Undertaking a Life Audit
In response to my desire to live more creatively, there are a number of projects I’ve finally decided to kick off so that I can utilize the time I currently have on my hands. One of those projects needed to be bounced around Treavor‘s creative genius, and once again, I can credit him with inspiring me to action. (For new readers, he was also responsible for me pursuing my “Crazy Things” list in 2012 while I was living in South Korea.)
While I’m not yet ready to unveil the particular project we discussed, he brought up an excellent point. As creators, our heads in the clouds, it is easy for us to have ideas and get distracted with new ones before we carry out the originals. He recommended looking into a life audit to make those ideas concrete and visible, to capture what I wanted my priorities to be. 105 sticky notes later, it was perfectly clear what was, and has always been, my primary focus: writing.
As I was low on table space and the sticky notes were failing to cooperate, I opted to draft up a numbers sheet to organize all the writing, artistic, travel, learning, entrepreneurial, adulting, and miscellaneous goals I had come up with. What can I say, I like colorful charts.
About 75% of the goals I wrote down dealt with creating, whether it was learning how to do something, producing more written work, or practicing my artistic skills. I decided to keep my travel goals low because I could group several of them together, and I already have a firm idea of where I would like to go in the future. I think what helped me reach 105 goals in one sitting is that I was very specific, especially in terms of what mattered to me the most.
After categorizing my goals, I knew I had to break each one down into separate, achievable deadlines. It seemed like overkill to have a checklist for things I wanted to do every day or on a weekly basis, so I turned those into my “positive habits” or Be-Attitudes and very simple, yet specific tasks during the week.
I organized the rest of the tasks into the following categories:
- Now – 3 Months
- 3 – 6 Months
- 6 Months – 1 Year
- Some Day
I displayed that in another pie chart and decided to deal with the Some Days (45%) late next year. I’d have a list of everything, of course, but for now, I wanted to focus on what I could achieve in the span of 12 months. The image below details a handful of tasks from each category, alongside an empty checkbox and a blank date. When each task is completed, the box will be checked and the date filled in accordingly. The amount of writing projects will steadily increase over the year, as will artistic endeavors. Everything else, well, we’ll just have to wait and see how things develop.
What I notice the most isn’t that writing is my priority, but just how many individual writing projects I have “in the works.” I was already aware of each one, but because I let them float about my head, there was never any sense of urgency to complete them. Now they can stare me in the face and demand it.
So what are the year-end projects I want to complete by this time next year?
- First and foremost, find a job so I can adequately adult.
- Submit my first novel for publication.
- Make the jump from traditional artist to digital.
- Be fluent in at least one domain of a foreign language (Speaking, Reading, or Writing).
Does it feel overwhelming? Of course it does, now. But I have to remember that everything has a starting point. Anything is possible. Everything can be achieved. So it’s time to start.