It’s hard to believe that we’re almost halfway through with 2022. We can no longer say it’s a brand new year. While you might have mixed feelings about that, one great thing about reaching the midpoint is that it’s the perfect time to check in with yourself and make sure you’re still on track with your goals. Set yourself up for success as we prepare for the summer season with a sense of renewed focus and drive. Keep on reading for our best tips on how to conduct a life audit, get re-organized, and seize the rest of the year!
What is a life audit?
The concept of a life audit is similar to that of a financial audit in that it’s a time to take stock of where you currently stand, analyze how close you are to your goals, and figure out what you need to do to reach them. It is an opportunity to reflect on the important areas of your life and highlight areas of strength, weakness, and stagnation. You can do a life audit as little or as often as you want. What’s important is that you’re reflecting on what you’ve done so far and doing an honest review of what habits should stay and which ones should go.
How will this help me?
Not only will a life-audit help you stay on track if you’re doing well, it’s also a great exercise for when you’re feeling overwhelmed, lost, unfulfilled, or when you just need some extra motivation. Regularly conducting check-ins with yourself helps you to track your progress and stay clear headed about what you want and what you need to do next. Most importantly, it’s an opportunity to identify pain points in your strategy and determine the habits you might need to improve and help you stay consistent in taking action. You’ll want to take note of what’s been working for you and what hasn’t so that you can make the right changes to your routine and get rid of things that are no longer serving you.
“You do not rise to the level of your goals. You fall to the level of your systems.”
–James Clear, Atomic Habits
For example, do you use social media as a distraction when facing a tough challenge at work? Could developing a mindfulness practice and downloading an app to put a hard limit on your Instagram time support you in breaking this habit and building focus? Do you notice a lift in your mood when you make time to exercise in the morning? How can you help yourself stay motivated and make time for this in your routine? It’s not just about looking at your goals, but looking into how to create and build the habits that will get you there.
Where do I start?
Identify your categories
The first step in conducting a life audit is to decide which areas of your life you want to focus on. Maybe you’re behind on the business idea you hoped to launch this year or maybe you haven’t been keeping up with the healthy habits that you said you would. Whatever it might be, identifying these areas and writing them down is a great place to begin. You can start by writing down your main areas of focus and then continuing to narrow it down from there. As an example, here are a few categories you can start with and how you can break them down:
Decide how to “rate” yourself
Now that you’ve got your categories, it’s time to decide how to evaluate where you’re at. The key here is to be both honest and compassionate with yourself. If using a 1-5 rating system feels clinical or likely to flare up your inner self-critic, you can use a simple “satisfied” or “not satisfied” system, or perhaps just write down how you feel about each area of life you’ve chosen. Recognize what you’re doing well, but don’t ignore what’s bothering you or holding you back. Remember that completing this exercise is evidence of your genuine wish to grow and do better. This is what will help you identify the areas of your life that need a second look and allow you to track your progress when conducting life audits in the future.
Review your insights
Take the time to review your insights and reflect on why you feel that way. Are you completely satisfied in the categories you’ve identified? Great! If not, ask yourself what it could be that is making you feel that way and what you could do differently in order to change the outcome. What’s getting in the way, and conversely, what habits or practices are likely to help you improve. How can you achieve a better rating next time? It can be difficult to sit down and face the things that may not be working for you in life, but the beauty of this exercise is to help you get there. Keep a log of your findings so you can revisit your insights anytime.
Create a plan of action
Follow up on your findings by creating an action plan. Make a list of tasks and things you need to do to get re-organized. It may be helpful to organize your action plan by short-term vs. long-term goals and be specific about the behaviors and habits you want to change. This is a good time to update your goals list and be realistic about what you hope to accomplish.
It’s important to narrow your list down to the areas that matter most, and not bite off more than you can chew. It can be difficult to be realistic with ourselves, so it’s a great idea to run your plans by a family member or friend you trust to be encouraging, honest, and realistic.
Once you have your goals nailed down, start small. It’s easy to fall into a perfectionistic trap of committing to a big goal that makes you feel good (I’m going to run for 20 minutes every day starting tomorrow) only to abandon your practice soon after. Instead, look at where you are now, and go for incremental change. To continue our running example, if you haven’t jogged in years, you might start by running for two minutes twice a week. It might not sound impressive, but you’re more likely to show up, gain the tiny win, and start a powerful positive feedback loop. It’s all about consistency.
Lastly, be realistic and kind to yourself. Set yourself up for small wins and incremental improvements. This will help create that positive feedback loop that fosters gradual, sustainable change.
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