If you’ve been part of a strategic planning meeting, you’ve probably heard all about the SWOT Analysis: Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats. It’s a standard in many a planner’s toolbox. If you’ve never heard of it, read on.
SWOT works well as a starting point for organizational planning because everyone participates in creating the lists in each category I listed. The lists create a snap-shot of where the organization stands in present-tense. Strengths and Weaknesses tell what’s going on inside the enterprise, while Opportunities and Threats describe what’s going on out in the world.
As you make your own personal plans, I encourage you to make use of the SWOT model to self-evaluate. Personalize the analysis: SWOT yourself! Sounds painful, right? It can be. But it can also be freeing, enlightening, and motivating. Here’s how to do it:
Start here (it’s more fun) and list your strongest personal assets. What’s working for you? Some categories to explore might be character, skills and abilities, relationships and finances.
You’re normal if you find it easier to list your faults and limitations – what you’d like to change in all the categories above. Just focus on the biggies and try to keep the list concise.
This might be hard. You can phone a friend if you want. The idea is to look around and ask what’s possible for you right now, if you choose to engage. Education? Relationships? Skill-building? For example, Toastmasters is an opportunity to build speaking and leadership skills.
What are the real obstacles? Not what’s scary – what’s really in the way of your progress? Job instability? Financial challenges? Negative relationships? Not so fun to think about, but I bet it’s a short list.
Now it’s time to ruminate. Look over your SWOT lists. What patterns do you see? Are some items related – sort of a theme? Do some items have the potential to interact in positive or negative ways? For example, is there an opportunity that addresses a weakness? These observations inform how you plan for your future and set goals. When you SWOT yourself, you know where you stand. From that point, you’re much more likely to set goals that are motivating and make sense because they’re more realistic and relevant.
Go ahead – SWOT yourself!