Life is full of continuous phases, but the last two years have been particularly transformative for everyone. Saying a lot has changed would be an absolute understatement. Events and circumstances may have impacted numerous areas of life, including our health, relationships, finances, and even how we dress and do our makeup.
Still, much as we put away our winter linens and stockpile sweaters that no longer fit when spring-cleaning commences, that same approach can benefit other areas of our life. Doing a life audit to take stock of the changes and improvements we can make is a great way to invite a sense of renewal and gratification. Ahead, experts share a step-by-step guide on conducting a life audit and tips to increase your level of happiness and fulfillment in each category.
Give Each Category a "Nourishment Score"
According to Amina AlTai, a holistic leadership and mindset coach, the first step is to rank how nourished you feel in all the different areas of life that feel important to you. These areas might include work, money, self-relationship, community, boundaries, food, movement, love, spirituality, sex, time, and emotional health.
"It's nearly impossible to show up as your whole self if you aren't filling yourself up in the important areas," AlTai says. "If just one area is off, it can throw our entire beings out of balance." Doing this will clarify what areas need the most attention.
Reframe Limiting Beliefs
According to AlTai, the best way to release whatever is intercepting your goals is to define the core limiting beliefs and programming keeping you in the old pattern. "Once you shift the belief, shifting the thoughts and actions comes much more fluidly," she explains. "If we don't shift the belief, it's like trying to push a boulder up a hill because we haven't addressed the mindset that's at the root."
For areas with low nourishment scores, AlTai recommends identifying the story, limiting belief, or fear that keeps you stuck. Then flip the belief by thinking of examples that prove the contrary. For example, if you want to improve your career nourishment score but you believe you can’t make money doing something you love, then you could look to people who make a living through their passions for inspiration. Or if you want to improve your score in the friendship category, you may realize you have a fear of putting yourself out there. In this case, think of times in the past when you opened up and it resulted in a great connection.
AlTai acknowledges that this process can be tricky. "Our brains see the world in a particular way based on our lived experience, and we often have to start small and dig deep to find evidence that these old beliefs aren't true," she explains, adding that even the smallest example can help.
Get Clear on Your Vision
AlTai and Tess Brigham, a psychotherapist and certified life coach, recommend looking carefully at each significant life category and writing down your vision for each. Dream big here.
For instance, if you could snap your fingers and have the job of your dreams, what would that look like? Brigham instructs you to jot down as many details as possible, such as your role, day-to-day duties, how you spend your time, your work schedule, and what you wear to work. AlTai says you can get as poetic with your writing as you'd like or simply make a list—whatever feels right for you. The most important part is to hone in on how you want to feel in each life category.
Find the Gaps
Once you have a clear vision for a category, assess what aspects of that dream description don't align with your current reality. "You want to identify the gaps between what you want and what it looks like now," Brigham says. "Those gaps are what you're going to focus on changing." Then, you can pinpoint what steps you need to take to get you closer and identify any habits, behaviors, or people getting in the way. Those are the things you want to release, Brigham says.
How to Make Improvements
Once you've completed the life audit, it’s time to start making the changes you’ve identified. If your nourishment score is lower than you'd like it to be in some areas or the gap between your current reality and your vision feels far, this can feel overwhelming. For this reason, Brigham recommends focusing on making changes in one category at a time. "Trying to change too much will overwhelm you, so focus on the area that’s creating the most stress for you. Or you can pick the area that feels easiest to change," she says.
For example, let's say you want to become a CEO. Brigham suggests identifying three things you can do regularly to become a better leader, such as taking a class, reading more, or joining a local organization. Schedule each task into your calendar to make sure you're actively working toward your goals. AlTai adds that you can also break down the plan by defining what actions you need to take daily, weekly, monthly, and quarterly to move you closer to your goals.
How to Let Go of What Doesn't Serve You
Releasing things such as a relationship or a habit that no longer serves you can be challenging too. "You'll feel a sense of loss," Brigham says. "It requires us to let go of something that serves a purpose and maybe we wanted or liked at one point." So, she adds, know that it will be difficult and there will be resistance, but that's just a part of the process. It’ll get easier over time.
Brigham also recommends setting yourself up for success by thinking about what thoughts, actions, or behaviors could potentially sabotage you. "You want to think about what you need to do to set up your life so you don't fall back into old patterns." For example, she shares, if you made a plan to get up early and read or exercise, binging on Netflix at night may prevent you from doing that. So set rules and boundaries that will help you succeed.
The beauty of life audits is that you can do them anytime you feel misaligned or like you’ve neglected certain areas of your life. There’s no need to wait until the New Year to set a resolution. Experts suggest revisiting the life-audit process every few months to ensure you’re prioritizing the things that are important to you and leaving behind the things that aren’t.
Lastly, you might feel an urge to revert to old patterns. In those moments, Brigham advises connecting to the mental picture of your vision—no matter how simple or imaginative—to help keep you on track.