NUR350 : The Class : Transition : Strategic : Strategic Plan

The Personal Strategic Planning Process

© Ro Haddon, 2000


The Personal Strategic Plan was developed by Rosalinda Haddon, nursing faculty, Department of Nursing, Northern Arizona University. She has found it very effective in all her leadership relationships and continues to use it in her consulting business.

Over the next several weeks, you will be assigned specific steps of the Personal Strategic Plan to develop. You will complete the plan in four assignments, each of which will focus on three steps of the plan as follows:

Week 3 1st assignment 20 points: Steps 1-3
Week 5 2nd assignment 20 points: Steps 4-6
Week 7 3rd assignment 20 points: Steps 6-9
Week 9 4th assignment 40 points: Steps 10-12 and final synthesis

The personal strategic planning process provides the foundation for your transition into nursing without boundaries as well as the enhancement of your unique leadership style and contribution. The process incorporates self-efficacy theory that proposes that a person's belief in his or her ability to accomplish a goal is central to her/his success in doing so. Efficacy beliefs affect the intention to change one's personal behavior, the amount of effort expended to attain this goal, and the persistence to continue striving in spite of barriers and setbacks (Schwarzer, R.& Fuchs, R. 1995. Changing risk behaviors and adapting health behaviors; The role of self-efficacy beliefs. In A. Bandura (Ed.), Self-efficacy in changing societies. pp. 259-288. New York: Cambridge University Press).

The personal strategic planning process is self reflective and, often, you return to the steps with a new look created by a growing self awareness enhanced by faculty feedback. Readings in text Post Modern Nursing and Beyond are incorporated to stimulate your thought, reevaluate your assumptions, beliefs, and values, and explore possible options. A Cherokee medicine man once said: Life. It's simple, but it ain't easy. Personal strategic planning may seem simple, but the self reflective and recursive process is complex and illumining.


1. Dream Inventory
2. Life Wheel
3. Why am I here?
4. Values
5. Vision
6. External assessment
7. Mission
8. Critical success factors
9. Goals
10. Plans
11. Outcome measurement and evaluation
12. Implementation

Step 1: Dream Inventory

All accomplishments begin with a dream, an idea. Your dream inventory will help you crystalize your dreams and convert them into action steps.

Jot down your dreams, no matter how extravagant or insignificant they may seem at the moment. At this point, if you record your dreams spontaneously, they will provide a clue to the kind of things that will motivate you in the future and especially during those tough times that we all face. It will also give you a wide variety of ideas to draw from when you begin to set meaningful goals for yourself.

It is impossible to emphasize strongly enough the power of created, uninhibited imagination. Every achievement, throughout history, had begun as a dream in someone's mind, that was later turned into reality.

You may have dreams that you think are totally far-fetched, out of reach, impossible to accomplish. That's okay. As you begin to work on your life's plan, some of these will be accomplished, some will be transformed into something else, and some will become unnecessary to achieve. Dreams do not remain stagnant, just as life does not stay fixed.

Remember, this is an exercise in dreaming. Give no thought right now to your ability to attain these dreams.

Dreams can consist of taking a special vacation, a hobby, a new house, getting married (or divorced), spending more time with your loved ones, learning to play the piano, making a million dollars, getting an "A" in this course. Dreams also can be about the kind of person you would like to become. Thinks about the qualities, talents, and abilities you would like to possess, such as to have the respect and good will of others, to be viewed as an empathetic listener, to be organized, etc.

Add to your dream inventory on an on-going basis. So, open your mind. Have fun! Let yourself to! And DREAM!

Reading in text Postmodern Nursing and Beyond by Jean Watson that will stimulate your dreaming in step 1: pp. vii-x, xiii-xvi, xiv-xxvi, & pp. 1-22.

Assignment for Step 1
Type your completed dream inventory according to the guidelines provided. E-mail your assignment, as an attachment, to your faculty. If you have questions about this step, please email your faculty.

Step 2: Life Wheel

There is an old axiom that states that "the whole is greater than the sum of its parts." So, in order to grow as a person, we must be able to examine all parts of our lives, to see what they add up to and to restore balance among the parts if necessary.

Draw a large circle on a piece of paper and divide it into 6 equal parts. These six parts are Physical, Social, Ethics/Beliefs/Spirituality/ Family, Psychological and Financial. If you think of others you would like to add, feel free to do so. Also feel free to re-label these if you would like, but keep the concepts.

Now, look at each area and ask yourself the following question: "In relation to where I would like to be, where am I now in this area?" If there is a gap between where you are and where you would like to be, you know that this is an area for personal growth and development.

Your personal wheel acts like a car wheel. If it is out of alignment, you will have a pretty bumpy road on your life's journey. But keep it filled with air and properly balanced, and the journey takes on a comfortable ride.

Reading in text Postmodern Nursing and Beyond that will help you explore possible areas for growth and development in step 2. pp. 23-47.

Assignment for Step 2
Complete your life wheel following the guidelines. E-mail your assignment, as an attachment, to your faculty. If you have any questions about step 2, please contact your faculty.

Step 3: Why am I Here?

Why am I here? What purpose do you think you serve or can serve? These may sound like simple (or stupid) questions, but they are difficult to answer. All of us have a purpose, a reason for being, a job for which we were put on this earth. And we are all unique in our characteristics and spirit. Take a good look at who you are and your reason for being. Think about the roles you play, i.e. student, daughter, son, brother, sister, child, mother, father, uncle, nurse etc. What role(s) do you play? What significance do you bring to the people around you? What would their lives be without you?

In this section, explore your "beingness" and how it is different and worthy.

Reading in text Postmodern Nursing and Beyond that will help you explore your unique essence in step 3: pp. 49-74

Assignment for Step 3
Record your purpose and why you are here? Be sure to include how your beingness is different and worthy. E-mail your assignment, as an attachment, to your faculty. Let you faculty know if you have any questions about this section.

Step 4: Values

All of us have values and core principles by which we live our lives. What are yours? What do you stand for? What do you "put yourself on the line" for? If they are truly core values, they are factors that you not only espouse, but through your behavior, demonstrate on a daily basis. For example, if you value the truth, you never lie, no matter how much it may hurt or upset another person. If you value the wisdom and character of elders, you always treat them with respect and don't call them names like "Cutie" and put bows in their hair!

Values are the behaviors by which we want others to evaluate and reward us; how we want other to think of us. How do you want others to think of you?

Reading in text Postmodern Nursing and Beyond that will stretch you in considering your values and core principles for step 4: pp. 75-104.

Assignment for Step 4
Record your values and core principles and what they stand for to you. E-mail your assignment, as an attachment, to your faculty. If you have questions about step 4, email your faculty.

Step 5: Vision

This is one of the hardest parts of this exercise. If done well, the rest is easy. If you get stuck on a latter portion, come back to your vision and re-think it.

A vision is a brief sentence that describes a dynamic, future state of being. It is an evocative description of what is possible. It isn't pie in the sky, but a way of describing yourself in a future state.

Here are some clues in how to vision:

1. Allow yourself to be in a relaxed state, where there is no pressure.
2. Focus on what REALLY matters to you.
3. Focus on what you want to create, not how to make it happen.
4. Avoid focusing on today's problems and what isn't working in your life.
5. State your vision in the present time such as "I am" rather than "I will." Stressing the future tense only emphasizes the gap between where you are and where you are going.
6. Avoid competitive phrases such as "being first" or "being best." Leave this to corporations. Your only competitor to achieving your life's dreams, is you!

Remember, according to Aristotle" "The soul never thinks without a picture." Make a picture of your future state and then express it with a few words.

Reading in text Postmodern Nursing and Beyond that will explore what is possible in the process of developing your vision in step 5: pp. 105-157

Assignment for Step 5
Record your vision according to the guidelines. E-mail your assignment, as an attachment, to your faculty. You may have difficulty with creating a vision. Email your faculty with a draft and your questions to help you crystalize your vision.

Step 6: External assessment:

In this section, take a look at what is in your environment that will impact, positively or negatively on your ability to achieve this vision. Do family members encourage you to take risks, is a significant other jealous of your achievements, does a child envy the time you spend at school, are money problems making it difficult to stay in school, is your car falling apart and making it impossible to travel to clinicals, are your writing skills poor making it difficult to complete papers, do you have a tremendously supportive group of friends, are you spiritually connected to your Creator or God, are you a well organized individual so that you are always on time with all assignments, etc.?

This is your chance to think about all the pros and cons of your life. What will help you succeed and what will get in your way? The obstacles you identify here will become the basis of the goals you write later, so don't be stingy and please be honest!

In this area, you may want to write your personal history, because it is important to know where you have come from. Think about your strengths and limitations. Ask someone close to you to list these strengths and limitations. They will sometimes be more objective than you are about yourself. What have been the major events in your life and what have you learned from them? How have you applied these learnings in your life since that occurrence? What values have persisted over time? What "baggage" do you carry, both positive and negative? Who would you most like to be like and why? Who are you most like and how? What have you gained during your life's journey to this point that you want to keep and what would you like to discard?

Remember, you cannot move forward until you first honor your past!

Reading in text Postmodern Nursing and Beyond that will support your efforts in assessing your personal historical and environmental impacts, both positively and negatively with step 6: pp. 159-175

Assignment for Step 6
Record your external assessment according to the guidelines provided. E-mail your assignment, as an attachment, to your faculty.

Step 7: Mission

Have you ever noticed that some people never seem to know where they are going in life or who they are or want to be? Why do you think that happens? Most often it happens because that person is so caught up in the present that they cannot envision a future.Creating your vision was the first step in helping you see your future. Designing a mission is the first step to actually creating that future.

A Mission statement (and please notice that I said statement. A Mission is not an epistle, it is not lengthy, it is usually no longer than one paragraph and is sometimes no longer than one sentence) is a dynamic, living document that changes frequently, in response to environmental changes. Missions are never written in stone.

The Ten Commandments were Vision statements. These were written in stone. They describe a future world, a world of peace, love and harmony. The mission statement describes how you plan to get to this vision.

Many people believe that missions are for organizations, and not for individuals and once written they can be forgotten about forever. Nothing could be further from the truth. You will be writing this mission statement for the next 2-3 years only. And then every three to five years you'll write it all over again.

Even though this is your mission statement, it is very important to share it with your significant others. If you keep it a secret, you will never get the support and encouragement you need during the tough times.

Mission statements do not have to be written in a lofty, erudite style that has little meaning and does not have enough inspiration to motivate you to action. Yours must be inspirational TO YOU!

In the development of the Vision and Mission, you will probably go through several drafts. Don't let that worry you. Some people develop new Mission statements for themselves every year or less. Remember that it is a living document that changes as you change.

A Mission statement describes what you will be doing to fulfill your Vision of your future. So now that you know where you want to go (your vision), create a way of getting there from where you are today.

The Mission statement should address the following components:

1. Your nursing practice and the clients that you plan to serve
2. The value that you plan to deliver to your clients in your services
3. Your uniqueness or what sets you apart from all others. The Mission statement should be:
4. Concise and to the point. Never more than one paragraph.
5. Dynamic or action oriented. The reader should be able to imagine what it looks like in real life.
6. Clear and understandable. It must be free of jargon(weasel words) that have more than one meaning.
7. Specific, but broad in describing your evolution from one point to another.
8. Inspirational. It must provide a true challenge and purpose for you. It assures you that there is a specific place for you in life and in your world where you can make a difference.
9. Serve as a guide for decision making. It provides the boundaries to maintain your life's focus.
10. The foundation for goal setting and action steps. If the Mission is clear, what needs to get done on a day to day basis becomes clear.

Reading in text Postmodern Nursing and Beyond that will stimulate your self reflection in the process of creating your mission: pp. 177-233

Assignment for Step 7
First email a draft of your mission statement to your faculty, incorporating your questions for clarification. Then, write out your mission statement. E-mail your assignment, as an attachment, to your faculty.

Step 8: Critical Success Factors

Critical Success Factors are items that are necessary and sufficient for the achievement of the Mission. Four or five critical success factors are usual, but you may have more or less. These are generally very basic items, such as: additional education, assuming additional responsibilities at work, home support, self confidence, self-marketing, etc. Just these six tell me that this person is preparing for a job advancement

For you personally, what four or five items are necessary and sufficient to achieve your Mission?

Reading in text Postmodern Nursing and Beyond that will help you create a caring-healing architecture that will enhance your success. pp. 243-259

Assignment for Step 8
Write out your critical success factors. E-mail your assignment, as an attachment, to your faculty.

Step 9: Goals

Based upon the critical success factors you have identified, create goal statements for each one. Goals are one sentence statements that are specific, measurable, attainable, realistic, time specific and yours.

Goals help you maintain focus on your Vision and Mission. And there is an old adage that says "If you don't create your own goals, someone else will create them for you."

Reading in text Postmodern Nursing and Beyond that will stimulate your reflection and analysis in the process of developing your goals. pp. 261-276.

Assignment for Step 9
Write your goal statements based on your critical success factors. E-mail your assignment, as an attachment, to your faculty.

Step 10: Plans

Lots of people write goals, but a plan of implementation, these statements are useless.

This part of a strategic plan is often called the business plan for organizations. For individuals, the process is the same.

1. For each goal, you have created use a single sheet of paper. At the top, write you goal statement.
2. Next, identify the reward(s) you will provide for yourself when the goal is accomplished. Remember, this is a personal reward so it should be written in the first person, i.e., "I will go on a one day shopping spree," "I'll treat myself to a baseball game," "I'll stay in bed until noon."
3. Now, list for each goal ALL the things in your current life that prevent you from accomplishing this goal today. This is extremely important. Many people find it impossible to achieve pre-determined goals. The reason is that they haven't identified the obstacles. Once identified, the plan of action describes the process for eliminating the obstacles, rather than concentrating on reaching the goal. If all the obstacles are removed, the goal is automatically achieved.
4. The next step is to identify action steps for eliminating the obstacles. This is a literal "to-do" list. Often, people want to gloss over this step and will make broad, sweeping statements. This is the place to be super specific. You may, for example, have twenty steps to eliminate one obstacle. Think of this as a sort of job description, what you will be doing over the next few months or years to help you reach your Mission.
5. Identify a date by which you plan to achieve each goal. This date should be realistic, but a stretch.

Assignment for Step 10
Write your plans according to the guidelines. E-mail your assignment, as an attachment, to your faculty.

Step 11: Outcome measurement and evaluation

The strategic planning process is an on-going process; it is alive and dynamic. So it is necessary to stop periodically and evaluate where you are. Describe how you will do this and how frequently. For example, you may choose to re-do your life wheel every four months and based on changes, revise your goals and plans, or you may choose to identify behaviors or other objective measures of goal success.

The purpose of this step is to be sure you know when you have reached your goal. Now, this may sound silly, but you would be amazed at how often people achieve their goals, but become so wrapped up in creating new ones, that they forget to enjoy and reward themselves for achieving anything. And rewards are important, that's why you identified how would reward yourself earlier.

When you are designing this step keep these questions in mind: How will I know when I have accomplished my Vision and Mission? How will I be assured that I haven't compromised my values? What was I trying to accomplish in the first place? Did I? What will I do if I don't accomplish my goals in the time frame I set? What feedback do I need to give myself during this process?

Assignment for Step 11
Write your outcome measurement and evaluation following the guidelines. E-mail your assignment, as an attachment, to your faculty.

Step 12: Implementing the plan

The final stage of the strategic planning process is the implementation phase. So far, the process has allowed you to create the future you would like to have. Now it is time to make the dream a reality.

Implementation is the building of a new structure and systems. I am sure you are now thinking, "this makes sense for an organization, but structure and systems for a person? Is she nuts?" Often our dreams don't become reality because we don't take the time to create the structure and systems within our relationships that will sustain our goal achievement. For example, many women, after having a family, decide to go back to school to begin a new career. However, without changing the home environment (structure) and family expectations (systems), tensions can develop that compromise both goal achievement and relationships.

To successfully create and maintain change, it is necessary to build a structure that is supportive of the new strategy. Often we assume that structure is simple and consists only of resources or philosophy. To provide for true support for change, all six of the following elements of must be reengineered in the environment and relationships.

To support the changes you are making, each of these elements must be imbued with your values and must internalize your Vision and Mission. Change will not be lasting if only one or two of these elements are affected. Change in isolation of the larger system is non-integrative and can therefore not be supported.

The six elements are:

1. Structure. This consists of the physical environment in which we live and work, as well as issues of psychological and physical safety. What kind of structure do you want to create that will make you feel safe, motivated and creative during your growth and development?
2. Tasks. This consists of the tasks we perform and expect others to perform. Are these tasks consistent with the Vision and Mission or are they "stupid' or "ego" tasks designed for someone's comfort or power needs?
3. People. Do we have the right people doing the right jobs to support the change or have we assigned "jobs" based on stereotypes, custom or gender? For example, if you are in school, is it okay for your significant other to cook dinner and mind the kids, even if he is a "he," or is it okay for your spouse to have the care serviced even if she is a "she?"
4. Decision allocation. Who makes the decisions, how and about what? Are there different levels of decision making? Are decisions based on open communication, facts or emotions, or who is in the best position to decide?
5. Information distribution. How is information generated and shared in your system? Is it used for power or to achieve a mutual balance in relationships? How will information lines change as a result of your development?
6. Rewards. How will you reward yourself and others who have assisted you on your life's journey? How will you reward yourself when you take risks, are innovative or creative? How will you build in the time to play, smile, eat ice cream cones, watch clouds, run through the rain, smell the flowers and have an all around good time?

Assignment for Step 12
1. Write your plan implementation.E-mail your assignment, as an attachment, to your faculty.
2. Review your total personal strategic planning process steps 1-12 for revisions and additions based on your growing awareness and faculty feedback. Make the changes for the final submission of the strategic plan. The final plan is weighted higher based on your fine tuning the total plan.


Congratulations! You have now completed a personal strategic plan. I hope this has been a useful teaching tool. Ro Haddon, a nursing faculty with NAU, created this planning process and has found it very effective in all her leadership relationships. She continues to teach it outside the University in her consulting business.

It is hard work to do. It is not always easy to be really honest with ourselves, but it is well worth the effort. With a well-executed plan, dreams become reality and obstacles cease to exist. We can be in control of our own destinies and not have to depend on others for our self-confidence. Finding the time to do this planning is often difficult. Make it a purposeful and planned event and make it a priority. Many aspects in your life will get resolved during the planning stages.


© Ro Haddon, 2000

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