Step 6 Scan for Opportunities for You in 2012

Day 6 of 31 days to Creating Your Inspiring Personal Plan for 2012.

Congratulations. When you have completed this step, you will be 20% of the way through the 2012 Plan process. 20% of the way to a plan that will inspire you and serve as a guide for your accelerating your success in 2012.

Before serving-up this final element in building a foundation for your plan, I want to give you some tools to bolster that you have done in the last couple of steps. For those of you who want some addition resources for learning more about your strengths (the focus of Step 4), I highly recommend the Kolbe Index, described here, and/or the excellent test in Tom Rath’s Strength Finder 2.0. (Both of these relatively low cost assessments are used in my Accelerate Success program for high performers.)

For those who are have completed the drafting of your own planning assumptions (Step 5), I have included a copy of my own planning assumptions so that you can see how I have taken expectations or predictions about the world and molded those expectations into planning assumptions that are a solid foundation for my personal plan. My planning assumptions need not be yours…and I would not expect that they would be. I am sharing mine so you can see how planning assumptions can be massaged to provide solid support for the plan that will be developed over the month.

So let’s review what you should have in place, or shaping-up into place at this point. You hopefully have a planning buddy (Step 1) and should be using your buddy to bolster your progress through the process. And, you hopefully have a Board of Advisors selected (Step 2) and awaiting your submission of your draft plan for their feedback. You should have listed your 2011 Accomplishments (Step 3) and celebrated them.

Also, by now, you hopefully have received most of your feedback on your personal strengths (Step 4). When you have all the feedback in, you should summarize your strengths on one page as described here. And, you have a draft list of planning assumptions (Step 5) which you can now polish using my own assumptions as a guide.

Besides the aforementioned clean-up, today is a day to focus on opportunities. Specifically, Step 6 is to identify three of the best opportunities for you in 2012. This is one of the more challenging and important steps so please follow this guidance very carefully.

First, let me describe what this step is not. We are not yet at the stage in the process where you start identifying goals for 2012. We are still one week away from that step. Opportunities in the context of this process are just what the word means. They are possibilities — possibilities before any hard evaluation has been made as to their achievability.

Today is a day to sit back and reflect on opportunities that are likely to be available to you in 2012. Your challenge, just as it is mine, is to take off the blinders of our biases, of our experiences in times that are much different than today, and of our negative feedback of others as to our limitations, etc.

Think of this step as raw possibility thinking. Through this planning process, you now have feedback from people you trust as to just how blessed (with strengths) that you are. So scan the world of possibilities and start jotting down possibilities. You will later prioritize these possibilities into the top three opportunities. Initially, just do a brain dump of possibilities – ones that are relevant to you.

No matter what our situation, we all have opportunities. To the person who just lost their job, there is the opportunity to find a better job, as well as the opportunity to get in better shape while searching for a job as a result of having some extra time. For the entrepreneur, there is an opportunity for new products or services, as well as of new clients. Etc. Etc.

Even in a weak economy, opportunities abound. Notwithstanding my pessimism about the general economy, I believe that opportunities will abound in 2012 for the agile who are armed with a solid plan and are committed to action.

If you have difficulties coming up with possibilities that might evolve into opportunities for you, this would be a good place to reach out to your buddy for some help. Frequently others can see possibilities for us quicker than we see them for ourselves.

When you have done a brain dump of possibilities, then identify and prioritize the three (or four if you want) that represent opportunities that excite you. List these on a sheet of paper labeled “2012 Opportunities.”

Your list is just a draft at this point in the process, so don’t let perfection stand in the way of getting something down on paper. Planning is very much an iterative process. As you go through this process, you can easily go back and refine your prior writings. Later in the process, we will devote some days to polishing. For now, just get your best current thinking down on paper.

The key to success with this step is to remove your blinders. Think (realistically) big! Recognize and embrace how much change is occurring all around us. See the opportunities in all the change, rather than trapping yourself on the dinosaur ranch.

If you get stuck, feel free to connect with me on Facebook and ask your question there. Or, connect with me on Twitter and ask it there (DM me if you deem it very private).

Most importantly, remember to give yourself and your buddy a pat on the back when you have both completed this step. You are now 20% complete and on track to build a powerful 2012 personal plan. Congratulations!

When you have completed Step 6, you can access Step 7 here. If you want an announcement every time a new step is posted, you can sign-up – to the right – to receive new steps by either RSS feed or email.

Please note: If you have arrived at this step first, it is not too late for you to join other high performers who are collaborating to follow the bite size steps that are unveiled here every day. Get started here.

This blog post was written by Dave Carpenter.  Dave is a prolific author, inspiring speaker, and well-known consultant  to professional service firms. Besides writing regularly for this blog,  Dave’s writing can be seen in leading business and personal development  publications. Dave is also the leader of the Accelerate Success mentoring program  where he mentors high performers in a unique program designed to do great things for the favorite charity of each participant.  If you are (1) a high performer who believes you still have untapped potential, and  (2) passionate about a favorite charity, you may want to learn more about this powerful program. You can also follow Dave on Twitter, on Facebook, and/or on Google+.