Nobody’s perfect, right? So how do you know what your weaknesses are and what you can do about them? Whether you’re looking for a new job and know that’s going to be one of the interview questions, or you’re on a quest for self-improvement, define your weakness and to work on that first always has benefits.
SWOT it out
The first step to defining your weakness is getting honest with yourself. If you can’t look at your work performance or your personal characteristics objectively, improvement will never happen. While it’s often hard to take a look at yourself with a critical eye, it’s only temporary and shouldn’t be an exercise in stomping on your self-esteem. One of the best ways to balance the scales is to do a personal SWOT analysis.
SWOT stands for “Strengths, Weaknesses, Objectives, Threats” and is often used for business purposes to figure out where a business needs to invest time, money and planning to increase its strength and profitability, as well as protect itself from risk. Applying the methodology to personal analysis is a great way to be objective and realistic about both your strengths and weaknesses.
Make a list of what you feel your strengths are, including things that coworkers, friends, family or bosses have told you are your attributes. This is probably the easiest part. Weaknesses are a little more difficult unless you have a well-developed inner critic, in which case try not to give that voice too much air time. It’s probably best to keep it at a maximum of five weaknesses so your goals stay manageable.
Once you’ve determined your weaknesses, define some objectives that may help facilitate improvement of your weaknesses. For example, if you listed procrastination as one of your weaknesses – a common one! – a matching objective might be to start projects, assignments or tasks as soon as you become aware of them and break those tasks down into smaller pieces that can be completed easily and regularly until the end goal is completed.
Threats are the enemies of your objectives and you need to identify them to also ensure you have a plan in place for overcoming those threats, should they arise. Pre-planning helps you feel confident if a threat does arise and prevents wasting time trying to figure out how to deal with life’s little surprises.
Once you’ve completed your SWOT analysis, it’s best to pick only one weakness to work on first. In our fast-paced world full of demands on our time, effort and emotions, it’s too easy to feel overwhelmed without the added burden of tearing yourself up trying to improve on all of your weaknesses simultaneously.
Again, making a written plan helps keep you focused and you can even schedule tasks or activities in your calendar so you don’t forget. Take the objectives you defined for your priority weakness and create small, regular actionable tasks you think will help move that weakness into a strength. Things, like taking a course or workshop and reading a book on the topic, are always useful ways to help facilitate small changes. Don’t forget to give yourself a pat on the back each time you do something that you’ve defined on your list of objectives, or each time you successfully mitigate a threat, if one jumps in your path!
Be patient with yourself; change isn’t easy and doesn’t happen quickly. Accept that defining your weakness and working on that is not always a straightforward journey. Forgive yourself if you slip up and make mistakes or you don’t banish that weakness completely. After all, you’re still human and while it’s important to continuously strive for improvement, perfection is never a realistic goal.