Life is a series of ups and downs. When everything seems to be going your way, it is guaranteed that things will get worse. The same is true on the opposite side of the spectrum—when darkness surrounds you, there’s light at the end of the tunnel. This series of highs and lows is called undulation, and it makes life… interesting.
As journeyers, we climb to the peaks and delve into the valleys of this life in order to find our way into eternal joy in the next. The problem is, we are never quite sure where we are. We are constantly lost in a torrential downpour of activity that we rarely take a step back to see where we’ve been, where we are, and where we are going.
That’s why it is so important to audit your life. Auditing your life gives you power over your future by placing you firmly upon the foundation of your current state. It orders your priorities and grounds you in the reality of what you are able to do right now in order to get to where you want to be. If you aren’t auditing your life regularly, you simply aren’t living.
A good life audit will help you do the following:
- It helps you control your mental and physical health.
- It maintains your positive relationships while keeping the negative ones at bay.
- It provides a pathway to better economic stability.
- It builds foundation for you to pursue your passions while allowing you to pursue happiness in your work.
- Most importantly, it brings you closer to God through spiritual checkpoints.
The best part about auditing your life is that it is simple to do. The only thing you need is a sheet of paper, a pencil and a good hour of silence (or more) to focus what is going on in your life right now.
This is the process I follow:
I create three equal columns across my sheet of paper and I place the following headings on them.
- Column one: The Positive (+)
- Column two: The Indifferent (=)
- Column three: The Negative (-)
Next, I spend as long as I can focusing on the positive things that have happened in my life since my last audit. For example, my latest audit has the following (and many more) in The Positive column:
- Spending more time with my wife now that work has died down a bit.
- Reading every day with my kids for at least a half hour.
- Currently writing two books and enjoying the process.
- My schedule is not too hectic right now.
- I’ve exercised regularly and my energy levels are high as they’ve ever been.
Then, I take a few moments to think about the things in my life that I’ve placed on the back burner, things that don’t make me feel one way or another, but are nonetheless important to my life. Here are a few things that are currently on my Indifferent column:
- My day job is normal.
- The yard is not perfect, but bearable.
- I should probably clean my room in one of those hyper-organized ways but… later.
Finally, I take my final step by addressing with complete honesty the things that worry me, stress me out, and keep me from sleeping some nights. Here’s a sample of what’s currently on my Negative column:
- Student loan debt.
- Inconsistent prayer time.
- Still not able to find time to help the poor as much as I’d like to.
- I wish I had more time to write my next novel.
- I just took on another part-time job. Will I have enough energy to take on the extra hours?
My lists usually have a minimum of 10 things in each column. When I am finished, I can visually see if my current state is positive, negative or indifferent. If there are more things in the positive column, my life is going fairly well. If there are more lines filled in the negative column, I need to figure out how to change them to the other side.
To close, I then do three things:
- I thank God for all of the positives He has placed in my life and pray that I can retain them by not taking them for granted.
- I ask God to help me with the things I am struggling with.
- I write down one or two action steps that I can take over the course of the next three months to bring one of the negatives onto the positive side.
My current action steps reads as follows:
Pray at least one of the prayers from the Divine Office daily.
Wake up early once a week to write 500 words.
You can see one of the negatives I want to focus on is the lack of consistency in my prayer life. If I am successful with my action step, those prayers will likely bring many other things on my list to the positive column too because when prayer is a priority, I’m more readily able to accept whatever comes my way, be it negative or positive.
I would recommend auditing your life using this format once every three months. I would also recommend not looking back at your past audits until after you have completed the one you are currently writing. The reason being is because if you look back into your past audits, they might influence the way you are currently feeling for the worse. It is better to take the blank slate and lay all of your positives and negatives on the table as they come to you at the moment you sit down to write them. If you look back, certain emotions might overcome your current state and make you lean towards feeing the same way. Avoid that temptation- wait until you’ve completed your current audit in order to compare it to past versions.
Regardless of where you are in the undulation of life, atop a peak or in the depths of the valley, auditing your life will help you take a step back and realize the blessings God has given you and the work you can put into making your future state a positive one.
So, get a sheet of paper and a pencil, block off some time tonight, and take the first step toward controlling what can be controlled in your life by giving your life an honest audit.