Whether concerning personal finance, education, or the minutiae of day to day life, there are certain basic principles that, when applied, can be used to better ensure success and mitigate the impact of unforeseen events as we set goals and strive to achieve them. One great example of this is the strategic planning process, a tried and tested method of goal setting and reviewing which we will explore below.
The Five Step Process
There are many models that fall under this umbrella term. You will find versions of this planning process designed to cater to specific situations such as market research and product implementation, which would likely be utilized by corporations such as Apple. Others emphasize a more situational approach, focused on dealing with emergent outcomes.
The model we will be using here is a more general version that can be applied to many different topics. It has five steps, which are: to set a goal, create a strategy, plan an action, evaluate and course correct.
There is no true beginning or ending to such a model, as the process is cyclical. However, for our purposes we will begin with the most obvious launching off point: setting a goal we want to accomplish. We will look at each step through several lenses to demonstrate how it can be applied to all areas of life.
1. Goal Setting
First we need to set a goal. We must ask ourselves: “What would success in our chosen plan look like, or, how would we know we have achieved our aim?” Consider that if you were planning to buy a new car, the goal would be that you have signed the papers and are driving in your shiny new vehicle. If, instead, you wanted to beat your friends at a fantasy sports league, say for the NFL, your goal will be achieved once you see the look on your friends faces in the wake of the Super Bowl, knowing you have won the playoffs. And if your plan was to start a business, the beginning of active trading would signify achievement of your aim.
2. Creating Strategies
Next you must create strategies to achieve this goal. This is the how of the process, how do I reach my aim? The fantasy sports hopeful will begin by deciding to build an unstoppable fantasy side, the entrepreneur will begin researching their chosen sector, and the would-be car owner may begin looking at what cars are within their budget.
3. Planning Actions
This is the point at which thought gives way to action; we begin coming up with concrete steps and implementing them. In this stage the entrepreneur would begin seeking investment or registering their company.
The fantasy sports player would look up odds, picks and statistics from online bookmakers such as SBO to get a sense of the relative merits of their chosen players as the season begins. This would be a sound strategy because platforms such as these collate a huge number of sports betting sites in one place, which would enable the fantasy sports player to survey an informative spread of market odds from a single source.
What’s more, should they wish to place a wager, such a platform will empower them to get the best promotions and free bet offers available from among a wide range of providers. As for the car buyer, they would begin touring dealerships and comparing the fuel economies of various models.
At the evaluation stage, elements of the plan are already well underway. Here one needs to simply observe and reflect on what’s working, what isn’t, and what needs to change in order to stay on track to our goal. The fantasy sport player may have found some of their picks didn’t pan out well, or that others are performing better than expected. The car buyer may find they prefer a vehicle that is out of their immediate budget, and the entrepreneur may deem that their business model needs to change in order to stay competitive or viable.
5. Course Correction
The final stage, at least in this first revolution of the planning cycle, is the course correction stage. At this point, we adjust our plans in response to the information we gathered in the evaluation stage. The entrepreneur adjusts the initial business model, the car owner reconciles that they must save more money to get the vehicle that suits them best, and the fantasy sports player reshuffles their team based on the latest odds.
Having completed one revolution, the process begins again by setting fresh goals informed by the insight and experience of the previous cycle. This is what makes the model so effective, as it builds and adjusts itself based on real world effects, ensuring each move you make is grounded and rational.
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