I recently wrote about the questions you should ask yourself before you embark on any project, particularly one involving life changes. One of the most vital is ‘where am I starting from?’ You need to answer that before you dive in to your resolutions.
If you don’t know where you’re starting from how do you know what needs to be improved? Of course, we can all think of some things we’d like to change but which should be our priorities? Where should we start?
A life audit can take many forms. You can find all sorts of templates and suggestions if you google it but all you really need to do is think of each of the different aspects of your life and consider what is good or bad about it at the moment. This should help you decide what you would like to do and where your energies would be best spent.
Here is a PDF of the template I’ve made for myself: Life Audit pdf. For each area (family life, health etc) I have three columns:
- Negatives – Those challenges that I can’t influence and I need to learn to accept
- Opportunities – Those problems that I’m able to resolve which will be the basis for my planned changes
- Positives – Things that are going well or problems already resolved to be appreciated (because it’s important to keep those negatives in perspective, it’s not all doom and gloom!)
It’s a pretty simple exercise but there are a few things to keep in mind:
The key here is to try and be as realistic and honest with yourself as possible. Most people will find that they have both good and bad things to write for each area but if you’re having a particularly bad (or good, I guess) day you can end up focusing on one side of the page and not getting a balanced view. If that’s the case then step away and try again later.
Take your time
Don’t try and complete it in one sitting as there will always be things you miss. Have a go at each area but then come back and review it once or twice over the next couple of days, adding in anything you’ve forgotten and checking you are happy with what you’ve put down so far.
Be clear on what you can do
The trickiest part is often trying to differentiate between the things you feel you can and can’t change but this is really important as it will shape the actions you plan to take. For example if you have a long term health problem that would be in the negative column because you can not change that (and an aim might be to accept your condition) however you might have an exercise regime or diet change which helps to alleviate some of your symptoms so those aspects would come under opportunities as one of the things you would like to work on. Difficult relationships can also be in either column as you’ll need to consider whether you can take steps to resolve the problem yourself or whether it is out of your hands.
This can be quite an emotional exercise as you are making yourself think about things that you might try and ignore the rest of the time so you may want to have some tissues at the ready.
Take the next step
Pat yourself on the back for taking the time to do the audit but don’t stop there. Reading through your audit should give you a good idea of what your goals should be for the year. It might highlight that you have one particular area you need to focus on or it may indicate a number of things which you’ll have to prioritise but either way now you know what you want to do make a plan for making that happen.
[If you’d like to keep up with how I’m choosing happiness this year please sign up for free email alerts via the box in the top right. I’d love to hear about the changes you are making too.]