SWOT analysis is a tool that helps us to identify our Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats.
This tool was firstly developed in the 1960s as a so-called business tool by business role-models like William D. Guth., C. Roland Christensen, Edmund P. Learned, and Kenneth Andrews. Later on, SWOT analysis was transformed into a 2X2 matrix by Heinz Weihrich. Strengths, and weaknesses at the top, opportunities, and threats at the bottom. Nowadays that is the most common way to conduct the analysis which is mostly used for organization leaders.
Recently, SWOT analysis has become popular among regular people like you and me. I find this tool very useful when it comes to personal development as this method and strategy are challenging and helps you to explore yourself from a different perspective. The great thing about this tool is the fact that you do not have to have any professional knowledge and it is newbie-friendly. It’s something worth your time.
The SWOT analysis can be used for different people- students, parents, employees, couples, managers, and business owners. It is a great tool to convert your weaknesses to strengths, helps you to see possible opportunities and uncovers the threats that stop you from becoming a better person. In addition, this tool improves your self-awareness and helps you to understand yourself better.
Before you start the process of SWOT analysis you need to make sure that you are as honest as possible with yourself and in case you find it hard answering some questions, you can always get some help from friends or family members. Knowing your strong and weak sides can for sure be challenging at first, however, it will get easier once you get used to it.
Grab your pen and paper, let’s get started with your personal SWOT analysis.
When conducting SWOT analysis first step is answering some questions to identify our strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats. If you will not manage to answer everything right away, you can take your time. Try to be as objective as possible during the process, as if you are analyzing someone else.
Be honest and focused, do not worry if it takes some time. It really matters that everything is done correctly and you are not here because you want to have some fun. Think over and over and do not be afraid to contemplate a little bit.
Once you are done answering the questions, the next step in SWOT analysis is matching and converting. Matching means connecting two categories, let’s say strengths and opportunities or weaknesses and threats. We need this in order to understand what you need to work on. Basically, converting is turning negative into positive. I will get back to it once we are done with the questions.
SWOT questions to ask yourself
To answer the questions easier, remember the times when you were proud of yourself or when someone told you that you did a great job. Do not be shy about it and count every single detail. You do not have to achieve something great and global to count it as a strength. It also helps to understand your strengths concerning other people that surround you daily. For example, your colleagues.
These questions can help you to identify your strengths:
- What is the positive trait that I am proud of?
- What do I think is my greatest achievement so far?
- Do I influence anyone with my strength?
- What do other people see as my strong trait?
- What advantages do I have that others do not?
- Which resources do I have that help me to be better?
- What qualities do other people admire in me?
- What are my core values?
- Am I good at something naturally?
- Which skills did I develop myself?
- What are my professional skills?
- What projects have I completed successfully?
Personal weakness is the area where one needs growth. There are many examples of weaknesses. Impatience, irresponsibility, negative self-talk and so on are negative traits. Consider answering the questions not only from a personal perspective but also from external. If you find it hard being objective, you can ask for some help from friends or colleagues. To make it easier, try to remember the times when you failed or you think you could have done better.
You can ask yourself the following questions:
- What are the things I am afraid of?
- Where do I lack talent the most?
- Which resources do I lack the most?
- What do I do badly?
- Am I avoiding something the most?
- What do I need to improve the most?
- Where do I lack confidence?
- What disadvantages do I have?
- Which personal traits are holding me back?
- In which areas do I need to get better?
- What do other people see as my weakness?
- What are my negative habits?
Opportunities mean an external or internal factor that could give you an advantage and turn your weaknesses to strengths or threats to opportunities. Opportunity is one of the hardest to notice and usually it takes the most time to answer the questions below.
Ask yourself these questions:
- What are the biggest changes that take place in my life right now?
- Who can help me to achieve my goals?
- What do I hope for?
- Is it possible to work on myself?
- Who can support me?
- Do I have any plans for the future?
- Can I acquire new skills? (Which one?)
- Can the internet and new technology help me to develop myself?
- Is there someone who inspires me or I can take an example from?
- How can I turn my weaknesses into opportunities?
- How can I turn my strengths into opportunities?
- What can I do now that I have been postponing for a while?
Threats mostly mean factors that affect you externally. It includes things that are out of your control or things that happen suddenly. However, there are still ways to handle such situations if you analyze them accordingly, whether it is a decision you need to make or a vital move. Knowing threats is important to be able to handle them with composure and efficiency.
Questions you can ask yourself are:
- What is the biggest external factor stopping me from achieving my goals?
- What obstacles do I face at this moment in personal life?
- Is there a specific person who is stopping me from success or happiness?
- Is the economy of my country or political situation somehow affecting my well-being?
- Do I surround myself with people who could be affecting me negatively?
- What are the new skills that I do not master?
- Which obstacles are affecting me daily?
- Are any of my weaknesses my threat?
- What are the negative factors that I have no control over?
- Do any of my strengths prevent me from succeeding?
- Do I have obligations that limit my self-development?
- Am I trying to do something that others expect me to or be someone others want me to be?
Now, once you are answering the SWOT analysis questions, it is time to analyze them and make a strategy on how to start working on yourself.
You will be able to see potential ways to improve your weaknesses, develop new strengths, use the opportunities and fight the threats. You will be able to find new goals, take actions and most importantly MATCH and CONVERT.
Matching is one of the methods which means connecting two categories and finding the strategy. For instance, if you match strengths and opportunities, you will know where to be sure to take the actions right away.
If you match weaknesses and threats, it will expose the areas where are the situations you should be aware of and possibly avoid them until you slowly improve yourself.
Besides, it is a very interesting method as at the end of the analysis you might find out that in situations where you thought you were weak, you have strong skills and you are ready to fight it aggressively and without fear.
On the other hand, you will discover the situations where you always failed and maybe because your weaknesses do not allow you to deal with the problem- meaning you will need to work more on your weaknesses to solve the issue.
For example, your threat is a specific person who triggers your weakness which is anger issues. Every time you have to communicate with this person you lose your temper. Maybe you have even tried to work on your anger issues and you even thought that you dealt with it. But this person always triggers that bad trait of yours.
What you can assume from this is that maybe you should try to avoid communication with this person? Consider exactly why this person is triggering you so much. Is it because you are just too sensitive yourself or maybe this specific person is negative and his attitude is something you cannot bear.
Converting in SWOT analysis means the conversion of negative into positive. Basically, turning your weaknesses into strengths and threats to opportunities or strengths.
It is easy to analyze everything however converting is one of the hardest methods as it requires some real action. On the other hand, you need to realize what conversion really is.
For instance, if you have such weaknesses which are skills that can be learned, to turn them into strength you simply need to set a goal and learn that skill. There are many skills that people think can’t be learned or developed but if you set a goal you can cultivate a skill.
For example, if you think one of your weaknesses is being asocial but you have a desire to become more social and make friends easier, you can learn the skill. There are a lot of free materials out there that help you to develop social skills.
In fact, if you really have a desire to learn how to communicate with people and feel comfortable, you can set a goal and learn that skill. Also, if you feel like you are introvert but you still find that skill important, trust me, it is still possible.
I am also an introvert and I prefer more time by myself. A lot of communication with people exhausts me. I do not hang out with my friends every day, maybe once a month or two and that’s is enough for me.
However, if I work in the office and I see the same people every single day, I do need to communicate with everyone to develop professionally. So I converted my weakness into strength because this skill is needed. It takes time and practice but it’s not impossible.
You can also convert your weakness into a strength by changing the perspective. For example, I am a very impatient person and very often this trait is a weakness for me.
However, if I look at it from a different perspective, being impatient helps me to complete tasks faster. If I’m impatient about something I do my best to solve it faster, get rid of it faster because it just annoys the crap out of me. So my weakness turns into a strength.
Balancing Matching and Converting
Keep in mind that when you start matching and converting, do not hurry with the solutions. Sometimes it might take days or even weeks. Also, try not to concentrate only on one category too much. For the maximum results, balance the use of all categories.
Do not concentrate too much on weaknesses or threats and balance them with your strengths and opportunities. There is a reason these methods are called 2X2. Try to brainstorm as many ideas as you can around 4 categories equally.
Disadvantages Of SWOT Analysis
At first glance, it might seem that SWOT analysis is directed to perfectionism and some people might misunderstand it. It might seem like this tool is preaching everyone to get rid of all weaknesses and threats. Do not assume that this is actually so.
We are human and we are not perfect. You cannot get rid of all weaknesses and on the contrary, you should not. What makes us special and unique is our strength combined with weakness. So do not try too hard to get better and embrace your weak traits as well.
In case you lack the practice of mindfulness and awareness it can be a great challenge conducting a SWOT analysis. Almost every second person will tell you they know themselves, they are objective and they can’t be mistaken.
Unfortunately, it does not work that way. There are many things we do not know about ourselves. Our self-image is not always correct. That is why, when it comes to personal questions, this tool requires maximum objection.
You might judge yourself too much and fill up the whole paper with weaknesses or be too narcissistic and hardly find any weakness.
For this reason, this tool might not be 100% accurate no matter how much fun it can be. To be as objective as possible, try to conduct it with someone you think knows you the most.
If you have already tried to conduct a SWOT analysis you might have been confused by the 4 categories. At some point, it might seem that some categories look alike.
For instance, your strengths might be seen as an opportunity or your weakness seen as a threat. Or your weakness might seem as strengths depending on the perspective. These overlaps are very common and this tool does not have enough resources to avoid this type of confusion.
No ranking system
Writing down the list of your strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats do not seem so difficult. Even if it will take a couple of days you can eventually finalize matching and converting. However, there is no value given to each category. What I mean is that whatever you answer it should have its ranking. How severe it is or how important.
Let’s say if you name 10 weaknesses they aren’t equal. Some of them are more critical and some less severe. Unfortunately, SWOT analysis does not have a feature to identify which of the problems is more important than others.
Free SWOT Analysis Template
SWOT analysis is a tool that helps us to identify our Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats. This tool is used in various circumstances – professional or personal use. It is mainly based on several questions which you need to answer as objectively as possible.
Once you complete the question you use 2 kinds of methods – matching and converting. Matching means matching 2 categories and converting- changing negative to positive.
This personal development tool has its advantages and disadvantages however it is a nice starting point to raise self-awareness.
Have you ever conducted SWOT analysis and do you find this tool useful?