How to Do A Life Audit So You Can Have A Great Year

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.

Let’s begin.

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)
  • Finances
  • Relationships (friends, family, dating)
  • Spiritual life/service to others (if you care)
  • Habits
  • Productivity
  • Passion projects
  • Work/business/school
  • Energy (physical and mental)
  • Education/learning
  • Personal development
  • Travel/adventure
  • 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!

How to Break Free From Technology and Cell Phone Addiction

If you’ve ever browsed /r/NoSurf or been on the internet for any length of time, you realize how common technology addiction is. The problem is that it’s so addicting as other types of addictions, but society doesn’t see it that way.

We see “no smoking” signs everywhere, there are laws about alcohol across the world, most drugs are illegal, but there are no rules or regulations when it comes to technology (except in some countries where it’s outlawed or regulated completely… but that’s a different topic).

Actually, if you’re on your tech devices all the time, people think you’re a hard worker or that you’re hip to new technology. (However, your significant other and family members will hate it.) While that may be the impression externally, what you deal with internally is a whole other battle.

If you’ve ever read Deep Work by Cal Newport, you’d understand the dangers of allowing technology to run rampant in your life.

The whole premise of the book is that you need to regularly dive deep into the thing that matter most in your career. He’s an excellent example of this theory because his writing is so deep and thought-provoking. It’s a must-read for any creative.

In there, he makes the point that people who are interrupted all the time or who multitask are mental wrecks. They can’t filter out irrelevancy. We know the dangers of technology addiction and how much it can wreck your mind and productivity. If you’re reading this blog, there’s a chance you want more out of life than endlessly scrolling through social media, so let’s take a look at how you can combat this addiction and get your life back.

And no, this won’t include a “digital detox” because I don’t believe it’s realistic in today’s world. If you want to delete social media, that’s fine, but I already tried that experiment and for me, it didn’t work so I don’t believe in it.

Confront the real problems

I know at least half of you (or more) are going to click off here. This step is real and heavy. Instead of feeding you some BS about “oh just install some social media blockers and you’re cured!”, we’re going to go deeper than that.

Technology addiction is a bandaid to something real going on, just like most addictions.

Maybe you’re lonely.
Maybe you’re going through a breakup.
Maybe you hate your job.
Maybe you know you need a divorce.
Maybe you haven’t overcome abuse from your childhood.

Whatever the issues are, you have to acknowledge it.

Yes, technology is designed to be addictive, but the fact is that there’s something more going on.

You don’t have to change your life overnight, and I’m not going to pretend like it’s just that easy. You have to start by acknowledging what’s going on. This will give you perspective on your life. Instead of beating yourself up and thinking, “I’m a loser because I can’t stop scrolling Reddit,” it gives you the power to switch it to, “I can’t stop scrolling because I picked the wrong college major and I don’t want to confront it.”

Start scheduling blocks of no technology

Even if it’s 5 minutes a day, schedule blocks of time where you don’t use any technology at all. No phone, no tablet, no computer, no gaming, no iPod.

Do anything else in its place. Clean your place, walk around outside, go grocery shopping, or do anything else that keep you away from your devices.

Do one mindful activity a day

Mindfulness basically means giving your full attention to something. Pick one thing a day where you’re going to sit and focus on that activity.

One of my favorite ways to practice mindfulness is when I eat. Get away from technology, stop scrolling through Twiter, don’t play your favorite tv show, just sit and focus on your food. Pick whatever activity works for you.

This is a form of meditation because every time your brain starts to stray away from what you’re doing, pull it back.

If you’re truly deep in a tech addiction, you probably can’t pick your work yet for your mindfulness activity. It usually takes too many hours and you need to build up your stamina. This is why you need to be careful committing to something huge. Going from zero focus to wanting to play an instrument for an hour a day when your focus is destroyed will only end in disappointment and hurt your confidence.

Start to measure

Most iPhones now have a screen time measurement in Settings. There are also a ton of computer apps for tracking how much time you spend online. Get these numbers and start measuring.

Find quiet places

Silence these days seems non-existent. From constant notifications, emails, roommates, partners, children, etc., we’re left with no quiet time to think.

Most of us go to coffee shops to think, but have you ever noticed how insanely loud coffee shops are too.

You need silence, WITHOUT music. Yes, without music. You can introduce music back into your routine down the line, but for now, you need to treat yourself like you’re in recovery. You need to retrain your mind.

Use technology to fight technology

If you’re looking to use technology to fight technology.

Here are some articles to help with that:

How to Quit Mindlessly Surfing the Internet and Actually Get Stuff Done

How To Apply A Minimalist Mindset To Your Screen Time Without The FOMO

The Complete Guide to Breaking Your Smartphone Habit

Podcast #168: The Value of Deep Work in the Age of Distraction

How To Overcome Internet Addiction and Build Deep Work Habits

There are some incredibly valuable nuggets of wisdom in there to combat your internet and cellphone addictions.

Get to know pen and paper

I don’t even need to go over the benefits of carrying pen and paper. You can get a notebook for $1, and start carrying it around. You’ll see the benefits.

Start doing your to-dos offline

So many tasks require technology to finish them. Unless you have incredible discipline, it’s too easy to start browsing in the middle of when you should be productive.

Start batching your to-do’s by internet to-dos and offline to-do’s. For example, I wrote this whole post on paper first, and although it’s time-consuming to have to type it, I was able to write far more than usual.

Schedule in your mindless browsing

The last thing to do to start to combat your endless scrolling, you need to schedule in time for you to mindlessly browse. Don’t pretend like you’re going to go cold turkey, because you’re not. It’s easier to work hard when you know at 5 PM you can freely browse for an hour that evening.

These tactics won’t guarantee you’ll beat it overnight, but with baby steps, you’ll be able to start to conquer it.

Black Friday, Consumerism, and Character

It has always amazed me how America goes from being grateful for everything we have (Thanksgiving) to immediately feeling like we need to spend money to fill some void in our souls for the next few weeks until Christmas.

(Actually what I’ve really realized is that people barely spend any time actually being grateful and they spend most of it overindulging, but that’s not the point of this post.)

Through analyzing consumerism, I’ve realized so many people buy things to feel like they live exciting lives instead of actually living an exciting life.

There’s nothing you could buy on Black Friday that can actually change your character. It can give you the appearance of someone exciting, but it doesn’t actually make you that way.

Once I realized this within my own life, I no longer have a strong pull to shop all the time or buy junk to impress people I don’t actually like.

I can’t even imagine what Theodore Roosevelt would say about our consumerism in the new world. He’d surely think it was over-the-top and at an excessive level. Of course, he thought capitalism was a good thing, but not at the expense of character development.

People buy fancy tech gear, yet they never do anything creative with it.
People buy athletic shoes that they only use for taking laps around the processed food aisles at the grocery store.
People buy fancy TV’s so they can keep watching Netflix alone.
People buy another book on business instead of actually launching the one that they have been dreaming of starting.

You can’t buy character, morality, or values. Those are things you must earn, but only a select amount of people want to put in that kind of work.

If you want a better 2017, focus on the values you need to develop instead of the items you need. I get it, your family expects gifts. There’s not much you can do there, but you can choose to opt-out.

Creating the life you want will always come from your own efforts and determination, not some cheap plastic that will end up in a landfill and take far too long to decompose.

Just something to mentally chew on as you navigate this holiday season.

Either way, it is Thanksgiving and I just wanted to say thank you. Thank you for ever reading any of my posts. Thank you for taking the steps to live the strenuous life. Thank you to T.R. for existing and leaving us all a legacy to study.