In the business world, almost all of us have been a part of a strategic planning process. Some were good, some were bad. Some were done because a board or senior executive required it while others were created as a roadmap to guide future success. The best strategic plans provide milestones and goals but not specific directions for getting there. They take into account the possible detours, side trips, and life events that may come upon the road to your goals. In short, they define the desired destination but leave room to create the journey.
So when was the last time you created a strategic plan for your life? This could be any part of your life – career, marriage, family, personal, friendships, spiritual, physical, financial, etc. While our focus at Merrfeld is on career and professional goals, we know that we live our lives most fully when we give time and attention to all of the complex facets of our lives. This is why we spend time building a strategic plan each year for our company, ourselves, our finances, our family, and our marriage. I’m going to break my own rule and get personal about the strategy we put in place that has brought us a decade of success despite experiencing roadblocks that many struggle to overcome.
When we met ten years ago, we agreed almost immediately to build a plan for our lives, marriage, and family. We decided to approach our relationship like a business and build our first ever Merrfeld Strategic Plan. Merrfeld Career Management wasn’t even a twinkle in our eye, but we knew that the best way to find success in our life together was to be clear about what we wanted, make sure our goals aligned, and learn how to support one another in our individual goals.
We dug deep and had serious talks about parenting, finances, spirituality, professional and personal goals, wellness, and even travel goals. There were whiteboards, notebooks, Post-Its, and serious amounts of chocolate (just like all strategic planning sessions, right?) We identified areas where we aligned and those where we didn’t. We found compromises where we needed to and agreed on milestones. We learned how the other wanted to be supported and agreed to do our best to love one another the way we wanted to receive love. It wasn’t easy but as I look back over these last ten years, it’s been a vital part of our success.
As we changed careers, built a business, became empty-nesters, and grew in our marriage the plan changed but the planning never did. Each year, we set milestones to reach personally, professionally, and as a couple. Some years (just like at work) the unexpected happened and things were either easier or harder, but two things remained consistent: we knew where we were headed, and we always knew where home was.
What have we achieved since 2010 thanks to planning? We’ve built a successful business, been caregivers to a child with a potentially fatal illness, paid off six figures in medical debt from the illness, relocated our entire business and family to a new city, found a spiritual center that serves us both equally, supported loved ones in the most critical of times, and continued to grow a marriage that we’re proud of.
We’re not perfect and we get it wrong a lot but I’ve learned something along the way. Building a strategic plan for your entire life, not just your professional life, is the ultimate in self-care.