Strategic Thinking 101

How to plan, prioritize, and execute like a pro.

Imagine you’re setting out on a road trip.

You have a destination in mind, but you don’t have a map to guide your way. And you don’t have a GPS telling you where to go.

You’d probably end up lost, wasting time and gas driving aimlessly.

Now, imagine having a detailed map, highlighting the best routes, rest stops, and even scenic views. That map is your strategy.

Your strategy is how you are going to get from point A to point B.

Point A is where you are now, and point B is a crystal clear destination.

There are many routes available, but you have to decide which is the best one for you. You have to decide if you want the fastest route, the most scenic route, or the one that takes the least gas money ;)

A strategy is not just your plan; it’s your path. As we discussed in the recent post ‘Levels of Attention and Commitment’, every move you make can be intentional and aligned with your life’s vision and mission.

Your strategy will dictate how those moves play out. Your strategy is what decides your next move.

Understanding the fundamentals of strategic thinking and planning will move you toward your goals efficiently. Let's dive into how you can think and plan like a pro!

Why You Need Strategic Thinking

Strategic thinking helps you make better decisions and gives you an edge over the competition. Here are a few other reasons why you should learn to think strategically:

  • Direction and Focus: It provides a clear path and helps you stay focused on what truly matters.

  • Efficiency and Effectiveness: It ensures you’re making the best use of your resources.

  • Adaptability: It prepares you to adapt to changes and seize new opportunities.

  • Long-Term Success: It helps you build a sustainable career, not just short-term wins.

How to Know You Need a Strategy Check

It’s so easy to get caught up in the day to day grind without checking in on your strategy. But that’s like driving for an entire day without your map or GPS! Here are some thought experiments to help you know when you need to stop and focus on strategy:

  • The Overwhelm Test: Are you feeling overwhelmed by the number of projects and tasks you have? This indicates a lack of clear prioritization, a key part of strategic thinking.

  • The Progress Check: Have you made significant progress towards your goals in the last six months? If not, it’s time to re-evaluate your strategy.

  • The Opportunity Assessment: Are you often second-guessing whether to take on new opportunities? Strategic thinking helps you assess opportunities based on their alignment with your long-term goals and available resources.

Apply Strategic Thinking to Real Life Scenarios

  • Releasing a New Song: Without a strategy, you might release your song without building anticipation, targeting the right audience, or planning effective promotion. A strategy ensures you have a timeline, promotional activities, and clear goals.

  • Growing Your Social Media Presence: Posting constantly with no strategy will just burn you out. A strong strategy will get you more growth with less effort.

  • Tour Planning: Strategically planning your tour can help you maximize audience attendance, manage logistics efficiently, and ensure you’re playing in locations where your fanbase is strong.

REMEMBER: One of my earliest posts in this newsletter was ‘The Number One Reason Most Artists Fail’. SPOILER ALERT: I believe it is a lack of long-term strategic thinking.

So learn to think strategically and don’t be that person!

The 6 Ps of Strategic Thinking

When it comes to thinking strategically, the 6 Ps is an easy-to-remember approach to make sure you're covering all essential components of your strategy. Let's break it down:


Purpose is about knowing your long-term vision and ultimate goals. Why are you doing what you’re doing? What do you hope to achieve in the grand scheme of things? Your purpose guides all your strategic decisions.

Before you can develop your strategy, you must be clear on your purpose, mission, and vision. That is your destination. 

You cannot plan the best route unless you are crystal clear on the destination!


Perspective involves analyzing your environment, both internal and external. It’s about understanding your strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats. This is referred to as a ‘SWOT analysis’.

See below for a SWOT Analysis worksheet. This broad view helps you gather vital information that you can use to develop your strategic plans.


Your Strategic Plan is your roadmap to achieving your purpose.

It starts with setting SMART goals (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, Time-bound) and outlining the steps to reach them. Revisit my post Measuring Milestones in Your Music Career to learn to set SMARTER goals!

The next step in creating your strategic plan is to come up with several initiatives that you could use to achieve your goals. Initiatives are projects that represent potential strategies. You want to have many initiatives that you can choose from and prioritize which ones to actually execute (see the next section for how to do this).

Also, be sure to look back at your SWOT analysis as you are setting your SMART goals, creating your initiatives, and prioritizing which projects move forward.

You want to focus more time planning to leverage your best strengths and opportunities than you do planning to overcome your weaknesses and threats.

Forward momentum is the name of the game.


Prioritize is making sure you know which initiatives that are most critical to achieving your goals. Not all tasks are created equal; some will have a bigger impact than others.

Prioritization means focusing on what is really going to move the needle.

Review my recent post Time Management for Creatives for seven different prioritization frameworks. One of the most popular ways to prioritize your initiatives is with the Action Priority Matrix (Effort v. Impact) framework that we went over in that post.

Prioritize initiatives that fall into the ‘High Impact, Low Effort’ category first. These will give you the most significant return on your investment of time and resources. The ‘High Impact, High Effort’ initiatives will take more planning and preparation.

  • Focus on High Impact, Low Effort: Examples of initiatives that fall into this category could be collaborating with popular artists or influencers and using targeted social media ads to grow your following and streaming audience.

  • Plan for High Impact, High Effort: While more challenging, a robust organic content strategy or organizing live events can move the needle. Take time to plan these initiatives carefully to ensure it is worth the effort and that you have enough support to execute.


Pace is about adjusting the speed of your activities based on your desired rate of progress, as well as internal and external factors. It’s important to maintain a steady pace that keeps you moving forward without burning out or missing opportunities.

Pace is a BIG CHALLENGE for music creators and anyone who is trying to grow on social media. Here’s a recent post by marketing guru Neil Patel showing the ideal output for Instagram:

Obviously keeping up a pace like that on socials while also writing great songs, producing great records, playing shows, etc. is nearly impossible without a team.

Remember it is a LONG GAME. Platforms will come and go. Algorithms will change. Find a pace that you can keep up with, one that is smooth and steady.

Keep in mind this wise saying popularized by military elites:

Slow is smooth, and smooth is fast.

Always adjust your strategy until you can find a pace that is smooth and steady.


Performance involves measuring and evaluating your progress often. Set milestones and use specific metrics to track what is working and what’s not.

The goal is to continuously identify areas for improvement. Continuous improvement doesn’t mean that you are never happy or satisfied. It means that you are playing the infinite game where you are only competing with yourself.

Keep making small incremental improvements, and they will compound over time. Trust in that long-term compounding effect, and create an internal and external environment where you consistently perform at your best.

How do you know you are performing at your best?

Because you take time to measure your performance.