5 Ways To Audit Your Life, Marie Kondo-Style
When you’re feeling like you’re running on fumes, stressed out, or not making the most out of your life, don’t fool yourself into thinking you need to overturn everything. You don’t have to quit your job and go travel the world or dream of a future when you’ll be happy. There are tweaks you can make to your everyday living now that are small, impactful, and will add up in the long run.
Consider the power of compounding: if you meditate for 5 minutes a day, in a year you’ll have meditated more than the average person. If you do 10 pushups a day, your body will inevitably get stronger. If you read 10 pages a night, you’ll read about a dozen extra books a year. Rather than thinking, “one day, when I start doing [insert your productive habit], I’ll find happiness,” think about what areas of your life you’d like to improve just by 1% that will add up in 365 days. Conscious and intentional actions are what move the needle over time.
Here are five steps you can take to audit your life now and invite in more joy:
1. Map out the life that you want. This seems so simple, yet it’s shocking how many people can’t describe the life they actually want. The first step to making room for more joy in your life is getting clear on what you want to invite in. Ask yourself: what does my ideal life look and feel like? Where am I living and what’s my environment? Who are the people I spent my time with? What are the activities I’m engaging in day-to-day? What are the big goals I’m working towards?
Use these questions to write out what your perfect day would look like. Then, write out your current average day and compare the two. Don’t despair if there’s a discrepancy — rather, see this as a roadmap that is showing you exactly what needs to be changed to live a more joyful life.
2. Find out what’s working and what isn’t. Now that you know what you want versus what you have, make a list of what is and isn’t working. Use categories (e.g. relationship, career, personal development, etc) to find patterns and see what particular areas of your life need extra love and attention.
Take a look at the parts of your ideal day that already exist in your current life: how can you have more of that? As for the parts that are making you unsatisfied, ask yourself these questions:
- Who are the people not bringing me joy?
- What activities do I not enjoy?
- How many times a day am I engaging in activities that are a “hell yes”?
- How often do I feel drained by what I’m doing?
- What parts of my life do I love?
- What can I release and have less of?
Get crystal clear on what you want to invite more of into your life and what you’d like to release.
3. Assume responsibility for what’s in your control. This is the hardest step for most people, as it requires you to take an honest look at your life and take ownership of what’s not going your way. Look at your list and circle the things you are responsible for.
Notice if you’re blaming others for what you don’t have. For example, it’s not your boss’ fault if you don’t like working long hours. It’s not your spouse’s fault if you’re watching too much Netflix. Rather than point fingers, ask yourself: what can I change and what does the 1% version of that change look like?
If you’re working long hours, it may look like changing your workflow so you’re more productive. Or, having a conversation with your boss setting your work-life boundaries. The possibilities within your jurisdiction are endless.
Stop outsourcing your responsibility and instead start seeing everything as happening for you rather than to you. When you do that, you’ll get back in the driver’s seat of your own life.
4. Do, delegate, delete, or defer. Now that you know what needs to change, it’s time to roll up your sleeves and start taking ruthless action by using the 4 Ds of time management: do, delete, delegate, or defer. Start doing the things that spark joy. Do more of what you love. Work on projects that light you up. When you get yourself in a feel-good state, the ideas, inspiration, and creativity that will lead you to your next steps will come.
Delete, defer, or delegate what you don’t like. Get rid of it, give it away, and find ways to do less of it. Are there pieces of your life that you can automate? For example, can you automate your bill payments? If you hate doing laundry, can you pay for it to get done or negotiate with your kids to do it? Focus your energy on finding creative solutions for getting rid of tasks and responsibilities that aren’t bringing you joy.
Although it’s not realistic to say you’re only going to do what you want all the time, you can release energy-draining activities and add more that fill your cup.
5. Give yourself time to execute. Remember that it’s more sustainable to make progress every day than to try to turn your entire life around. You don’t need to create your ideal life by tomorrow, and if you hustle for it, you won’t have the emotional capacity to enjoy it when it does come along.
In this fast-paced, automated society, we put so much pressure on ourselves to execute right away and see instant changes. The goal is to make these changes over time and enjoy the fruits of our labor. This is how you create long-lasting change.
Allow the changes to come over time and you’ll feel happier from the small moves instead of drained from taking giant leaps. Your life is yours to create — what will you make of it?
Originally published in Forbes.