{how-to} Stay on track with a life audit

by Jan 3, 2016how-to, life, plotting, small business0 comments

Hey Snugbugs! Happy New Year’s to you. Jeff and I are spending the weekend taking stock and getting ready for the new year. Next week we’re heading south to spend some time with his mother in Daytona Beach, but right now we’re in planning mode. 

We’d decided a few weeks ago we wanted to celebrate New Year’s Day by taking stock for 2016. The initial plan was to focus on marketing strategies for our business — there’s lots of cool stuff coming up! But as the time drew nearer we started to think about what needs our attention right now. It’s not so much the marketing plan, although that’s a good thing, and something we’ve already been working on. What we really needed was some time to step back and talk about what we want and need in our lives, not just our business — and then compare notes to see if we’re headed in the right direction.

So instead of a review of our marketing calendar, launch dates and content schedule, we performed a life audit — a very cool, big picture planning session that worked super well for us as a couple, and would be just as fun for individuals to work through.

Spoiler alert, the future’s looking bright!

Before starting, I looked around on the internet for inspiration and as a lover of Post It notes and traditional strategic planning, was attracted to the concept of a life audit. A life audit is basically a super session of making a list of desires, themes and deep, heart-centered values (we called it ‘the wishlist’,) and then comparing the list to reality to make any needed changes to get in alignment with where you are, where you are headed and where you want to be. 

Coming up with the Wishlist

Jeff and I gathered ourselves, our Post Its, our lazy basset hound and a handful of Sharpies and settled in to my office. We spent the first hour listing out projects, goals and heart desires on our Post Its — making our wishlists. I’d set up a few prompts to help us out because there’s nothing more likely to set off a case of writers block than a stack of empty Post It notes! The prompts served double duty as categories to help us organize in the next step.

life audit

We spent about an hour writing our wishlist. The goal is to get 100 Post Its filled out in the hour — I managed around 80, Jeff around 50.

Sort the Wishes

Next we stuck the category Post Its (pictured above) to the wall in my office and shared our wishlists with each other while sorting them into the proper category. Jeff went first and it was great fun to hear his notes, and recognize how many were the same or similar to what I had jotted down! 

life audit

After Jeff stuck his wishes up on the wall it was my turn. His are blue, mine pink.

As we sorted the wishlist notes, we placed similar notes side by side and clustered the remaining standalone ones together into pink and blue clumps, so when everything was up on the wall it was easy to spot patterns.

Pulling it all together

The whole process was really illuminating for us. Once everything was up on the wall, we started to notice patterns. Not surprisingly, there was a lot of similarity between Jeff’s and my wishlists. It was really fun every time we got a ‘match!’ Win!

We noticed that Jeff had more Post Its in the Build the Business category, while I had more in Personal Development. That makes sense, because right now Jeff is focused on building the Mercantile (our vintage home business) while I’m all about mindset and sorting out the communications clients and clothing line. 

One interesting note, Jeff and I expressed our wishes differently. For instance, he had a Post It that said ‘read more,’ while I had ‘read 12 presidential biographies,’ ‘read two books on Jungian psychology,’ and  ‘read one new release novel a month’.

Since I’m a total numbers nerd, I made notes in Excel and generated a few charts. The chart below is sorted by category. Pink represents the number of Post Its from me, green from Jeff and brown represents ‘mutual’ ideas that Jeff and I both included. 


It’s not surprising that the Our Biz category had the highest tally — we’ve been talking a lot about what’s next for us lately. Travel was also high with tons notes on places I’d like to visit and re-visit — Paris, London, Nashville, Seattle… weekend cabin visits and B&B overnights. 

I thought it was interesting that Creative Projects came in so low, except it makes sense on reflection. Making is so much a part of what I do that I didn’t think to make a specific Post It for creative projects. I knit most nights; including a Post It for that would be the same as including one for brushing my teeth.

We also sorted each wish according to time — either ‘do in 2016’ (green), ‘someday’ (brown) or else as a mantra (pink,) meaning concepts that were a bit more open-ended like ‘integrate more rituals into our holidays’ or Jeff’s determination to ‘take more pictures’ every day.

life audit - timing

Most of our wishes are very current — to be completed in 2016. Adventure and Home both have a higher number of ‘someday’ wishes. Home had a lot of visions for the future that might not happen this year — a 60’s pickup, farmhouse and goats are on that list. Likewise, Adventure & Travel had a pretty sizeable checklist of international travel that might happen this year, but could also get pushed out. Jeff and I would love to go back to Switzerland, London and Wales — a trip we took as colleagues prior to our dating that would be really fun to retrace now.

What’s next?

Jeff and I found this to be a fun project that gave us a lot of insight. We all get busy and it’s easy to focus on the to-do lists and stay in a more reactive mode, just getting done what needs to get done. Performing a life audit together gave us a chance to check in and make sure that the items on our to-do list are what we really want to be working on, as well as taking a look at what our desires are and comparing what we are already doing every day to those key desires. 

We’ve agreed that in 2016 we’ll set aside time monthly to review our wishlists and see where we are making progress. We’ve set up a project in Asana (our project management tool) to keep track of our goals (I’ve got 12 presidential biographies to read, after all!) and ensure we continually revisit the audit and integrate it into our life, rather than treating it as a once-a-year interesting exercise.

Do a life audit!! || Busy working on your to-do list? Step back and make sure that list has all the right stuff on it! Perfect way to kick off the new year...
Patty Brower

Patty Brower

Patty Brower is co-maker, creative director, marketing gal & textile maven at The Snugbug Collective. She splits her time between working with private clients and small business owners on marketing strategy and implementation and basset hound wrangling. She is also the designer/owner of Three Snugbugs Studios, a handmade and upcycled clothing and accessory line and The Snugbug Mercantile, vintage home and accessories.

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