Living and leading effectively demands a strategy. So does your personal brand, and the two are integrally linked. No strategy equates to living randomly. You certainly avoid failing, and may stumble upon unexpected achievements. Overall, however, you avoid leaning into your own zone of genius and greatest personal fulfillment. The fast route out of this trap is to ask yourself two simple (and challenging) questions:
Who do you want to be?
What will you need to do to get there?
These are also the foundation of a successful personal brand.
Your individual life strategy, as well as your personal brand, are both shaped by your beliefs, values, and, notably your decisions about where it is important to spend your time, energy, money, skills and other resources. This strategy does not need to be rigidly formal, dictating where you will be in 2, 5 10 or 20 years from now. However, without a life strategy your focus and direction will be vague, at best, like boat without a rudder. Your boat will definitely get you somewhere as you are carried along by the currents, but where you end up may not be exactly where you want to go.
What we are talking about here is self-leadership. Knowing who you are, what gives your life meaning, fulfills you, and helps you create an impact you care about – large or small. Your strategy leans on your strengths, your values and your talents. In other words, it is built around your personal brand. And it clarifies the actions which are important for moving you in the direction you desire, sifting out the distractions and noisy demands we all face. It does not, however, make you rigid, inflexible or closed to fresh opportunities which might expand what is possible for you. In fact, a life strategy is worth revisiting regularly, especially in times of change and reinvention.
When you live strategically, you make it easier for yourself to accomplish a goal and make decisions along the way. The problem is, it can be hard to know what you need to do to live a more strategic life. If you struggle with the idea, read below for three ways you can begin to live more strategically.
1. Have a Strategy to Begin With!
I hate that I have to say this, but it is the truth. It isn't enough to decide you want to live more strategically. Even if you have some goals floating around in your mind, it can be challenging to follow your thoughts and dreams when they remain ideas floating around. Write them down. This creates true focus (and, gulp! – commitment!) to the steps and stages from where you are now, to where you long to be.
For example, if you wish to hold a higher position at your job, write that down, then write what you can do, starting today, to help you get there. It is true, where we focus our attention, we flourish, and opportunities you may have missed before will be recognizable as a result of your clarity.
2. Plan for Change, Then Change The Plan
This is a key idea in marketing more people would profit from. If you are following a strategic plan, it can feel like you have failed, or at least lost control, when something in your life changes and the plan doesn’t fit anymore. But seriously, this is okay. Life is—and always has been—about change. We change. Situations change. Relationships change. It is outside of our ability to predict what’s next with any certainty. This is one of the reasons many people don’t commit to a life strategy in the first place—after all, what’s the point?
Well, glad you asked! The point is, you will be aware the impact of the change on your strategy, and therefore able to re-work your plan. If you were building your marketing strategy on Facebook, and then suddenly Facebook was shut down (don’t worry, I am not forecasting this…at least not right now) you wouldn’t stop marketing altogether! You would regroup and take a different approach, perhaps on LinkedIn. You get the idea. The route changes. The strategy ultimately does not.
3. Be More Confident In Yourself
We all can benefit from more confidence. It comes from experience, and from accomplishing the milestones we set for ourselves along the way. Often however, we don’t stop and notice the moments where we made real progress, which means our confidence can take a hit. Nothing could be more important, though. You will need that confidence to stick to your strategy when people don’t yet recognize you for your brand, or outright disagree with your perspective.
Confidence comes from knowing who you are, what you stand for, what matters most to you, and where you are headed. It means taking the time for self-reflection that is the crux of creating a personal strategy to begin with. It is also the foundation of personal branding, effective leadership and greater joy and fulfillment.
That’s a lot of punch from creating your own authentic strategy. It can feel overwhelming to many people. The stakes seem very high, and perhaps not quite attainable. Getting to the root of who we are and what we care about is core to growing our personal brands, and it doesn’t have to be big and scary. Why not take the time to think about how you’d like to be perceived by the world, and then work strategically to express that, rather than let the world decide for you.
I have created a simple path for this precise work in my Personal Branding Master Class. I hope you will join me.