This is a standard, if not pedestrian, New Year’s query. First of the year, every year, everyone is a twitter about resolutions and what they plan to achieve during the New Year. While this may not be a profound question, the New Year can be a fresh start, an opportunity for insight and a clean approach to a thorny challenge.

What is the goal you want to achieve in 2015?

The key questions to reaching the stars.
• Where are you now?
• What is your vision?
• What are your objectives?
• What are your goals?
• Are your initiatives based on your mission statement?
• Can you quantify and qualify your achievements?

The compass.
This is when a strategic plan checks in. The process is straightforward and should not be a torturous course of action. Start by thinking through your plan and challenging your assumptions. Are your assumptions correct and is your supporting data valid or is it just conjecture? Drill down to the facts. Once you have your facts straight you can begin to formulate your plan.

Structure your best thinking and organize your strategic plan into a word document. The structured format will answer the key questions and lead to an implementation blueprint. The implementation section should include a chart of the start date and the deadlines.

Finally, analyze and measure your results. Outcomes are the results of your planning. Critically evaluate your assumptions by considering “what was planned and what actually happened”. By analyzing “what happened” you have a historical record. Sometimes events outside of your organization can influence your results.

Example  Did inclement weather reduce enrollment or prevent participation in a program? The analysis should include all factors that contributed to your results to render a clear snapshot of your “lessons learned”. This information will be useful when setting future goals.

New Year, New Start, Next Steps.
Drawing your next steps into a strategic plan is a solid business practice. Strategic plans bear no guarantees but are the necessary “grunt work” driving your success. Keep in mind, success builds on success. By evaluating your successes and your disappointments, you have gained insight and perspective. Now you can build on your wisdom, and confidently undertake bigger challenges based on concrete decision-making.

Best wishes for every success in 2015!  Kathi

She who every morning plans the transaction of the day and follows out that plan, carries a thread that will guide her through the maze of the most busy life. But where no plan is laid, where the disposal of time is surrendered merely to the chance of incidence, chaos will soon reign.
Victor Hugo

Believe in possibility and in yourself.