Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Post-Divorce SWOT Analysis

You know how SWOT analysis is used in strategic planning for organizations? Even if you’re not familiar with it, the idea is to analyze the organization’s Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats. It’s a good post-divorce planning model. Consider yourself an organization. Newly incorporated if you like.

Let’s start with your strengths. Take the VIA Survey of Character Strengths if you get stuck. Or just be honest with yourself and don’t let your inner critic guide you. Friends are also good at pointing out our strengths. Your strengths might include honesty, intelligence, creative problem solving ability, strong parenting, empathy. See how you can parlay these into good skills for meeting people and figuring out what you want to do with your life? Use your honesty and intelligence to engage your next date and your problem solving ability to figure out how to manage the visitation schedule.

Weaknesses are easy for most of us. Too much of a strength can be a weakness. Like being too trusting, for example. Afraid to try new things might be another. Afraid of being rejected yet another. Weaknesses can be paralyzing if you let them get the best of you.

Opportunities come naturally out of weaknesses. Too trusting? Try modulating that in the next relationship, whether it’s with a new landlord or new friend. If you’re afraid to try new things, set yourself the goal of trying something new every day, whether it’s just a new flavor of coffee or talking to the person next to you in the grocery checkout line. Or even something big like trying that on-line dating service your friend suggested. Or the new job you’ve been considering. Consider what you’d like to achieve and then identify the opportunities that are available to you.

Threats include external factors that might get in your way. One of my clients was convinced that having a little boy was going to completely dash all hopes of a date since, she claimed, everyone knows that men don’t like to take on other guy’s boys. That’s an inner critic talking if ever I heard one. But having a badly behaved boy stomp on your date might present problems. Figure out how to deal with that threat in advance. I know you can use your creativity to work it out. The economy is another threat. It’s going to make it impossible for you to get that high paying job you need now, right? Wrong. Yes, the economy presents issues for all of us, but someone’s going to get that job. Why not you?

What I like about the SWOT analysis is that it forces us to take stock of our abilities and the challenges we face. And it makes it possible for us to figure out how to move ahead.