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In my previous post, I shared my background story, touched on how difficult it can be to prioritize our mental health in the workplace, and elaborated on the dark yet beautiful things that often happen when taking our professional development into our own hands. I spoke about strategic vision planning as a skill that I learned while working as an urban planner and how I used it to vision plan my life after quitting that very same job. In my last post, I referenced the time I quit my job by saying:
“It’s moments like these that will test our character. I thought to myself, am I going to away from the things that once moved me and call it a mistake or am I the kind of woman that pats herself on the back for defying statistics and moving skies and mountains to set a path for herself that is now only proof of what she’s capable of. I am the latter, and so I sealed that chapter of my life with no regrets and took with me the valuable things the experience left me with. One of those being strategic vision planning.
I want to speak more about strategic planning more in detail because it has proven to be such a valuable tool in my life. Often times the problem is not that we don’t have goals, it’s that we lack effective action steps and timelines for them to keep ourselves on track. Here at The Truly You, we want every one of our readers to feel empowered and well-equipped when taking full ownership of your dreams. We want you all to have the resources you need to create a plan you can stick you. Ultimately, we want you to win. Let’s hooked you up! Shall we?
What is Vision Planning?
A good way of understanding what vision planning is to think of a vision board with strategy. It is a tool used for long term planning. Companies use strategic plans to determine organizational trajectories and also the operational projects that need to be prioritized in order to get there. Through this prioritization process, certain projects are put on the back burner and budgets are redistributed to reflect final decisions. A vision plan can be used when preparing for business school, moving out of your parents’ home, or getting certified as a doula while starting your own graphic design business. It is seriously that applicable.
Getting started: Identifying your goals.
Forbes’ Five Steps to Achieving Your Vision does a great job at outlining how to get started. It’s a no brainer, but just so we’re all on the same page, I’ll write it out. It all starts with identifying your goals. Forbes suggests listing your goals as accomplishments so that
“By adopting your future mindset now, you can push all that self-doubt aside and these answers become the building blocks to accomplish your vision?”
Here it is important to let go of any limiting belief that you have internalized throughout your life. You are here now taking the steps towards a life that feel yours and there is power in that. Don’t let the fear based projections of others take that away from you. If you don’t know what your goals are take some time to self-reflect and explore what they may be.
A few writings prompts that I find compelling to get you started are:
What have you always wanted to do, but haven’t gotten around to it? What is stopping you?
Do you believe in work/life balance? What does that look like to you?
What do you need today?
What does it mean to be successful to you?
What is one of the desires you have for your career? (Just pick one – it doesn’t have to be the most important or all of them.)
Below is a great example of how inclusive your accomplishments can be. Sacha Chua create her Five Year Vision Plan in 2013. It’s great that she categorized her goals. However, they’re all missing the actual step by step plan for achieving all of these things. It is also not clear yet which of these goals she wants to prioritize with the first or next few years. Imagine getting up from this plan and thinking okay let me tackle everything.
Half the time we are already doing the most. More than not we witnesses our mothers overextending themselves. Let us be gentle with ourselves and mindful of our limits in a loving way. When you begin to plan your long-term goals, say to yourself “I am not taking this on now not because I can’t, but because I’m building an empire and this goal is deserving of my best self. Burnout is not cute! ”
Once you have your future accomplishments, imagine all the possible ways you can achieve them. Similar to a vision board, let your mind wander and explore all possibilities. At this time nothing is out of the question! At least, not until you prioritize what is possible within your time frame, which you’ll do later on.
“The key [thing] here: nothing is unrealistic, out of reach, or too big. Have fun with the exercise.” (Forbes)
Getting real with yourself.
Prioritizing should narrow your mindset of what is possible without limiting it. It’s the reality check we need to have in place. Turning our goals and steps into
SMART goals - STRATEGIC, MEASURABLE, ATTAINABLE, REALISTIC, TIMELY .
will help you figure out what you need to be doing everyday to reach your goals. If we take Chau’s goal of “I have written books about my experiments and other topics” and apply SMART to it, it might look like
“By 2020 I will have written my first book about on holistic strategies for early schizophrenia prevention.”
Chau now needs to backwards plan listing all the steps she will take within the next two years to get there. To each step she will assign a deadline. She will brainstorm the resources she might need and at the end look at every step and ask herself:
Is this strategic? Is this step adding value?
Is it measurable? Can I quantify my accomplishments?
Is it attainable?
Is it realistic given the amount of work within the time frame?
Do I have a reasonable deadline?
A SMART goal will always let you know exactly what you need to do, by when, and for what purpose.
My vision plan to land an editorial job is as holistic as is Chau’s. When I left my job I was drained and needed not only to reclaim my worth knowing I’d be a valuable asset to any team, but I needed to heal and find time to continue working on my craft. I prioritized all of my goals that fell into self care, job search, and professional development. I signed up for a yoga teacher trainer to keep me sane while I job searched. I created a personal branding plan and social media strategy for my blog to keep me somewhat consistent while I continued to apply for jobs.
My end goal was attainable in that I did not put a date to when I’d have a full time job. I stayed within my limits of what I knew would be timely possible. By the end of 2017 I will be a certified yoga teacher and launch a Curated Hustle, a brand I began working on while on my creative sabbatical, with two blog posts. Lastly, I healed. I didn't overcrowd my intentions because I want to allow space to mourn my old life. I spent a lot of time alone with myself figuring me out. My room at my parents’ home became both my safe haven and studio for all things creative. I troubleshooted my when things felt too far reached and got a puppy. Flexibility is key and there is so much power in admitting when something is not working.
What I learned as an urban planner is that no plan is perfect. In fact, the thing that frustrated me the most about the job was just how much we went back and replanned the same plan! I’m not even joking. However, the end goal never shifted and we always remained certain of what it was we were trying to achieve. We only evaluated the strategies that would best get us there. Similarly, my goal to land an editorial job has not shifted but the strategy shifts a little every so often based on what I’m learning about along the way about myself and how to effectively do a career change.
Here are some resources to help you with your task organization and follow-through:
The Vision Planning Guide:
This worksheet was created by us with you in mind, just for YOU. Download, share with friends, and get your life right! You get a worksheet, they get a worksheet, everyone gets a worksheet! If you have not seen Mean Girls, I’m sorry.
The Passion Planner is more than just a planner. It is a planner that is intended to get you through the first stage of vision planning. At the beginning of the planner there are prompts that help you identify your goals. The planner is a daily and hourly planner with a priority of tasks for the week, all in a two page spread view. It’s a great planner for someone whose schedule changes on the day to day. I find that if I’m automatically blocking of 8 hours for WORK on the hourly spread, this is not is useful for me.
Online Task Management Tools:
Trello and Asanaare both great once you’ve identified your goals and know your timelines for them. They free task management tools that let you create separate projects (called Boards, on Trello), assign a lead person (great when working with a team), and lock down deadlines.
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