Because it is Springtime and we all love the idea of a little spring cleaning to start the new season off right why not do a Spring Clean of your life?
How? A life audit!
What is this practice of a life audit? It’s a time to reflect on your goals and your life to see where you’ve been, what you’ve done, and the lessons that you have (or haven’t) learned. It’s a way to understand where you are now, and an opportunity to identify your hang-ups so you don’t make the same mistakes again!
Get your FREE Life-Audit Workbook HERE
This kind of life reflection is important because it helps you learn about who you are and what you’re capable of. It gives you the tools to analyze things that have happened, how you reacted, and what you can change for the future. If you don’t reflect on where you’ve been and what has or hasn’t worked in the past, you won’t be able to change and grow into the future self you desire to become.
I think spring is the perfect time to do this. Many people think of the New Year as a time to do a year-in-review. I agree that it’s a wonderful time and in fact, I have a whole post about doing a year and a decade in review for 2020 (see that here). But I think spring is an even better time for self-reflection. The New Year is all about big goals and possibilities and a bit of competition, am I right? Setting bigger and better goals than you did last year… or than your friends and colleges?
But a life audit is about you; who you are and want to be. It’s less about goals and more about your purpose and mission in life; a check-in with yourself to make sure you are living those values to the fullest. I also think a life audit is a great place to reflect on your whole life, similar to a decade in review but more in-depth and expansive. See how your values and mission have evolved over time and check in, make sure you are doing things in alignment with who and what you really value.
How to Do a Life Audit (and Spring Clean your Life)
Here are ten steps I found to ensure a productive and enlightening Life Audit:
1. Look at the 8 key areas of life:
Pick one thing to rejoice over and one thing to learn from in each area.
This step is so important because it’s a way to look at your life holistically, not just in individual experiences or lessons. Each part is interconnected, and reflecting on your year in each of these areas individually can help you to see the ways each area contributes to your overall well-being. It also highlights areas for improvement.
2. Pick one thing from each decade in your life to rejoice over and one thing to learn from:
By focusing on the good and looking at experiences as opportunities to learn, we can stay out of the self-pity and judgment trap and keep things observation oriented instead of expectation oriented. If a decade feels too big (or you are too young ) try dividing your life up by milestones: elementary school, high school, college, first career job, marriage, first child, a solo trip etc.
3. Pick one word for each decade or milestone:
I loved picking the word for each decade! It really helped me to put things into perspective. It’s so easy to dwell on a few events or missed opportunities and think it was all a waste, but when I look back, I realize how much I have to be proud of, celebrate, or laugh at.
4. Pick a minimum of 3 goals that you have set and achieved:
Pick one thing to rejoice over and one thing to learn from in each goal.
5. Pick a minimum of 3 goals you have set and missed:
Pick one thing to rejoice over and one thing to learn from in each goal.
6. Create a values statement that sums up who you are and who you have been up until this point in your life.
Look back at all you have done, seen, accomplished, and learned from. What are you proud of? What do you want to change?
7. Create a vision statement
A vision statement is a paragraph, written in the present tense, about what your life will look like exactly one year from now. To do this, write out a paragraph in the present tense about the who/what/where/when of your life exactly one year from now. Make it very visual, something you can see/feel/smell/hear. Talk about who you will be, what you will be thinking and feeling, what you will spend your time on etc.
Now do this for 5 years into the future.
Who will you be? How will that feel? Who and what will be surrounding you? What will a day in the life of you-in-five-years be like? Make it really clear and visual so you can see it and BELIEVE it is true.
Make it something that will be easy for you to read and enjoy and visualize. Make it compelling, and revisit it often. Read it to yourself at least once a week, if not every day! Be intentional.
8. Create a Mission Statement
A mission statement is your motto for the year and the next five. Who do you want to be? What is the main goal of the year for you? How can you sum it up in a phrase that excites and inspires you? Start with the words I am a person who… and go from there.
9. Create Affirmations
Affirmations are positive phrases that you repeat to yourself to keep you focused, joyful, grateful, and on track. Affirmations should be reminders of both what your goals are and the mindset required in order to achieve those goals. Examples might be:
I am capable.
I am right where I am meant to be.
I can do hard things.
I am a successful at ___.
I trust and love myself.
Important affirmation note: They must be believable to you. When you speak them, you have to actually feel as though they could be true. If they feel too out of reach, then bring them back a notch.
For example: If the statement “I love and trust myself” is too much of a stretch, try “I am learning to love and trust myself” or, “every day I get better at loving and trusting myself.” Just be sure that when you speak or think the affirmation, it gives you feelings of authenticity – not skepticism – and you’re not rolling your eyes or scoffing at what a far-off impossibility it is.
10. Make a 1- and 5-year Plan
Now that you have looked at your past, it’s time to look forward and decide what you want this next year of your life to look like. I find that starting from the eight life areas is the best place to start. Create an intention for each area and make a plan to increase (or decrease) your efforts for each. Then pick one area you want to focus on for the year and set a goal around that.
Outline your big goals for the year and for the next five years with dates by which you will accomplish them. To see my full post on how to create a 1- and 5-year plan click HERE.
Reflection is a great way to put life into perspective. It’s important to be able to see things in your past as valuable lessons, not mistakes or fumbles. Go easy on yourself. This is not an exercise in self-pity or criticism, it’s meant to keep you on track and reflecting on your overall well-being and values in life. If the last few years (or decade) wasn’t the greatest for you, don’t beat yourself up. Ask yourself: what can I learn from this to make next year and the next five even better?
After reflecting on my life over the last 37 years, what jumped out at me was a common theme: not trusting myself and holding myself back. This shows me that the area I want to focus on most the next year is trusting myself. Trusting that I can do hard things – I have and I will! I am Gutsy and I will be Gutsy.
If you are inspired by this concept, I encourage you to dive in! I created a Life Audit workbook that also includes a 1- and 5-year plan as well. You can get it HERE!