SWOT Analysis on Self for Personal Growth and Better Productivity (Updated)
You know yourself better than anyone else, but have you really taken a time to examine your full potential? If you haven’t yet, now is the time to do a SWOT analysis on yourself and examine which areas you can improve and be more productive to help you on your goals.
The acronym SWOT stands for Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats. SWOT analysis is commonly carried out for companies, businesses, and new products to assess the factors that would affect the success of the project. It is also beneficial for self-analysis in whichever areas it is applied.
Lisa Quast, Forbes:
An effective process companies use to assess themselves and their competitors and formulate their strategies is an analysis called “SWOT.” But this exercise isn’t just for businesses. It can be helpful for job seekers and those who are looking to climb the career ladder, too.
Why Should You Do SWOT Analysis on Yourself?
Questions like “What are your weaknesses” and “What are your strengths” are usually asked during job interviews. Whether you’re aiming for an entry level or for a higher ranking post, these questions are often asked. Some people readily answer the questions and some struggle. But are these questions applicable during interviews only?
Many times we are labeled and tagged as this and that, but these things don’t necessarily define who we are. We find ourselves being trapped in the box other people put us in. There are also times when we’re facing crossroads in life, undecided on which path to take, which career to focus, and what decisions to make.
All these uncertainties sometimes block our avenues for growth.
As what Aaron Burr told Alexander in the Hamilton musical, “Talk less, smile more”, in times of uncertainties; it is good to pause and assess and go back to the basics of getting-to-know things in life.
Self-assessment is the process of self-introspection to assess own qualities and abilities that are important to know one’s identity. It is essential to know one’s identity in order to answer the questions above.
In social psychology, three elements have been identified that affect how a person identifies himself. These are individual self, relational self, and collective self.
The individual self pertains to the aspects that make a person different and unique from everyone else, such as personality, interests, preferences, life experiences, skills, aspirations, goals, and behaviors. This representation is separated from any relational bonds.
The relational self refers to self-identity as shared with significant others (romantic partner or spouse, family members or close friends). This identity reflects shared values, interests, and experiences with interpersonal attachments that help in nurturing the bond with each other. The self is identified as his/her roles in the relationship.
Lastly, the collective self highlights reflection of one’s identity as part of valued social groups. Collective self consists of traits shared with coworkers, church, community, clubs or other organizations. Attributes shared within the group members are different from that of outside group members and these attributes impact the intergroup side for self-identity. All these self-identified elements reflect a person’s idea of self.
Self-assessment is instrumental in knowing one’s personality type and evaluating strengths and weaknesses.
Once a person knows their identity, he/she will be guided in making important life choices that could play a big role in their success, be it in choosing which career to pursue, what business to venture into and even in personal matters like deciding to marry their significant other.
It is also useful to be guided accordingly on how to be more productive in each responsibility at work, at home or even with groups.
Self-assessment is a perfect tool in using SWOT analysis, especially in determining strengths and weaknesses.
Strengths and weaknesses are internal factors in SWOT analysis while opportunities and threats are external conditions that greatly affect the success of achieving personal goals.
How to Do SWOT Analysis on Yourself
1. Define Your Mission – To be guided accordingly in using SWOT analysis tool, you first need to lay down your mission and objective in using the tool. Are you using it just to see where you’re heading in the future or to know your potential in your industry? Is this to guide you in your day to day living, to guide you to be a better worker in the office, or to be a better businessman? Set your mission and purpose to best address the next process in using the tool.
Being brutally honest with yourself about your strengths and weaknesses is essential if you truly want to be successful.
2. Create a SWOT Diagram– In any way you’d like, create a diagram with each of the word representing the characters of SWOT: Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats. You may draw a large square and have it divided into four and label each box accordingly. You may also just create a list or whatever your preference is. You may use an example of the SWOT Analysis theme below.
The goal is to dedicate a space for each word. Each box is where you will write the answers to the guide questions below.
3. Supply Answers to Each Category – This step is where you begin the process of self-assessment and come up with answers to what your strengths and weaknesses are and what opportunities and threats await.
Use the guide questions below for each category. You may also formulate your own questions that best fit your objectives in using the tool.
Guide Questions in Using SWOT Analysis
Blaz Kos, Agile Lean Life:
When analyzing strengths and weaknesses, you are analyzing internal personal factors such as personal traits, competences, financial situation, knowledge, skills, personal network and so on. It’s the area that you have influence on, and you should act as proactively as possible, not reactively.
Strengths (positive, internal factors)
Understanding what you’re good at guides you on which areas to venture into in the future, opportunities to take, and how to be a better person in whatever you are in now.
Answer the questions below truthfully, as to how you see yourself and how others see you; not how you want to see yourself.
- What are your strengths (as a person, an entrepreneur, a worker, a businessman)?
- What are you good at?
- What are your assets?
- What unique qualities do you have?
- How do these unique qualities help you?
- In what areas are you effective?
- What makes you better than others?
- What skills, qualifications, and attitude do you have that help you often?
- What do you do well based on what people say?
- What are your achievements over the few years?
- What meaningful relationships do you have? How did you get there?
- Have you experienced challenges in life that you’ve turned into a success? What areas in your decisions made the situation beneficial to you?
- Additional strengths
Weaknesses (negative, internal factors)
Recognizing your weaknesses helps you focus on the areas you’re good at and helps improve yourself on the areas you’ve had difficulties before. Weaknesses can be countered and leveraged to becoming an asset in the long run. Be honest in answering the questions below.
“Acknowledging weakness doesn’t make a leader less effective. On the contrary, in most cases, it is a simple way of expressing that he understands what everyone else has known for some time. When you acknowledge your weaknesses to the rest of the team, it is never new information”.
- What are your weaknesses (as a person, an entrepreneur, a worker, a businessman)?
- What are the things you don’t like in yourself?
- What are you bad at?
- What issues or problems do you usually encounter?
- What areas do you need improvement on?
- What do people say you’re weak at? Have you been incompetent before? What skills, attitude, and behavior made you so?
- What responsibilities do you usually avoid doing?
- What could you improve on?
- What are you not efficient on?
- Have you been dependent on people? In what areas?
- Have you experienced difficulties in life that you haven’t handled well? What areas in your decisions made the situation irresolvable?
- Other weaknesses
Opportunities (positive, external factors)
Exploring opportunities can be chances to build yourself, discover more strengths and weaknesses in the future and an avenue for maximizing full potential. It can also help in converting your weaknesses into strengths. Take a better look at your surroundings and society and see for yourself which areas could lead you to betterment and success.
- What are available opportunities today?
- What are the trends and changes today?
- Will these trends and changes affect you positively?
- How are these opportunities beneficial to you? What skills do you have that can be useful?
- What circumstances seem favorable and beneficial to you?
- What opportunities you think you can venture into that you haven’t been done before?
- What is missing in your workplace, community, and society that haven’t been done yet?
- Do you have a support group to assist and help you? How can they support you?
- Other opportunities
Threats (negative, external factors)
Finally, threats are the unfavorable conditions that can come from anywhere. These are external factors that could directly and indirectly affect your goals and objectives for this SWOT analysis. Current skills, abilities, and behaviors might not be applicable in the future. Evaluating possible threats prepares you for possible outcomes that you can prevent and counteract in the future. Below are the questions that can guide you in assessing possible threats.
- What are the threats you can foresee on the trends today?
- What challenges and obstacles are you facing today?
- What problems do you think might affect you in the future?
- What skills do you have that might not be competent in your status now?
- What areas do you think might cause difficulties for you?
- Have you done anything that might cause you trouble?
- Do you see future changes on the trends today? How will that affect you?
- What challenges can be turned to opportunities?
- Other threats
Maximizing SWOT Analysis Using TOWS Analysis
To leverage your SWOT analysis results, use TOWS analysis—an advanced SWOT-variant tool—to maximize both internal and external factors that affect self-growth.
TOWS analysis stands for Threats, Opportunities, Weaknesses, and Strengths, which is a variant of the classic SWOT analysis as discussed in the beginning of this article. TOWS analysis and SWOT analysis both serve the same purpose—to determine who you are, what you’re good at, and what you’re here for. They, however, do not use the same process.
TOWS analysis is an effective tool to help a person be guided on what paths to take and not to take.
TOWS analysis is a tool which is used to generate, compare and select strategies. Strictly speaking, it is not the same as SWOT analysis, and it is certainly not a SWOT analysis which focuses on threats and opportunities. This is a popular misconception. TOWS may have similar roots. TOWS is a tool for strategy generation and selection; SWOT analysis is a tool for audit and analysis. One would use a SWOT at the beginning of the planning process, and a TOWS later as you decide upon ways forward. (source)
Here is an example of a TOWS analysis diagram.
Understanding the Four TOWS Strategies
1. Strengths + Opportunities (SO, Maxi-Maxi strategy)
The SO strategy focuses on how to use your strengths to make full use of the opportunities available. It’s also called a Maxi-Maxi strategy wherein you maximize both your strengths and opportunities to create plans for better productivity.
Example: You know you have strong leadership skills. Make use of these skills to delegate current tasks to your subordinates for your team to be more productive.
2. Strengths + Threats (ST, Maxi-Mini strategy)
The ST strategy focuses on how to use your strengths to overcome or avoid potential threats. Here, you’ll need to maximize your strengths to minimize threats. Hence, the Maxi-Mini strategy label.
Example: You’re a diligent worker and you don’t mind spending more hours at work to meet your deadlines. By that, you’ve just maximized your strengths that made your threats (not meeting your deadline) no more.
3. Weaknesses + Opportunities (WO, Mini-Maxi strategy)
How can you overcome your weaknesses using your opportunities? The WO strategy focuses on creating strategies to overcome your weaknesses to venture into the opportunities available to you. Here, you minimize your weaknesses and maximize your opportunities: a Mini-Maxi strategy.
Example: Your place is miles away from your office. It’s been a constant struggle, on your part, to be on time in the office. You’re working as a content writer for your company’s website. Every blog you post reaches millions of viewers and has quality engagements which benefited your company with more conversions. But, you still have lots of blogs you want to create. How do you overcome your weakness using your opportunities? With this, if possible, you may ask your employer to allow you to do remote work to mitigate delay of your productivity.
4. Weaknesses + Threats (WT, Mini-Mini strategy)
The most unfavored of all, this strategy allows you to take a look at the things you should avoid doing. When you figure what your weaknesses are, and realize that external factors also do not give you an opportunity to make use of, here, you’d have to avoid altogether on the list. WT strategy lets you minimize your weaknesses to avoid any potential threat to your self-growth and productivity.
Example: You’re the marketing department head and in lieu of your finance department’s absence, you’re handed an extra admin task which is to call your clients to follow-up on unpaid bills. You know you are not good at phone conversations and you hate instilling fear on your client’s side. Your company may lose clients if this job is not executed properly. So what do you do to minimize your weaknesses and to minimize potential threats? In this case, try to take yourself out of the situation. Ask your team members who might be willing and able to do the task. In that way, you have not only minimized the risk of your company from losing clients but also created a trusting environment with your team.
Productivity Tools to Counter Weaknesses and Boost Strength
An honest contemplation is important for a useful and beneficial personal SWOT, or even TOWS, analysis. Once your mission for using the tool has been met, you will then know what tools to use to counter your weaknesses and boost your strengths.
There are many tools on the internet that are free and available to buy. For work productivity purposes, you may check our blog on 10 Free Mobile Apps for Productivity that will Help You Work Smarter. If you’re a manager or a business owner who has just started your business, our blog entry entitled 7 Tips for Managing a New Team will be useful. If you’re someone who’s been constantly battling with stress at work and been struggling to be more productive, we have Productivity Tools to Help You Manage Stress at Work.
Additionally, changing weaknesses and threats to strengths and opportunities are made easy today, especially with tools like Dead Drop Software: an online collaboration tool that allows for safe communication, secure file-sharing, and easy project collaboration.