The first step to being able to implement your plan for solving a problem is developing a strategy of how you want to handle it. In general, you don’t really need a strategy for short term problems, such as fixing things. But, in long-term problems such as reducing debt, going back to college, getting a job at a new firm or navigating through a divorce, you’re going to want to have a strategy.
A strategy is different from a list of solutions. A list of solutions will simply show you where you want to go. A strategy is what tells you how you’re going to get there. For example, if you’re working to get out of debt, you might have a few solutions such as: get a higher paying job, sell your car and buy a cheaper car, refinance a loan.
All of those solutions are useful, but they require more than just one step. When you take your list of solutions and begin to figure out how you are going to implement them, you are developing a strategy.
A strategy speaks in extreme specifics. It has specific goals and objectives. For example, if you’re developing a strategy on how to get out of debt, you’d take each solution and begin to outline just exactly how and when you’re going to achieve such a plan. Let’s look at the example below:
Solution 1: Get a higher paying Job
Apply for a job at Jones Law Firm by Friday
Ask for a raise on Monday
Call contact at old job
By placing some tangibles in your strategy, you are able to move toward a specific goal as opposed to having some vague idea of what it looks like to handle the problem. The more complex your problems are, the more of a defined strategy you’ll need to have in order to tackle them. Don’t be discouraged by the idea that in order to have a good implementation you need to work on a good strategy. Rather you should embrace the idea fully and work to put together strategies that will aid you in solving your problems.
What are some ways to build a good strategy? Well, let’s look at a few basic strategy building tips.
Strategy Tip One: Be Specific
When developing a strategy, it is extremely important to be specific with each step. Your discovery phase has already provided you with solutions necessary to get to work, all you need to do is focus on getting the specifics down. The more focused you are and the more detail oriented your strategy is, the more you will get done.
Strategy Tip Two: Have Milestones
A milestone is a kind of sub-goal that keeps track of your overall progress. When you set up a milestone you are creating a tangible goal to reach. Essentially something that you can move towards as you work to solve your problems. The number of milestones needed to complete a project are basically up to you. Keep in mind that milestones shouldn’t be too big and there shouldn’t be too much time in between completing them.
Strategy Tip Three: Have Due Dates
A due date on each milestone will help you in your quest to work toward the completion of your goals. The pressure that a deadline provides will push you forward in your desire to take action in solving your problems. A vague idea of “someday I’ll pay down my debt” can be defeated quite easily. The human brain does not work well with abstract ideas. The concept of “someday” just isn’t real enough for it to feel motivated by. When you think in terms of “By next month I will have paid off my first credit bill,” the concept becomes more concrete and more attainable. This in turn leads you to having a better chance of taking action.
Strategy Tip Four: Write it Down!
A good strategy isn’t just something that you should have in your head. It is very difficult to keep track of all the plans, ideas and milestones that you will have for your strategy. So by making a point to write it down, you are setting yourself up for success. Write everything down, put a due date next to it and then get to work! Let’s move onto the next implementation tip.