Are you ready to kick off your New Year with a bit of annual planning? Try the Life Audit.
I first discovered the life audit in 2014 in this great article on Medium by Ximena Vengoechea a design researcher at Twitter. While Ximena does thorough and masterful job of describing the complete process, here is my short-cut version for those in a hurry.
1) Dream big (and broadly)
To conduct a life audit you need lots of post-it notes, a large wall, optionally a friend, spouse or other loved one, and an uninterrupted few hours. Start by dreaming of all your goals, plans and wishes for now and in the future and be sure to consider everything on your bucket list. Add each item you come up with to an individual post-it note (up to 100!), then divide them into categories (i.e., health, wealth, family, giving back, etc.).
2) Create your categories and preferred timeline
Create a post-it for each of those categories you decided upon (health, wealth, etc.). Arrange all the category post-it notes on the left side of the wall in rows and across the top add post-its for your preferred timeline (i.e., next quarter, in the next year, in the next 5 years, someday and everyday). See example below.
3) Arrange your life goals for better clarity
Next, arrange your individual post-it notes in the appropriate row and column based on the date by when you’d like to achieve that goal/wish or bucket list item. If this is an on-going goal (ex: eat more fruits and vegetables) you might put it in the everyday column in the health row. If this is a long-term goal (ex: sell your company) you might put it in the someday column in the wealth row. Continue until all items are categorized and added to the wall. Step back and see what’s missing. For example, if you have a goal of selling your company someday, are there things you can be doing this year to lead to that goal? If you have a goal of being a better known thought leader, do you have some post-it notes for creating content, building your followership or creating community? See example below.
4) Share with a friend
While this is optional, it is a lovely idea to share your wall of post-its with a friend or loved one. And it’s even better if they have been creating their own wall to share with you. This can take 15 minutes or 3 hours depending on how deeply you want to discuss your plans and ideas with each other.
5) Celebrate & hold each other accountable
A few weeks after the original Medium article came out, my friend Sharon and I gathered in her living room with pads upon pads of post-its and completed our first life audit. A year later, we met again, re-posted our original life audit items on the wall of my hotel room and shared our progress with one another. Then we updated our respective post-its and shared our new goals with one another. We are committed to make this an annual tradition. After all, research shows that the best way to be happier is to share and celebrate your successes.
You might happen upon some unexpected outcomes
One of the unexpected outcomes of this exercise was that Sharon became inspired by my year one success on my health goals and in year two she immediately started to re-focus in this area. We also started doing some writing/editing projects together after she found out one of my goals was writing more fun fiction. And, our shared life audit experience has allowed us to better understand and support each other and created fun opportunities to play together.
Get started today
The best thing about the life audit experience is that it is low-stress, easy to get started and fun. I now look forward to goal-setting and creating possibilities for myself and my business in a way that I never have before. How can you get started today?