How and why you should do a 'life audit'

Intrigued: Arianna Huffington approached Wilkinson after she penned an article on 50 Shades of Grey.

Intrigued: Arianna Huffington approached Wilkinson after she penned an article on 50 Shades of Grey. Photo: Andrew Burton

This week, Daily Life has teamed up with Arianna Huffington and Oprah.com to help you get more out of your work and personal life, based on her best-selling book and forthcoming online course, Thrive.

There are only 24 hours in a day – and a major part of being able to thrive in this time is to take stock of our goals and be selective with how we spend it. Arianna Huffington knows this. The global influencer conducted her first life audit at 40, and has never looked back.

The exercise involves taking an inventory of everything you're doing, reflecting and meditating on those things, then prioritising what's important and eliminating tasks or projects that aren't necessary.

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Ximena Vengoechea found herself in a similar bind, swamped by work, social commitments, side projects and ideas she had not yet executed. 

The 28-year-old blogger and product operations manger at LinkedIn conducted her life audit one Saturday afternoon shortly after moving from New York to San Francisco. The exercise in self-reflection changed her life – and she now inspires others to do so by hosting life audit parties.

Vengoechea felt a great sense of momentum, but was beginning to lose track of what she wanted to do. Through taking stock of her priorities, she was forced to answer the question: "What's most interesting to me now and am I working towards that?"

Her audit process is divided into five stages:

1. Give yourself space, both physically and mentally. Set aside an afternoon, ensuring tea and Tim Tams are close by. Keep noisy, external distractions – including your laptop and smartphone – at a distance.

2. Get a packet of Post-It notes and jot down your wishes, one per note. Write down every goal – from loose career aspirations (write an article that goes viral), to basic everyday changes (call mum) to pie-in-the-sky dreams. Write freely, remembering this is a judgement-free zone. There are no 'right' and 'wrong' goals, just as there is no limit to the amount of goals you have. Vengoechea stopped at 121!

3. Organise your notes into categories. Vengoechea created columns such as 'Health', 'Finances', 'Relationships', and other big-picture themes. "At this point, I've definitely internalised the bigger themes I'm after. I'm shifting my mindset," she said.

4. You now have a bird's-eye view of your priorities. Ask yourself what can be achieved now, in the next few months, and in the long-term. Look over the information to see what areas can be nurtured and what you can afford to audit out. Once you've sorted things into short- and long-term goals, you can budget your time accordingly. 

5. Share your goals and what you learn. The simple act of saying them out loud can help you stick to them. (Vengoechea went the next step and decided to write a post about it on Medium, which you can read here.) All wishes were not created equal. Who knew sorting them by time could be so liberating?  

 

Go to Oprah.com/ThriveFairfax to find out more about the six-week Thrive course. 

Fairfax Media has partnered with Arianna Huffington's Thrive online course and is a participant in the OWN Digital LLC Affiliates program, whereby sites earn fees by advertising and linking to Oprah.com.