Picture your vision statement as the trunk of a tree. It’s the constant, from which everything else stands. The main branches are objectives. Your strategies are the smaller limbs branching off these main lines and the tactics are leaves on the secondary branches.
The leaves come and go with the seasons. Every few years, new secondary branches become established while others become less prominent. At times, a main branch may need to be pruned. Your plan, like a tree, is alive and ever changing, never the same from one year to the next.
Your plan grows around your vision statement, so let’s start there. Ultimately, how do you want to project yourself into the world? Is there an overarching theme to your career?
A good vision statement defines not only who you are, but also how you will impact those around you. It doesn’t need to be long; only a sentence or two are fine. Since you’ll be reviewing your plan on a regular basis, you’re free to come back and clarify your vision statement.
Now you’re ready to set out your objectives, strategies and tactics. In order to make your plan manageable, I recommend choosing only three or four objectives. Objectives are the outcomes we are trying to achieve. They may be as singular as having a published book; others may be bigger, such as winning a literary prize.
Take a look at your visioning work. When you look at all your ideas, which ones are the most important to you? Take a look at your projects. These can often tie together.
Make sure your objectives meet the SMART criteria: Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic and Time-Framed.
- Specific: clear and identifiable
- Measurable: how you’ll know you’ve made it
- Attainable: is it possible?
- Realistic: can you actually do it?
- Time-framed: lock down the “when”
Once your objectives are worked out, it becomes easier to work out the steps you need to take in order to get there.
Next, based on your objectives, determine strategies for each to help you get there. Obviously, over the course of your writing life, you will decide on and complete many strategies. Some ideas for your strategies may have turned up in your visioning, but also may have turned up in your SWOT analysis, your review of your conduits, or even in your work on your product. For example, a strategy may be to develop a web presence.
Once you’ve determined some strategies, it’s time to figure out tactics to move you forward towards achieving them. If we follow along with the strategy to develop a website, a tactic may be to have a professional photograph taken.
Tactics are the action items that work together to accomplish a strategy and ultimately allow you to achieve your objectives and live your vision.