Why You Should Learn Your Professional Strengths and Weaknesses

Have you set any work resolutions yet?


January is a great time to start thinking about your work goals.


RobPaceclip0000This fall I sat down with my friend Rob Pace, who serves on the National Advisory Board for the Salvation Army with me, and asked him to help me work out a personal plan for allocating my time over the next year. My “work” resolution for this year is really just to stick to that plan as it relates to 4word, Cassidy Turley, and my other Board commitments.

Rob was a great person to work with because he and I go way back; all the way back to college and business school! We are both Christians who place family as our top priority, and we’ve both pursued successful professional careers in the corporate world. All this means that he gets where I’m coming from, yet he could provide an impartial voice to help me clearly analyze my commitments and prioritize wisely.


When you’re thinking through your work goals for this year, consider asking a trusted friend or colleague to help you. It doesn’t have to be someone who works with you directly, but they should be familiar enough with your working style that they can help you analyze your strengths, weaknesses, likes, and dislikes. Use that information to set some specific goals for yourself.

4w_monblog300x300_011413An important side note, if you’re not sure what your professional strengths, weaknesses, likes and dislikes (SWLDs) are, it’s time to start figuring that out. In fact, you can make that your first resolution! It sounds deceptively simple, but really putting your finger on what you like and dislike and how you work best can be quite hard. Many people take years or even decades to figure it out.


That’s partially just because it requires some working experience, but it’s also because few people actually take the time or energy to analyze those questions. Don’t be one of them! If you start intentionally analyzing these questions now, you’ll be happier at work and better equipped to make career decisions down the line. Once you’ve identified your SWLDs, you can learn to trade on your strengths while being aware of your weaknesses. (For more on that, see chapter 9 of “Work, Love Pray.”)


One last note in closing. Even if you did a self-assessment at the beginning of your career, you might need to take another one a decade or so down the line. Last Monday, I mentored two women who are both mid-career, and both of them needed to take another self-assessment before planning further career goals.




Do you know your professional SWLDs? How does that help you set work goals?