Setting goals and making plans to achieve them is the basis of strategy. I find that strategy is a difficult concept for many to grasp. Is it a giant to-do list? Is it a report? Is it something I can pass off to someone else? The answer to all of those questions is no.
Once you can wrap your arms around it, knowing how to create an effective strategy is a powerful, if not one of the most powerful tools you can have, second only to the ability to execute on the tactics in your strategy. To help get people who are not familiar with creating strategy, I developed an exercise to help kick-start the process. The exercise is called “Baggage and Barriers.”
Creating a strategy is to start off on a journey with purpose from wherever it is you are now to where you want to go. Imagine looking up 12 flights of stairs and thinking how hard it’s going to be to get up there. Imagine that again, while carrying 50 pounds of baggage on your shoulders. Wouldn’t you rather get started light?
Creating any strategy involves determining where you are now, where you want to go and then creating a plan — aka a roadmap — for how you’ll get there. You not only have to identify barriers to your goals and how you can avoid them. You also need to identify the baggage that is going to slow you down, cause you to stop to catch your breath, or even make you want to give up altogether.
The baggage can be all sorts of things but they are often intangible. Here are some examples:
- Self-limiting beliefs
- Negative mind chatter
- Lack of confidence
- Holding grudges
- Unproductive habits
- Unsupportive friends and family
- Living to other people’s expectations
You can try to counter all of this by having a good plan to move forward, one that identifies and plans out how to get around the barriers.
Some barriers are common to all projects while others will be unique to your situation. Here are some examples:
- Self-limiting behaviors
- Not understanding the rules of the game
- Lacking skill(s) needed
- Lacking funds
- Regulations/regulatory changes
- Red tape
- Poor communication
No matter how well you prepare yourself to navigate the barriers, continuing to carry the baggage around will make you feel as though you’re walking through water.
If you want to start your next project, a strategy, or your career path off on the right foot, remember to not only look ahead but check to see what you’re taking on the journey with you. Now that you’ve ditched the baggage, know what to expect coming up ahead, pave the road with the following:
- Realistic expectations
- Good support networks
- A good roadmap
For a copy of this worksheet, send an email request to [email protected]
Laura Thorne is a GovLoop Featured Contributor. She is an organizational improvement consultant. She specializes in helping business owners and individuals to be more effective. Laura has over 25 years of professional experience and has had opportunities to work with some of the best and worst performing organizations. Read her posts here.