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Life Audit: Ultimate Guide To Your Best Year Yet

life audit process, how to plan your best year ever, setting goals for 2020, new year's resolutions

A life audit will help you live intentionally and build your dream life. This life audit exercise is a fantastic tool to reflect on your happiness in all areas of life, determine where to focus your time and energy in the next year, and prioritize the right next steps for you to see massive results in the quickest amount of time. Do a life audit for a New Year, a milestone birthday, or during a stressful season in your life. This post guides you through the step by step process of how to do a life audit.


Every time the leaves turn colors I am giddy with joy, and not just because pumpkin spiced things are about to infuse the world with all their glory.

Fall is the perfect time for me to reflect on the year I’ve had and set an intentional focus for the New Year.

I will be the first person to tell you that January is not the time to start changing your life.

January is cold, and dark, and depressing. There is so much pressure to set resolutions and stick to them, even though all of the odds are stacked against you. It can be easy to start working on goals just because somebody else is, but if they aren’t true to you and your unique situation, you are only wasting your time, money, and energy.

The best time to start cementing new habits is NOW.

If you’re committed to seeing success, then tomorrow, Monday, and January are not the time to change your life. Today is the day.

So, with the New Year fast approaching, I highly recommend taking some time this fall to reflect on how happy you are with your life, figure out the areas that could use more balance, pin point in crystal clear detail what your best year would look like, and put together an actionable plan that makes success easy.

In this post, I will be sharing my life audit process that I complete every Autumn to help me set goals that I care about, achieve them, and step into my full potential.

I encourage you to take a few days, or a few weeks, to go through this process and see if it works for you. If not, change it up! Pick the parts that feel right and go from there. The point is to set aside some time to reflect and set intentions.

I’ll also be sharing a few of the templates that I use to guide me through this process. They are all available for purchase, or you can have unlimited access for free when you sign up for the 2020 goal setting coaching package.

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Life Audit Step 1: Reflect On How Happy You Are

The very first step in your personal growth is taking the time to reflect on where you are and are not happy with your life.

You could set a thousand goals based on other peoples’ suggestions, but if they do not align with your most important values you will not see success. Avoid comparing yourself to everyone else and focus on the areas that matter to you.

Think about different areas of your life that you value, and rate (on a scale of 1-5) how happy you are with them.

Below are the categories that I use. You can modify your list as needed based on what you value and what brings you joy.

  • Family
  • Marriage
  • Friendship
  • Business
  • Money
  • Learning
  • Travelling
  • Creativity
  • Physical Health
  • Mental Health

I use this Happiness Wheel and ask myself “How happy do I feel in this area of my life?” There is no right answer, and it truly is as easy as it sounds. Go with your gut, and be honest.

As a side note, this has nothing to do with how close you are to achieving your goals in that area. If you want to be a millionaire but are only just signing up for a course in your preferred career, you can still be 5/5 happy even though you aren’t close to your end goal.

Goal progress is discussed in step 3.

Life Audit Step 2: Envision Your Level 10 Life

Now, break your state.

  • Go for a quick walk.
  • Do 10 jumping jacks.
  • Think about your happiest memory.
  • List a few things you are grateful for.
  • Listen to a song that gets you fired up.

Once you’re in a positive mindset, you’re ready for step two: visualize this area of your life in a perfect world with no limits.

Take each area and write out a paragraph (or an entire page) on what it would look like if this was your BEST life.

The key to this step is dreaming BIG. Bigger than you’ve ever let yourself dream before. Don’t hold anything back.

Visualize your ‘level 10‘ life down to the itty bitty details and get it all down on paper.

Allow yourself to write freely without editing your thoughts or trying to make it sound nice or look pretty. You can rewrite it later using the level 10 life template. For now your only job is to dream of what each area of your life would look like if nothing was holding you back.

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FYI, the bottom half of this template gets filled out in step 4. Leave it blank for now.

Life Audit Step 3: Determine Your ‘AS IS’ State

Here, your goal is to identify how far along the path you are to your level 10 life. Having visualized it in the previous step allows you to now determine how close you are to those goals.

This step is very different from step 1 and the happiness wheel because it focuses on how much progress you’ve made toward your end goals, not how happy you are with said progress.

For example, if I was looking at ‘money‘ in my life, and my level ten life included making a million dollars, I could be not even 1/10th of the way there (ranking it as a 1 in this step), but still have 4/5 on my happiness wheel.

You can be happy about your progress without being close to achieving your goal. In fact, that is one of the biggest keys to unleashing your motivation.

ANA MCRAE

So make sure in this step you are focusing on how close you are to achieving a 10/10 in this area, and attach no emotion it. 1/10 is not bad. 10/10 is not good. There is no good and bad, there is only where you are.

This step sets the foundation for tracking personal growth for years to come. It will be used to set goals in your focus areas towards the end of the life audit.

I use this simple progress template to visualize where I am at and keep track of my progress in future months.

level 10 life progress assessment, life audit exercise, tracking goal progress, happiness wheel

Life Audit Step 4: Celebrate Positive Performance & Identify Value-Add Actions

Okay, so we know how happy we are with each area of our lives, what our level 10 lives would look like, and how close we are to getting there.

In this step we want to celebrate the things we’re already doing to bring us closer to our goals (so that we continue to do them), and brainstorm new ways in which we could take action to build our dream lives.

Use the level 10 life template from earlier to identify what you’re already doing well, and other things that would make it even better. Do this for each of the ten life categories.

level 10 life, life audit, visualization, planning the best year ever

Once you’ve completed this step, you will have a solid list of first steps to take to improve your life.

Life Audit Step 5: Brainstorm Other Accomplishments That Align With Your Values

Are there other things you’ve dreamed about achieving that didn’t necessarily come out when you were thinking of the ten life categories?

This is the time to get them out on a piece of paper.

What are all of the things you thought would be nice to experience, are dying to have, or really want to accomplish?

Let your mind run wild.

Use little sticky notes for this, as your improvement ideas will all need to be on sticky notes for the next step.

Life Audit Step 6: Prioritize Improvement Ideas

By now, your list of life goals may feel slightly (or very) overwhelming. That is completely normal.

Your brain can have a hard time accepting that you don’t want to stay in the same place in your life forever. It strives to protect the status quo and instills fear when you think about changing things up.

As you look at your list, remember you’ve got a whole lifetime to achieve your best life. All of the things DO NOT need to get done tomorrow, next week, or next year. In this step, we prioritize all of the things you could possibly do to improve your life so that you know exactly which ones are worth the effort.

We do this using a 9 square prioritization matrix.

Take all of the things you listed in steps 4 and 5 and use a 9 square prioritization matrix to evaluate which ones are most meaningful to you and where you should begin.

The template likely won’t be big enough for all of your ideas, so I would draw it out on a big piece of paper on your wall.

A 9 square is a fantastic tool for prioritizing any list of actions (to do list, home improvement list, vacation list) and can be used in your every day life outside of this life audit exercise.

Related post: How To Prioritize Any List: The 9 Square Tool

Once you’ve got your 9 square up on your wall, use sticky notes to rank your ideas in terms of how happy they would make you and how easy they would be to execute. Read this post for more details on how to use the 9 square so that you can get the most from the exercise.

It was a very interesting exercise to realize that the things that would make me happiest were not always the ones I thought. For example, “vacation on a house boat” has been on my list for a while, but fell in the bottom 30% of things that would make me happy. “Make a million dollars” which seems so wonderful did not happen to land in the top 30%.

I love the 9 square exercise because it really brings a lot of insight into what actions will have the biggest impact when you have so many ideas and not enough time.

Here’s what my 9 square looked like when I was done ranking all of my ideas from the level 10 life template and the bucket list in my head.

Life Audit Step 7: Select Focus Areas

Prioritizing our actions is one of the ways we combat overwhelm while striving for a bigger and better life.

Another way is to narrow down on what’s most important to us, and not try to overhaul our entire lives all at once.

When you look at your 10 life categories, which 3 do you feel you should focus your time and energy on in the next year? Remember, there is no right or wrong answer to this question.

If you want to make massive progress, you need to focus on specific areas that are manageable. So ask yourself which areas of your life will be your focus for the next 12 months.

Once you’ve chosen 2-4, write a few carefully selected words that, when thought of, motivate you to live with intention. Think of it as your theme for the year, or your big WHY.

For me, I chose to focus on my business, my physical health, my family, and my mental growth. The themes I wrote for each of these are:

  • Explode my business
  • Optimize my health
  • Soak up simple family moments
  • Challenge limiting beliefs

Life Audit Step 8: Set Good Goals

At this point in the life audit exercise, we’ve thought about how happy we are in each area, brainstormed ways to make everything better, and chosen the areas we will focus on.

Now is the time to set concrete goals for our focus areas and build an action plan based on our prioritized list of ideas.

Take your focus areas and set specific and measurable goals that are within your control with a deadline.

Related post: The Ultimate Guide To Setting Goals And Achieving Personal Growth

Then, select a few actions from your 9 square that will help you achieve this goal with the most amount of impact and the least amount of effort.

Use this goal setting template to ensure that you set yourself up for success.

You get this goal setting template & the associated success checklist for FREE when you join the Move Your Mountains email community! I pop sunshine and happiness into your inbox every week with practical tools and strategies that you can use to create a life you love. If you’re looking to live a happier, more fulfilling, and more productive life, sign up now!

Life Audit Step 9: Ensure Consistency & Visibility

You’ve done so much work to set yourself up for success in your personal growth! You should be proud of making it this far. Now, let’s tie up the loose ends to make sure that you see that success you crave.

You need a consistent goal setting routine to keep your momentum going with this plan.

It is not enough to do a life audit once and not think about your goals for the next few months.

Decide right now what your goal setting routine will look like.

I set my goals on a monthly basis in my bullet journal. I pull actions from my 9 square of opportunities to make sure I’m working on the right things at the right time. Every week, I sit down with my bullet journal and block out time to complete specific actions based on my goals. Then, I review my goals for the year every single morning as I write them in my journal.

A solid goal setting routine allows me to live with intention on a daily basis and keeps my dreams front and center.

ANA MCRAE

And when my dreams are top of mind, I succeed.

Life Audit Step 10: Celebrate By Getting Started!

You know what you want! And you know the first steps to getting there.

The best thing you can do for yourself now is to get moving.

If you are anything like me, procrastination is often disguised in the form of planning or researching or benchmarking… In the end, it is still just procrastination.

Go do one thing to bring you closer to one of your goals right now.

You are on your way to your level 10 life!

Going through this life audit usually takes me 1-2 weeks of reflecting for an hour or two each evening. I like to spread it out over multiple days because giving myself enough time to really ponder such deep questions enables authenticity in my answers.

I absolutely love taking the time to step outside of my day to day life and think big picture about where I am heading and what that might look like.

Our goals change over time, and that is perfectly fine, which is why I do this life audit exercise every year. In general, my end destination remains the same but the path to getting there occasionally changes.

If you feel like your life is incomplete, I encourage you to take responsibility for improving it.

I offer one on one coaching services to help you overcome perfectionism and procrastination so that you can build a life exploding with joy. Let’s work together so another year doesn’t pass you by.

If you are reading this in 2019, I have a special 2020 goal setting package to help you go through this exact process and get so much more out of it with the help of a life coach. Let’s build your dream life.

You only have one life to live. Live it well.

ANA MCRAE

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What did you learn about yourself when you went through the life audit exercise? Let me know in the comments below.

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