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Back to school strategising

Royal Gazette

By Julia Pitt
Published September 3, 2013 at 8:00 am

I love the smell of newly sharpened pencils. Never mind the thrill of buying a new pencil case! I have a bit of a ‘thing’ for stationery but particularly when it’s mixed with the buzz of anticipation that comes with the start of a new year at school. I’m sure I have shared with you my mindset that my calendar year still runs from one September to the next. And as students are gathering supplies, settling into the start of classes and remembering what homework feels like, I like to take the opportunity to look at the year ahead, evaluate where I am, what I want from it, and set some goals for what I’d like to achieve by this time next year. It’s basic January 1st thinking but without the hangover or exhaustion from the post-holiday rush.

This year, as I was preparing to do this, up pops in my mailbox some literature from the Bermuda Zoological Society (of which I am a proud member). I’ll admit that normally I only skim printed mailings, whoever they’re from, but this one caught my attention — their ‘Strategic Plan 2013-18’. Besides the eye-catching photographs and appealing print quality, it is the simplicity of and thorough but straightforward approach to this five-year agenda that struck me as a useful tool for their organisation and stakeholders: a tool we might benefit from creating for ourselves.

I believe what makes their plan so comprehensive and serviceable is the inclusion of these following important elements, detailed in their eight-page folding brochure:

1. “A Bermuda Treasure” — a description of what the organisation does, how well it does it, and whom it serves. In turn, we might benefit from creating a summary of who we are, in our best light. List our current accolades, the things we are most proud of, and what and who we currently are to which people (who are our stakeholders so to speak)? What are their expectations of us and ours of ourselves?

Doing this exercise creates a useful picture of the different aspects of ourselves at present. It is always good to be reminded of our strengths, what we’re doing well and what we’ve accomplished so far. This process can also offer us perspective to help decide areas on which to focus more and activities, behaviours or relationships that may not be so productive, beneficial or healthy.

2. BZS Stategic Goals — The main body of their folding docket is a list of six long-term goals/ideals that the organisation is aiming towards. These one-sentence statements sum-up different aspects of their overall vision. When doing this for ourselves, as they have, it is helpful to include some key areas in order to get a well rounded and future-focused picture:

• What do we want to do within our various roles? Eg: BZS has two main arms of activity — education and conservation/research. They have created separate goals for each. We can create goals for each of our chosen roles in life.

• Future Sustainability — what does this mean to us? What areas do we need to look at and create goals around to ensure our own personal sustainability? Things to consider might include: health and well-being, financial sustainability, potentialities to keep in mind for the upcoming year(s).

• Areas to develop and to what level ... Eg: BAMZ aims to be ‘a Centre of Excellence for animal stewardship’. This requires certain criterion that they will have to live up to. What is a standard that you would like to achieve in a particular area of your life, and what will that take?

• Who do we want to be when we’re doing what we do particularly ‘in relationship’ with others? Eg: BZS wants to ‘develop an exceptional workplace culture’. What would you like others to be saying about you? What do you have to do to be that person? Who do you have to be?

• Build-in planning time for future development — just as BZS has recognised the importance of preparation and continuing development by setting a goal to create additional plans, we can benefit from setting goals around remaining aware and making time for our own personal development work and progress.

3. Individual Area Goals and Action Points — under each main ‘strategic goal’ heading, are listed more specific goals for all the elements involved in achieving that. For example, personally I might have a Strategic Goal to ‘enhance my fitness, health and well-being’. My Area Goals might include:

• Create a healthy eating regime with balanced nutrition

• Increase Exercise to 4 x per week, min 40 minutes

• Develop a sustainable relaxation and meditation practice

For each of these I would then determine a list of actions that will bring this goal to achievement. Then it is simply a case of taking these actions.

4. Goals and Core Values — knowing what is important to us in life, what our ideals are, and who we are at the core of our very best selves, helps guide us to create goals, actions and make decisions that are aligned with this and truly right for us. Keeping note of these things can also prove a helpful reminder for getting us back on track should we need it.

5. Pictures-making this work pleasant, fun and emotionally engaging really helps to get it done. Identify who or what is involved in our plan — include photos of our stakeholders — this makes the process and our goals feel much more potent and important. Include inspirational pictures and symbols that reflect what or who we are trying to achieve to spur us on and keep momentum going to succeed in what we have said we’d do.

6. Make a Public Declaration — sharing our goals, values, vision and plan with others we trust can create accountability, support and even more reason to see them through and live up to what we have claimed.

Thank you BZS (www.bzs.bm) for the inspiration (and all the great work they do).

Businesses and organisations the world over create strategic plans as success tools. Keeping them simple and clear makes them even more functional and easy to use. Why not do this for ourselves for organising and planning our tactical, personal improvement and development over time. We can create a five-year plan in brochure format or perhaps a simple dedicated notebook or ‘mood board’ to cover through 2014. And it can always be revisited and refined.

As we embark on a new September, perhaps we can take this opportunity to set ourselves up for success in the coming year. Good luck to all those headed back to school and ‘Happy New Year’ everyone.

Julia Pitt is a trained Success Coach and certified NLP practitioner with Benedict Associates Ltd. Telephone (441) 295-2070 or visitwww.juliapittcoaching.com for further information.