Advertising

Last Updated on November 27, 2020

How to Carry Out a Personal SWOT Analysis for a Successful Life

How to Carry Out a Personal SWOT Analysis for a Successful Life
Advertising

In both business and life, there have always been winners and losers. Some people just seem to be able to excel in their careers while others just barely get by or, worse, flounder and struggle in a seemingly endless cycle. A popular and practical exercise to determine your strengths and weaknesses can be found in the SWOT analysis. So, what is SWOT analysis, you may ask?

In this article, we will discuss not only what is SWOT analysis but also how to perform one on your own and use it as a competitive workplace advantage.

What Is SWOT Analysis?

A SWOT analysis is an extremely useful tool for both businesses and individuals. SWOT stands for Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunity, and Threat.

The purpose of a personal SWOT analysis is to evaluate the past, present, and future of your personal or professional goals. If you do it properly, it will enable you to leverage your strengths, improve your weaknesses, mitigate threats, and identify opportunities for future growth.

Doing a SWOT analysis provides a “snapshot” of your current situation and helps you evaluate and develop a strategy for career or life advancement. You need to have a clear idea of your goals before that, though. If you need help with figuring out or setting goals, you can find it here: How to Set Long Term Goals and Reach Success

The Breakdown

As mentioned above, SWOT analysis is broken down into strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats. When you imagine what is SWOT analysis like a grid, the top half that contains your strengths and weaknesses are the internal factors, so we have a high degree of control over them. Meanwhile, the bottom half holds opportunities and threats, which are the external factors that we have limited or no control over.

Likewise, the grid can be broken down into the left and right sides. The left side with strengths and opportunities are generally helpful things that you can use to achieve your goals. The right side contains weaknesses and threats — the roadblocks to your development.

Unlike the strengths and weaknesses sections, the opportunity/threat section is external. This makes it much easier to get information and evaluate it objectively.

Opportunities are defined as external factors that are favorable to the goals you have set for the SWOT analysis. Threats, on the other hand, can have a negative effect on your goals.

Good places to research opportunities and threats include:

  • Industry publications
  • Trade shows and conventions
  • Personal contacts within the industry
  • Industry chat rooms and groups on the internet

Filling Out Your SWOT Analysis Grid

Once you have a clear idea about your “why” (the goal for doing the SWOT analysis), it is time to start filling in the grid.

Advertising

This is where a lot of people get into trouble. Sure, the quadrants of the grid are labeled, but as any writer can tell you, crafting the first sentence is always the hardest.

Below are some common questions that can help you with that.

Identifying Personal Strengths

  • What natural talents or abilities do I have?
  • What type of specialized knowledge or skills have I developed over the years?
  • What skills or personality traits have made me successful in the past?
  • What formal education or training have I had?
  • What do others see as my strengths? Is there a common theme among their answers?

Identifying Personal Weaknesses

  • In what areas do you know you need improvement?
  • What are the areas that you struggle with?
  • What things do you avoid if possible?
  • What do you see as personal roadblocks to your success?
  • What areas of your life don’t you feel confident in?

Identifying Opportunities

  • How is the industry doing? Is it growing and expanding or taking a nosedive?
  • What does the job market look like for your dream job?
  • What does the larger (macro) economy look like? Is business booming in the local region, nationally, or globally?
  • Are there any external factors (e.g., low unemployment rate and lack of qualified employees) that you can exploit? What market trends can you identify as positive factors?
  • Who are your contacts within the industry that may help you fulfill your dreams?

Identifying Threats

  • What obstacles are preventing you from achieving your goals, education, experience, or training?
  • Are there negative market trends that can affect your journey?
  • Is the industry changing or becoming uncertain?
  • How do you stack up against the competition for a specific promotion or job?
  • Can you identify the biggest threat to your success?

How to Analyze a Personal SWOT Analysis

Now that you have completed the analysis, it’s time to analyze the results. After that, you may develop a plan and take the required action to achieve your goals.

There are basically two methods for analyzing the results of a SWOT analysis: matching and converting. Because there is no right or wrong way to do it, you can simply choose what you think will be most helpful for your situation.

Matching

Matching involves comparing your strengths to opportunities and weaknesses to threats.

By combining your strengths and opportunities, you can identify your strongest suits. Then, you may take aggressive action where your strengths and opportunities overlap. For instance, if your skills and education put you above the work competition, you are in a much better position to negotiate salary and perks with the hiring manager.

Learn more about personal strengths in this guide: How to Identify and Leverage Your Personal Strengths

In contrast, matching your weaknesses to threats will tell you which areas to minimize or avoid altogether. Say, you may have identified a weakness as a lack of formal training in the field you are interested in. If you combine that with an industry that experiences a cyclical downturn, you may want to postpone any plans until the timing is better.

Converting

Converting merely refers to the process of transforming weaknesses into strengths and threats into opportunities. Here is an interesting article about that: Why the More Threats We Fight Every Day, the More Successful We Become

While it sounds simple enough in theory, it can be more difficult in practice.

Let’s say that you have identified creativity as a weakness. You think that you are not as creative as the next person.

Advertising

How can you turn that weakness into a strength?

Well, it turns out that creativity is a skill that can be learned. There are various exercises and techniques you can use to become more creative.

The downside to using the converting method is that it takes time and effort to change weakness into a strength. If you have both the time and energy to do so, it is an excellent way to use the SWOT analysis.

Things to Remember When Doing a SWOT Analysis

1. Know Your Goals

A SWOT analysis is also an especially useful tool for business owners looking to get or expand a competitive advantage over the competition. It is important to know WHY you are doing a SWOT analysis.

What exactly do you want to get out of it? Are you looking for a promotion, new job, career change, or just personal growth?

As Carl Pullein explains in his widely read blog[1]:

“It starts with a vision and a question. What do you want to accomplish? You need to know precisely what it is you want. Without a clear vision of what you want to achieve, you will drift through life. And it is here where most people fail.”

2. Be Honest

When performing a SWOT analysis, honesty is a must.

However, it is notoriously difficult for us to analyze ourselves accurately, so we often overestimate our strengths and underestimate our weaknesses. According to the American Psychological Association[2]:

“In a subjective area like intelligence, for example, people tend to perceive their competence in self-serving ways. A student talented in math, for instance, may emphasize math and analytical skills in her definition of intelligence, while a student gifted in other areas might highlight verbal ability or creativity. Another problem is that in many areas of life, accurate feedback is rare. People do not like giving negative feedback, so it’s likely we will fail to hear criticism that would help us improve our performance.”

Tip:

Advertising

Don’t be afraid to tap friends, family, and colleagues to comment about your strengths and weaknesses. Even if not all feedback will be spot-on, you should be able to get a consensus of how others perceive you

Just keep in mind that while the SWOT analysis tool can be immensely powerful, it’s only as good as the information you put into it.

3. Prioritize Goals

One of the most common mistakes when doing a SWOT analysis is listing too many things in each category. It usually happens when the goal is unclear or the scope is too broadly defined. Remember: you are trying to find the most dominant elements for each quarter of the grid.

Once you have established your goals, you only need to specify three to seven points for each section.

4. Don’t Overestimate Strengths

There are three characteristics all successful people share.

  1. They realize that everything is a competition in business. Companies compete for customers, laborers compete for jobs, and employees compete for positions and promotions.
  2. They have a clear and honest understanding of their own strengths and weaknesses.
  3. They leverage their strengths and mitigate or improve weaknesses in order to maximize their opportunities for growth.

Despite that, overestimating your strengths can cause problems later when you try to implement changes based on the SWOT analysis results.

For example, you may be an SEO expert for your company or personal website. However, to leverage that knowledge into a promotion or new job, you need to compete with people who have more experiences or education attainments in the field. Thus, instead of claiming that it is your strength, it should go under the opportunity category, considering you still need to enhance your SEO skills through academic or practical experience.

Tip: Try to think of both your strengths and weaknesses like how you compare to others with similar goals.

5. Be Specific

Being vague and using broad generalizations makes it challenging to come up with an actionable plan.

For example, folks commonly say that their strength is working well with others or being a people person. While no one may argue about that, it is still too vague and hard to quantify to become anyone’s strength.

For a more specific and actionable characteristic, you may say that you have the ability to manage teams well through leadership and delegation or follow rules and take direction from your superiors.

Advertising

By doing so, you may be able to get the most suitable job based on your skillset.

Tip: Add quantitative values to the equation whenever possible.

6. Accept Your Weaknesses

No one likes to admit their weaknesses, although underestimating them can be a problem.

As said above, doing a SWOT analysis requires accurate and honest evaluations before it can be of any use at all.

There is an old saying in computer programming: Garbage In, Garbage Out (GIGO). It entails that the quality of the result is directly related to the quality of the information you start with.

Tip: Ask friends and colleagues for their opinions and try not to get hurt in the process. Assure them that you value honesty and that you will not hold anything against them.

To Sum Things Up

People used to say that there are only two certainties in life: death and taxes. I would add one more to that list, and that’s change.

Change is going to happen to us despite our best efforts. It’s how we deal with the change that matters.

Personal development is a self-driven choice we make.

While we can control this, there are many times in life when a personal change is imposed on us by external factors. When it helps us to recognize, understand, and react in order to “make the best of a bad situation,” though, that’s when a skill comes into play.[3]

Done right, you will be able to analyze your current position and brainstorm possible directions for your life or career while highlighting possible opportunities and threats.

Advertising

The more realistic and honest you can be, the more useful your SWOT analysis results will be.

More on Using SWOT Analysis to Your Advantage

Featured photo credit: JESHOOTS.COM via unsplash.com

Reference

More by this author

David Carpenter

Lifelong entrepreneur and business owner helping others to realize the American Dream of business ownership

10 Ways to Improve Team Management Skills and Boost Performance 23 Tips for New Entrepreneurs to Get Your Business Underway Why Mentoring Matters: A Guide on a Stellar Example for Employees What is Success According to These Extremely Successful Entrepreneurs 10 Simple Yet Powerful Business Goals to Set This Year

Trending in Life Potential

1 What Is Passion and What It Means To Have Passion 2 16 Simple Rules to Live by for a Successful And Fulfilling Life 3 How to Live a Full Life With No Regrets 4 How to Stop Feeling Guilty And Start Making Things Happen 5 How to Start Over and Reboot Your Life When It Seems Too Late

Read Next

Advertising
Advertising

Last Updated on July 21, 2021

What Is Passion and What It Means To Have Passion

What Is Passion and What It Means To Have Passion
Advertising

I like to use the word passion interchangeably with words like determination, conviction, and love. Passion is a strong desire that can get you to do amazing things.

Passion is an emotion to be acted upon. Without action, passion yields no worthwhile results. Passion is the fuel in the fire of action. When you have passion for something, you love it even when you hate it.

So what is passion? How do you recognize your passion, and how do you put it to good use?

Advertising

What Is Passion?

A desire fueled by passion will bring about the greatest results in life.

I like to skateboard, but I don’t have the determination to push myself through broken bones and hospital visits. That’s why I’m not as good as I could be. I don’t have a passion for it.

Passion can push you through difficult times because you don’t care what it takes to become better. We all have the ability to create whatever kind of life we want. The secret to living the dream is hidden in our passions and what we do because of them.

Advertising

How to Know What You’re Passionate About?

Finding what you are passionate about is a journey in itself. Don’t be frustrated if you don’t feel like you know yet. Keep trying new things. It will come even if you have to build it. If you find your passion, or find yourself hot on its trail, don’t give it up.

What if you know what you have a passion for but you don’t do anything about it? This is the main problem with passion. You can have all the passion in the world for something but if you never do anything about it, that passion is useless.

Maybe you work a good job that pays all the bills but it doesn’t allow you to truly follow your passion. You’re afraid of what will happen if you change things up. Yes, change is scary, but it’s not until we leave our comfort zone that we find what we’ve been missing out on.

Advertising

You’re the author of your life. Don’t settle for the bare minimum just because it’s working out right now.

You will never know what you’re truly capable of unless you push yourself.

But even when you pursue your passion, you will find yourself tripped up by failures and other obstacles. You can’t let that get to you. It happens to everyone on the path of following their passion. Abe Lincoln had a strong passion for building a great country. You think he let a few failures stop him from that? Don’t let obstacles get you down.

Advertising

What About Passion for People?

The idea of passion also applies to people. Don’t fall into the common trap of thinking you love someone and not doing anything about it. Ask yourself, is giving up my pride worth it to maintain a relationship? What about being unselfish and sacrificing your time or comfort? If you can’t do that, it’s probably not real love, or you need to start making changes.

Often, I think we need to remind ourselves who we love and act accordingly. It’s easy to let family relationships weaken because of pride. Of course, you say you love your family, but when your brother is in the school play, and you hate plays, do you go?

The same applies to intimate relationships. Do you only love them when it’s easy? Real love takes sacrifice and work. You push through the difficult times because you love them and you understand that every passion pursued will have bumps in the road. Unfortunately, many people don’t understand what it means to have passion for someone. This is why divorce rates are so high and families are often torn apart by hurt feelings and unnecessary drama.

Advertising

Following any passion takes vulnerability and work. But I promise in the end, the outcome of such efforts will be the most fulfilling to your life.

More About Living Your Passion

Featured photo credit: Randalyn Hill via unsplash.com

Read Next