How to build a strategy for your career and life

Hey Parent Brains, 

Now we’ve painted a bright future for you and your career, it’s time to build a strategy. 

A strategy is nothing more than knowing where you are going, where you are right now and what obstacles/problems/learnings exist in the gap between the two. 

There are 5 simple stages to building a strategy for your life, but they do require some deep reflection and thinking. 

Stage 1 – Paint the bright future

I won’t labour on about this, as we’ve covered this already here

But I will say that if you don’t know what you want, how can you ever build a strategy to get there?

How will you know what to do each day, month or year, if you don’t know where you’re going?

If you’ve not already, then head to Step 1 and start putting together a bright and compelling future painted picture. 

Stage 2 – Understand your current reality

In order to know what to do next and how to move forward, we need to take stock of where we are right now.

This takes study and self reflection. You need to understand where you are right now.

Be honest. Lean in to this reality. This is a hard step, because it requires us to do the hard work of looking at ourselves and truly understand our abilities, skills, seasons of life and current reality. 

It can be painful and requires honesty with yourself. 

But once it’s done, you’ll know what to do next to move to the bright future.

Let’s say you want to become a better cook.

  • How good are you at cooking right now?
  • What can you cook? What can’t you cook?
  • What sort of food to do you want to learn to make?
  • Do you have the right appliances, utensils etc?
  • Do you need professional training?

By understanding where you are, you’ll know what obstacles, training, learning, opportunities etc that you need to move towards.

Stage 3 – Identify obstacles and blockers

Now we know where we are and where we want to get to, we can look at what’s stopping us from achieving it.

In fact, the question we need to ask is this:

“If this bright future is so compelling, then why are we not already there yet?”

In this stage of building a strategy for your life you need to spend some time and list out everything that is a current obstacle. 

Think about all of the reasons, real or made-up, that are preventing you from obtaining this bright future. 

This could be:

  • Lack of money
  • Lack of training
  • Too much other work 
  • Not enough experience
  • Health

It’s also important to think about other things that could crop up and do the hard work of predicting those obstacles. 

When we embark on any journey we will encounter many obstacles, some of them we could have predicted, some we knew about and some will be out of the blue. 

The goal with this exercise is to think of as many as possible so that we can build a plan. 

Stage 4 – Put a plan in writing

A strategy must have a plan on how we’re moving forward. This is the same for work as it is for our own lives. Without a plan we won’t truly know whether our energy and attention are focused not the right things.

The plan should address the basic question of:

“What’s the next steps in overcoming the obstacles and problems that lie between where I am now, and where I want to be?”

It sounds simple, but this stage requires some thinking and time.

The plan should be realistic and achievable, but should push us in the right direction.

In the previous post I talked about 1 and 5 year goals. These are the high level foundations for your plan.

But now, in this section, we need to add some depth to those goals.

Use whatever system or tool works for you. There is no right or wrong – only the fact that this stage will be what guides your action and behaviours, so it needs writing down.

  • Do you need to save some money, learn some new skills, carve out some more time – how will you do that?
  • Do you need to write X amount of words per day – how will you do that?
  • Do you need to research what it takes to become a manager in your organisation – what’s involved?
  • When do things need doing by?
  • What needs to be done?
  • Is it just you doing the work, or do you have a team, or help, or support?

Don’t add lots of pressure to yourself. Try not to compare your plan and work output to others. It’s for you – to deliver what you need to deliver – in the time scales that make sense for you and your season of life. 

There is nothing more stressful than a plan copied or based on somebody else’s life.

Stage 5 – Execute the plan

Now you have a plan it’s time to start executing it. This is about carving out time and energy to deliver the plan.

We’ll cover lots more in future videos about this. For now though, try and create a routine that works for your season of life. We all have different commitments and time, so adjust accordingly.