Planning development starts with self-reflection. Without taking time to understand ourselves we cannot create a fulfilling development plan. Developing based on someone else’s view of us creates disfunction. I even encourage people to take a pulse check regularly to ensure that as they have developed, they have a plan that supports who they are becoming.
SWOT (Strength, Weakness, Opportunities, Threats) analyses are used in a variety of situations. They are becoming increasingly common in schools as guidance counselors use them to assist young people in deciding what career path they want to start. As adults performing an annual SWOT analysis can help us identify how we have grown and developed. This analysis also allows us to see how the opportunities and threats to our goals have changed.
Understand Your Strengths and Weaknesses
The analysis starts with a balanced looked at our strengths and weaknesses. Before we can effectively build a fulfilling development plan, we need to understand what strengths we will be able to leverage along with the weaknesses that we will need to overcome.
This section of the analysis is to better understand your strengths. Do not limit your thinking to just one aspect. Include the strengths from work, social clubs, hobbies, etc. Consider skills you are confident in. Think about the moments people have given you compliments for your contributions. Remember moments you struggled, the lessons you have learned, and later applied new skills to achieve success. The following questions may help your brainstorming self-reflection.
What do you know you are good at?
What strengths are you proud to share?
What have you been told you are good at?
What do you notice you are better at than those around you?
What new lessons have you learned and now feel comfortable demonstrating?
What level of education have you achieved?
What are some challenges you have overcome and what strengths contributed to your success?
What resources do you have available to you?
What experiences have you had that others may not have had?
Once you have finished your brainstorming self-reflection talk to those in your community. Inform your boss, employees, peers, spouse, children, club members, etc. that you are working on a SWOT. Ask them for their feedback on strengths. Keep the conversation balanced by asking those you have the post respect for, what areas they see as your weakness.
Enter this section with grace. Be both honest and forgiving. We all have weaknesses. This section is about identifying them and managing how we let them impact our lives. The topics to consider are like that of your strengths. Consider your whole self. The following questions may guide your thinking.
What do you know you struggle to do?
What activities do you shy away from?
What do you notice you are not as good at as those around you?
What are some challenges you are still trying to overcome?
What resources are limited for you?
What experiences have you not yet had?
This section is not intended to make you feel defeated. Once you have taken an initial pass through these topics leave it at that. You do not need to dwell on this list or creating it. This is used to be self-aware and allow you to build a plan for success where these topics will not become a roadblock.
Identify Opportunities and Threats
The next part of the analysis asks us to identify where we have opportunities and what threats to prevent us from being successful.
This section may take more time and effort to complete. You may want to do research on opportunities you are not already aware of. While some opportunities are obvious others may be in trends or resources you have not taken time to explore until now – Take the time! To think beyond normal boundaries, consider some of the following.
What do your collective strengths indicate as natural opportunities?
What are you enthusiastic about?
What is something you have always thought about doing but never done?
What education level could you achieve?
What do you enjoy doing more than other tasks?
What current trends appeal to?
What of interest is available in your current vocation?
What location are you able to move to?
In this section you will complete a list of topics that could challenge your success. Creating this list allows you to identify potential risks and create a plan to address them before for they threaten what you are trying to achieve.
What obstacles have derailed you in past?
What upcoming events could cause a delay in your plan?
What challenges have those before you had to overcome?
What changes will happen over time that could have a negative impact on the resources available to you?
What unhealthy habits do you have that could prevent your success?
This analysis is usually assembled in a simple four-box. You will find a printable version attached. We will use this analysis as we continue to the next step of Planning Your Development – Find Your Best Fit.