ABC of your career path: S is for SWOT

Even if they are well thought out, some trips just don’t go well. One person may face small bumps in the road and others may encounter big obstacles. This could lead a person to think about these questions: “What do I want to do with my career?”; “Why am I no longer satisfied with what I am doing?”; and “Why am I so stuck?”

Even if you have the energy to survive, the long-term effects and stress could be catastrophic. Why wait until you have a major wake-up call when you can do something about it now? The answer for most of my clients is that they don’t know where to start. A SWOT analysis can help. Although it is a strategic planning technique that can be used to help an individual or organization identify strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats related to their business competence, it can also be an interesting exercise in determining their next career move. If you want to have a display, imagine yourself in a box sitting on a store shelf.

S stands for strengths. List them all, but then cross out the ones you don’t like. Go through performance reviews and even your resume to make sure you have them all. The list won’t be complete until several people (ideally 5-10) go through it.

Weaknesses are the W. What areas could you improve? As you compile this list, think about why these are areas of weakness. Is it a limiting belief or fear that prevents you from mastering this skill? Did someone give you critical feedback at some point in your career that made you doubt yourself? Or is it really an area where you don’t have the desire, time, etc.? to even consider being better at?

The O stands for opportunities. This list could be very broad as it could cover skills, industries, hobbies, education, etc. It could also include moving to another location, reducing or increasing the size of the place where you live, building your network, etc. Getting rid of “stuff” in your life can also be seen as an opportunity. These “things” can keep you from moving forward on your journey. I’m not just talking about physical items and digital files, but maybe even some relationships, both professional and personal. If these relationships are taking up a lot of your time, this may be a good time to say “goodbye.”

Threats it’s the T. The obvious threats are time and money. There are also other threats that you may never have considered before, such as trust, procrastination, competition (people you work with or have similar interests), the state of the nation, including the economy and Covid, and even family and other stakeholders in your life.

By doing this analysis, you can determine if you just need to stay on the same course you’ve been on, or instead it’s time to veer off into unfamiliar territory. If you choose the former, mark your calendar for a date when you can revisit this SWOT analysis and see if it’s time to make a change.

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