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To drastically improve your life over the next year, you need to be aware of where you stand in life now and how you got there.
Looking in the past isn’t something you should do on a daily basis, but I think it’s important to do at least every year in order to determine how you can improve.
Taking the time to audit your last year, six months, quarter, or month will help you get closer to your goals.
I suggest writing everything down in a notebook/journal. This way you can go back to review everything over the next couple months, and use it as a reference for the next time you evaluate your life.
Write a list of your accomplishments
How often do you think about the things you HAVE accomplished? Probably not as often as you should. Most of us naturally focus on or dwell on the negatives in our lives, specifically our failures and mistakes. However, if you look back over the last year or few months, I’m sure you’ve accomplished a lot more than you think. Whether those things are big or small, write them ALL down.
Think back to when you achieved those things…how did you feel in the moment?
What goals did you set one year ago?
Did you set New Year goals? Maybe you set a big goal a couple of months ago?
If you reached those goals, be sure to include those in your accomplishments list. Here we want to focus on the goals you didn’t reach.
Are these goals something you keep setting but never achieving? For example, have you told yourself THIS will be the year you workout regularly and eat healthy for the fifth year in a row? If so, that’s something you’ll want to pay attention to.
Really reflect on why you haven’t reached those goals yet.
Determine what is holding you back
For those goals you keep setting and not reaching, what is holding you back? Be honest with yourself.
More often than not YOU are holding yourself back. There are so many excuses to avoid getting things done. You might say you don’t have enough time, you might doubt yourself, you might be scared to fail, or you might just be procrastinating because it takes a lot of effort to improve your life.
Maybe your parents are telling you to do something you don’t really want to do. Maybe even your spouse is holding you back. Remember that this is your life and you should do everything in your power to take control of it. If someone is telling you what to do/not do, you’re allowed to say, “Thanks, but I have to live for me and not anyone else.”
Everyone has different life circumstances. Living in certain countries can make it harder to live your dream. Being a single parent can make things difficult. And having a disease that limits your abilities to get certain things done.
If you are holding your own self back that is the best case scenario. You’ve got to get down to the bottom of it and figure out what shifts you can make in your mindset and lifestyle to make your future better.
Other people and circumstances can be a bit more challenging, but not impossible. You’ve got to figure out what baby steps you can take to gain control of your life (where you can) and set the proper goals so that you can actually make progress.
What habits did you develop or stop?
Also take a look at your habits. Habits are SO important and they are what allow you or stop you from reaching your goals. Habits make you who you are. So if you wanted to get in shape this past year you needed to make a habit of eating healthy and exercising regularly. If you only worked out a few times each month, that’s not a habit and you’re probably not in shape.
What are your current positive habits? Did you start them this past year or before that? How much value do they add to your life? And what habits do you want to develop going forward.
Think about your goals. What habits are required for you to reach those goals?
What are your bad habits? Did they develop recently or are they years old? Do you want to stop these bad habits?
If you don’t truly want to stop your bad habits you won’t. Of course it’s best to try, but if your heart isn’t in it you probably won’t. What can you do to replace that bad habit with a better one?
Your habits will either lead you to a life of success and health or down a path of destruction.
Analyze your wheel of life
Now in order to move on from this past year, you should evaluate your level of satisfaction in each area of your life. The “wheel of life” is a self-assessment tool that you may be familiar with. You determine how content you are in each area of life by rating them on a scale of 1 to 10. This activity allows you to see how balanced or imbalanced your life is.
The truth is, life will never be balanced. It can only be counter-balanced, meaning if you’re thriving in one or 2 areas, you may be slacking in another area. And that is perfectly OK. The idea is to create the counter-balance that makes YOU happy every day. The best thing is that you can always adjust your lifestyle, which is likely to happen naturally anyway.
These are the main areas of life:
-Family and Friends
Not only should you rate them on a scale from 1 to 10, but also write down:
- the things that are going well in that area
- the things you can/would like to improve on in each
- your goal(s) for each area
Where to go from here…
We’ve looked at our past year and we’ve determined how we feel about everything. How do you make the next year better?
Start with determining the priorities in your life.
I highly suggest that you make “the basics” of life your #1 priority before anything else. If your sleep, nutrition, and physical activity are slacking that is where you should start. Without your health, everything else will be a lot more difficult.
If you’re struggling in the health area, you may be thriving in your finances and fun/recreation. This is the point where you’ll start to notice your counter-balance starting to shift.
Now that you are set on making your health a priority, you may have to sacrifice extra hours at work and/or fun weekends out drinking and eating unhealthy foods.
If you choose to focus on you’re health these are the likely steps you should take:
-Sacrifice over time hours to get a workout in
-Say no to going out every weekend
-Go to bed on time, sleep enough
-Join a gym, start working out regularly (cardio, weight lifting, stretching)
-Meal planning and grocery shopping
-Meal prepping or cooking meals at home
-Drinking more water and less of everything else
-Scheduling any necessary doctor visits
-And so on
Otherwise, if your health is in check, figure out which areas of life are a priority to you. There’s no way you can successfully focus on them all. You can take baby steps to improve in each area daily, but you’re going to have to choose 1-3 priorities to really focus on.
Once you have that figured out, take a look at your list of “things you want to improve” in that area and your goals. Start on them immediately. Plan it out, focus on your next 90 days, and do what you got to do.
When you audit your life in this manner, you can start to figure yourself out. You can figure out your problem areas, your strengths, your weaknesses, and what you need to do to improve.
We all have so much potential that we don’t even scrape the surface. Start taking control of your life and your actions and go after what you truly desire. Go after what you KNOW is best for you.