Taking a Life Audit: Five Steps to Prioritising What’s Important

By Holly Ashby

March 17, 2016   •   Fact checked by Dumb Little Man

Sometimes it’s difficult to get a clear view of exactly what your priorities are. Often, as we deal with various demands on our energy and time. True life goals fall by the wayside and smaller concerns take up all of our attention. Modern life is so fast-paced and demanding that we can find ourselves getting bogged down in the inconsequential—things that if only we were to take a step back, we would realize aren’t that important to us.

This can result in you not spending enough time with your friends, family and loved ones, dealing with huge amounts of stress from things that ultimately aren’t that significant, and forgetting what it is that you truly want in life. There’s always something to grab our attention, and the information overload that comes with living in the 21st Century can be at best confusing, and at worst—a source of strain and unhappiness. Sometimes it’s important to step back, clear out, and take a life audit. This way you can chuck out the junk, recognize what’s important to you, rediscover your ambitions, and identify what you want to improve.

1. Find a Habit that Clears your Mind

Whether it’s going out for a jog, taking up yoga, or sitting in quiet meditation, finding a way to clear your mind will prepare you to think seriously about your life. When we rush from one task to the next, our brains are so busy that we are focused entirely on immediate demands and future worries, making it difficult to think about things critically. By taking up a habit that quietens this constant inner monologue, you’ll be in the best position to remove yourself from the anxieties of everyday living and think about your life as a whole.

2. Work Out Where You Are

With a bit of space and time dedicated to yourself, you can take a good look at where you are in life. Write down what you feel like you’ve achieved, how much quality time you spend with family and friends, what you enjoy doing and how often you do it, what you think about your job, etc. Essentially, assess everything that fills your day-to-day life.

3.And Whether This is Where You Want to Be

The most pertinent question here is how happy are you? Do you pour huge amounts of time and mental energy into tasks and burdens from which you gain little satisfaction? Maybe you’ve let a key life goal fall by the wayside, or perhaps you would like to spend more time with a certain friend. The conclusions don’t have to be drastic, it could simply be that there’s some things you would like to faze out from your life and small pleasures that you would like to make more time for. Whatever it is, this is the perfect time to re-examine your priorities.

When you are evaluating your life in this way, it’s important to be objective about it. Self judgement and negative thoughts won’t be helpful and will dull your motivation. This is about weighing up your priorities and giving yourself the chance to change anything in your life that you feel needs changing, not about creating a stick to beat yourself with.

4. What’s Sapping Your Energy?

Focus on all the things you spend your time and energy on. Is there time every day you feel could be better spent? Perhaps those moments scrolling through social media or news sites adds up to an hour that you’d rather be doing something else, or maybe curating your social profiles is important to you and you consider this time spent wisely.

It doesn’t matter what the conclusions are; this is about you and what you want from your life. By being honest with yourself and looking clearly, you can stop yourself from making false goals. Plenty of us worry about doing what we feel like we should be doing, from losing weight to reading classic novels, but if this isn’t truly something that interests you and is unlikely to improve your happiness, you should focus on the things that will. If there are things in life that cause more worry than they are worth, or that take up disproportionate amounts of time and energy, this is a great opportunity to let them go and redirect that energy elsewhere.

5. Visualize the Future You Want

If you find that things aren’t exactly where you want them to be, and that you would like to make changes, visualize a future where you have all your priorities in order. By imagining a time where your focus and energy is spent exactly how you want it to be, you can start making the small changes now that you need to find yourself there. Before long, you’ll have removed the things from your life that are nothing but a drain on your time, and have refocused with renewed enthusiasm on all the things that are truly important.

Holly Ashby

Holly is a writer who's interested in health, creativity and how people can find happiness, and works for Beeja Meditation, a meditation centre in London.

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