233 The Ultimate Guide to Strategic Planning At Anytime

The Ultimate Guide to Strategic Planning At Anytime


Unlock the power to achieve your dreams at any moment with my seven-step strategic planning process, designed to guide you through mapping out your ambitions, regardless of the date. Forget about waiting for New Year's resolutions or the perfect moment; I'm showing you how to take charge now, with a flexible timeline that suits your goals, whether they span months or years. 

You'll learn how to:

  • Select the best tools for visualizing your objectives
  • Incorporate your existing commitments into a personalized plan that works for you
  • Transform your aspirations into actionable steps toward success.


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Hey friends, I wanted to make sure that if you are have a desire to create, kind of some long-term, really strategic plans, I don't what you feeling like. You have to wait until the start of a new year in order to do that. All right, and I get questions a lot about this, because I do hold a live annual planning event. People like, oh, I guess I just got to wait till next year to do that kind of long-term planning. Absolutely not so. In today's episode, I'm going to share with you some simple steps that you can do at any time that you have a desire to create a longer, more strategic plan to get some big projects, goals etc. Done. So let's go ahead and jump in.

Welcome to the work life harmony podcast. I'm your host, Megan Sumrell. I'm the creator of the top program and top planner teaching all things time management, organization and productivity for women. I'm also a mom and wife and, just like you, I'm juggling hashtag all the things While running multiple businesses and a family. Guess what? You don't have to feel constantly overwhelmed, exhausted and stressed out. There is another way. When you have the right systems and tools to plan and manage your time, you can live a life of harmony. This is your show to learn from me and other amazing women how to master your time Planning an organization to skyrocket your productivity so you can have work life harmony. If you're ready to stop feeling overwhelmed, this is the show for you, and if you're new here, I'd love to get you started with my work life harmony assessment. All you have to do is DM me on Instagram, at Megan Sumrell, with the word harmony and my team will send it right over there. Welcome to the work life harmony podcast now. When this episode first appeared here on the podcast, the date that this has dropped is in March of 2024 and the reason why I wanted to make sure you knew the date of this so you would understand a little bit more about the conversation that we're going to be having here today inside of the podcast.

So once a year I hold a live what I call annual planning event. It's always in Q4 and I teach my process for doing 12 month annual planning for the upcoming year. But it's something I only teach live once a year, so I always start, you know, hearing from people come January, february etc. That have heard about the event, a friend has told them about it or Shared something they've learned and they reach out and they're like, oh my gosh, are you gonna be doing this again soon?

And and I really because, like it's a annual planning event, I only just hold it once a year but it made me realize that there's definitely a misconception out there, which is this I think people feel like that long-term strategic planning is Something that can only be done, like, from a January to December window, and that is absolutely not true. So what I want to do today is actually empower you and equip you with a seven-step process that you could do right now, today. If you're wanting to create a longer term strategic plan, all right. You don't have to wait until you know I hold a live annual planning event to do that. Long-term planning does not have to fall under any set calendar time frame, all right. So if you are brand new to longer term planning, you're like I really want to create a longer term plan, maybe it's for the rest of this year, maybe it's for the next six months. I want to give you seven steps that's gonna help you do that, all right.

So step one is this how far out do you want to plan? You need to figure out kind of what? What time box window Are you looking at for your plan? Now, for the steps I'm going to give you, I Personally would recommend that you're doing it. You know, somewhere around a five to six months and longer. So maybe you want to plan as time. This drops again, as March. Maybe you're wanting to create a plan for the next nine months of 2024. Maybe you're wanting to just do the next six months.

The process I'm sharing here today is not what I use to do my weekly planning. Okay, this is more strategic, long term, to help you get a, an actual roadmap in place of how am I gonna get From here to there and there is way out in the future, realistically, what's possible, what's not All right. So step one is deciding how far out do you want to plan Now? Our second step is this you need to decide on the tool that you are going to use that gives you a higher level Planning ability to capture your current commitments. What does all of that mean? I'm going to tell you. So maybe you use a paper planner today, all right, and it's a planner that has a weekly layout and it has months. Well, that's good. But what we're really looking for here is a tool that, either on one or two pieces of paper Like if you're thinking of a notebook, where you open it and there's two pieces of paper right, we want to make sure that we have the entire timeline that you're planning for or captured there. Okay, now I will show you what I use. If you're watching the video here, you'll be able to see it. I have a page that fits into my top planner that comes with my Plano Palooza inserts, and I have one page for all of 2024 and it's broken up into six Identically sized squares representing I'm sorry 12 Identically sized squares representing the 12 months of the year. Okay, so this doesn't need to be dated. You just want to make sure that you have a Tool that's going to allow you to capture your current commitments For the time frame that you are wanting to plan.

All right, and then the second step. The second part of this step is you need to go look at the realities of now to your end date and I'm just gonna say December 31st, because that's easy to say and I want you to flip through. Where you currently capture things You've already said yes to that are large, right trips You're taking, maybe a conference that you are going to, maybe the entire summer break for school. If that changes the way your life works, all right, and you're actually going to write those down Into the place that you are capturing that information. What we're ultimately after here with step one and two is that you have something that, visually, is showing you what time commitments have you already made between now and your end date.

All right, think of it. If we and I use money analogies a lot, think about it in terms of a budget, right? Well, you, you have the ability to track what are all the bills and payments that you know about that you're gonna need to spend money on for the rest of the year. Maybe you know what your salary is coming in, when you can do the math to say here's how much money is left over. That's what we're after here for these longer term projects. How much time, what? What do I really have available for me? All right, now, once we've captured that notice, I'm not even we haven't even gotten to the point yet of what is it you want to do, because first we need to understand what's even available to me.

All right, like when I look at my longer term plans, I can kind of see, the month of June is pretty much like done for. I don't want to plan on doing anything new in June. I don't want to say yes to anything big in June. The realities of my life trips, school schedules, all of that I'm done. Here we are in March and I already know anything big that comes across. You know my path for June I'm gonna have to say nope, not gonna work.

Okay, so now on to step three. Now we get to sit and say, okay, what do I want to accomplish? What are the things at this end date so maybe December 31st the larger things, the things that are gonna take me several weeks and or months to complete, what is it ideally I'd like to accomplish? Now when I run my annual planning event, there's a lot of steps that we go through to help uncover those. But if you're listening to this because you're wanting to learn, how do I get a longer term plan in place, chances are you've already got a few projects in your man, in your you know ahead that you're thinking of that You'd really like to get done, so you don't need to overthink it. Just what is on the top of your mind that you know I really want to go ahead and have this done, all right, and write that down, jot that down and you might have two things. You might have seven things, who knows? Only you know what that's going to be Now. Step four is this we're now going to look at the big projects that you've just thought about and you're gonna go back to that visual tool that you've given yourself and you need to start thinking about, okay, what are some little interim Milestones that I might want to hit along the way for this longer term project? Now let me give you an example, just because I know I hear this a lot.

Folks sometimes set a goal of wanting to declutter their home in the course of a year. All right, so maybe it's March and you're like all right, I really want to declutter my home by the end of the year. I? Well, when we go, look at the tool where you've written down your months from, you know, maybe April through the end of December, and your current commitments of everything that you have going on. Well, now what you can do is start setting little kind of mini steps along the way. So you might decide that in the month of July, maybe you write down on that July block that you're going to do like the kitchen is the big thing that you want to work on that particular month. You can write in declutter kitchen, all right. Maybe you see that June is completely booked like mine is, and you realize I'm probably not going to make any progress there. But you look ahead to August and maybe you say, okay, august is when I'm going to go ahead and tackle these two closets. All right, I'm just making up some examples, but I want to get your brain, your wheels going here, of what those milestones might look like.

Maybe you want to write a book this year, all right, and so you can break down little milestones of. I need to get you know how many chapters do I want to have written, or how many pages, however, you want to break it out for yourself. But now we actually need to write that in to that visual tool that we've just created to see is this goal reasonable with what I've already committed to for the year? When you go through that step, that step four of trying to create realistic milestones, you might discover, gosh, getting this done by December 31st probably isn't going to happen. I might need to bring it all the way into next March, and that's okay, right, wouldn't you rather step into this knowing that your goal is actually going to change a little bit on how much you're going to get done in December, but you know that it's realistic. That's what it's all about.

Now, step five is the really important one, and now you need to think about what activities specifically are going to get you there. Not, oh, I'll just like no, what specific activities? All right, the actual steps that you're going to take, like writing a book, what would those specific activities might be? Well, I need to get an outline for the book. I need to come up with a title for the book. I need to write you know, maybe you're feeling it's a 12 chapter book I need to write chapter one, chapter two. I need to edit the book, right. So, the actual activities that you have control over, we need to write those down. Okay, that's step five.

Now step six is getting those into your more shorter timeframe plans, and for me that means weekly planning. So it means that I'm going to have a list of activities that I know I need to do to help me get there, and now I'm going to make sure, when I'm doing my weekly planning, that I see time on my calendar blocked out for those specific activities. This is where the rubber meets the road, friends, because a lot of people are really good at setting goals. A lot of people are really good at breaking down big projects. A lot of people are really good at setting those milestones and they're really good at even writing down okay, here's everything I gotta do to get there. But if you then don't go into, where you know, the tool that you're using whether it's a Google Calendar, ical, a paper plan or whatever it may be if you don't go in there and actually block off the time in your calendar to do those activities, what you're gonna end up with is a gorgeous plan and a to-do list that never gets into motion. All right, this is why step six is so important.

Now I mentioned there's seven steps, and the seventh step is this you need to check in regularly. This tool that you're building where you're gonna be mapping out you know what your strategic goals are and how you're gonna get there needs to be in a place that you see it. Often I keep mine in the very front page of my planner Any time something comes across my desk or I'm thinking about doing something and I'm trying to decide when I go. Look at that to see what am I already committed to? What have I created as my plan? If I say yes to this, am I gonna be overbooked? If I say yes to this at that time, is that not good and maybe I need to pick a different time? Right? So it needs to be. This isn't something you create and put on the shelf. It needs to be something that you revisit.

So let's recap those seven steps, all right. Number one how far out do you wanna plan? Number two creating your visual aid, if you will. That's going to show you from here until then on one or two pieces of paper, and then plug in what you've already said yes to. Right, what are the withdrawals of your time that are already spoken for Now.

Step three at this end date, what is it you want to accomplish? What is that strategic plan that you're trying to hit? Step four now, how do we break this down into realistic milestones and add those in to your visual tool? All right, now step five is when we're gonna brainstorm the specific activities on how to get there. Step six is now actually putting the time into your calendar to protect it and preserve it. To do that. And then, finally, number seven is you need to go back and look at this thing often. This should be something you're looking at regularly.

Now I'm gonna be honest. What I just shared with you all here today is, if you are brand new to planning, this might feel very new and very different for you. We go through these steps, but we add in a bunch more, and we do a lot of detail on that whenever I teach very strategic, long-term annual planning. But what I've shared here today is something you can 100% go out and implement now and it's going to help you have an honest relationship with your time, and it's gonna prevent you from two things it's gonna prevent you from overbooking, overcommitting and setting unrealistic goals, and it's also going to protect the time that you desire to achieve the goals Once you see, yeah, I can do this this year, so that you get to say yes to things that serve you better and you get to say no to things that aren't in support of that strategic plan.

Right Now, as always, you are the author of your plans, which means you get to change them when you need to. I have created many annual plans in my life and never have they played out exactly as I had planned them. When I'm doing 12 months right, things shift and change over the course of the year, but when you have these tools in place, it allows you to replan, it allows you to make changes and it continues to serve you in a very, very supportive way. So I hope you have enjoyed this. If you are brand new again to planning, I do have a podcast series out there you may wanna go check out. It was a four-part series that I ran towards the end of 2023, called the Four Levels of Planning, and in there I break down the difference between weekly, monthly, quarterly and annual planning. So what I've been sharing here today are things that we typically do that we see in annual planning, a little bit in quarterly planning, but it is again more geared towards that longer-term planning.

So don't feel like you need to wait till the end of this year to go ahead and create a long-term strategic plan. With these tools, you can do it at any point. Getting on top of all things time management, organization and productivity doesn't have to stop just because this episode is over. If you want one tap access to all of my training and current top podcasts, go to the App Store or Google Play and download the PinkBee app. It's one word, the PinkBee. It is jam-packed with simple yet powerful tips and strategies to get you out of overwhelm and into harmony. And if you have a question you want me to cover on a future episode, go to iTunes and ask your question in the podcast review section. And while you're there, don't forget to leave a five-star review. Thank you.


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