Adapted from ROAR: Into the Second Half of Your Life (Before It’s Too Late) (pages. 73-76, Beyond Words Publishing, 2021)
It Is All About The SWOT Analysis
When asked how I get so much done in a day or how anyone can get more done, I respond by saying that it is all about the SWOT: strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats. It’s been a life formula for my professional and personal life—and it can work for you too. But the only way to make it effective is if you are completely honest with yourself about what you are good at and what you are not good at. Also, you have to be aware of every opportunity that comes your way and jump into it, as well as know the things that stand in your way and how to overcome them.
For those of you who have studied business, the SWOT analysis, which was developed by Albert S. Humphrey at the Stanford Research Institute, is a tool that you might have learned, allowing you to identify strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats for your company. It is often used in the beginning of a decision-making process to build out a strategic plan for the goals desired. It’s also a great approach to take in your own life:
You know your innate or learned skills. What are you good at? Are you the one people turn to for a shoulder to lean on, recognizing your compassion? Are you a financial whiz who disperses advice to your family and friends? Do you know more about biology and health than anyone in your extended group? All of these qualities make you the unique individual that you are.
We all have them. In your own mind, you know your weaknesses and how you have to rely on help to get you through an issue. Although I can read a profit-and-loss statement and have a great grasp of financial reports, I’m lousy at math in general. Sometimes I can be uncoordinated, so I’ve leaned into athletic endeavors that don’t rely on that, like running, hiking, and kayaking, although I love to ski, a sport that requires coordinated moves. I have a friend who admits to having poor coping skills when life throws him a curve ball. I admire his acknowledgment of that weakness and how he is working on changing that.
With all your strengths and experiences, how can you tap into opportunities that will enhance your position in life? Have you carved out a unique skill through your work— for example, data analytics that will allow you to excel in this rapidly growing field? Or have you identified a desirable skill as an area of growth and will do some adult education to develop it? Education institutions around the country have exploded with certificate programs and master’s degrees in a wide range of areas, from real estate development to niche programs that can spin you off into a new direction. And don’t rule out the trades: we need more plumbers and electricians and carpenters. Learn more about what interests you. Also, this isn’t only about work. If you are single and looking for a new partner and have a honed skill such as sailing, spend time at your local waterway to meet other like-minded people. It’s where an opportunity might present itself.
Like competitors that are doing better than your company, there are always issues that will encroach on your well-being.
What are they? A chronic health problem? An industry that is in fast decline? A partner who has lost interest in you? Prioritize handling the threats that matter most to you, and then start the process of figuring out how you will manage them.
Identifying What You Are Best At
So how do you analyze your SWOT qualities? There are tests, quizzes, and approaches that can help you identify what you are best at and what you are not so great at. By the time you hit your mid-forties, you should have a handle on that, but everyone can benefit from a refresher course. The Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) is one resource that helps you identify how you take in information and assess your decision-making skills. Another is the Richard Step Strengths and Weaknesses Aptitude Test (RSWAT), and there are many more. You can spend a whole weekend scouring the internet and taking multiple tests to see if the findings match up!
Take out a piece of paper and do your own SWOT analysis. And be brutally honest with yourself; you know who you are. You should also get feedback from other people: What do they say you are good at? What do they compliment you on? I know that one of my strengths is to motivate people to do their best, and that I excel at speaking to groups, small and large. I also know that one of my weaknesses is not being that mechanical, like repairing a lawn mower or figuring out why the grill is not working. Fortunately, one of my strengths is knowing who to call for help!
In June 2020, I commissioned the “‘ROAR into the Second Half of Your Life’ Survey” (conducted by Hudson Valley Insights and fielded by Qualtrics’ Research-Services) to identify a nationally representative sample of adults between the ages of forty-five and seventy-five to gain insights into how people are thinking about their future aspirations and dreams. It also included some questions on how COVID-19 impacted their thinking or accelerated their decision to make a change. A total of 630 individuals responded—a cross-section of people from different walks of life, educational levels, marital status, ethnicities, and professions.
In this ROAR survey, only 31 percent of the respondents claimed that they always leverage their strengths, and only 24 percent of those between ages sixty and seventy-five claim that they do so—a group of people who should have a pretty strong understanding of their strengths at that point in their life. It’s the same with celebrating wins and success. Only 37 percent responded that they always celebrate them, and 40 percent claim that they feel complacent about their achievements because they have lived with them for so long. C’mon, people! If you don’t have a clear appreciation and celebration for what you are best at, then how can you maximize the way to build on it? So, take time to acknowledge your strengths and successes—celebrate!
About Michael Clinton:
Michael Clinton is the former president and publishing director of Hearst Magazines and currently serves as special media advisor to the CEO of the Hearst Corporation. He is also a writer and photographer who has traveled to over 120 countries. He has appeared in The New York Times; The Wall Street Journal; Town and Country; O, the Oprah Magazine, and other national media. Clinton founded Circle of Generosity, a nonprofit that grants random acts of kindness to those in need, and serves on multiple nonprofit boards. His newest book, ROAR into the Second Half of Your Life - Before It’s Too Late (Atria Books/Beyond Words, Sept. 7, 2021) explores how to optimize life experience in work, lifestyle and relationships. Visit https://roarbymichaelclinton.com/