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Strategic plans are tools that many organizations use to keep themselves successful and on track. A strategic plan is a roadmap for success. You can use the same sort of plan to establish a route to academic success in high school or college. The plan may involve a strategy for achieving success in a single year of high school or for your entire educational experience. Ready to get started? Most basic strategic plans contain these five elements:
- Mission Statement
- Strategy or Methods
- Evaluation and Review
Create a Mission Statement
You will kick off your roadmap for success by determining your overall mission for the year (or four years) of education. Your dreams will be put into words in a written statement called a mission statement. You need to decide ahead of time what you'd like to accomplish, then write a paragraph to define this goal.
This statement can be a little vague, but that's only because you need to think big at the beginning stage. (You'll see that you should go into detail a little later.) The statement should spell out an overall target that would enable you to reach your highest potential.
Your statement should be personalized: it should fit your individual personality as well as your special dreams for the future. As you craft a mission statement, consider how you are special and different, and think about how you can tap in to your special talents and strengths to achieve your target. You might even come up with a motto.
Sample Mission Statement
Stephanie Baker is a young woman determined to graduate in the top two percent of her class. Her mission is to use the gregarious, open side of her personality to build positive relationships, and to tap in to her studious side to keep her grades high. She will manage her time and her relationships to establish a professional reputation by building on her social skills and her study skills. Stephanie's motto is: Enrich your life and reach for the stars.
Select the Goals
Goals are general statements that identify some benchmarks you'll need to accomplish in order to meet your mission. Most likely you will need to address some possible stumbling blocks you may face on your journey. As in business, you need to recognize any weaknesses and create a defensive strategy in addition to your offensive strategy.
- I will set aside specific times to do homework.
- I will build relationships with teachers who write great recommendations!
- I will identify and eliminate time-wasting activities by half.
- I will manage relationships that involve drama and that threaten to drain my energy.
Plan Strategies for Reaching Every Goal
Take a good look at the goals you've developed and come up with specifics for reaching them. If one of your goals is dedicating two hours a night to homework, a strategy for reaching that goal is to decide what else might interfere with that and plan around it.
Be real when you examine your routine and your plans. For instance, if you are addicted to American Idol or So You Think You Can Dance, make plans to record your show(s) and also to keep others from spoiling the outcomes for you.
See how this reflects reality? If you think something so frivolous as planning around a favorite show doesn't belong in a strategic plan, think again! In real life, some of the most popular reality shows consume four to ten hours of our time every week (watching and discussing). This is just the sort of hidden roadblock that can bring you down!
Objectives are clear and measurable statements, as opposed to goals, which are essential but indistinct. They are specific acts, tools, numbers, and things that provide concrete evidence of success. If you do these, you'll know you're on track. If you don't carry out your objectives, you can bet you're not reaching your goals. You can kid yourself about many things in your strategic plan, but not objectives. That's why they're important.
- Buy a planner and write in it every day.
- Sign a homework contract.
- Secure a device for recording my favorite shows.
- Take a learning style exam to determine my best learning style.
Evaluate Your Progress
It's not easy to write a good strategic plan on your first try. This is actually a skill that some organizations find difficult. Every strategic plan should have in place a system for an occasional reality check. If you find, halfway through the year, that you are not meeting goals; or if you discover a few weeks into your "mission" that your objectives aren't helping you to get where you need to be, it may be time to revisit your strategic plan and hone it.