A personal SWOT analysis is a great tool for evaluating yourself and your life in general, or for a specific aspect that you may want to change. It helps you think things through, get a more balanced perspective, and then consider what to do next .
SWOT stands for Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats. You may be familiar with its use in business, yet you can apply it to your personal life too.
How to Use SWOT
Before you complete a personal SWOT analysis consider what it is you are measuring for. Then get a piece of paper (preferably A4 or bigger). Write down, what you are reviewing as a title to help you stay focussed.
Then divide the paper into quarters, by drawing a line across the page half down and another line down the page in the middle.
The top two rectangles are for focussing on the current, often internal, aspects of SWOT, the strengths and weaknesses. You then enter the lower two sections with the possibilities and risks available, labelling them as opportunities and threats to whatever aspect you are reviewing.
For a personal SWOT analysis, the strengths are everything good about you. For example, for a job change, you can list specific skills, experience, flexibility in location, willingness to re-train and so on. If the analysis is about a personal situation, such as your relationship with someone, you would list the good points pertinent to the relationship – the good times you’ve had together, shared interests, how you help each other.
Weaknesses are where the problems lie, either with you, or the situation. The job change scenario may highlight your need to stay near an ageing parent or a lack of a required qualification. A SWOT analysis on a relationship may list poor communication as a weakness.
Opportunities are things that haven’t happened; you may or may not have noticed them. This is your chance to identify and think them through. Whom do you know that could help you get a new job? What courses are available? Would counselling help your relationship improve or perhaps just making more time for each other?
Use this section to explore all possibilities, even if they seem far-fetched.
Threats are also things that haven’t happened but could hamper the success of what you want to do. When considering a job change, you might hate the new company or role or the job may not last. For your relationship, threats are the chance you may grow apart, your partner may meet someone else.
Although this is a negative exercise it is still important. As with the opportunities, use your imagination to try to envisage everything.
Using Your Personal SWOT Analysis
As you complete your personal SWOT analysis you may find some sections harder to complete than others. Give yourself time, leave it and come back to it later if that helps. Sometimes one or more of the areas will have less in it than the others.
The thinking behind the SWOT analysis is what counts, not the content. It allows you to take a more balanced view of the situation.
Once you believe you have completed it as well as you can you can then consider your next steps.