Trying to succeed in an area where you have close to 0 experience, it’s like trying to run against the wind. It’s hard. It’s not impossible, but it’s going to be difficult for you to make solid improvements. You are most likely to make a positive change in your life if you focus on your natural talents. That’s why conducting a personal SWOT analysis might be the right thing if you’re looking for a faster way to make progress.
I’m sure you’ve come across the term SWOT analysis before. Either in school or somewhere online. SWOT analysis is a popular term mainly used by companies to improve their craft, lower their costs and gain a bigger market share.
How do they do it?
First, by finding what are their Strengths (S) and Weaknesses (W). Then, spotting the Opportunities (O) and the potential Threats (T) that may interfere with their hopes.
This planning technique shouldn’t be reserved by only big organizations though. The insights can easily be applied to regular people who are looking for ways to make adjustments in their lives that will lead to something good (i.e., more free time, more income, more smiles on your face).
Even though there is a lot of circulation online about making a personal SWOT analysis, the majority of the information is mainly focused on helping corporations. That’s why I decided to make a less complicated guide to help individuals do the following: Figure out what you’re good at and at the same time spot what you suck at so you can focus on the former.
If you’re still struggling with finding deeper meaning in life, don’t know what are your natural talents, this process of personal examination might be the thing you’ve been looking for.
Just to mention one thing before we proceed, even though a SWOT analysis is a powerful instrument, it won’t help you a lot if you don’t know what you want from life. It can surely give you a bit of clarity but not all the answers. You might wanna check the article about finding meaning first, this article here.
What Is a SWOT Analysis?
By definition, SWOT analysis is a strategic planning technique used by organizations to establish their strengths, find their weaknesses, spot potential opportunities, and find threats related to their business niche.
This type of strategic planning can be used in every stage of the organization cycle and also by every department.
For example, the marketing team can make a SWOT analysis of a single product so they can come up with a message that can later be used in their advertisement campaigns. The more they focus on the strengths (benefits) the more people will potentially purchase the product.
A manager can conduct a SWOT analysis of his team so he can identify his best and worst players and potentially figure out a way to improve both parties.
The opportunities are endless for an organization. But this is also the case for people like you and me. It’s a great tool that can help you move from “completely lost” to “moderately purposeful”.
What Is a Personal SWOT Analysis?
Taking into account the above, the personal SWOT analysis should be focused on:
- Strengths: Understanding what you’re good at and using this quality (qualities) to thrive in the world.
- Weaknesses: Finding out what are your week points and figure out how you can do less of them. Or, of course, make improvements.
- Opportunities: Identifying opportunities in your current position, careet, personal business, the town you’re living in, basically everything that can help you become a bit better in pre-selected area.
- Threats: Understanding what are the potential threats that might hurt your lifestyle, the business, brand, you’re building and find a way to avoid them. Or, handle them once they arise – after all, some problems are unavoidable (i.e., taxes).
A personal SWOT analysis can also be done by an individual working in a cubical. He can make a SWOT analysis of his working space and the work that he does. By doing so, he can stop doing certain things in favor of others that can help him become more productive. Get a promotion or find a better job.
Put simply, the SWOT analysis will give you some insights about yourself by asking the right questions.
If you’ve never done this before, take a pen, download the worksheet I’ve prepared, and start writing things down:
We’ll go through all four parameters, step-by-step:
What Are Your Strengths?
Or in other words, what’s your superpower?
Consider yourself a superhero for a moment. What’s your greatest strength?
For example, Iron Man’s strength, besides his shiny custom, is his cleverness. Wonder Woman is invulnerable and gorgeous. Hulk is green and he has unlimited strength. The Flash is fast. Batman is courageous… You get the point.
So, what’s your power?
To figure this out, you can ask yourself the following questions:
- What do you do well?
- For what type of work do people call you so you can help them?
- What do you do with ease?
Even if it’s only one thing, write it down. Write examples of this thing. How do you feel when you’re working/doing this?
Of course, avoid things like: I’m good at staring at Facebook; I enjoy watching movies. These are passive activities. Think of things you actually do. Things that help people, make them feel better, or such that you can sell.
Improve Your Strengths
Only knowing what are your strengths won’t get you far. You should also consider a way to improve, refine them.
If you’re good at math you can read more books on the subject so you can become even better. If you’re good with people you might take a few online courses so you can understand the fundamental principles of psychology. This will help you “read” others or convince them to get things they don’t actually need – become an irresistible salesperson.
Don’t take your strengths for granted. Take them as a foundation. The moment you think you know everything on a particular topic is the moment you start to rot.
Ideas To Use Your Strengths
Once you know what are your powers, think of ways to use these things to your advantage.
Superheroes save the world from the bad guys by fighting them. What will you do with your own strengths?
You can actually do the same (saving the world) but in a different way.
Here are some crazy examples:
- If you’re good with words and passionate about the environment, you can do the following: Start a blog about keeping the world green > Make more people conscious about the way they handle trash and the way they consume > Save the planet from becoming one giant trash can.
- If you’re good at making things with your hands, you can do the following: Create sculptures of endangered aminals > Focus on why it’s vital to keep these animals safe > Create a movement around this concept.
- If you’re good at selling stuff, you can: Share your knowledge with your colleagues > They can become better at their jobs > Doing this might get you a promotion.
What Are Your Weaknesses?
Or in other words, what’s your kryptonite?
That’s the only weakness Superman has. Kryptonite it’s a green, crystalline material that emits peculiar radiation that weakens and sickens Superman.
What’s the one thing in your life that prevents you from fulfilling your potential (as cheesy as it might sound)? The thing that interferes with your goals and desired future?
Maybe it’s not only one thing, maybe there are more. Nevertheless, list all of them.
- What do you avoid doing?
- What tasks take a lot of your time but don’t bring any value? For example, scrolling through your Facebook feed it’s surely not making you better at your craft. You might consider unfollowing everyone from this app.
- What are your fears?
- What thoughts trouble your mind for most of your day?
We carefully safeguard our flaws thinking that others will dislike us if we reveal them. But, as I shared not so long ago, admitting what we suck at is the first step towards making improvements. Besides, people actually will like you more if you’re honest and fragile.1
When you state your weaknesses, people will connect with you. They will see you as someone who is a work in progress. This will give you the opportunity to freely share areas that you’re looking to improve. And, the people around you will be more supportive and willing to help.
Type of Weaknesses
There are two types of weaknesses:
- Weaknesses you need to avoid doing: If you’re a bad swimmer and you go to the beach once per year you can simply stay away from the
- Weaknesses you need to improve on: If you’re a bad swimmer but you’re a member of the national water polo team, you definitely need to improve in this area.
So, look at your personal weak spots: What things do you need to improve? And, what things do you simply need to avoid doing?
Maybe you’re bad at sales but part of your job requires you to convince people to buy stuff. If that’s the case, you need to work to improve in this area.
It’s easy to say “I suck at selling stuff” and don’t do anything to get better. It’s easy but it might cost you your job.
Ideas to Lower Your Weaknesses
Once you know what’s your kryptonite, label them as follows:
- Don’t fix: If you don’t know a thing about internal combustion engines, you might wanna leave that to the mechanic the next time you have car troubles.
- Fix: You will need to read a couple of books, visit a few seminars to improve your selling skills if you’re working directly with clients. Or, swim more often if swimming is part of what you do for a living.
Basically, prioritize the second category: Fix. This will help you better manage your time because you will know on what to focus.
What Elements Around You Can Help You Thrive?
If strengths and weaknesses are things that are inside of you, opportunities and weaknesses are things outside of your own existence. In other words, they are related to the environment surrounding you.
Opportunities vary depending on where you live, who you know, what are your possessions, what you know.
- You’re more likely to find a job that is paying you a lot of money if live in a big city.
- If you have friends that are photographers you might have very good pictures which you can upload online which can get you more dates.
- If you have a laptop and access to the internet from an early age you can learn to code and create your own website where you can sell stuff.
So, ask yourself the following things:
- What are the opportunities surrounding you?
- Who do you know who can help you get better at a specific craft?
- What are the current trends and how you can take advantage of them?
- What do you own that can help you get better at something?
The answer to the last question is probably a laptop and an internet connection. Nowadays, pretty much everyone is connected, whether we like it or not. But if you think strategically, you can use the information online to upgrade your skills instead of uploading random pictures on social media.
How Can You Take Advantage Of These Opportunities?
This is an important question.
Opportunities come and go. If you don’t act on time, you can waste a good opportunity.
Probably you’re interested in writing a book and you know a friend who works in this area. Why not talk to him about your plan? He can surely answer a few important questions that are stopping you and help you start.
You wanna get fit and your best friend is a fitness maniac, ask him to keep you accountable. Once you know what you want, ask yourself what are the things around you that can help you achieve your goals.
Potential Threats Surrounding You
By mentioning threats I don’t mean being attacked by a bear. Even though it’s possible if you go often into the woods. If you do, then yes, it’s a threat and you have to have a plan for that.
But most commonly, by threats, the SWOT analysis framework is referring to something that can go wrong. So wrong, that it can have a negative impact on your current life, future desired life, and on the life of your loved ones.
So, threats might be:
- You’re living in a bad neighborhood and there is a possibility that something bad might happen to you, your family, your car.
- You’ve invested in a company that is not really trustworthy.
- Someone is competing with you for an open position as an art director.
Thinking about this will help you find a solution to the problem.
You might be clueless about how to overcome a specific threat but that’s why we listed the opportunities first, probably someone you know can give you a hand when you need it.
How To Overcome These Threats?
As you can imagine, the solution will vary depending on the situation.
Some threats can be avoided, others you need to face. Or as the old saying goes: “If you are afraid of the wolves don’t go into the woods.” But what if the wolves break inside your house?
Be prepared for the worse.
Here I will quote the famous Murphy’s Law: “If something can go wrong, it will.” So, if there is even a small possibility of something bad happening, a wolf entering your cabin, you need to be prepared for this. Obviously, it won’t happen if you’re living in NYC, but if you’re living around the woods you might wanna consider this scenario.
Once you list all possible threats, think of ways and ideas to overcome them.
Some Closing Thoughts
The end goal of the SWOT analysis is to get to know yourself a bit better.
What you want is to focus on your strengths, minimize your weaknesses, and take advantage of the possible opportunities while preparing for the potential threats.
It might seem like a dull exercise and something that only companies need to do but, in reality, is a great way to get yourself moving in the right direction.
- Read this: 3 Reasons Our “Flaws” Make Us Better Humans.