Sunday, January 8, 2012

The Third Step Toward Your Personal Future

This third step could be titled Personal Strategic Planning, because it follows many of the same steps used in corporate strategic planning. But… personal strategic planning is a much simpler process, and it works!

First, you need a vision of your future. Why do you need a vision? Your vision of your future is a destination, a target to aim for; a place to go. As an analogy, if you decide to go on a vacation, one of your first decisions must be the destination. Until you have a destination, there is very little you can do about planning your vacation. The same thing is true about planning for the future. You need a target— a destination.

Some people have a little trouble with the concept of creating a vision of their future, their life ten years from now, because the image is too big and too complex. I suggest that you break your life into the six parts we discussed earlier, your personal domains:

·         Activities

·         Finances

·         Health

·         Housing

·         Social

·         Transportation

Now, ask yourself, for each of these personal domains, “What do I want my life to be like in this domain ten years from now?” Remember, you are not predicting a future in this domain, you are describing a future you want to experience.

That should give you six different views of your future. Next, combine those six views of your future into one— your vision of your future.  Now you have a destination!

In my opinion, developing the vision is the key to strategic planning at any level.

Once you have a vision of the future you want to be living ten years from now, you can start creating strategies to achieve that future. Once again, go back to your six personal domains and design strategies for each domain. Think back to the analogy I used earlier, planning a vacation. Once you have a destination for your vacation (your vision), you can make decisions about how (fly, drive, cruise, etc.) you will get to your destination, where you will stay, and what you will do (your strategies).

It’s worthwhile to spend some time developing your strategies.  Your strategies are how you choose to get from where you are to where you want to be, so there may be several choices. Try to find the best strategy for you in every case.

When you have decided on your strategies, you then ready to decide on when you will execute each part of each strategy over the next ten years. This will become your “action” plan; the series of actions you will take to execute each of your strategies over the next ten years. There are different ways to approach the action plan. One is to start from today and lay out a sequence of steps for each strategy. Another is to pretend you are in your future, than look backward to see what sequence of actions you followed to arrive in your future. In practice, you may find that you develop the sequences combining those two approaches.

Now, this is important. Read it twice. Your action plan is a guide to your future that can be changed at any time. You are not and should not feel locked in to a plan. This is your plan, and you are free to change it at any time. Just like your vacation plans, you should be able to make changes at any time.

Finally, create contingency plans for low-probability, high-impact events (wild cards) that may occur over the next ten years. Think through the strategies and actions for each event, then write down what you decide. If the event occurs, you have a plan and are ready to deal with the event.

And that is personal futuring in three steps; understanding your life, exploring alternate futures, and creating a vision, strategies and plans for your future.

 In my next blog, I’ll suggest how to analyze your plan and make adjustments where necessary.

If you haven’t already, consider downloading the free Personal Futures Workbook at  You can also sign in to receive occasional newsletters about Personal Futuring.
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