What’s Your Plan: Six Steps to Align Your Goals with What’s Important to You

Hopefully you’ve had the opportunity to look at MSU’s new strategic plan, which was recently shared by President Stanley. The plan, MSU 2030: Empowering Excellence, Advancing Equity and Expanding Impact, provides a framework and vision for the university that puts people first, prioritizing the success of students, staff and faculty while focusing on key areas of growth:

  • Expanded opportunity.
  • Advanced equity.
  • Elevated excellence.
  • Strengthened community.
  • Strengthened stewardship. 

Most units and departments at MSU also have strategic plans in place to guide their work—perhaps you’ve led or been a part of creating one of these plans. The next step is to make a personal strategic plan to guide you as an individual.

Why Have a Personal Strategic Plan?

One way we measure success at MSU is through goal setting and attainment, often using the Performance Excellence framework. Creating a personal strategic plan can be an extension of this goal-oriented process, providing a vision and structure for your professional life and an anchor for you to connect with during periods of change and as new opportunities arise.

A personal strategic plan will help ensure your professional goals and actions are aligned with what matters most in your life. With the recent release of MSU’s strategic plan, now is a perfect time to create or update your own plan.

Six Steps to Strategic Success

Your personal strategic plan will likely include career goals (e.g., ongoing development in your current position or preparing for a different role), finances, health and professional relationships. The Center for Association Leadership recommends a six-step process that can serve as a starting point for creating your individual plan.

  1. Find time. Even if it’s just ten minutes you set aside each day, take a step away from your day-to-day duties and responsibilities and envision what you want to accomplish.

  2. Clarify your values. What matters most in your life? Many of us find it easy to identify the first few priorities—perhaps family, health, happiness—but you may need to dig deeper for the purposes of a personal strategic plan. Think carefully about everything you truly value and want to honor. Consider areas such as relationships and connectivity at both personal and professional levels, recognition or greater influence, time, flexibility, life/work integration, personal growth, new challenges, and meaningful work.

  3. Create your mission statement. No need to overthink or be intimidated by this step. Simply write a brief statement—just a sentence or two—based around the values you want to honor. This is not intended to redefine who you are or remain static as time goes on. Rather, it serves as a reminder of your life’s and your work’s purpose and can be a touchstone you can use to help guide your behavior and inform your decisions.

  4. Do a SWOT analysis on yourself. A SWOT (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats) analysis is typically done in conjunction with a new project or goal, but we don’t always take the time to examine these aspects of ourselves as individuals. What are your personal strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats? Can a close colleague or mentor provide you with honest feedback regarding these areas? In our current environment of rapid, ongoing change, what are the opportunities and threats that may apply to your plan?

  5. Create your goals. Identify SMART and HARD goals that align with the core values you identified. Your goals can be broad, but your action steps should be specific and time limited. Be realistic about what you can accomplish and prioritize what’s most important to you. Typically, three or four goals with one or two actions steps for each is a manageable target each year.

  6. Determine the support you need to stay accountable. Identify a friend or colleague as an accountability partner to help you stick to your plan, and agree on a regular time to check in. Schedule a time weekly, biweekly, or monthly to review your personal strategic plan on your own and modify as needed.

Align Your Personal Plan with the Larger Picture

Take the time to compare your personal strategic plan with the plans of the university and your unit. Where do they intersect? Where do they diverge? Are there ways they could better align, leading to greater job satisfaction and performance?

Focus on what is within your control, as opposed to things you cannot control, such as the economy or what your coworker does or does not do. Take daily actions, no matter how small, to create real, meaningful change and be sure to celebrate your successes! Realize that some changes happen quickly, while others take much longer. The key is to be patient with yourself and know you are moving in the right direction.

Below are upcoming Organization and Professional Development (OPD) courses that can help you better identify your key values and goals to create a personal strategic plan that’s right for you. OPD is also available at prodev@hr.msu.edu for additional information and resources.

Useful Courses for All Employees

Everything DiSC: Behavior Styles at Work | October 28, 8:30 a.m. to Noon | Zoom

Identify and Maximize Your Strengths | October 28, 1:00 to 5:00 p.m. | Zoom

The Power of Habit | December 1, 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. | Zoom

Courses Designed for Supervisors and Managers

Strategic Planning | October 13, 9:00 to 11:00 a.m. | Zoom

Everything DiSC: Management | November 4, 8:30 a.m. to Noon | Zoom

Sources
https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/create-your-personal-strategic-plan-six-steps-ashka-wirk

https://www.asaecenter.org/association-careerhq/career/articles/career-management/create-your-personal-strategic-plan

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