Do you know what SWOT means? How can you use SWOT to find out more about yourself?
Earlier Posts on Finding Your Identity and What Your Life Values Are –
In this post, we further explore the steps to better understanding yourself and knowing what you want in life to be the best you.
This is about finding your Strengths and Weaknesses, and how to best optimise/handle them with the surroundings you are in.
What is SWOT?
In business, there is a marketing term called SWOT Analysis, which stands for Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats.
SWOT is used to provide a better and clearer overview of where a business stands internally (S&W) and what they can tap on (O) or avoid (T) with the external factors.
We also can apply SWOT in our daily life especially when we need a clearer view and understanding of our lives and goals, or to gain a better perspective of our individual self.
It is a simple tool but you also need to be really honest with yourself to identify your current situation as well as to be able to clearly determine your next step of actions should you want to pursue any activities that are involved.
1 – Identify the Internal Characteristics (S&W)
It could be your personality, a skill you mastered, a mindset you built over time, lessons you learned or relationship or communication method through interacting with people.
(a) Your Strengths
List down all your strengths about you that you know and can think of. Many times we tend to take the things we know and can do well for granted. For instance, writing. Not many people can write in ways that explain clearly or relate to others. If you can do that, this is a great point.
How about your knowledge in Microsoft Office skills? Typing is also a strength. If you love trying new things, learning about new interesting facts, these are also strengths you can input. Being able to skate, blade, sew, knit, draw or even dancing are strengths you can add in. Some people (like me) have limited hands and foot coordination – so I cannot dance, skate or swim really well. Being organised is also one of them.
Some of my greatest strengths are practicality, logical, adventurous, challenge seeking, willingness to learn and explore.
(b) Your Weaknesses
This is usually a no-brainer for some.
Most of us are (overly) critical of ourselves. We tend to see ourselves in more negative light and are able to list a long list of weaknesses and disappointments as compared to what we are good at.
To most of us, we are never good enough.
Sure, the road in life is full of opportunities to improvements, but beating ourselves up over something that we are on the way to becoming better would not help.
If it is something that you are relatively alright on, and you are happy with that, let’s not consider that as a weakness. Rather, if you are really bad at something (a sport, a subject, or a character) that it’s affecting your life, be truthful about it.
It’s important, to be honest here, but not too critical of yourself.
For instance, in a group project, you may be great at organising the team and giving presentations, but lack the proper knowledge of report writing. In this regard, it may seem like report writing is a weakness but this is something that you can improve on with lessons or even a few pointers from peers/teachers.
If it’s something that is personality or character bound, like being short-tempered, or reckless, impulsive – then it is a weakness because it is not easy to change (although it can be!)
If you are stuck, you can try and explore other ways to identifying your S&Ws
think of a time when you did your projects or challenges you faced,
think of how you managed a situation,
how about a difficult time and how you responded to it,
anything that others ask you for help or that you ask from others,
what did you realise about yourself from these past experiences, and
how do you think it affects or applies to you?
ask your family members or close friends about what you are good and bad at. Ask those who are close to you, those whom you meet regularly and know you well enough. (The caveat on this is to take this with a grain of salt while being open about it. Some may end up being more opinionated or critical of you, while to others a weakness may not seem like a big deal to them).
Certain factors can be a strength or a weakness.
An example could be being direct in your communication. While it portrays to others as being assertive and knowing what you stand for, at times it may hurt the feelings of others or you probably regret what you said too quickly in a moment of haste. So it’s better to weigh the importance of the factor you identified in your SWOT assessment.
Once you have detailed your strengths and weaknesses, you will now have a better understanding of who you are and whether your strengths > weaknesses or vice versa.
To many, this is a light-bulb moment as we suddenly get a clear perspective of who we are compared to what we think we are.
The greatest stress and energy drainer is when you are not good at something and yet, still have to do it.
What you dislike doing, you will never enjoy nor will they bring you satisfaction even when you become good at them. You probably see it in some people in your daily life.
What you like doing but are weak at, you can always explore your environment and network to look out for opportunities to build on them although the results may not be as strong as doing something you are naturally good at. You can find ways to work around them to build up to be your strength. For instance, if you like Math but are struggling with problem sums, one way is to improve your English so you can get better in Math.
What you are weak at you can manage it better in the following ways;
Get help – you can try and improve or learn from someone who is good at it
Eliminate from your plate (if you can) – especially when you dislike and avoid doing it
Delegate to some one who can do a better quality work
Reduce your emphasis or place less importance/focus on it
Outsource to someone else
2 – Gain Clarity on the External Factors (O&T)
External factors can be environmentally related, the opportunities (or lack of), interactions with people around you, even the technology available to you.
(c) Identify your Opportunities – and environment that can help you
There are two sides to your strengths – one that you enjoy, one that you don’t like doing.
For instance, I am good in administrative work and being organised is one of my greatest strengths. However, that doesn’t mean that I love arranging stuff or being clerical in my work. Doing the same work over time makes me feel frustrated and really bored. So, I make use of my administrative and organisation skill to work on managing projects instead.
Being good at something does not mean you absolutely have to love doing them either. One person I know has potential in badminton, could pick up the racket and play anytime. But he has literally no interest in it as his interest was in gaming. On the other hand, the other person who loves badminton so much train almost every day just to be good at it.
If you are good at it and love doing it, you can easily build up your talent and skills.
If you are good at it yet don’t like the activities or work that you do, you can tap on your strengths to work on other aspects of your work or life.
You may love doing something but are weak at it but you can always find opportunities to build on it into strength.
Talent = Strength + Interest + Hard Work
Skill = Interest + Hard Work
Hence, to tap on opportunities to build your strengths
Spend lots of time doing what you love and great at.
Find out what you can take advantage and build on from your environment or the support of your network,
Be prepared so you can grab opportunities when they knock on your door.
Look at how you can transfer what you are good at to something that you like or enjoy doing
(d) Identify your Threats – that prevent you from growing or achieving your goals
Some of what can jeopardise your development include
people factor (those with negative mindsets, always being critical, or putting others down),
environmental factor (lack of resources, training facilities, mentors, etc) or
lack of preparation + opportunities (lack of supportive parents, practice, exposure or financial resources)
What will affect you if you don’t remove these threats?
Being great in one thing but not being in a positive supportive environment can also put you in a bad position. This can affect your progress a great deal. A natural talent also needs practice and hard work to be able to achieve considerable milestones.
If you are constantly entwined in negative influences, doubt or push yourself away from opportunities or your ideal environment, you will have limited growth over time.
Think about how you can minimise or even eliminate the threats from your environment,
Perhaps reduce interaction or cut off contacts from those negatively affecting you, being overly critical of everything you do,
Find ways on how to improve on getting better and more positive support and encouragements,
Find out how you can adapt what you are good at to doing something you enjoy doing
After you are done with your assessment,
You can now move on to identifying the next course of actions
Find the intersection between what you are good at and what you enjoy doing
Identify how you can remove the weaknesses and those you don’t like doing – either get better at them or remove them from your life.
Reduce or remove the threats so you don’t get thwarted in your own environment
Build a positive supportive environment or circle so you can thrive in doing what you love and what you are great at.