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Monday, January 9, 2012

SWOT - Goal Setting 1

As we enter into 2012 and the season is starting – or has started depending on where you are in the world, we are going to have a little look at Self Analysis and Goal Setting and how it can help in the Highland Games season.

In this post we are going to look at the SWOT Analysis (Strengths Weaknesses Opportunities Threats) evaluation tool, which is also used frequently in business and athletics/sports. We will cover S.M.A.R.T (Specific Measurable Attainable Realistic Time Sensitive) in the next blog post as the second step to this goal setting extravaganza!

I find SWOT particularly helpful before the SMART goal setting because it can really help you focus what direction your goals need to be centered to be of the most use.

A quick note on me: Goal Setting is something that I did a lot of when I was a rugby player in Canada and the UK. I played for over 14 years on a variety of teams and learned Goal setting from some very outstanding coaching staff on both sides of the ocean. I always enjoyed it, and I hope that you do too.

“I can't change the direction of the wind, but I can adjust my sails to always reach my destination.”

Evaluating your current situation (wind) and adjusting our actions (the sails) to reach our destination is what SWOT is all about. Assessing your current situation as honestly as possible is the key, if you are going to sugar coat this, then you will miss the real value. That is true both to your positive and negative attributes.

Setting the objective should be done after the SWOT analysis has been performed. This would allow achievable goals or objectives to be set for the organization. (This is what we will do in the next blog post with our SMART goal setting.

The basics:
There are the four major categories and each one is related to either internal factors, or external factors. This is key in helping you identify if each item you list is suited for that box.

  • Strengths/Internal: characteristics of the individual that give it an advantage over others
  • Weaknesses/Internal (or Limitations): are characteristics that place the individual at a disadvantage relative to others
  • Opportunities/External: external chances to improve performance in the environment
  • Threats/External: external elements in the environment that could cause trouble for the individuals success Identification of SWOTs is essential because subsequent steps in the process of planning for achievement of the selected objective may be derived from the SWOTs.
Let’s have a look at the simple sheet that is needed, I am going to do my own SWOT for this season. Please be kind if you comment, as I am going to be as honest as possible.

There you go. My first shot at the SWOT for 2012.

I would mostly like to draw your attention to the green * list in Opportunities. I put every single one of those in internal strengths to being with. It is really important to evaluate what you are writing and where you are putting it. Access to gym, implements (throwing tools) and support are great, they ADD to my strength, but are not my internal strengths. Even more importantly, I would like to draw your attention to the red ** item in Weaknesses. You will never guess where I put that.... oh yes, smack dab in Threats. Indeed it is a threat to me, only it is an internal threat, or what we would call a ....weakness. We all have to be careful in this to really evaluate our statements.

Let’s start with a quick and dirty analysis of my SWOT in that order.

As only a few of you know me, I don’t know if you can comment, however, this looks pretty full to me. I’ve covered my physical and mental attributes that make me a good competitor. Positive attitude left that off. I think that thinking positively is a giant boost. Now I’m also thinking that my fellow competitors are also a source of strength....however, look at that statement. The
key is source. This is not an internal strength. It’s an opportunity. So I just added it there.

If you look back to my red * item, I think that this is particularly poignant item for me. My lack of planning and follow through for the last three years has lead me to gain an extra 50lbs to my then, already overweight frame, and has severely limited my performance. Another part of this is that I clearly have been seeing that as an external issue, in the form of excuses and lack of effort. This is my biggest weakness and would pretty much overcome all of my other listed weaknesses. It deserves to be in red.
Some people like to call that category “Limitations”. I think that certainly there are limitations in there. Small Hands. There is little that I can do to make my hands bigger (so that I can grip better), however I think that I can certainly do thinks to compensate for small hands. Better grip training. If you feel better classifying these as Limitations, you go ahead, I think that they are
similar enough. For me, I prefer the face shot of “weakness”, but this is what is best for YOU!
These are an amazing list of opportunities if I do say so. Support, access and the ability to compete are huge, and to make sure that I take full advantage of these I really need to
get my weaknesses in order.

This is always the tricky box. There is nothing, internally or externally, that I can do to stop more talented, trained, stronger athletes with training from starting to complete in the highland games. But, that is what makes it fun! I have to keep getting better.

Moving Forward:
The SWOT analysis is particularly helpful in identifying areas for development. After you have looked at your items in each of the boxes and ensured that you think they are in the right category and reflect your true attributes, then its time to see what you can do about them.
Prep for Goals:

Strength: typically, you want to just have a look, evaluate and ensure that you are doing everything you can to maintain them. Is my positive attitude slipping? Have I been practicing my visualization? If not, then I should add that in. If I am, I should note the where and whens so that I am sure to maintain these.

Weaknesses: This is where the goal setting happens. As I mentioned already – small hands. I need to do some grip training. Back in my rugby days, my Power Clean was limited in weight because my legs started to produce more speed and power through the bar then I could hold with my hands. Grip training is high on my list of goal this season.

Fitness/weight: Of course, the proverbial New Years resolution of lose weight/look great. However, I’ve started not sleeping as well, getting heart burn and the weight is actually impeding my performance. This coupled with the inability to watch a Biggest Loser without bawling is telling me something. Time to get serious.

Mobility/Injury: I have a chiro appointment today at noon. I haven’t been in over 7 weeks. I haven’t had a massage therapy appointment in twice that time. These are both necessary for me to maintain my limited neck and ankle mobility.

Lack of Planning: well...LOOK AT ME GO! Haha. Here I am starting my evaluation, did my SWOT and next week we are going to turn these above into my new S.M.A.R.T. goals for 2012.
This is the basis for starting your seasons goal planning. I am going to use this to help me set up my next session of goal setting with the S.M.A.R.T program, since I already know where my weaknesses are, I can focus on realistic goals, and set parameters that will really help me this season. Exciting!! I hope that this was helpful to you as well.
Is the SWOT for me?
From the enjoyment side... I think that I have focused on the competitive nature of myself. However, there are a lot of really exciting, awesome competitors that are out at the games for the sheer joy of it AND I LOVE THEM!!! If you are one of them you might be thinking, is the SWOT for me?

If you are completely happy with where you are with your throwing, then maybe not. But if you like to compete against your PR’s, then Yes the SWOT may help you find ways to get what you need to enjoy PR hunting. It can be disappointing to not make small improvements. I have been there!!

Final Notes:

SWOT analysis is just one method of categorization and has its own weaknesses. However, done with good introspection, it presents the resulting lists critically and with clearly. It is also prudent not to eliminate any item you bring in too quickly. Make sure you look at WHY you put it down in the first place. It could be an excellent learning opportunity.


If you would like to discuss goal setting with me further, or have any questions, OR if you would be willing to post up your SWOT and/or S.M.A.R.T on our blog, please feel free to contact me at t.c. kentner at g mail dot com

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