There is something special about a new year and while it’s simply another day, it also marks a new beginning, or a new chapter in our lives. Most of us start the year off with a few “resolutions” or goals. Typical resolutions include the desire to eat healthier, lose weight, go to the gym, spend more time with our families, or volunteer. I think it’s natural for us to want to progress and to make this year better than the last. But, what if instead of making a “resolution” you could make a strategic plan.

A strategic plan includes a vision, mission, values, goals and strategies, all wrapped in a written action plan carefully crafted to move you toward your ultimate vision. It’s a resolution on steroids.

My law firm recently went through the process of developing a strategic plan. While we had certainly planned and set goals in the past, we had never quite tackled the process this way. A few months back, we brought in a facilitator to help us make sure we could sustain the growth we had been experiencing. I, as the owner, was especially concerned that we didn’t lose our mission and values as the firm grew.

The facilitator took us on a three-month journey that wasn’t what any of us expected, and it lead to a “Strategic Plan.” This plan feels different from goals, and different from resolutions. So, why not apply these principles to our own personal lives?

Here are the steps to take to create your plan:

  • Figure out what’s working well. What do you want more of?
  • Figure out what’s not working well. What changes would you like to make?
  • Figure out where you want to go. This is the longest step. Really analyze where you would like to be in a year, three years, 10 years. Without this vivid vision of where you are going, we can’t create a strategic plan.

In the firm, a lot was going well, but we definitely had room for improvement in our internal and external communications. We love our company and co-workers. We love the work we were doing with clients going through divorce, but there seemed to be a lot of conflict on what was the best way to serve our clients and each other within the office. The facilitator gave us exercises surrounding personality and communications styles. It sounds fluffy, but it was life changing for everyone involved.

My ‘Green/Orange’ style was all about the big picture and thrived despite risk or uncertainty. I didn’t want to be stifled by rules or procedures that might stand in the way of meeting Modern Law’s objectives. Many on my team were Gold. Golds need structure, routines and rules in order to thrive.

Now, when someone asks me to implement a rule, I understand they are saying, “I have a problem.” Instead of me being frustrated they must not understand the goals and objectives, I understand that something isn’t working for them. This also allowed us to better understand our clients.

We practice exclusively family law. People going through divorce are dealing with raw emotions and life changing stress. By better understanding an individual’s personality needs, we can offer better service and communicate to their particular style and needs. This supports our mission of meeting our clients overall, holistic needs, better than any other law firm.

A better understanding of each other coupled with our vivid vision of being a one-stop shop for anyone going through divorce allowed us to develop our strategic plan. Our team is all on the same page and our goals for 2016 are written, actionable, and accompanied with a plan to achieve them.

So, how can this be applied to our personal lives? Maybe your family can come up with a 2016 strategic plan. Maybe the idea that a New Year’s resolution should be personal doesn’t serve us or our families well. Maybe, by learning to understand each other and serve each other better, we do grow personally in a way that the gym membership doesn’t actually achieve.

P.S. Here is an interactive template you can use to design your personal strategic plan: http://goo.gl/9cQxYv

P.P.S. Here is a link to a quick personality test and information about communicating to various personality types: http://goo.gl/yh4N87

Billie Tarascio,

Modern Law Owner