in terms of Daily Input.  The other measure to success is to map this against the Milestones from the Timeline.  How much effort can be determined from where my focus is and what point I am trying to reach.

It's a simple process, but no one will ever tell you it's easy.  Just give yourself some time and space to make it happen.  Even if you don't get all the way through it, the exercise will prove to be incredibly valuable.  There will be a moment when something not-so-great happens in the business.  You will have thought about it and will be mentally ready to address it.  That's a win.

To wrap-up our teaching tonight, we went back to the time management exercise.  Just setting aside time to do this work can be the hardest part in starting.  So, we asked an expert to help us address that.  Now that everyone has an idea of how they spend their time, it's likely they have issues with the results of the exercise.  No one is perfect and we all hear a lot of messages about how to maximize our time and be more focused.  Tonight, we had a guest speaker to discuss Time Management.  Tikoshia Davis gave a short presentation on common barriers to good and effective time management.  My takeaway from the session had to do with procrastination and recognizing that it's often a symptom of not making time for yourself.

In tonight's discussion about, What are you leaving with tonight? most of the class mentioned the intensity of the work we asked them to do.  Generally, there was an acknowledgement that it was manageable in terms of the time commitment.  Where people had issues was in what they learned as they were doing the work.  When you start to dig deeply into how you feel about your life and your business, it's inevitable that you will see things.  It's different for everyone, but the most important thing to know is that you can only change what you can see.