As much as I am not a fan of New Year resolutions, I am of the strong belief that strategic planning is instrumental in executing goals. The old adage “If you don’t know where you come from, you don’t know where you’re going” rings true more around this time of year. For that reason, it is extremely important to authentically and honestly examine where you are before embarking on any new goals. You will need a technique that helps you achieve just that in an effective way.
What is a SWOT analysis?
A SWOT analysis is a simple, yet powerful strategic planning technique that stands for strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats. It is a simple two by two grid that helps you identify what you’re doing right and what needs to change in an attempt to meet one’s goals.
To gain meaningful information you will be addressing internal factors consisting of strengths and weaknesses, and external factors addressed by opportunities and threats. Place your answers for the following questions in each grid.
Questions to ask yourself in each category
- What do you do best?
- What are your positive traits?
- What advantages do you have (education, skills, networks, etc.)?
- What resources do you have?
- What is your greatest achievement?
- What values do you have that may help you reach your goals?
- What do other people see as your strengths?
What tasks do you avoid doing because of a lack of confidence?
- What tasks do you avoid doing because of a lack of confidence?
- What personality traits may be holding you back in your career?
- What disadvantages do you have?
- What fears do you have that may be holding you back?
- What are your negative habits or traits?
- What resources are you lacking?
- In what areas do you need more training or education?
- How can you turn your strengths into opportunities?
- How can you turn your weaknesses into opportunities?
- Is there a need in your department that no one is meeting?
- What could you do today that isn’t being done?
- How is your field changing? How can you take advantage of those changes?
- What new technology may help you meet your goals?
- Do you have contacts that could help you?
- What obstacles do you face?
- Could any of your weaknesses prevent you from succeeding?
- Do any of your strengths hold you back?
- Is your job (life, health, etc.) changing?
- Do you have any obligations (work or otherwise) that may limit your development?
- Are you competing with others for what you want?
- Are there changes in your field or in technology that could threaten your success?
Regardless of what goal you’re striving to achieve, a SWOT analysis is really an effective approach. Setting SMART goals are great, but without proper planning, a goal is just a dream.
What are some of your goals? Share some revelations of a SWOT analysis you did that surprised you.
(Questions from Louisiana Department of State Civil Service)