The word “strategy” comes from the Greek strategos, which combines stratos (“army”) and agein (“to lead”).
You can have all the time, resources, desires and intentions in the world, but without a plan of action to marshal those assets, you won’t get much closer to what you want.
For some people, it’s easy to put a plan together. They get satisfaction from doing the research and coming up with a timeline and list of milestones and tasks that lead to their goals. And there is help out there for those of us with plenty of enthusiasm and no idea where to start making sense of the information, inspiration and expertise we can find on the internet, on TV and in bookstores.
Did you anticipate some challenges to your strategy? Whether you’re a planner or not, you’ve probably considered and possibly accounted for distractions and life—work deadlines, a snow day or the flu—when those things get in the way of your steps toward your goal.
But there’s one factor in any plan’s success or failure that most of us forget: the word yes. Not just saying “yes” to more than you can take on, although that’s a mistake most of us make. We often say “yes” to things—by putting them into our plans—that we know, deep down, are commitments we don’t intend to or simply can’t fulfill or make. Conscious or not, we set ourselves up for failure or some pretty discouraging self-talk when we break our promise to ourselves and our goals by making plans that just don’t align with what we can or are willing to do.
The solution might surprise you: Fix the promise, not the person. Already made your plan and making some progress? Congratulations. Take a few minutes to evaluate your next steps to make sure they line up with what you’re willing to do and what life allows. Haven’t started or are already off track? Consider whether what you’re planning or doing (or trying to do) fits with your values and your life. Maybe time with your kids after dinner is competing with your Paleo meal prep (and making something else for them). It could be that your plan just needs a life adjustment, like getting the kids in on the kitchen action and learning to measure and mix. Or it could be that your new diet is a commitment that’s simply out of line with what’s possible or what you value most: time with your toddler.
When you say “yes” to the things that you’re willing to do and make sense for your life, your plans and commitment align to create the most important kind of integrity—the kind that makes it much more likely you’ll get what you want. In fact, with that same “yes” and with that powerful integrity of plans and commitments, you’ve just made real the possibility for your dreams to come true. It’s the same kind of integrity you find in the plot for a great story, in which the protagonist’s action is completely in character. Your strategy can set you—and keep you—on the path of the story you want, and the happy ending you can get.
Photo credit: Adobe Stock, Chris Titze Imaging