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The holidays are right around the corner — will you be able to achieve all your goals? A SWOT analysis is an effective way to make sure you do.

A SWOT analysis is a method of study involving two internal and two external factors. The internal factors are Strengths and Weaknesses. You have control over these two. You’re able to directly influence your strengths and weaknesses in the moment, unlike the other two external factors, Opportunities and Threats.

These two are outside influences. They exist, even if you’re not aware. And if you’re not aware, opportunities slip by and threats linger. Usually, by that point, there’s little that can be done about it.

Doing a SWOT analysis for your holiday goals will put you on the path to success. But first, why even bother with the analysis? I’ll explain.

Why use SWOT analysis for your holiday goals?

The holidays can be fun and festive. But it can also be an absolute nightmare. Whether it’s the former or the latter for you, depends on your holiday goals.

Your goals don’t have to be astronomical. The holidays are only a few weeks long, after all. With that said, it can be the most frustrating or anxiety-inducing weeks too.

For instance, are you worried about spending time with new in-laws? Or trying to find the perfect present for your spouse? Perhaps you’re afraid of putting on a few extra pounds with all the good food that’ll be available to you these next few weeks? If you have any worries at all, you can create goals to alleviate these fears. And then, with SWOT analysis, you can ensure your goals are met.

What are your goals?

What is something you want to achieve this month? Or flip the perspective — what is something you don’t want to happen? You can make more than one goal, but if that’s daunting, then just choose the most important one to you.

Examples of holiday goals that SWOT analysis can help with include:

  • Maintaining current weight
  • Losing weight
  • Surviving family get-togethers
  • Finding the perfect present
  • Not stressing/remaining relaxed during the holiday
  • Impress the in-laws
  • Make X happy (X = friends, family, spouse, children, etc)

Your goals don’t have to be personal either. If you are in school or run a business, you may have some holiday goals for that too. For example:

  • Get A’s on your finals
  • Make the perfect new year class schedule
  • End the year on a financial high note
  • Prep for the next financial quarter

These goals are relatively simple, but can be difficult to execute. And that’s where SWOT comes in. Once you have your goal, grab a pen and piece of paper (or open up a document online) and let’s begin. Starting with the first half of the analysis, Strengths and Weaknesses.

Strengths and Weaknesses

As these two sections are internal factors, it means you’re going to be examining yourself. Specifically, looking into your personality traits.

You’ll be doing two things: looking at what will help you achieve your goals, and what will prevent you from reaching your goals. We all have parts of ourselves that are “good” and “not-so-good”. Being honest here is the key to doing this first section correctly.

For instance, are you a hard worker? The kind of person who stops everything until you’ve solved an issue? Or do you have super strong self-control and no sweets can tempt you? Or are you so reliable, all your friends know they can count on you more than any other? These are all strengths. It may seem silly to list. But knowing where your strengths lie will make achieving your goal that much easier.

On the flip side, you also want to highlight possible disadvantages (or weaknesses) that may be an obstacle to achieving your goal. For instance, do you put everyone else first? It’s admirable, but difficult to achieve goals when you’re always on the backburner. Or do you have a weakness to certain foods? If your goal is about weight, being around these foods will make it difficult to keep your goal in sight.

Note:

The premise of identifying weaknesses isn’t to make you feel bad about yourself. Everyone has weaknesses. But if you ignore them, they will destroy your goals. So, while doing this section, whether you identify beneficial traits or non-beneficial traits, keep a few things in mind:

  • How will my strengths help me achieve my goal?
  • When can I use them to my advantage?
  • What weaknesses will be an obstacle?
  • How can I prevent them from getting in the way?
  • What happens if I don’t achieve my goal?

This is basically a big brainstorming session. While you’re jotting down your strengths and weaknesses, always keep your goal in mind.

There’s no rush. And when you’re done, you can move into the second section of the SWOT analysis for holiday goals: opportunities and threats.

Opportunities and Threats

The second half of the SWOT analysis involves two external influences. This means you can’t work on them like you can with strengths and weaknesses. Opportunities are something that appears. Then, if you don’t jump on them, they disappear. You can’t really prevent the opportunity from disappearing; it just will. Your goal is to take advantage of it before someone else does.

Threats are similar to weaknesses. Except you can influence a weakness. If you want, you can take one from your list and transform it into a strength. A threat is much harder to transform, if at all possible. Like opportunities, threats exist. If you don’t know about them, they’ll ruin your goals. If you do know about them though, you can create a plan to prevent it from destroying everything. That won’t make the threat disappear, it’ll just make it easier to navigate.

Examples of opportunities.

It may be easier to explain how to use opportunities related to goals through an example.

Let’s say your goal is to impress your new in-laws. You’ve never spent any time with them before and you really want to make a great first impression this season. So, an opportunity, in this case, may be finding out that your mother-in-law has an obsession with glass teapots. She collects them. But a new one just came out and you know, for a fact, that she doesn’t have it.

What’s a better opportunity than to get this precious teapot for her? She’ll love it, and probably tell everyone that you got it for her. And this goodwill may spread throughout the family, giving the in-laws a great impression of you.

Or you could just not get the teapot. Maybe get her a new blanket instead. She may like the blanket, but she might not. But if you got that teapot, you know she’d be over the moon with about.

Let’s do another example. Let’s say you’re studying for an A on your last final at college. And you find out a friend of your friend took this class last year. With the same teacher. And he aced it. Your friend offers to set you up on a study date with him. This is your opportunity to really improve your grade.

If you take it.

And if you don’t, maybe someone else will. And they’ll get the top mark of the class.

Opportunities are everywhere. They can be big, or small. They can appear weeks ahead of time or literally the night before the big day. In this section, think about any possible opportunities you can think of. Jot them down and see how they overlap with your goal.

Examples of threats.

Threats reduce the likelihood of achieving your goal. You might not be able to stop them, but you can react appropriately Similarly with opportunities, your job in this analysis is to identify any threats. Then think of a way to avoid it.

Let’s say your goal is to stay relaxed and calm during the holidays. Typically, you end up stressed and unable to enjoy this time of year. This time, you want to avoid that.

The problem is, your Aunt Karen is coming to the family get together and she always pushes your buttons. She likes to loudly discuss any hardships or weaknesses in your life. And then, if that’s not bad enough, she likes to spread rumours of any information she uncovers while talking to you. This makes it a lot harder to stay calm when someone is out to get you.

In this case, Aunt Karen is the threat. She’ll be there. There’s nothing you can do about that. But you can do everything in your power to…

  1. Avoid Aunt Karen
  2. Dispel or ignore any rumours she starts
  3. Enjoy your time

Keep in mind, a threat can be a…

  • Situation
  • Person
  • Place
  • Thing (toys, foods, etc)
  • Idea
  • Concept

You may have multiple threats preventing your holiday goal from coming to life. And it may feel daunting to deal with them all. If this is the case, focus on one big threat. The one that will absolutely make it impossible to achieve your goal. Any other minor threats can be pushed aside (for now).

Voila! You’re done!

At this point, you’ve identified:

  • Strengths to help you achieve your goal
  • Weaknesses that may prevent you from achieving your goal
  • Opportunities to achieve your goal
  • Threats that will destroy your goal

You can use this guide and process for each holiday goal you have. This SWOT analysis will make it so much easier to reach your goals because you’re creating a plan of action.

Photo by Ian Schneider on Unsplash