Most people make an annual plan instead of a strategy at start of every New Year. Is that effective?
Why are some people living a decent life while others are wondering about what to eat in the evening?
The answer is not something you may think.
When I was growing up, I had fixed all my focus on joining a local technical school in our village and graduating as a car mechanic. I failed.
One day, my late grandfather looked into my eyes and said “I know only of Makerere University where the people who run this district study. If you want to make it, study hard and go through the doors of Makerere University.” I was just in a primary seven vacation a week after failing the entry exams at a technical college. However, the words of direction by grandpa changed my life.
Without knowing it, I had made a strategic choice: join secondary school. Study hard and join Makerere University. And the rest is history.
Strategy vs a plan?
Strategy is different from a plan. When you are making a strategy, you are coming up with choices of how you plan to win in the subsequent years. For example, if you plan to have a child in two years’ time, you must decide your preferred option to get that child: adoption or birth? Once you make a choice, get a partner and produce a baby, then you can put in place a plan of action on how to find the ideal partner to have a child with.
What I find most ineffective is making an annual plan at the beginning of a new year without putting into any perspective. At the end of the day, it won’t help.
For example, if you don’t first decide how you will have a baby, chances are that you will not be focused and concentrate.
Also read: Complacency kills careers
How to plan better
Have short, medium and long-term plan.
To be most effective, begin by asking yourself; “In the next 10 years, where would I like to be? What will I have done to achieve my 10 years’ plan? What will you have accomplished this year to ensure that your 10 year plan is achieved?”
If you just make an annual plan that doesn’t fit into a bigger long term plan, it is likely that you will not get there. It is more of adhoc planning. It’s not thought through.
Planning is more effective when you put long term into perspective to guide what you are doing in short term. It’s like saying that in the long term, you would like to be one of the best investment bankers in New York. When are you going to do that? Can it be achieved within a year? Of course it might not be achievable within a year. It requires a clear step by step plan.
If you are 15 years old and your dream is by 25 years you are a leading investment banker in New York, what does it take? Somebody might tell you to achieve that, study in an A-class university like Harvard University or Oxford University. That way you begin getting into the radar to be ‘discovered’ by good recruiters looking for brilliant talent.
It’s not just about going to that university, you must be among the top students winning scholarships, championing new innovations and causes so that everybody gets to recognise you. You can’t wake up overnight and become a leading investment banker in New York!
If you want to achieve long term, begin with clarity of where you want to be.
What you need to have achieved in the short and medium term. You must be creating strong networks to ensure that anybody can recommend you. You can create these networks by working closely with religious institutions say a church or a mosque as a volunteer or at a leading company. These networks build a strong foundation to achieving the long term.
That is why many people who wake up, make resolutions and plans for the year remain stagnating. They never achieve their potential.
Start thinking long term. Then beak it down.