Saturday, August 14, 2010
We all have our own strengths. Conversely, we also have our own weaknesses. Understanding your strengths and weaknesses is one of the keys to being successful in your life – both your career and your personal life. This is particularly important for people in midlife who are re-evaluating themselves and where they are going to go in the second part of their lives.
Similarly, there are opportunities to be seized and threats to be avoided, if at all possible. The analysis of all of this is known as a SWOT analysis, a Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats analysis. (In fact, most people refer to it as a Strengths, Weaknesses, Threats and Opportunities analysis – this ends on a positive (Opportunities) rather than a negative (Threats). SWTO doesn’t roll off the tongue quite as well, though!)
To carry out the analysis, draw lines to divide a piece of paper into 4 quarters and write Strengths as the heading for the first quarter, Threats as the heading for the second quarter, and so on. You now have 4 sections on the page.
Firstly, think about your strengths. Ask yourself questions like:
· What do I do better than most people?
· What do I know that others don’t?
· What am I good at?
· What resources can I access?
· Who is in my network that can assist me?
· What are my values?
· What experiences can I draw on?
· What would my friends say?
Answering these and similar questions will help you to assess your own personal strengths. Write down your answers in the Strengths section of your page.
Now for your weaknesses. It is usual for people to come up with more weaknesses than strengths, so don’t worry if you have a longer list in this section of your page. Questions to ask yourself include?
· What do I avoid doing?
· What do others do better than me?
· What was the reason for mistakes that I made in the past?
· What scares me?
· What skills do I need to improve?
· Which personality traits are my weak points?
· What would my friends say?
You now have your Strengths and your Weaknesses written down. These are both ‘internal’ to you – you can affect them yourself.
Opportunities and Threats should be considered as ‘external’ to you – they are products of the environment around you which you can or, more probably, can’t influence.
Thinking about the opportunities open to you:
· How can my friends, relatives and my network assist me?
· Is my work sector expanding?
· Will the growth of the internet help me?
· How can I benefit from a declining/growing economy?
· What is happening at my workplace which I can use to my advantage?
· What mistakes have my competitors made?
· Can I move more quickly than my competitors?
· Am I able to relocate?
· What opportunities exist to upskill?
· What could I achieve if I went outside of my comfort zone?
Lastly, we look at the threats:
· Am I working in a competitive environment in which a colleague or competitor could undermine my efforts?
· Is my company going through a period of change?
· Will the state of the economy affect me?
· Could my job be replaced by a machine, or outsourced to India?
· Do I have a new young manager who discriminates against older employees?
Once you carried out this analysis on yourself you will be in a much better position to move forward objectively. You will understand what you are good at and what you like, whilst acknowledging those areas which need work. You will also be more aware of the opportunities that exist for you – they are there right now, it’s up to you to recognise them and grab them with both hands!
The Mid Life Opportunity (www.MidLifeOp.com) is a community for people in Midlife. Advice and Guidance is available from The Mid Life Coaching Panel. It’s free to join - click here