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The New Habit Challenge: Can A “Life Audit” Help Us Accomplish Our Goals?

It’ll take some time, and a lot of honesty, but if we write all of our desires down and share them, will it help us finally get them done?

The New Habit Challenge: Can A “Life Audit” Help Us Accomplish Our Goals?
[Photo: Flickr user Emma Larkins]

Sure, we may be a little skeptical about all the hype behind New Years Resolutions–we’re more into lasting positive habit change than impersonal pledges you just don’t mean.

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But we can get on board with using a fresh, new year as an excuse to reanalyze our goals and put things into perspective a bit, and conducting a “life audit” may just be the best way to go about it. That’s what Ximena Vengoechea, a product operations manager at LinkedIn, thought earlier last year.

After realizing that her system of writing her goals on color-coded Stickies and keeping them arranged on her computer’s desktop was too unwieldy, she decided to reorganize her goals to determine what were short-term and long-term goals, what were important and what weren’t.

To do this, she blocked out a few hours of alone, distraction-free time and started writing every goal, desire, and new habit she wanted to see come true on Post-it Notes. Next, she arranged all of her 121 Post-it Notes into themes like Health, Skills, and Relationships and separated them into. Then she designated each note with when the goal could be accomplished: either now/soon, someday, or on an everyday basis.

Vengoechea offers five practical tips you should consider when conducting your own life audit:


  1. Write freely, and without judgment:

    Don’t think about what kinds of things are “right” to write about.


  2. Give yourself space (physical and mental):

    Choose a quiet space without distractions. Make sure it’s a room with ample wall space, and don’t take any calls. Set aside some me time, and honor it fully.


  3. Be honest with yourself:

    No one is watching or judging. If you can’t be honest alone by yourself, who can you be honest with? Remember that wherever you land (in your assessment and alignment of interests and priorities) is okay—sometimes you need a reset.


  4. Share what you learn:

    If you don’t share your goals out loud, it’s hard for people to help you. You don’t have to share everything, but if there’s a great big goal on there you’d like to focus on, share it.


  5. Bring a water bottle:

    Thinking about the future makes you thirsty.

During the next week, I will put Vengoechea’s life audit method to the test and see how the exercise works for me. I’ll start with blocking out time to write out all of my goals on Monday, share my goals with friends on Tuesday, and check in with myself the rest of the week. While I won’t have a year to analyze if the method made me stick to my goals, I will compare it to other methods of habit change I’ve tried in the past. I hope you’ll join me.

We’ll be chatting live with Vengoechea on Friday, January 16 at 11 a.m. ET about how to use the “life audit” method; join us to to find out how it went and share your thoughts. Or send an email with what your thoughts on this challenge to habits@fastcompany.com by end of day Thursday, January 15.

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About the author

Rachel Gillett is a former editorial assistant for FastCompany.com’s Leadership section. Her work has been featured on PopPhoto.com, AOL.com, and elsewhere

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