A good way to prepare for the New Year is to reach for a SWOT analysis, unpacking the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats for the year ahead.

Although ‘fail to plan, plan to fail,’ is a tired, tedious old phrase, the truth it conveys still offers a solid punch, motivating enough incentive to set down on paper a map sharp enough to smash out some realistic goals.

SWOT is a man’s ultimate New Year planogram.

It’s a mental map notarising the year ahead. A formality etched in ink, pointing towards an achievable end.

SWOT helps to create a quick alternative to nonsense “resolutions”, which have about as much substance to them as the space saver “spare” tyres “eco-conscious” manufacturers are now packing into the boots of new cars.

Despite how old, hung-out-to-dry, and overused “do-it-yourself” plan clichés are, it’s wise to keep them at the forefront of every dot-point idea, target, or obligatory must-do.

We have a plan, because we know that not having one puts us at the mercy of somebody else’s.


For some years now, my home team puts together a goal-setting list to give us an idea of what we want, and are nudged towards tackling in the year ahead.

The list covers people, events, and milestones that need careful attention. “I’s” get dotted, and most of the time the “t’s” don’t get missed.

By the end of the year, the no-fuss, dot-point list is crinkled, frayed, crossed out, and covered in new markings.

What was once a New Year list has come to bear all the well-travelled scuff marks a basic, plain black, and white, well-loved A4 mental map should.

Said list becomes somewhat of a roughshod trophy for thanksgiving; a testimony to grace we’ve received, and the hard work which has accompanied it along the way.

Etsy-bells-and-whistles-free planning like this also puts the family on the same page.

Measurable Progress

Another plus is looking back a year from now at goals met, and new ones set.

Echoing the current consensus, Mind Manager writes: ‘A mental map represents a person’s perception of their surroundings. There are no hard rules about what must be present in them.’

This is why the United States Navy uses a form of mental mapping to mentally prepared their elite warfighters for active service in warzones:

  1. Positive self-talk
  2. Visualisation
  3. Goal setting
  4. Self-control.

Making a list and checking it twice isn’t all that bad. Especially when, from a cost-to-benefit perspective, the scales are evenly weighed.

Mind Manager notes,

‘When interpreting a mental map, consider which elements are included and omitted. This information can reveal a lot about a person’s routines and priorities.’

The features and benefits of mental mapping include: uncovering knowledge gaps, keeping expectations well-grounded, putting all cards on the table, and improving goal-setting in general.

Achievable Aims

Mentally mapping out important decisions, and goals through a brief SWOT initiative, which coincides with a simple dot-point A4 list, revolutionises vain “resolutionising”.

It keeps things Specific, Measured, Achievable, Realistic, and Targeted (in a word, SMART).

So valued is this approach, that every business is encouraged to follow the framework.

Business advice from Queensland’s government states that it is one of the best ways to define and redefine goals.

John Maxwell explains,

‘Success comes from building on your strengths and maximising them, not from shoring up weaknesses.’

He adds,

‘You’re surrounded by opportunities to get ahead, seize the small ones and bigger ones will come along. Align them with your strengths, and you’ll see things take off quickly.’

SWOT lists set out a way to smash New Year goals in a way monkeying around with frilly ten-point how-to-be-the-best-you never can.

To paraphrase Maxwell, a simple dot-point list improves our climb.

Planning for a New Year in this way aligns our goals with a purpose, offering time to ‘pause, reflect, and gain perspective,’ so we ‘don’t miss and rungs on the ladder along the way.’


Photo by Kampus Production.

About the Author: Rod Lampard

Rod, his wife Jonda, and their five kids are homeschooling veterans. Rod spent 12 years in management at Koorong, has a Bachelor’s Degree in Ministry & Theology, and is a writer for the theological, politically edgy news site Caldron Pool. Rod also writes for the Spectator. Find his personal blog here.

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