How to Create Your Personal SWOT Analysis

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Most of us are familiar with using a SWOT analysis in business. It is extremely helpful in laying the foundation for any of your marketing campaigns because it puts in clear focus the impact of internal and external factors. A classic SWOT analysis looks at the internal factors that your firm can control by identifying their strengths and weaknesses, while evaluating macro-economic and external factors such as opportunities and threats.

It is also human nature to be influenced by many factors in our environment – sometimes we are not even aware of how we are being affected by the people around us, the attitudes of our co-workers, the culture we come from, or the environment we live in. These environmental influences can cause unconscious bias and prevent us from seeing clearly. Even the savviest advertising professionals can fall victim to environmental bias.

The pandemic has changed so much in the past two years, and many of these changes will be permanent. External factors such as supply chain disruption and lockdowns have impacted consumer attitudes and behaviors (external factors) and have forced us to refocus entire internal business models around digital-first and frictionless transformation.     

Why You Need a Personal SWOT

Have you identified the external opportunities and threats in your life, and have they led you to make conscious or unconscious changes?

Have you been the victim of unconscious bias – making a major decision without seeing the full impact and consequences? Could you be missing a really big opportunity right now in front of you because you just don’t see it? These are some of the questions that a personal SWOT can help you answer. Check out this video, which shows how we can literally not see what is right in front of our eyes!

A personal SWOT helps us stay focused and allows us to control our natural biases and blind spots.

Why does it matter? Sometimes we are so focused on a particular challenge or a particular problem, that we cannot see what is most important. Often called “not being able to see the forest for the trees,” it explains why we sometimes miss important clues when we are too involved in the details of our lives to look at the bigger picture.

How to Get Started on Your SWOT

According to Marci Martin you can start by thinking about the end result. Do you want a new job or a new achievement in your current position? Are you looking for personal growth, or do you want to try something new? Here are three quick ways to get started.

Step 1: Create your personal SWOT chart. There are many templates to choose from online, but they usually look like this:

Step 2: Identify your internal and external factors.

What are YOUR strengths. These are the traits or skills that set you apart from others. Ask yourself these questions:

  • What are you naturally good at?
  • Do you have unique skills?
  • What is your personal superpower?

What are YOUR weaknesses. Be objective about this – we all have weaknesses we can improve upon! Ask yourself:

  • Do you have gaps in your training or education that are keeping from moving ahead in your career?
  • What honest critiques have you heard from colleagues, family, or friends that you could improve upon?
  • Do you live within your means?

What opportunities could you take advantage of in both your professional and personal life? Here are a few questions to consider:

  • Is your company and your industry growing?
  • Is their a talent gap caused by the “great resignation”?
  • Do you live in an area that supports economic growth?

Lastly, what threats exist for your personal and career growth?

  • What technology changes are happening in your industry?
  • How prepared is your company to meet economic changes?
  • Are consumer trends negatively impacting you and your industry?

Step 3: Take Action! Successful transformation requires incremental change. Don’t worry about tackling everything at once, but instead start with two or three things you can tackle right away to seize on your opportunities. “The best outcome is to take action and succeed in the opportunities you have identified,” Martin says. Once you gain momentum and positive reinforcement from your actions, you can begin to tackle your weaknesses. Develop a productive plan to turn any negatives into a positive such as enrolling in new skills and educational training, tackling your personal budgeting process, or building your professional network.