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Discovering Your North Star: 7 Questions to Define your Life Strategy

"A life strategy will not only guide you but also build your resilience so that you’re better able to recover from missteps... Your life is your top strategic priority."


The past several years have been a time of reflection for many. The COVID-19 pandemic slowed down lives and forced people to reconsider what is truly important. There has been a rise in searching for meaning, purpose and fulfillment beyond just work and financial success.

In an article in the Harvard Business Review, "Use Strategic Thinking to Create the Life You Want", authors Rainer Strack and others present a thought-provoking framework for creating a life strategy. As a former strategy consultant and now life coach, I found many parallels between corporate strategy work and defining one’s personal strategic direction. Both require making conscious choices to achieve what you identify as success.

The authors propose asking yourself seven key questions to develop a clear life strategy:

  1. How do I want to spend my time?

  2. What relationships are most important to me?

  3. What are my top priorities for health and well-being?

  4. What do I want my financial situation to be?

  5. Where do I want to live and why?

  6. What legacy or positive impact do I want to leave behind?

  7. What will keep me learning and growing as a person?

Thinking deeply about these questions encourages clarity on your core values and vision for the future. It ensures you make choices aligned with living intentionally according to your priorities.

As a coach, I often ask clients to consider what their future self at age 60 might look like. What will be important to you then? This longer-term perspective prompts reflection on lifelong goals beyond short-term whims.

Another useful exercise is rating different life domains on a "wheel of life". This visualization shows current satisfaction levels and where more focus could create better balance and well-being. Common areas include career, personal growth, relationships, health, community, finances and fun.

Developing a customized life strategy serves as a personal "North Star" during uncertain times. The past years demonstrated how easily circumstances can change. Having clarity on one's priorities and direction provides resilience through challenges. It also prevents drifting through life randomly reacting to external factors.

Some additional strategies I recommend for creating an effective life strategy include:

  • Define clear vision and mission statements for the next 5-10 years

  • Identify 3-5 top priorities or goals to focus on achieving

  • Outline an annual plan with specific tasks to make progress

  • Incorporate regular reflection and recalibration as needed

  • Share your vision with an accountability partner for support

  • Celebrate small wins to stay motivated through the journey

In summary, taking a strategic approach to designing one’s life path fosters intentionality and fulfillment. The perspectives in the HBR article resonated with my coaching philosophy of helping people consciously craft the lives they truly want. In an era of continuous change and crisis, having a North Star life strategy serves as an invaluable anchor. I'm committed to guiding clients through defining their individual strategies to live according to their inherent purpose and values.

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