Are you where you thought you’d be by this time in your life? What?!? You’re not living a life of luxury on a private tropical island with a chef, a jet, and a Lamborghini for when you hit the mainland? Slacker! Oh, you have a job and a family instead. And you’re happy except for some bumps in the road along the way. Huh! How did that happen?
“Life is what happens while you’re busy making other plans.” – John Lennon
Wow! If only John knew what life had in store for him. Wonder what he would’ve done differently? In his wildest dreams, did Mr. Yoko Ono ever imagine that he would be one of the most famous people on the planet? Probably not, but what the Beatles and their frontman accomplished also wasn’t by total accident.
As everyone else does, Lennon had dreams and goals that transformed throughout his life. What he wanted from his life changed, and so did he. Can you fathom what the life audit of a man who achieved so much would have looked like? What might an audit discover in your life?
What is a life audit?
Let’s start with what a life audit is not. The intent of this examination of your existence is not to elicit regrets. Don’t look back and think, “I wish I would have done this or that.” Instead, use this review as a search for gratitude. What you’ll find is that things aren’t nearly as bad as often perceived.
A life audit is beneficial for those feeling unfulfilled, purposeless, or overwhelmed but can also help high achievers take their growth to the next level. Conducting an audit is the secret sauce for life improvement at any stage.
Finding your focus
If this is your first time attempting an audit, think about it as a basic balance sheet with profits and losses. Getting too deep in the weeds your first time may frustrate you, and that’s the opposite of what we’re trying to accomplish.
Start with these three basic categories and get into the minutiae once deciding where to direct your focus.
Some people may want to rank these categories and then schedule an audit of each over the next year. That way, you’ll feel like you’re getting complete coverage instead of concentrating on one area to the detriment of the others.
Once you pick a category, break it down further into sub-categories. For instance, health can be divided into physical and mental, then even further branched into strength, energy, wellness, cognition, sleep, diet, etc.
The first rule of improvement is You can’t change what you don’t track. To track your progress, use measurements that you can evaluate similarly every time.
Probably the simplest way to track your progress is by using a scoring system. Track your ratings manually utilizing a piece of paper, creating a spreadsheet, or downloading one of several apps available on your phone. Whatever you prefer, 0-100, 1-5, or 1-10 doesn’t matter as long as you use the same approach for every audit.
The great thing about a simple rating system is that it’s easy to understand. If you were a 7 six months ago and you rate a 9 today, that’s an improvement. Sometimes when you complicate your system, it can be difficult to determine your level of progress.
Another way to measure your success is by creating a list of questions with specific answers. Ask yourself, Yes or No questions or ones with exact answers. Follow up your responses with Why? or Why not?
- Am I going to the gym three days a week or more?
- Have I challenged myself recently?
- Have I lost weight or reduced my BMI (Body Mass Index)?
- How many pushups, situps, and pullups can I do?
- Did I get my 10,000 steps every day this week?
- Am I taking my supplements regularly?
- Did I cheat on my diet?
Ask yourself the same questions on every evaluation. Each time you have the answers, the next step is corrective action. If you find yourself at a 10 out of 10 in any particular category, which is rare, think of some additional questions to challenge yourself even more.
Create an action plan
You cannot achieve your goals without a plan. Write down the actions you need to take to reach the next step in your journey. Your plan should include short and long-term goals. If you want to run a marathon, you wouldn’t put on your sneakers and go for 26.2 miles. Depending on your starting point, you would run a few miles each day for the first week and keep adding on until you can finish the entire race.
The greatest athletes in the world have a training regimen, but for some reason, regular guys expect to be able to just do it. Wonder where they got that idea?
As part of your plan, schedule times to reevaluate what you’re doing to ensure the program meets the goal. If you find your methods too challenging or too easy, adjust accordingly.
Remember, it’s the journey, not the goal. We know that’s cliche, but plans constantly change. As we move through life, priorities need to be flexible enough to allow for growth.
Why don’t you audit regularly?
We realize most of you think what we’ve laid out here is obvious and straightforward. If it’s such a no-brainer, then why do so few people conduct audits of their lives?
The answer is as obvious as the question. Most people don’t want to see their shortcomings, especially not track them. Admitting you lack something in your life that you can change is hard. But isn’t anything worth having, difficult to achieve?
Take care, even down there.
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