Are you struggling to make a decision in your life because there are too many variables and unknowns? And does it feel as you are sinking down and your life is slipping by?
Then try using a personal SWOT analysis.
There are times in your life when you have to make big life choices. Sometimes the decision may be small. But you know the consequences may have repercussions for many years.
You feel frozen in place. You’re the donkey standing between two haystacks. Getting hungrier as you don’t know which one to start eating first.
imagine. You have a job change that means working longer hours but the promotion prospects are great. Or you are thinking about turning your side-hustle into a full-time venture.
Some decisions are not so pleasant.
Your relationship has hit a rough patch. Do you stay or do you go? You may be considering counselling, a temporary separation or even divorce.
A personal SWOT analysis is a great tool for when you face a life-changing decision. One that needs careful consideration and you need to think it through. Especially, where there are many aspects to consider. and you need to gain a more comprehensive analysis of the situation.
And where the outcome is uncertain and may impact other people you care about.
It won’t tell you what to do but it will help you see the bigger picture and make a more informed choice. One way or the other.
What is SWOT Analysis?
SWOT is an analysis tool used in business. SWOT stands for Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats.
A typical use would be if a company wants to enter a new market. Yet, it is a powerful decision-making tool that you can apply to your personal life choices too.
Before you complete a personal SWOT analysis be clear about what you are evaluating. Do you want to check yourself in the context of a situation or only the situation?
How to Complete a Personal SWOT Analysis
Are you questioning your relationship?
Are you reviewing your career or work life balance choices?
If you have several options to work through then you may want to focus on the main area first. For example, your work options may be employment or running your business.
You could do one SWOT analysis on employment and another on running your business. But you would complete an evaluation of your relationship in one SWOT analysis.
Once you are clear on what is under evaluation, get a piece of paper and write this down as a title.
Then divide the paper into quarters. Draw a line across the page halfway down and another line down the middle of the page.
Label the top two rectangles ‘strengths’ and ‘weaknesses’. Likewise label the bottom two, ‘opportunities’ and ‘threats’.
The first two have an internal focus. Either by looking at yourself or the situation you are evaluating. For example, for a relationship, you would consider your strengths and weaknesses. And also those inherent in the relationship.
Do Your Strengths Analysis
When focussing on yourself it may help to think about your:
- Relevant skills and experience
- attitude to life and others
- values that you live by
- communication style
- behaviour patterns
If you are reviewing a situation you can list what is good about the current situation. In a relationship this may be things you’ve achieved together and how well you communicate.
Do not confuse this with potential strengths as these go under opportunities.
Be honest. Think about how you have responded to good and bad situations. If you struggle, listen to how you speak about yourself and situations. Are there any patterns? Do different people keep offering you similar advice?
Do you tend to put yourself down, or even big yourself up? Think about what a fair and honest friend or colleague would say.
And Now The Weaknesses
And then weaknesses are where you identify the internal problems and challenges. Sometimes these will be the flip side to your strengths list.
Tenacity can become stubbornness. You can turn focus and drive to become inflexibility or a need to control. But try to avoid listing the opposites and look for weaknesses you may not have spotted.
Use the same approach as for uncovering your strengths.
Again, weaknesses are as the situation currently is. Weaknesses may be your lack of a specific skill or a bad habit. In a relationship it may an unwillingness to compromise.
An opportunity is a time or set of circumstances that make it possible to do something. Look for relevant external factors to see what is possible.
Questions you may ask yourself, for example are:
- Whom do you know that could help you get a new job?
- What courses are available to improve your skills?
- Would counselling help your relationship improve?
- Do you need to make more time for each other?
Use this section to explore all positive possibilities for growth. Even if they seem far-fetched.
What Are The Threats?
A threat is something likely to cause damage. It is something or someone that could endanger a successful outcome.
Your list of threats is an exercise in risk awareness. When considering a job change, you might hate the new company or role. For your relationship, a threat could be your partner meeting someone else. Or you may grow further apart.
Look for human and practical factors. If it relates to work or business then competition, the economy or a drop in demand can all be valid threats.
Although this is a negative exercise it is still important. As with the opportunities, use your imagination to try to envisage everything.
How to Use The Results
The thinking behind the SWOT analysis is very important as well as the content. By reflecting you may shift your perspective from your starting point.
The process allows you to gain a more thorough view of the situation and yourself. And you can get a more definite picture of where any imbalances lie.
With a clearer, holistic view you can then decide and plan on what to do next.
Making Decisions – Your Next Steps
Review your strengths to see if you can build on them. Can you apply them to the other areas? Will your strengths help mitigate any risks? Can you take advantage of an opportunity or minimise a weakness?
Have you been blind to a weakness? Can you change yourself to reduce or remove it? Is this weakness something you cannot overcome? If so, how does this impact your next steps?
What opportunities are you ignoring? Can you do something to maximise on them? What action will you take?
Finally, what can you do to reduce or remove threats? If a threat is too high a risk and likely to happen what can and will you do?
A personal SWOT analysis can be very empowering when making life decisions. What’s stopping you?