The next important step, after having set your goals, is to know where you stand in terms of preparedness, and how close or far you are from achieving your goals.
I, so often come across young people who, though, are clear about their goals, are still disoriented and confused about where and what to start preparing for it from. It is always so helpful to have a complete awareness of your preparedness and to do that you can use a highly popular and efficient exercise called ‘Personal SWOT’.
Let us now use this powerful, yet very simple, exercise to self-assess ourselves. The acronym ‘SWOT’ means “Strength, Weakness, Opportunity, and Threat.” Because, only when we realize what our strengths are, we can consolidate them, and an awareness of our weaknesses will help us take steps to reduce their impact on our career growth.
Strengths - What my strengths are that can help me reach my career goals:
Nobody knows you better than yourself and thus, we know what we can do or what we can’t. Once we know what qualities and personality traits are needed for that particular career, we can always look inwards to find if we have those or not. Knowing that you possess these qualities, traits, or habits, will give you confidence as well as an awareness to consolidate them further. Thus, follow these steps:
Make a list of qualities, traits, and habits that are suitable for that job/career, such as, good interpersonal skills that are suitable for the marketing profession or any that needs interacting with people.
List your own qualities that match what is needed.
Plan actions that you can take to consolidate and strengthen your qualities, as this would give you an edge over your competitor. For example, you know you are good at interacting with people, however, if you feel that your language - which is an important component of your interpersonal skill set - needs improving, take steps to do so.
Weaknesses - Identify the weaknesses that can militate against you:
Similar to becoming aware of your strengths, you should also find your weaknesses or shortcomings, that can hinder you from reaching your goals. It is however important to be absolutely practical and pragmatic while doing this exercise. You can even involve somebody who is your well-wisher and can assess you well. What you should do;
Note - Weaknesses that can be removed and those can’t: Just be aware that while listing out your weaknesses, you should be practical enough to differentiate between things that you can change and things that you cannot. Our efforts should remain focused on those that can be changed. What cannot be changed, such as our height, eyesight, physical condition, etc., should be accepted gracefully without feeling disappointed about them.
List out qualities that you feel would be required for your career choice: Every career demands certain types of skill sets. You should identify them and see if you have those skills. If the answer comes as negative then we should list them out for corrective actions.
i) Prioritizing them on the basis of importance: The most important should be removed first.
ii) Take help from parents, siblings, teachers, or professional help by joining any institutions, classes, groups, etc.
iii) Make a time-bound effort so that precious time doesn’t get wasted
Take corrective actions: Once you have identified the shortcomings in your personality and know that the shortcomings are removable, make a plan of action to get rid of those traits, habits, or shortcomings that are working against you, by:
Some of the common strengths/skills that are required for a particular profession are listed below for illustration purposes. You should take this as a reference only and make your own list.
1. Communication skills + Good command over language: Required for Marketing, Teaching, Counseling, Front office manager, Journalism, PR, Tourism, and Hospitality industry.
2. Mathematics: Engineering, statistics, economics, computer science
3. Accounting skills: For becoming a charted accountant, For MBA in Finance, Cost accounting, company secretary
4. Computing (MS Office etc): For any profession that requires communication, reports, etc
5. General knowledge+ Awareness: If you want to pass any competitive exams or job interviews.
6. Physical fitness: A certain level of physical fitness is required if you wish to make a career in the Armed Forces, Police & security services
Opportunities - Your surroundings and the background provide:
It is equally important to be aware of your surroundings. If you become aware, you would be able to identify those factors which otherwise are external in nature, would help you reach your goals. For example, if you wish to improve your language, you can identify people who are good at speaking and take their help to improve yours.
Similarly, if you feel that you need computer skills and have a computer and internet connection, you can always join online courses to gain that skill.
In similar ways, you can identify all those factors that can help you get rid of your shortcomings or consolidate your strengths; hence all these are nothing but opportunities that are available to you to help yourself improve.
Threats - Identify the threats that can obstruct your progress:
This is what you need to be highly conscious about, you are surrounded by factors that work against you or can hinder your progress. It is pertinent that you identify them and either remove them or find a way to reduce their impact. I would name some for you to get an understanding;
Located in a small city or in suburbs: Sometimes the place we are situated in has an impact on our progress, such as, if you are located in a far-off area you may not have professional help available in terms of institutions, courses, expertise, etc. Find a way to eliminate the impact either by relocating if possible, commuting, or by joining online courses.
Lack of financial resources: If you do not have enough money for joining a course, institution, or take professional help, you must then explore ways by which you can get help without straining yourself financially. You can do this either by identifying free resources, taking people’s help, joining a public library, or seeking help from friends, family, or contacts. People, in general, are willing to help those who show a strong desire and commitment for their purpose.
Identify the factors that waste your time: Time is always precious and in short supply, if you are not aware of your time, you would not realize how it has passed and has taken away opportunities that, otherwise, would have helped you reach your aims.
Your competitor is getting better: Just keep reminding yourself that whenever you are wasting your time, someone at some other place is working towards the same position, post, job, or exam and is going to increase competition thereby increasing your threat.
Audit your time utilization: Do an audit of your time and become highly aware of anything that wastes your precious time, an activity, or a habit that you waste your time doing. Check time that you spend with your friends on social platforms, exercise and physical training, watching TV or web series /movies on online platforms, etc. Prioritize your activities and give only that much time that is essential for each activity.
So, you can see how doing a personal SWOT can give you a clear picture of your present studying vis-à-vis the aims/goals that you have. You come to know all the factors, either internal such as strengths and weaknesses, or external such as opportunities and threats, that can either help you or obstruct you.
Such clarity about your preparedness will help you plan and strategize your future course of action and increase your chances of success many-fold. So good luck and all the best.