SWOT is an accounting term that stands for ‘strengths, opportunities, threats, and weaknesses.’ Not only am I married to a CPA, as a business owner, I make it a priority to understand the fundamentals of accounting and bring in experts such as CPA and tax attorney, Sandy Botkin, ESQ, to train in some of my programs.
The SWOT method is used to audit a business; to ascertain whether or not that business is going to thrive or fail. It is a method I have adopted with my clients – business owners and solopreneurs who want both more time and more money. The SWOT method serves as an impetus for a life audit and just as it determines business health, it can also determine our own life balance as well.
I have added an additional phase – discovery. This falls under the premise that we don’t know what we don’t know. In other words, are the aches and pains just aches and pains or symbolic of something much more severe. Is the brain fog due to lack of sleep or is it endemic of a larger issue? Is our apathy simply due to career boredom or are we simply out of shape and lacking in energy?
My friend, and mentor, NY Times Best Selling Author, Harvey Mackay, says that men are particularly horrible at discovery; they tend to push things such as their health to the side. I lovingly disagree. I know many modern women who avoid doctors, self-help books, life coaches, and anything other than slogging through the day. I feel that when it comes to getting to the root of the issue, gender is irrelevant.
I write about work-life balance because I was once one of the most out of balance people on the planet. I owned a health club, had over 50 staff, taught nutrition at a local college, worked with clients, taught fitness classes, was on television every day, on radio once per week, raced professional triathlon, and oh yes – had a young daughter. I worked seven days per week unless I was racing on the weekend, did my lesson prep while riding for five hours on a bike trainer, often started at five in the morning and finished at eleven at night, and effectively gave myself MS, adrenal fatigue, and hypothyroidism while I chased success.
Inevitably, my world came crumbling down with jarring reality. When I found myself homeless, living on my brother-in-law’s sofa, penniless, jobless, and yet still with bills to pay, I knew I needed a wake-up call. The year was 2000 and that spring I surrendered to an inner knowing that I couldn’t ever go back to that out of balance life.
Today, I do run three companies, have four kids, and occasionally do a half or full marathon. I also turn my phone off on Saturday night and do not turn it on until Monday morning. I pray and meditate first thing in the morning and last thing at night. I also bake into my schedule times to think and breathe.
If you are out of balance and you know it, I invite you to explore the SWOT method of work-life balance using the following phases:
Phase One – Discovery
In this phase, we must first know what we are up against. I recommend getting a full medical work-up and not just the usual stuff – cholesterol, blood pressure, etc. Business is taxing on our adrenals and having a solid hormone panel done is essential. If you have been feeling rundown, apathetic, and not sleeping, it could be your hormones.
Working with a coach is also a powerful tool. There are exceptional business coaches who can help you get to the root of the issue. Do you require a career change? Do you have some big decisions to make? Even attending an event such as Tony Robbins Unleash The Power Within can be transformative at helping you discover what is actually going on.
Phase Two – Strengths
In business, we look at the strength of the company. In our lives, we must also assess our own strengths if we are to have any shred of work-life balance.
Strengths may come in the form of healthy habits such as getting our workout in, drinking ample water, eating Paleo during the week, getting 7-8 hours of sleep, playing with our kids, turning our phone off for 12-24 hours once per week, having date nights with our partner, and making sure we are taking time off to re-charge.
Assess your strengths if you want to find more balance. Ask yourself what you do that allows you to feel restored. If you already have some exceptional habits, then you are likely experiencing more balance than the average person however that doesn’t mean that you have arrived. Your health will paint the true picture and be an exceptional litmus test of what else you must do.
Phase Three – Weaknesses
Are you waking up and looking at your phone first thing in the morning? Do you remember the last time you played with your kids and were fully present? Do you have fat hanging over your pants? Are you working harder but not enjoying yourself? If you answered ‘yes’ to any of these questions, then you have a few weaknesses. These poor habits, and the resulting effects such as weight gain, have left you out of balance.
The good news is that any weakness is an opportunity for improvement. You have the power to make such serious changes that will give your greater balance in your life. Make a list of any apparent weaknesses
Phase Four – Opportunities
We all have the opportunity to improve. Whether that is getting up an hour earlier to get the workout in or taking one day each week to unplug, opportunities are everywhere. I teach my clients to look at their schedule and ask themselves if it is in alignment with that they say they want. If the answer is ‘no’ then there are opportunities and often these opportunities require changing routines, divorcing ourselves from certain commitments, and standing for what we desire.
What opportunities do you have? Is there a yoga class you can take? Can you hire an additional person to take on some of your tasks? Can you create boundaries by using scheduling programs such as Schedule Once? Can you set up accountability with your family and have them hold you to a new standard? There are always opportunities.
Phase Five – Threats
In accounting, the auditor looks for threats. These threats can come in the form of competition, an unenthusiastic sales force, poor manufacturing processes, and a host of other areas. In our lives, threats can arise in a multitude of forms, many of them nebulous.
In our desire to pursue our goals, it is seductive to overlook seemingly small threats until they grow to monstrous proportions. I had a friend who started to get tired and began to experience some aches and pains that wouldn’t go away regardless of what he did. He chalked these up to approaching the big ‘5’ ‘0’ and pushed them to the side as he pursued growing his company. He did submit to going to a sports medicine clinic for what he thought was simply some work on his knee.
One day, in physiotherapy for his knee, the therapist reached around him to assist with an exercise. My friend winced with pain on his right side as the practitioner’s arms, intended to steady him, instead seemed to trigger an intense, stabbing sensation. Upon investigation, my friend was diagnosed with stage IV cancer and passed sixteen months later. Prior to his death, he said, ‘Susan, I gave myself cancer because of my stress.’
Some threats are seemingly silent while others are quite glaringly, and obnoxiously, loud. I suggest hiring a consultant, coach, or consulting a health practitioner to assist you with removing the threat.
SWOT testing your life is something that you can do right now. What I have found is that when we are in balance not only do we feel better, we are much more likely to create more revenue and more time. As entrepreneurs isn’t that the goal?