Financial audits are rarely fun, but life audits certainly can be. What most people do when they think about what they want out of life is to beat themselves up for everything they haven’t done and all the things they haven’t accomplished.
If you do that, this journey will not be fun and you’ll only be feeling horrible about yourself when it’s done.
You NEED to take a step back outside yourself and realize that this is not a process that should highlight where you’re failing. Instead, it should provide a road map on how to use your greatest strengths while also showing you where you can improve (and how you can do it).
You have the power to change your life. If you’re reading this post, you probably have some desire to do this process or you never would have ended up reading this. This process isn’t just for people who are miserable, either. Even if you’re wildly happy, you can still receive the benefits of looking at your whole life and tracking things that matter to you.
Before you begin
Your audit should be as unique as you are. For some people, certain habits are excellent and some are a problem. It’s up to you and your gut to determine what’s working and not working in your life.
Ideally, you’ll want to get out your planners, notebooks, or to-do lists (if you have these things), to see how you’ve been spending your time and what you’ve been up to. Don’t worry if you don’t have these things, it won’t prevent you from doing this process.
Look at your average day
What does your average day look like? Write it out in detail and be brutally honest.
I’ll start. In 2019 most of my days looked like: wake up (not often on time, drink two extra cups of coffee more than I should, sometimes get right to work but most often just surf around online for an hour or two until I felt good, eat lunch, go workout, walk my dog, surf the internet again while I half-ass worked, and finally go to bed far too late and wonder why I don’t feel like I got anything worthwhile done.
Don’t get me wrong, I had a lot of good days of hustle and adventure in there, but if I had to write out my average day, that’s it. It’s brutal to read but you truly can not do an audit without being real with yourself.
Once you have this, you need to move on to your ideal day.
Write out your ideal day
What do you want to do on your average ideal day?
Now, this is not the time for you to write out what you want an EPIC day to look like. Most of our lives will be comprised of average days, and if you compare a huge, epic day to your day-to-day life, you’re going to feel constantly upset. Even people who travel every other day and are constantly on the go have tons of days where they pay bills and grocery shop. Social media is just a highlight reel, even if it doesn’t seem that way.
Back to your life.
What would make you happy in your life with an average day? Fitting in a hobby? Seeing friends?
If the day is too specific and you don’t have an answer yet, instead, write out your perfect week/month. Do you go out most nights? Are you in a fitness class? Do you fit in a weekly date night? Do you travel every few months?
Once you have this all written out, you can compare the two.
Doing a big life audit
If you get quiet with yourself and think (which is why you should only do an audit somewhere quiet and where you won’t be distracted), you will know the top three areas in your life that are lacking.
Maybe you don’t have enough creativity, maybe you’re sick of your job, maybe you don’t have enough adventure. We all know what we need when we stop lying to ourselves.
Some ideas to ask yourself:
What do you regret not doing over the last decade?
What would you do with more money?
How do you like the city you live in?
What do you daydream about?
What gets you excited to jump out of bed?
What goals did you let slip you by?
How has your life changed for the better or the worse during the past decade?
What do you value and are you living these values?
Where do you want to be in the next decade?
Do you enjoy the people you spend your time with?
What to do when you don’t have answers
If you don’t have answers to an ideal week or to the questions above, that’s okay! So many of us repress our own wants and desires so hard that it’s actually hard to think about what we do want.
Down below I’m going to cover weekly reviews and they’re mandatory if you want to change your life. You might not have the answers now, but as you start to take a hard look at your life every week, you’re going to start finding answers.
Making the plan of attack
Now, I’m not saying you need to set your entire life on fire and start over. However, you do need to look at where you are and where you want to go and pick one thing to start including each week.
You’re going to start with the one that will bring a quick win.
Look through all the things you listed that you want in your ideal week/day. What one thing sticks out to you the most where your gut says, “I NEED this thing!”
That’s the one I want you to include it immediately this week. Put it in your schedule right now and make it non-negotiable.
The thing to keep in mind is that you can’t judge what it is. For me, at the start of this year, I really wanted to improve the number of books I read in a year. My first thought when I thought that was, “But that doesn’t make me more money, I should focus on work goals.”
That’s a toxic mindset and that’s exactly how we all get stuck in ruts.
If your gut says to read some more damn books, read some more damn books.
If your gut says you need time to just sit in the corner and stare at the wall to decompress after a long day, who cares? Do it. Maybe you want to fingerpaint. I don’t know what the thing is, but whatever it is, you need to do it.
Start a weekly and monthly review
There are tons of ways to do weekly and monthly reviews, but you need to start so you can get a good birds-eye view of your life.
For years, I’ve been coasting. I’m actually writing this blog in the middle of the realization that I’ve been living the same days and weeks for years and it’s time to make a change. This blog is as much advice as it is my own plan for how to get out of this rut.
One way to do that is to start doing weekly and monthly reviews. When you sit down and truly analyze what’s working and what’s not working, you can see where the weaknesses and strengths are, like a general looking at a battle plan.
You must treat this seriously. Your life is waiting for you to take control and start steering the ship.
Every week and month, you’re going to analyze your:
- Health (mental and physical)
- Relationships (friends, family, dating)
- Spiritual life/service to others (if you care)
- Passion projects
- Energy (physical and mental)
- Personal development
- Anything else specific to your goals or that you simply want to track (creativity, leisure time, character, living situation, life goals, fun/relaxation, etc)
Keep in mind, these are just suggested categories. Track what matters to you or even just start with one to build the habit.
Rate them all from 1 to 10 and analyze the data. It might take a few weeks to get a real perspective of how you spend your time, but you’ll start to see insights you didn’t see before. You might notice when you spend more time with friends, you’re happier. Or you might notice that when you’re feeling healthy, you’re more productive.
I can’t tell you how to audit each of these areas every week and month, it’s up to you to determine what’s important and matters most. You might want to focus on output, for something like work, or just an overall feeling.
Once you do the audit, it’s essential to figure out HOW you could fix the areas that are lagging.
Where to begin if you’re overwhelmed
Sometimes we’ve spent so much time going through the motions that it’s hard to even know where to begin.
I’ve been there.
I don’t want you to leave this article feeling overwhelmed and like you can’t do this.
So, if you have a feeling like this is too much, I want you to just pick ONE habit you’re going to implement and ONE new thing to add to your life. Then you’re going to do a weekly review on each of these things.
For example, start making your bed and start reading on Sunday mornings. Then, you’re going to celebrate like crazy if you even made your bed once that whole week. If you were never making your bed and you now made your bed once, that’s a 1/7 improvement rate. The other six days are not a failure. Maybe you only read one page this week. That’s one page you weren’t reading the week before.
The next week, you’re going to aim for 2/7 days of bed making and reading two books.
It sounds dumb, but it’s not. There is so much science behind starting with steps so small you barely even notice them. Read this post on the 1% rule to see what I mean: here.
ANY improvement, no matter how small, is still an improvement. Period.
Bonus idea: time track
Most people do not track their time. They know when they need to work and what they need to do, but they don’t spend any meaningful time figuring out where their time and life go.
When you track your time, you can start to see how you’re actually spending your time instead of guessing. It’s easy to say we have a priority of working out, but then you track your time and realize you’re only going once a week.
Matt Ragland (this is not sponsored by him – I truly like this video), has a great video: click here, on how he uses his bullet journal to track his time. It’s an amazing way to get an idea of your week. Customize it how you need to.
If you did this whole process, let me know how it went in the comments below!