How a SWOT Analysis Can Help You Gain Self Awareness

UPDATED: September 22, 2023
PUBLISHED: March 28, 2022
Photograph of a mature white woman with long grey hair and black thick rimmed glasses looking down and doing a personal swat analysis at her kitchen table.

Gary Vaynerchuk is the first person I heard talk about self-awareness.

His definition was simple: being able to accept your weaknesses while focusing your attention on your strengths.

Gary “Vee” speaks often about internal self-awareness, which is clarity on how we perceive our values, vision, goals, reactions and expectations. On top of that, it’s how we see our behaviors, strengths, weaknesses, our thoughts and our threats.

As an entrepreneur, you need a mixture of both internal and external self-awareness to truly succeed in every aspect of your business and life. 

How do you gain the clarity you need to ensure success is on the other side of getting uncomfortable? How do you develop this kind of self-actualization that helps you realize where your weaknesses are, which then allows you to double down on your strengths?

One thing I recommend to all my coaching clients is to perform a personal SWOT analysis of their lives.

What is a personal SWOT analysis?

SWOT is an acronym for strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats. It is not an easy exercise. It takes a lot of reflection and honesty about who you are and what you’re capable of doing—and, more importantly, what you feel you aren’t capable of doing. But it will help you gain self-awareness, and that is crucial to your growth.

Strengths: Questions to ask yourself

The “S” in a personal SWOT analysis stands for strengths, and so the obvious question would be, “What are my strengths?” Some other questions you should be asking yourself are: 

  • Where do I truly see excellence in my work and life? 
  • Where are my superpowers? In marketing or operations? Human resources? Is it my organizational skills or my coaching and people skills? 
  • Would my organization be able to function without me at the helm? If not, why not?

Weakness: Examples in a personal SWOT analysis

Equally as important, and even more introspective, is understanding where you come up short. Get honest and ask yourself, “What are my weaknesses?” Then go deeper using this personal SWOT analysis example: Imagine you sold your business—would the new owner be able to replace you? 

Using the same example of selling your business: If your new boss was looking for a way to exit you from the company, what would it be?

This is not an easy question to answer, so talk with a mentor or coach and allow them an opportunity to be extremely honest with you. At the same time, give yourself permission to accept that level of honesty coming in. 

Opportunity: Reflecting on the past and growing

Sometimes opportunity is difficult to see, especially when you hold a somewhat cynical or pessimistic view of the world. Have you ever beat yourself up over a missed opportunity? Who hasn’t? Missing out on opportunities can make you question yourself and your situation. 

So how do you overcome dwelling on your mistakes and the self-loathing that comes with it? You use your missteps as a chance to learn, to grow and to seek out new opportunities.

Threats: Examples in a personal SWOT analysis

Threats in a personal SWOT analysis are typically things that could render you or the company obsolete. Look at threats in this exercise as things that could slow your growth as a business or your advancement inside the company, such as new technology or late adoption of that new technology. Introspectively, could your weaknesses hurt you within your organization? Could your schedule be stifling your creativity, forcing you to miss out on opportunities?

A personal SWOT analysis can help you increase your self-awareness so long as you are asking yourself the right questions and seeking critical feedback from peers, mentors and coaches. When you receive feedback, make sure you are focused on asking the “what” questions—not the “why” questions. You want to stay focused on the future through self-improvement, not perpetuate the negative feedback loop.

Taking this proactive approach to understand your strengths and weaknesses in work and in life gives you the insight you need to self-assess where you are right now and where you want to be in the future.

This article originally appeared in the March/April 2022 Issue of SUCCESS magazine. Photo by shurkin_son/

Skar is a certified SUCCESS coach based in Calgary.