By Published On: 15-Apr-20154.3 min read
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It’s important to have a personal strategy, says Leadership & Performance Coach, Davina Greene.

I love to ask people where their focus currently lies – whether it’s to find an interesting angle in conversation with someone I know quite well, or to kick off proceedings with a coaching client who doesn’t really know where to start the coaching conversation.

The range of responses is intriguing to me, generally including much confusion (“As in, what’s keeping me busiest right now?”), some ridicule-slash-defeatedness (“Who on earth has time to focus on anything these days?! I’m a tool of the universe – I drive nothing anymore!”), and a whole range besides. Rarely am I greeted with something like:

I’m trying to become a better conversationalist. I dread work dinners because I’m afraid I’ll bore the client into the competition’s arms! So I’ve started a weekly dance class, I read at least one non-fictional book per month, and I’ve joined a group where people present for 10 minutes on a topic of their choice each month – so I can use their stories, too!

At the end of the year I’ll decide whether to keep going or change my approach – for now, I’ve already decided I need to tweak my approach to apply more focus to knowledge of current politics. Within 3 months, I realized I already had more to say, and 5 months in I feel much better, much more confident! So far, no new goal has required me to sacrifice time from this goal, which is great because I’m really enjoying all of the elements of this one!”

So many of us acquire strategic skills in the workplace, but neglect to use them for anything beyond our boss’ priorities. Why wouldn’t you have a personal strategy to support your goals, just as a business would? If certain steps can move 100,000 employees across the globe forward in a defined direction, then they can certainly move one person!

Creating Your Personal Strategy

So, how do you create – or, rather, C-R-E-A-T-E! – your strategy? Here are the 6 steps I recommend:

  • Current Situation analysis: This is like your SWOT analysis. Think about you, the people around you, and anything else that could drive, support or stall your achievement of the goal. Be honest and comprehensive now, rather than risking surprises later.
  • Requirements analysis: This could be driven by an aspect of your own Values or Purpose (for example “To be interesting”), or by an external demand (“People have stopped inviting me to client dinners, I’m losing status”). If it doesn’t actually mean much to you, it will not drive you forward. Also, what does “interesting” mean, exactly? Would you and your average client define it the same way?
  • Envisage the future: This is your Vision, the outcome you wish to achieve. This could be “to become a confident, valued dinner guest”, in either business or social environments, or both. Paint the picture.
  • Articulate the steps – this is where you refine the Vision into workable Goals and Objectives. Translate the “money-no-object, time-no-object” version of your intentions (“Oh, if only I could hire Jack Canfield to coach me towards confidence, and Stephen Fry to pump me full of interesting facts!”), and create a reasonable goal and plan. What are the baby steps? Who can help?
  • Take Action – Sounds easy, but even with the might of money and experienced leaders behind them, this is the bit where companies fall down. So get on with it! The “all talk, no action” approach never helped anyone.
  • Evaluate Progress – in business terms, this is where you carry out Performance Management on yourself. A strategy is only effective when it is monitored and adjusted over time. What is working well? What bits do you find yourself skipping when nobody’s holding you accountable? Is the rate of progress what you thought it would be – should you do more, or can you do less? Ask yourself weekly, monthly, quarterly…whatever seems most appropriate to the goal.

Devising a strategy is not difficult – for a given personal goal, all of the above may fit on 1-2 pages. It simply takes a little bit of time, effort and honesty. Go on, see what significant goal you can achieve this year, combining a little introspection with a bit of careful planning!

Tips for Commencing a Personal Strategy

  • Personal Strategy can be applied to any area of life – career, relationship, family, friends, health and wealth are some of the core areas.
  • Pace yourself! Take on one goal at a time until you understand your own capacity for focus, alongside your other obligations.
  • Carefully C-R-E-A-T-E every strategic goal. To skip any step of the planning process is to leave yourself with blind spots.
  • Do not fail due to lack of ongoing evaluation – have someone listen to a monthly progress report, if you do not have the discipline to do it alone!

 

Interested in investing in your own personal – and personal strategy – development? Check out www.MyStrategy.me!

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About the Author

Davina Greene, leadership and performance coach

Davina Greene has a Masters in business from Dublin City University, is a Leadership & Performance Coach, and a corporate Head of Leadership Coaching, providing in-person and digital solutions for individuals and organisations.

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