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More than a business tool - how the SWOT analysis can help strength test your goals

 

I imagine many of us have heard of a SWOT analysis (don't worry if you haven't, we will get into it today) and its application to thinking through business strategy. However, I believe it can also apply to one's own personal strategy when it comes to goal identification, pursuit, and completion.

The problem is that we usually don't apply such a rigorous framework to our personal goals as we do to the goals set forth in a company, team, or organization.

Why?

Well, maybe it feels like our ass is less on the line. There's a lesser feeling of accountability. Or frankly, we just don't think our personal goals require such an emphasized analysis.

Maybe that's the problem?

Let me start off by saying that we do NOT need to take ourselves or this process super seriously. At the end of the day, we are living life and as long as we're focusing on the important things (as discussed in the previous blog here) then everything else is icing on the cake.

However, getting better and moving towards self-actualization is something that many humans enjoy doing and find a sense of purpose in. As such, if we are going to make the decision that we would like to get better. And that we often get better by deliberately focusing on and pursuing things that we care about (i.e., a goal) then we might as well be a little bit more strategic about how we pursue it.

What happens instead?

Often we pick a goal and then haphazardly kind of pursue it as we can. We might put some actionable steps behind it. We might even make it SMART. However we seldom apply a deeper understanding of ourselves as we relate to the execution of that goal. And because of that we might be making a mistake.

Again, we don't want to overanalyze the hell out of everything we do, but a little analysis, may help a lot.

Fail proof? Perhaps.

Strength tested...absolutely.

Let's take a look at how this SWOT analysis applies.

Strengths

In a SWOT analysis, the first step is identifying the strengths that you bring to this particular goal pursuit. By knowing your strengths you can leverage them to help you do the thing you're hoping to do. For instance, if one of your strengths is that you are an organized person, you might want to leverage your organizational skills to help you with your goal pursuit. If you're financially savvy, you can consider how to effectively use cash to help your goal come to fruition in cost effective ways.

Weaknesses

In a SWOT analysis, the second step is identifying your weaknesses. These could be the things that you aren't good at. Or that you might be good at but don't enjoy doing. Understanding these weaknesses will allow you to proactively mitigate the potential of these weaknesses getting in the way of your goal pursuit. For instance, if you know a weakness of yours is accountability, then you can proactively identify a group or personal performance coach to help hold you accountable. If you know you hate writing, but want to put more content on a website, then you might need to outsource a writer to help with that task.

Opportunities

The third step is to consider available opportunities that can help you leverage your strengths or mitigate weaknesses. Depending on your goal pursuit the opportunities could be plentiful. If you're looking to lose weight, you can consider all the local gyms/yoga studios/pilates studios, etc. By identifying all of the opportunities available to you, you put yourself in an abundance mindset and become more capable of choosing one (or more) that will lead to initial and on-going success.

Threats

Conversely, the fourth and final step of the SWOT analysis is identifying threats. These threats are those things that could possibly derail you based on your previously identified weaknesses. By deliberately stating threats you can address them from the onset. For instance, at home schooling might pose as a threat to a parent that wants to start a side hustle. As such, this person would have to consider how to overcome that threat or potentially pivot. Identifying threats help us avoid obstacles before we crash into them.

Examples Of The SWOT In Action:

Let's apply the SWOT analysis to an individual interested in losing weight... we shall call this person "Steve."

Strengths:

+Foundational fitness. I'm not starting from couch potato.

+Knowledge. I know what I need to do and what derails me.

+Access. I have gym memberships, golf clubs, paddle boards, etc.

Weakness:

-Hedonistic. I love hanging with friends and eating fun foods and having drinks.

-Lack of routine. Living in an RV makes habit hard.

-Free flowing. Going to a consistent class, at a consistent time, in a consistent place likely isn't going to happen.

Opportunities:

+Local gyms - I have access to Lifetime Fitness and YMCAs that offer lap swimming.

+All Trails - I can leverage the All Trails app to find local hiking/walking opportunities.

+Water and Golf Courses - between the water in Florida and the golf courses, there are plenty of opportunities to get some fitness in.

+Resistance bands in the RV. I have these. Use them Steve.

Threats:

-Driving - if nothing is local will I choose not to drive?

-Paddle board not blown up - need to get used to process of blowing up and deflating the paddle board each use.

-Socializing! When with friends my healthy intake shifts dramatically. Balance time spent with friends with my alone behavior. Practice reducing consumption in social situations.

Key Take-Aways:

As a result of this exercise I've realized the importance of research and routine. I don't have a lot of responsibilities each day so I know I need to make the commitment of exercising at some point during the day. I can use research to identify what exercise options are near me the night before. Whether it's a gym, a body of water, or a walking trail, I will identify it the night before and place it into my daily routine. Further, when I am by myself, I will focus on healthy eating habits and abstain from alcohol. Then when I am with others, I can indulge a little more, but reduce intake by 10-20%. Researching restaurant menus before hand can help me make more informed decisions going into the dinner.

Final Thoughts:

As you progress through the SWOT analysis, keep in mind that this will not be perfect. You won't extract every strength or identify every threat.

You will miss things. You'll get surprised. You'll get impeded.

However, a little reflection can go a long way and being even 1% more purposeful and aware about your pursuit makes it 1% more likely you'll be able to complete it.

No need to spend hours on this, but give it a good sit down with a pen and paper and see what emerges. It will serve you well in your journey towards getting better in the thing(s) that you care about. 

Next Steps:

Complete the following exercise to apply the SWOT analysis to your goal:

  1. What strengths do I possess that I can leverage that will help me pursue my goal?
  2. What weaknesses or non-interests of mine, that I know I need to avoid or mitigate?
  3. What opportunities are around me that I can take advantage of that will increase of the likelihood of my goal success?
  4. What threats exist that need to be avoided, delayed, or reduced? How can I apply my strengths to help?

And that's it!

Take your learnings and apply them to your goal pursuit to increase likelihood of success!

If you need any assistance in managing your stress, enhancing your performance, or completing your goals feel free to reach out for performance coaching

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