Battle planning has been the foundation for this nation’s success since its beginning. In anything you do if you’re not “planning your work and working your plan” as Napoleon Hill, author of the international phenomenon Think and Grow Rich says, you become reactive in life and ultimately end up feeling unfulfilled as you will find you’re not progressing. This is what I find with most ambitious transitioning veterans.
We're conditioned to carry high standards and perform at high levels with great discipline and strategic leadership, but don’t know how to take the training we acquired to the civilian world.
Some of the most elite leaders find themselves overwhelmed and confused while attempting to apply their potential in the civilian world. So, the question is: How do we as military veterans use our military knowledge and training to create a battle plan for a kick-butt year?
I am going to break it down “Barney Style,” as the Marines would say, into three keys steps to write your battle-ready road map.
1) What Is Your Mission Objective?
While on deployment in Afghanistan from 2009-2010, I was a part of a QRF (Quick Reaction Force) patrol team whose mission objective was to protect our small Forward Operating Base and everything in it. We were clear what our end goal was: to keep hundreds of military personnel safe and protect millions of dollars’ worth of military equipment.
When setting up for a new year, get clear as to what your top objective is. Ask yourself: At the end of 2018, what do I want to accomplish? What skills do I want to acquire? How much money do I want to make? Start with the end goal in mind and then reverse engineer your plan.
The best practice I have found to gain clarity around this comes from a book called Grit by Angela Duckworth in which she digs into Erickson’s peak performance psychological principles. She explains that to gain clarity on your priorities and goals, you must brain dump and list the top 25 things you want to accomplish before the end of the year. After doing that, you will discover that most of the things you listed are surrounding the same end goal-- they may just be sub-categories to achieving the top goal or tactics.
Once you have your objective clear, then you can move into the strategy phase of your battle plan.
2) What Is Your Strategy?
Webster’s Dictionary defines strategy as a plan of action or policy designed to achieve a major or overall aim. Going back to my example of being deployed in Afghanistan, my objective was to protect over 500 military forces and make sure they returned home to their families while also protecting millions of dollars’ worth of equipment. So, what was our strategy? We broke it up into two concepts:
The offensive is where we were in action, implementing steps to making sure we were proactive in realizing our end goal. For example, we would make sure we would be in constant communication with every guard tower, every hour on the hour, to ensure they were following proper procedure.
Now, implementing this into your life, when you set your objective for 2018, make sure you’re clear on what action items you need to be doing monthly, weekly, and daily to accomplish your overall goal. In other words, what habits, routines, or rituals do you need to develop in order to create consistency towards predicted results?
Going back to Erickson, who studied the top performers in the world in their specific crafts. He found they would do deliberate practice in developing skill sets needed to achieve their goals. So, when you’re setting up your offensive, make sure you are researching and reflecting on the skill sets and resources needed to accomplish your objective.
The defensive is where you set up preventive measures so that when you do receive incoming fire, you can adapt and overcome. Proper Protection Equipment (PPE) is one way you can equip yourself to ensure your success. Create accountability around you--I call this your personal fire team--people who you know, love, and trust to advise you when life gets tough. These members of your fire team must be committed to your success, and you both must have the agreement to drop anything if needed! You will only be as strong as your weakest link, and that weak link can be empowered with the right accountability and system in place.
3) What Are Your Tactical Items?
These are your specifics! Almost 98% of people fail to create these micro measures, and it’s one of the root causes in killing your dreams and goals. Just like when you were serving in the military, you need to pay attention to details in order to keep yourself and your team alive. Tactics are the day-to-day and week-to-week actions that will manifest your overall objective. In the military, these could be described as the key indicators needed to accomplish the mission, i.e. weapons, uniforms, equipment, etc. So in your own life, do the necessary creative thinking to discover your tactics in achieving your 2018 objective.
So, by failing to plan you’re planning to fail. –Benjamin Franklin
Your military life and civilian life are no different when it comes to knowledge and implementation. You just need to build the muscle of being resourceful alone in combat versus having a leader there to structure your everyday life. It takes time and patience, but I promise that you have all the discipline, consistency, and grit to succeed!
Hold the vision. Trust the Process! –Rumi
About the author: Chris Hoffmann is a Marine Corps Combat Veteran and founder of VET Training & Coaching, which exists to awaken, equip, & connect ambitious transitioning veterans to be top performers out of the uniform! Chris is a passion driven performance coach, trainer, podcaster, & upcoming author of an Ebook called "10 Steps to Predicted Success Out of the Uniform." He is a graduate and leader inside of the legendary personal/professional development company, Landmark Worldwide, where he has coached and empowered CEO's, professional athletes, & thought leaders how to be effective in life for the past 5 years. His weekly Podcast "The Ambitious VET' reaches an average of 1,000 viewers a week as he digs into the trenches with today's top performing veterans living a passion driven life out of the uniform!
Chris holds a Psychology Degree, Veteran Development Certificate from Blue Rio Strategies, & Personality Profiler Certification for Golden LLC. Connect with Chris via LinkedIn, Facebook, and Instagram.