Every year, you have the opportunity to audit yourself.

Unfortunately, most people plunge into New Year's Eve focusing only on their shiny new goals.

"I'm going to start working out."

"I'm going to have better work-life balance."

"I'm going to get a handle on my finances."

The problem is that setting new goals for yourself isn't the hard part.

The hard part is questioning how and why that goal didn't get achieved in the first place.

Setting goals is easy. It's also fun to talk about. Pay attention to how many people share their goals and intentions for the New Year, but fail to explain how exactly they're going to get there. 

But change doesn't happen easily, and it certainly doesn't happen overnight.

If you want to improve this next year, you need to take the time to audit your current lifestyle and day-to-day habits.

And you can do that by taking a close look at these 5 areas of your life:

1. Financial

Most people would rather not look at their bank accounts. 

As a result, money ends up controlling them. They chase it. They can't hold on to it. They are constantly ad odds with money because they haven't developed a sense of discipline toward what they spend and what they save.

The way I see it, your finances are your gasoline. Your runway. Your fuel to move from where you are to wherever it is you want to be. Without money, you remain stagnant (in many, many aspects of life).

As you set new goals for yourself, ask how your spending habits play a role in achieving or sabotaging that goal. For example: you can't just say you want to "eat healthy," but ignore the fact that buying healthy food tends to be a bit more expensive. 

Take the time to go through your credit card statements from the past year and see where you overspent. It'll be blindingly apparent to you where you can cut back--and reinvest those funds toward your new goals.

2. Physical

How many years in a row have you said, "This year, I'm going to take better care of my body?"

Most people don't realize that it's not the gym routine they should be focused on, but rather all the other things that prevent them from getting to the gym in the first place.

Do you work long hours?

Is your gym really far away?

There are a number of reasons why people excuse themselves from physical activity. What's important is that, instead of setting another physical improvement goal, take a moment to ask yourself why it hasn't happened already.

Solve for that variable instead.

3. Emotional

"We are what we do repeatedly."

One of the most revealing exercises you can possibly do for yourself is to make two lists recapping the past year.

On one page, write down all the things you did well. 

On the other, write down all the things you didn't do so well.

By the end, you'll see which aspects of your life you are prioritizing. For most of us, work tends to take first place. And on the one hand, while we may have achieved a lot in our careers, we most likely also sacrificed a lot in the process.

Emotional well being is about understanding this duality, and constantly reassessing our sense of balance. So, don't just say, "This year, I'm going to be more balanced." Instead, take a look at what you did well, what you didn't do so well, and figure out how you can make more time for those other things you enjoy--like reading, going for long walks, or cooking yourself a nice dinner at home.

4. Mental (Input)

How many books did you read last year?

How many podcasts did you listen to?

How many documentaries did you watch?

How many people did you take the time to learn from?

When you really ask yourself these questions, especially over the course of a year, you usually find a severe lack of input.

What this means is, you prioritize output (work, meeting with other people, doing) far more than you prioritize input (reading, listening, learning).

However, input is required in order to grow. And no matter how many goals you set for yourself, you have to realize that goals tend to mean more output.

Flip it. What goals can you set that provide you time for input too?

5. Personal projects

Career, great. Friends, great. Physical health, great. Emotional well-being, great.

What are you creating, for yourself?

At the end of every year, I like to ask people reflective questions to get their minds turning. And one of the questions I always ask is, "What personal projects are you working on?"

Sadly, most people say, "Personal? You mean like work projects?"

No, not work. Personal.

As in: something you create for you and you only.

This could be writing a handful of short stories, or painting on canvases in your living room, or writing songs, or knitting sweaters, or perfecting a handful of recipes, or volunteering for a cause you care about. Personal projects are intended to encourage a deeper personal growth that only happens when you remove the external monetary measure.

These projects aren't about making money, or furthering your career.

They're about watering your soul.

Published on: Dec 29, 2017