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I Did A Life Audit Instead Of Just Making Resolutions…I Think It Worked

I know, I know. In the last post, more readers voted for the Zeus and Amadioha piece. But as I started writing it, I realized that the pictures I wanted to use were in my camera and it’s hundreds of kilometers away. I’ll have it by next week, though. So I promise that piece then. Forgiven? Thanks! 🙂

I stumbled across the idea of a Life Audit on FastCompany. The concept is simple enough. You lock yourself in a room with a pen and a stack of blank Post-it notes and a bottle of water (because the process makes you thirsty, apparently). If you need to, you put a “Do Not Disturb” sign outside. 
Then you start to write your goals. Every single one of them, no matter how outlandish or silly. No matter how big. One goal per Post-It. This process can take anywhere from 30 minutes to two hours. I actually did this over a 3-day period; I couldn’t find the time to do it at once. When you’re spent (or you run out of Post-Its), you sort out the goals into the common themes that surface. Family, work, personal development, finances, spirituality. You sort them into time-based categories: Do everyday, do this year, do in five years, longer term. Then the harder work starts. You draw up plans to accomplish them.

           Messy Desk. And look, I almost finished my bottle of water. 

 

I love plans. I am a planner. I am obsessed with plans. I really, really, really like plans. This is probably why the Life Audit appealed to me. Like almost everyone I know, I’m cynical about new year resolutions (awon cool kids. Lol.). But a plan? I can work a plan. 

There were things I wanted to learn, places I wanted to visit, skills I wanted to learn, attitudes I wanted to have. The person I wanted to be. There were short-term goals like “draft my tasks and targets at work for 2015”. And there were long-term goals like “give a TedTalk someday” (suggestions on possible topics welcome :)). There were everyday goals like “Call one friend and one relative everyday.” (And considering how much I prefer texting, this is a big deal for me.)


Steve Jobs talked about being able to connect the dots when looking back. For me, this audit was an attempt to connect them forward. It forced me to think about how I use my time and resources. And it put me on a path towards continuous improvement. Realizing that I couldn’t find the time to sit in front of a PC and write, I’m now learning to write with my tablet. I’m learning that the days of my youth, when I could lie on a bed somewhere and read novels for hours at a stretch, are over. I can only hope to snatch a chapter here and there, in traffic, on a plane, while waiting on a queue etc. I bought Emily Post’s Book on Etiquette because one of my goals was to be more considerate, and learning good manners seemed like a good place to start (“When someone says, “Thank you,” the best response is, “You’re welcome.” Don’t be bashful— accept the credit for your kindness. It’s subtle, but an “It was nothing” is actually saying that you place no value on what you did.”).

And here’s the thing. In December, I won’t beat myself up too much if I don’t meet them all. These are not my 2015 resolutions. It’s a Life Audit; a lot of it is made up of lifelong goals that I’ve decided will make me happy. What matters is that I keep working the plan(s) and making progress. The journey is part of the satisfaction.

I’d like to urge you to do a Life Audit. You don’t have to wait till January. You can find more information here. Do it, and share the outcomes with your friends or family for accountability purposes. If you feel brave enough, you can come discuss it in the comments’ section. 🙂

0 Comments

  1. jite says

    A really good and thought provoking read…loving the ‘call a friend and a relative’. Its just what I need b4 my friends unfriend me…lol. I will try 2 do this…hopefully. ..lol

  2. Gbemi says

    This post came at the right time because I’m sure a life audit is what I need right need to get all my thoughts and goals that are swimming in my head sorted out.
    Wish me luck 🙂

    • Yes! It’s perfect for when you have so many things you want to do that you feel overwhelmed. It’s good to just be able to write them down. Can’t tell you how good it felt to just see everything on paper.

  3. sophiatheleadershipcoach says

    Your post struck an interesting chord within me. It’s a funny thing. When I was 16 (before I entered university), I did something similar to a Life Audit. As advised in a self-help book I had read, I got a journal and developed a Life Plan – tons of goals for every part of my life. I essentially charted the course I want to travel (until my 80s). Recently, I was doing some spring-cleaning at home and I came across the goals. You guessed it – I have achieved about 20% of what planned I would at this age 🙂 But the interesting thing is that there are so many things I’ve achieved that I never planned and those unexpected twists and turns of life have enriched my life the most. So while the Life Audit is a good idea, chances are that your ‘real’ life will go in a dramatically different direction. And it will still be all right (in fact, it may be God’s will, which is larger and more beautiful than anything we can forecast). There’s an interesting book by Jacques Phillipe entitled Called to Life. It offers an alternative to the popular technique of charting one’s own course by seeing life, not quite as a plan to be achieved, but as God’s call to be answered. This is a long comment (Phew!) It will be nice to catch up in 15 years and see how life has turned out vis-a-vis your Life Audit. Take care!

    • Hi, Sophia. Lol! That’s not very consoling, is it? But it’s good that you’ve achieved other things not on that list. Do you think it would have been different if you did it as an adult? I realise that it might all change tomorrow; I may have different goals by the end of the year. But I firmly believe that the journey is just as important as the destination.
      I also believe that God calls us and we spend our lives answering that call. He often calls us in the details of our everyday lives, and elevates our “hustles” to the level of the divine. We won’t all be like Mary; we won’t all get angels announcing our life mission. But we can be like Jesus, a carpenter for the first 30 years of his life. And I want to believe He was the best carpenter he could possibly be. After all, Scripture reports that he did all things well 🙂

  4. Jide says

    I read the 15 invaluable laws of growth by John Maxwell in 2013 and recommended it to any since then. It sounds similar but it talks about focusing on growth as opposed to goals and task lists.
    Essentially it looking holistically at who you want to be which includes your plans, goals, priorities and circumstances and charting through life’s ambiguity.
    I have done this every december since then and review my yearly goals quarterly and it has been amazing.
    A note is one must give room for spontaneity as it sometimes takes us down paths of great fulfillment.
    Coincidentally I also had the call a friend and family member thing but I am terrible at it. Lol

  5. I really, really like this idea but as an almost obsessive planner, I’ll have to wait until after my exams in a couple of weeks to do this.

  6. Honestly ,you needed to see how I screamed in my room , all in the dark like I have found the lost path I have being in search of .lost in myself like two months now……I love to plan . .i place the plans every where I can lay my hand on , It gets me uncomfortable when ever I am cold fit about it .This year , I just felt that I have being leaving some one else ‘s life , especially spiritually , I only believe life is spiritual and every thought you make goes with the the reality .I would sure try out this audit .Pray for me osemhen and every others. I need to me back and better .The call a friend and a family is already noted ..

  7. Iheatu says

    I’m glad I read this post. Sometime in February I did something like a life audit. “Something like” because I was scared to write a lot of my goals. I don’t know if that happens to anyone but I just felt some were too big/unreal and others were too small. Here you have something as small as call someone everyday. So I’m thinking of redoing my audit and definitely going to write everything and anything. Not afraid anymore lol!

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