How to do a SWOT Analysis for Goal Setting

A SWOT analysis for goal setting [Strengths | Weaknesses | Opportunities | Threats] is a great tool for helping you be realistic about what you can really achieve.

To undertake a personal SWOT analysis for goal setting, for the life aspect you’re considering, just write down everything you can think of in each category – strength | weakness | opportunity | threat – whether you think it’s really relevant or not.

Identify key strengths that will ultimately help you achieve your goals. Not all of your strengths will help you achieve your goals – you may be a brilliant violin player, but this probably won’t help you get fit!

You also need to identify which of your weaknesses are likely to get in the way of your achievements. Again, not all weaknesses will jeopardize your ability to achieve goals, but you need to identify which ones matter for you and your ability to succeed.

Once you’ve got it all down, stand back and take a look at the result. What’s missing? What are the recurring ideas? Where are the connections between the life aspects? Are there any other life aspects that are more or less apparent after this process?

The next step is to take this ‘brainstormed’ information and gain some real insight from your results. Now grab a highlighter and highlight the key items. The outcome you want from the SWOT analysis for goal setting for each life aspect is a short list of:

  • What opportunities are best for you to pursue
  • What internal strengths you can use to enhance your pursuit of these opportunities
  • What threats you need to eliminate/ minimise
  • What internal strengths you can use to overcome these threats
  • What strengths you should consider making stronger to further enhance your ability to pursue your goals
  • What weaknesses you need to improve on, or manage, so that they don’t impede your goal setting.

From this list, you should be getting a real picture of what you can actually achieve. This is your current SWOT, and should be revisited from time to time as your situation changes, and forms a starting point for your goal setting.

A template for your personal SWOT analysis for goal setting is available in the ToolBOX. Print out a separate page for each life aspect you want to analyze, and summarise the results on the SWOT Summary page, also available in the ToolBOX.

A SWOT analysis has many other uses - so it's a good skill to learn. There is a discussion on how to do a SWOT analysis in the ‘'Life Skills' tab on the NavBar – look under the section on 'Decision Making and Problem Solving'.