How to Survive, Part 2: Assess Your Weaknesses


This list will probably be easier to produce; for particularly when we’re under stress, we tend to worry about what’s wrong a lot, though not necessarily about the most helpful areas. So let’s take a few minutes to download those vulnerabilities out of your head and capture them on a piece of paper. Preparing to address them in your strategic plan may lessen your worries.

Here, I suggest following a 2-step approach:

1) Conduct an inventory of your weaknesses, where you write out your answers to the following questions in a personal journal:

  •  What activities and items do I have difficulty with, whether work-related or not? Example: When my work schedule is busy, my work/life balance often suffers, particularly my social life.
  • What activities are important, but I don’t enjoy them so I avoid them? Example: I like a clean house but as a self-employed person, I don’t have time to clean it like I want to, which is why I have a housekeeper.
  • What activities have always caused me difficulty? Example: I do not enjoy rote, repetitive activities, like practicing vocal exercises or a musical instrument. This keeps me from progressing in these areas.
  • What areas of my personal or work-life have I neglected? Example: Because I’ve been so busy in other areas of my career, I haven’t had much time or practice pitching articles to magazine editors.
  • What areas do I know I need to improve in? Example: Sometimes I am too slow to ask for help.
  • What areas do loved ones and coworkers tell me I need to improve on, particularly areas that show up on my performance evaluation? Example: When I’m absorbed in my work, I don’t always do an effective job of keeping up with my friends.
  • What things have my friends and family have complained about that I’ve ignored or haven’t known how to address? Example: I need to slow down and make sure that other people understand?
  • In what areas do I repeat mistakes or repeatedly make mistakes? Example: I need to schedule my work around my vacations not my vacations around my work. Because I haven’t done this regularly, my vacation time sometime gets squeezed.
  • In what areas could stand to improve my personality? Example: Sometimes I communicate more honestly and directly than is helpful and necessary.
  • What are my character weaknesses or flaws? Example: There are times when I’m impatient and expect too much of others.
  • What areas do I need to shore up in my spiritual life? Example: I go through periods when I pray “on the go” rather than setting aside quite time to commune with God.
  • What weaknesses do I have related to my physical health, appearance, self-care, energy-level, etc.? Example: Sometimes I don’t get enough sleep, which leaves me tired and depleted.
  • In what areas could I benefit from training or education? Example: I need to better understand the law as it relates to writing.
  • What disadvantages do I have as compared to other people? Example: I live far away from my family.

2) Ask a couple of close loved ones or friends to share their perspectives on these same questions. Choose people who know you well, care for you and will be sensitive about your feelings as they deliver the information. Again, to the extent that you feel comfortable doing so, select people from different areas of your life -- your family, extended family, work colleagues, church friends, classmates, teammates, for example. Most will be nervous about helping you -- they won’t want to hurt your feelings or damage your friendship. So set ground rules based on your personality and the personalities of your friends, as well as your comfort level in talking about those areas in which you need to develop your abilities. For example, depending upon how emotionally fragile you feel, you may want to ask for two areas your friends think you should focus on. Don’t forget to take notes so that you can review them later.

Now that you have a grasp on the areas you need to work on, you will develop plans to address these opportunities in a personal strategy.

In good faith,