,d.cGU&psig=AFQjCNG-84u2kd-W1pNyj7VwO-8SRsl7xA&ust=1387505587784429I recently picked up “Being Strategic: Plan for success, Out-think your competitors and Stay ahead of change” by Erika Andersen, a book my parents had lying around the house. I’m not generally one for self-help type books, but I had some free time and I could use a little professional guidance to strategically plan for my future, so I went to Starbucks and opened it up. In this post, I will outline Erika’s approach to helping professionals be strategic as interpreted by me.

First, we need to define “strategic.” According to Andersen, “Being strategic means consistently making those core directional choices that will best move you toward your hoped-for future.” Okay, now we can begin.

1. Determine the “what is.”

Erika writes that this is where you explore your current situation and how it came to be. Think of this as Point A, your starting point. Look at every factor: location, professional title, past experience, education, ect.

2.  Set your goal(s).

In order to be strategic, you have to ask yourself, “What is my hoped-for future?” Then, of course, you have to answer it. Make sure your goals are “clearly defined. realistic and aspirational,” says Erika. Once you’ve figured out your hopes and dreams (no pressure.), you can start the journey.

3.  Evaluate what is in your way.

We all face obstacles. No path to success is smooth. This is where you need to take an objective look at what could be blocking your path from “what is” to your hoped-for future. It is at this point that you need to become a “Fair Witness,” requiring you to observe and report without much interpretation.

Think of the difference between the two statements: “This sweater is too small for me,” which is a statement of fact, and “I look horrible and fat in this tight sweater,” which is an interpretation.

4. Map out your path.

Now, that you have all the necessary information, you can make a path to navigate your way to your hoped-for future. Make sure to plan for the obstacles your foresee, and that every step  consistently takes you toward your hoped-for future.

This step has two prongs: select your strategies and then, select your tactics. Erika uses the metaphor of building a castle. You have to design the castle and then you have to decide how you are going to build it.

Need some help with your “What is?” Take Erika’s quiz: Are you strategic? After that, I really recommend checking out the book, which has worksheets within that will help with your strategic plan. Additionally, there are great anecdotes to help with things like conflict resolution and working as a team.

21 thoughts on “4 Steps to Being Strategic from Erika Andersen

  1. Sounds like a must read! The problem for a lot of folks is to determine what IS a hope and what IS a dream and how to differentiate between the two to determine what is actually achievable! But a map is essential and this sounds like a great map-builder!

    • Agreed. I often find myself struggling to find the balance between my feasible goals and my greatest ambitions. Building a road map is the perfect place to start working towards successes that will help me succeed beyond my wildest dreams.

  2. Hey Gabbs,

    Like I said as a poker player, like I say in blogging, it’s all about the strategy. This is the one thing we can control and tweak if need be.

    Sounds like you’re way ahead of me though!


  3. Aw, I remember that book. It’s been a while and worth a second look. Creating a map of what you want to accomplish with goals (benchmarks) can really give you a push to get it it done. The fact is, that isn’t as easy a task as it sounds but it so worth the effort. Good luck.:-)

    • Thanks, Susan. So far, it has been a lot of writing, crossing out and rewriting to get exactly what I want to accomplish. I think that even if you don’t stick exactly to the map, it gives you some things to think about in the process.

  4. I realize that the biggest impediment to my strategic planning is not really knowing what my goals are which may sound strange for a person of my age. The good news is that as a baby boomer, I’ve already achieved a lot of my goals: advanced degree–check; career–check; happy marriage—check; sons launched—check. So, now what? I am about to go on a very long trip–5 plane rides. My goal is to use some of this “down” time, to do some serious thinking about my next phase.

    • Long term goals are definitely hard. For me, I’m always wondering “What’s my next big thing?” That’s TBD. For now, health is an “easy” and logical one to make. Better to make it a habit now.

      Have fun on your trip!

  5. I looked at the cover of the book, and what attracted my eye? The illustration of the castle with the brightly colored flag. I’m drawn into illustrations, so one of my goals is further developing my illustration skills.

    I often don’t get inspired by self-help books – I usually prefer real people for inspiration. But if I had the book in front of me, I would certainly take a look.

    • Hi, Leora!

      Erika uses the story of the King of Wales building a castle on a hill to illustrate her points about being strategic. The cover is very fun and colorful! It grabbed my attention.

  6. Thanks for this post. Good approach to goal setting. I am in the process of thinking through my goals for 2014. This will help. I’d hadn’t thought to consciously consider obstacles.

  7. It is certainly a challenge to reach goals sometimes. For example, I’m trying to get to a point where my martial arts skills are good enough to open my own school. So what is standing in my way? Well, I need the time AND money to go to class. DUH! But if those two problems were easy enough to solve, then I would have done so by now! Sometimes you can come up with easy answers to your roadblocks, but then solutions aren’t so forthcoming.

    I started a new job where I am not earning that much money. That means either lots of overtime, or working a second job. That would give me the MONEY to go to class, but not the time. However, this company is expanding, so there is a good chance I will get a position that pays me enough to not need overtime or a second job. We’ll see.

    • Not all obstacles are easy to overcome, but I think that is the point of planning your route with them in mind. You can plan, knowing that those obstacles will alter your path.

      Thanks for stopping by!

  8. Terrific post, and very timely for me, as I have recently set some fairly hefty goals for myself. But I feel ready to focus and work towards them, so I am confident I will achieve them. All the best to you in 2014, and thx for sharing.

  9. Yes, goals need to be well thought out then well planned. Once I have made a decision, then I pick a goal date for completion and work backwards on the steps until I know what my first step is for today.

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