One graduate shares his expertise.

As told to Claire Blome
January 2013

Michael J. Hitchcock ’11, Master of Business Administration (M.B.A.)

Michael HitchcockMichael J. Hitchcock

You don’t have to be an executive to apply business strategies to your life and achieve personal success. Take it from Michael J. Hitchcock, the author of Personal Happiness: A Business Strategy (Lulu.com, 2011), who works as a consultant to help business leaders transform their organizations by choosing a strong, capable management team and developing plans for growth. Here, he outlines a plan to help you accomplish any goal you set.

COMPLETE A GAP ANALYSIS.

Your gap analysis should offer a clear picture of what you have and where you’d like to go. Start by looking at three categories: your financial situation, how family and colleagues perceive you, and your career assessment. Next, look to people you admire. What do they have that you’d like in your life? Focus on the attainable. I started my bachelor’s degree seven years ago with the vision to set an example for my children. Write down what you want and call it your vision statement.

WRITE A MISSION STATEMENT.

The best mission statements are so simple a child could memorize them. Let’s say you want to earn your master’s or doctorate—whatever the next step in your educational journey might be. Your vision could be an image of you receiving your diploma. Your mission is to choose the degree. Whatever you hope to achieve, remember that your mission statement should be direct. Let it be your guide and your mantra.

LIST ACHIEVABLE GOALS AND OBJECTIVES.

You’ve already translated what you want (your vision) into how you’ll get there (your mission). Goals are milestones to achieving your mission, while objectives are steps to achieving each goal. By breaking down your vision into increasingly smaller parts—mission, goals, and objectives—you make your dream achievable. Now, set clear goals. Following the example above, your goals may be to complete your first class, then your first semester, and your first year. Each is a big deal. Follow this list of goals with detailed actions for each—the objectives you’ll meet, including choosing a degree, applying for financial aid, getting accepted, and pinpointing your start date.

WRITE YOUR ACTION PLAN—IN PENCIL.

Consider it your map to success and the tool that will demand accountability. It is your timetable: a list of chronological, logical steps with clear due dates to help you achieve your goals and objectives. It should be an ever-changing document. For example, my quest for a bachelor’s degree morphed into pursuing an M.B.A. and now a Doctor of Business Administration at Walden. Next, post your vision and mission statements where you’re bound to read them daily. They will give you a sense of purpose and keep you focused on the big picture. Now, go get what you want.