The 10 Core Principles of a Personal SWOT Analysis

This post is completely different to others about Personal SWOT Analyses.


Because it doesn’t tell you HOW to do a Personal SWOT Analysis.

No – there’s loads of those.

Well, what does this article give me? You ask.

10 Rules to Follow

It gives you the ten core principles (or rules) that you MUST take into account while you’re completing your Personal SWOT.

Not taking these into account could be disastrous.

It could mean more of your time is wasted than is productive.

It doesn’t matter whether you’re a Marketer, a Business Analyst or even just improving your personal circumstances.

No one wants to waste their own time.

So follow these and I promise you will come up-trumps.

Before we dive in to see what these principles are, if you are looking for HOW…

There’s a really good article published on Business Analyst Guru that gives a step-by-step guide on how to do the Personal SWOT Analysis with a working example.

You will also find out the ultimate benefits of completing your own Personal SWOT Analysis.

So you see, it’s not just that think a lot about SWOT.

So here goes.

1. Give yourself a purpose

Whoever you are. Whatever you do.

The first thing you need is a goal or a target.

The target could be a new job or a new project, or even just a year out travelling.

By having a goal, you will be able to focus your efforts and answer the right questions when it comes to reviewing your strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats.

Your goal provides a purpose for doing the SWOT and a person with a purpose is almost certainly a person with conviction.

And having conviction will help you achieve results – honest.

2. Come up with as many questions as possible

Some might say – Life begins with a question.

And it’s your answers that help you thrive.

I’m not going into that debate now, but the SWOT most definitely requires questions.

Many questions will need answering.

By you.

There are lots of question lists available, but this article gives you a number of questions to ask:

Questions to ask during SWOT Analysis

Here’re some examples:

S – What are my assets?

W – What areas do I need improvement on?

O – What external changes will bring me opportunities?

T – What are the negative aspects in my area of interest?

These are just the simplest examples.

You need to ask a lot more questions than this.

The world is your oyster, so think outside the box when creating your own questions.

3. Ask Others

This may seem a bit contradictory to the previous rule.

Yes – I did say that the questions need to be answered by YOU.

However, that doesn’t mean you can’t get some guidance from the people around you.

Whether that’s from loved ones (be careful there they might just tell you what you want to hear).

Or from colleagues, friends or even people you’ve only met once or twice.

Think carefully about what they say but it could help you answer many of the questions in different ways.

4. Don’t be afraid to admit your weaknesses

This is key.

One of the hardest questions in an interview is “What’s your weakness”

But you’re not in an interview so it doesn’t matter if your weaknesses are a bit harsher.

They CAN be weaknesses that you wouldn’t necessarily admit to a future employer.

Having full knowledge of your weaknesses is arguably the first step to improving your situation.

The bottom line is this:

Be true to yourself and you WILL succeed.

5. Don’t duplicate (A weakness can’t be a strength too)

This happened to me and I had to put it right.

It may not happen to you, but I still think you should be aware.

While indulged in your work.

You may get carried away filling in your strengths, weaknesses etc.

In doing so, you could list similar things as a weakness AND a strength.

So filtering out your duplicate statements across the different sections is hugely important.

A weakness cannot also be a strength and a threat cannot also be an opportunity

You get what I mean.

Sounds obvious doesn’t it.

But anyway just keep a lookout.

6. Threats before Opportunities

Most guides will tell you to focus on your opportunities followed by your Threats.

This is where I put a spanner in the works and be a bit controversial.

I was once told to focus on my Threats before my Opportunities.

And I have to say, this was some great advice.

I’ve never turned back.

Identifying threats before weaknesses can help you identify some new opportunities that you may never have thought of if you’d looked at opportunities first.

For example:

Threat – Changes to the industry could leave me behind.

Opportunity – Use blogs, books and social to keep up-to-date with new industry standards.

So go on – do it – see what happens.

7. Take Action

This is the whole point of doing the SWOT Exercise.

So you can take real action in real life.

To improve your skills and update your ways of thinking.

So don’t just do it and think ‘it’s DONE’.

It’s NOT.

Make sure you are always improving and always engaging in your strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats.

8. Monitor your SWOTs Progress

This is my favourite.

I firmly believe that if anyone is going to get anything out of the personal SWOT experience, they must practice this principle.

So take all your findings from the SWOT Analysis i.e. your list of strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and Threats.

Place them in a spreadsheet

Give yourself a target for each one you want to change.

Take action.

Then revisit this spreadsheet every 2-3 months.

9. Continue to Update

You may think.

Isn’t this the same as monitoring my progress?

No, it’s not.

By monitor, I mean follow the things you’ve already found out about yourself.

By update, I mean find new things out about yourself.

New opportunities could arise all the time.

New weaknesses could be more detrimental.

And if you don’t know about them, you can’t do anything.

So really you want to redo your SWOT every 6-12 months.

And add your new findings to the spreadsheet you created while implementing the 8th principle.

10. Don’t procrastinate

This rule applies to anything in life.

But I still want to mention it.

Don’t put your Personal SWOT off until tomorrow.

What if tomorrow never comes?

Do it now, today, this hour, this minute.

Either get started with the post on Business Analyst Guru.

Or if you know what you’re doing, just simply go for it.

Please leave a comment if you have any other principles you think are important.

Image: natalia bulatova/