Strategic Planning: Take a Breath and Plan Your Year

pebble beach

Photo by waferboard

As SLPs, we are quite familiar with designing long-term objectives and breaking those down into short-term outcomes, but are we doing it for our own personal and professional growth? For me, the true start of the year is always in September, when the academic year begins, so summer is the time to pause and plan for the year to come. In the past, I have actually written out LTOs and STOs for myself during the summer lull…some years I have done better on these than others, I admit.

The traditional duties of a full-time academic (like me) are teaching, scholarship and service. Some of my service has been spent on strategic planning, for the college, the school and the department. I have learned a few things about how people and organizations approach this task of creating short- and long-term goals, and have a new paradigm to offer for your consideration. Well, it’s not actually new (attributed to Humphrey in the 1960’s), but it is used more frequently by businesspeople to help generate and evaluate goals, so it was new to me.

In a SWOT analysis, you write down Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats. Strengths and Weaknesses are intrinsic to you as a person (or department or organization) and Opportunities and Threats are extrinsic or environmental. You then try to connect the dots between the four quadrants and see how each informs the other. There are plenty of free templates and guides for SWOT analysis on the web, but here is one geared to personal growth.

Whether you use the traditional LTO/STO format, or try something new such as SWOT, or just have a good talk with a smart, trusted colleague, take the time to make a plan and then, during the year, check in and see how you are doing on your goals. If you have a written plan, it becomes easier to say “no” to activities or duties that knock you off track, and it can help you prioritize your time and efforts. If you actually have a plan, you can stop and ask yourself, “Is this contributing to my long term goals?” and act accordingly.

I’ll check back in with you after I write my own SWOT analysis—right now, I am swamped with marking papers and putting in grades…let’s hope that summer lull actually shows up on time!


Shari Salzhauer Berkowitz, PhD, CCC-SLP is an assistant professor at Mercy College in Dobbs Ferry, NY. She teaches courses in speech science, voice disorders, behavioral feeding disorders and research design. Her research interests include cross-language and bilingual speech perception, multi-modal speech perception and integrating technology and instrumentation into the communication disorders curriculum. She has been a practicing SLP and feeding interventionist since 1998.