|Photo by Vladimir Proskurovskiy.|
Last Saturday was Evaluate Your Life Day, so I guess we have to... evaluate our lives?
Honestly, as silly as it seems to let a randomly-chosen day, invented by a very retro website called wellcat.com that seems to provide wellness-related herbs and other such holidays, tell you what to do, it's also super useful to have a reminder to check out your life as a whole and evaluate whether you are going in the direction you want.
I know I am in need of a life-audit. Inspired in part by my recent realization that my relationship with money is holding back my hopes and dreams, and just by the fact that I have a bit of that "what am I really doing here?" feeling that tells me I might be off course.
There are lots of different ways to evaluate your life, here are two of my favourites:
A Post-It Party: To Get in Touch With Your Dreams
This one came from Lifehacker. Like any workshop facilitator will tell you, using post-it notes to brainstorm can really set the imagination free. In part, I presume because post-its don't feel entirely consequential (and so we don't self-edit as much), and in part because they can be easily moved around for different kinds of analysis.
In any case, for this one, you literally just write down every goal, hope, or life necessity that you see for yourself on a different post-it note. Everything, from jobs to awards to lifestyle to relationships. Do you want to live in a cool downtown loft? Write it. Do you want to have a family? Write it. Do you want to win a fancy award? Write it. Write it all! Write the specific and the abstract and be generous with your hopeful self. Don't worry if they don't all connect, seem crazy, or otherwise are things you could talk yourself out of. Try to fill as many stickies as you can, unfiltered. (You might want to give yourself a goal of writing X number of stickies in X time.)
Then make use of those post-its: arrange and re-arrange the notes in different ways. Arrange by life category (career, relationships/family, health, spiritual). Arrange by the amount of time it would take you to get this thing (or how "close" they are to where you are now). Arrange by what scares you the most. Arrange by how badly you want it.
For each arrangement, spend some time with it. Look at where you are now in relation to where you want to be. Consider whether your life needs to change direction and where you are on course.
Now you have the option of making a full-on strategic plan for all of this, gaming out deadlines and small steps to get to where you want to be.
SWOT Yourself: To See Where You Are and Where You Can Go
SWOT, for those of you who don't know, stands for Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats. It's often used in business to analyze where a company is in the marketplace and to plan where it should be going.
A mentor once suggested that I do a SWOT analysis on myself and... it was ILLUMINATING! Here's how:
The traditional way to SWOT something is to create a 2x2 grid on a wall or whiteboard and write the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats in each box. Other options include using post-it notes (arranged into the categories) or to simply make lists in a notebook. Do what suits you.
Strengths and weaknesses are internal - your own traits and abilities that you would consider to be helpful or harmful. Things like your optimistic attitude, critical thinking skills, or time management. It would be a strength if you are good at it and/or it helps your life and a weakness if you need to improve at it and/or it hurts your life.
Opportunities and threats are external - things that you really have no control over and that happen to and around you. Things like another company having a job opening, the weather, housing prices, or shifts in government policy that impact you. What big events are happening around you?
If you really want to get into it, you can ask a handful of people you trust to share what they think your strengths and weaknesses are. Only if you think they'll actually be honest, though. It's not helpful if they're going to be overly nice about it.
Then you analyze it!
First of all, have a look and simply consider this picture of yourself. How do you feel about it? Does it seem accurate? Does anything jump out at you as particularly good or bad? Are you embarrassed by anything? Proud? Nervous?
Next, look at each category. Are there any weaknesses you would like to improve? Opportunities you want to seize? Can a threat be mitigated, or better yet, turned into an opportunity? Appreciate your strengths and see how they assist with all these things.
Finally, you can use the opportunities, threats, and weaknesses to set yourself some goals and make a plan for the future.
Those are two of my current favourite ways to do a life evaluation! What about you? Got any favourite methods you want to share?
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