Quarter/mid-life crises, anxiety about the future, and general feelings of uselessness—these things are unfortunately more common than you think. The trap of the daily grind is that it demands you to pour all your energy into work to, for the lack of a better word, "get that bread." That's the curse of productivity-forgetting that there's more to life than work. Then when you get home, there's not enough time left over to get in the right headspace to process where you are and where you're going.
Not to sound like a life coach, but the life coaches might be right. If you want to get out of that rut you're in and get your shit together, then you need to start evaluating how you feel by giving yourself the time to feel. That's a pretty vague explanation, but that's where the life audit comes in. It's basically an exercise that helps you reflect on your life, sans the noise of distractions, to find the values and goals that drive you. It's spring-cleaning for the soul.
Basically, a life audit is a practical, functional way of analyzing what you want and where you want to go, and ultimately, clear your head. And this is how it works:
How do we start?
Medium writer Xinema Vengoechea designed a Post-it note method that requires 100 Post-it notes, five activities, five people, one afternoon, and a lot of tea.
Finding your goals
1. On each Post-it note, write down one wish or goal, regardless of how big or small, like moving abroad, starting a business, getting a dog, or going to Russia.
2. Map out your wishes by organizing them into categories that suit your pile. They can run along the lines of family, community, health, career, skills, or adventure. Now you can see where your dreams lean toward.
3. Now it's time to get practical. Assign a timeframe to each wish in terms of when you can make them come true. This can be soon, someday, and always, or as specific or vague as you want.
Fixing your time
4. Once you're done mapping out your wishes, time to list down the five activities you do the most. It's simple math: Calculate how many hours a week you spend at work, sleeping, eating, exercising, doing hobbies, commuting, etc.
5. Now analyze your time spent on these activities, turn it into a pie chart, and list down the hours you think you should be spending on these activities, like less time at work and more time with family.
Finding your people
6. Next up is listing down the five people you spend most of your time with, because apparently, the law of averages says your success and much of your life is determined by these people. Does this list satisfy you?
7. List and organize all the important people in your life into two categories: who is inspiring and who is available. Now you know the ones you need to spend more, or less, time with.
Now that you've practically mapped out where you want to be in the future, in terms of goals and relationships, it's simply a matter of getting there. Habits need to change, energy needs refocusing, and shit needs to get itself together.
This isn't a formula for happiness, but it is a reminder that you need to feel alive to get you out of the rut you're in. It might also help with burnout by giving you a reason to get out of it. For the most part, a life audit is really a way of creating a concrete list of things to look forward to in the future, a reason to grasp at optimism, which is a rare unicorn these days.
And optimism, according to Guillermo del Torro, is a radical choice: "Optimism is our instinct to inhale when suffering."