When you hear the words “strategic thinking,” you may think of that as a skill for a business leader, a politician, or someone in a position of authority. But truthfully, we should all be using strategic thinking in our lives because it helps us make the best decisions and realize our goals.
Strategic thinking is the process of using your insights and knowledge to help you achieve a goal or accomplish an objective. So yeah, that seems like a good skill to have, right?
To make the best decisions, we need to know three things:
1. What is the current status?
Knowing what is going well or not going well and the causes of potential problems will help you design solutions that address the most pressing issues.
2. What are my most essential needs? Knowing your values and goals helps you make choices that are right for you, not other people.
3. Can I stay focused on what matters? Action is necessary for accomplishing goals, and concentration on what needs d is a tremendously important part of strategic thinking.
With this in mind, we can now look at the day-to-day habits and routines that you will need to help you be more strategic in your thinking. You can then use these evaluations to create action plans to help you realize your dreams in life.
Strategic Thinking Self-Assessment
For each of the following questions, consider your ability to complete each task. Write down an answer that reflects your honest assessment of you today, as you are right now. It’s not a matter of the right or wrong answer, only what is happening today. For each, consider how you might improve in this area and make a separate list of action steps you could take to improve your strategic thinking skills.
• How often do I ask questions about my life, what is happening, what I want, and what I can do?
• How frequently do I make changes to my approach or ideas based on new information?
• Do I tend to see things as opportunities or as challenges?
• How open am I to new opinions and ideas, especially those that are very new to me?
• How well do I take criticism or respond to feedback?
• How often do I do something that can improve my skill set or broaden my understanding?
• Do I seek out and value others’ opinions or input?
• How much do I think about how my actions and choices affect other people?
• Do I often examine my assumptions and biases?
• How aware are you of the forces and circumstances that are affecting your success and happiness?
• How objective are you when analyzing a new situation or current information?
• When making a crucial decision, how often do you examine all the pros and cons before making a choice?
• How often are you able to see patterns or themes across information or events in your life?
Getting to the Heart of Strategic Thinking
These questions help get to the heart of strategic thinking, including self-awareness, honesty about your beliefs and values, open-mindedness, seeking feedback, a commitment to lifelong learning, and a rational analysis of facts and data.
To be strategic, you must be willing to take the time needed to make the right decisions, not just practical ones, and to look for all the information you can to inform your choices. To improve your strategic thinking, start by becoming more disciplined in your approach to decisions, from trivial things to more meaningful choices, and learn to include many different perspectives and ideas.