Who are you?

Not just a great Who song, but a pretty good question to ask yourself. Are you a high flier? Or are you cruising just above the tree tops – or stuck on the runway? Or worse, still trying to find the airport!

Today is December 1st and in a months time we’ll have the annual goal setting bonanza called New Year Resolutions. I have discussed goal setting before in different ways, my favorite being the use of compass setting mentality rather than rigid, over elaborate goals. But also, I have stressed that January 1 isn’t the only day, and certainly not always the best day, to set new goals.

If nothing changes where will you be this time next year?

Much of what we do is habit, from brushing our teeth to the side of the bed we sleep. Changing habits isn’t easy. But if you reflect on how your life is now, how you got to where you are now, you should be able to get a picture of how your life will be any time hence (doesn’t have to be a year) if you continue without change.

Look at all aspects of your life, such as work/career, money, health, family, friendships/love, spiritual/personal growth, leisure/fun/recreation/sport, environment.

To be honest, the best way is to give yourself headings that feel right for you and start writing. Don’t just focus on work or income generation. The whole purpose is to look at your life as a whole and not jump to conclusions.

A teacher may be fed up with his job and the increased bureaucracy, plus the inability to pay off his credit card. 12 months time he can picture himself as fed up, and more in debt. His inbox is full of emails saying how easy it is to make megabucks through Internet marketing – so he decides to devote his spare time to starting a new business.

What this doesn’t take into account is other dimensions of his life. If he is married, how will this impinge on his relationship. Has he talked to his wife about how they are spending their income, why they are getting into debt? Has he discussed with his superiors at school his frustrations and unhappiness?

Problem Solving

The whole purpose of reflecting on your current situation, is to discover what isn’t working and what needs to change. But don’t jump to conclusions and decide on plans of action without analysis. If there are problems, follow my problem solving structure to find possible ways forward – not the first thing that comes into your head.

In our example it may be that his wife has taken on board his frustration as an unhappiness with her. She may be using retail therapy, creating their debts, as a way of compensating for her unhappiness and resulting low self esteem. The last thing she wants is for her husband to spend even more time shut away in the study and not spending time with her.

Talking to his superiors he may find it’s time to move to a different school or improve his education and skills as a teacher. Or he may find that his lack of confidence in his role is leading to him spending too much time in preparation or marking – rather than developing hobbies or doing things with his wife.

Time Audit

One useful way to take stock is to spend a week writing down how you use your time. There are different ways of doing this, but simplest is to have a piece of lined paper for each day. Break the day into at least 60 minute segments and then write down how you spent that time. You may chose to just focus on your none work time, or have more detail – say 20 minute segments.

What is most important is that you are honest. No one else needs see this but you. Be accurate with how much time you watch television – and if its something you chose to watch or just happened to follow on from something else you were watching. Likewise surfing the Internet and reading emails isn’t necessarily “work” – are you doing activities that are productive for your college essay or Internet business?


If you are taking this as time to have a real life audit, there are several questions you can ask yourself. Nothing is prescribed. I’m just putting out tools that you may find useful.

Over the past year, what have you really enjoyed and would like to repeat?

What has surprised you, shocked you or left you feeling upset or disappointed?

What has been unpleasant, what you you wish to avoid?

What would you like to achieve, or help others achieve?

If money were taken care of, what would you spend your time doing?

What roles and responsibilities do you have – are you happy with them?

What is missing in your life? What would make your life more fulfilling?

Do you have any secret passions?

I wrote Reflections on 2007 which approached the same problem, but slightly differently. I include the slightly amended questions from that post, which you can add or substitute. Make it fun, don’t get too bogged down. The whole exercise is designed to help you find out where you are, and what you want to change. Then you can look at goal setting.

What is good about my life?

What were the significant events of the year? What gave me joy or happiness?

What were the fun events of the past year?

What have been my successes?

What hasn’t gone so well?

What did I learn this year?What would I repeat?

What do I want to change?

What were my accomplishments?

What places did I visit?

What worked – why?

What didn’t work – why?

Who am I closest to?

Who are the important people in my life?

What significant reading did I do?

What was the biggest problem I solved in the past year?

What cultural events did I attend?

In what ways did I grow?

What in my life is improving?

What in my life is declining?

What world events had an impact on me?

What was the best day of the past year?

photo by Terren in Virginia on Flickr
Wedding Abroad December 4, 2008 at 8:15 am

It is time for some refection and this year has been a really great year although I do wish it could have been better but still I do appreciate whatever that I have around me.

Wedding Abroads last blog post..Differences between a Symbolic Wedding and a Legal Wedding

Maudrey December 4, 2008 at 4:00 pm

I thought the time audit exercise was a very good tip. Personally, I think if I write down my activities during non-work hours, I would discover that I spend way too much time on the Internet. Your article got me thinking that maybe I can actually do something productive with all that time I spend online. Thanks!

David December 5, 2008 at 8:30 am

Thanks for your comments. I think doing a time audit is a major help in looking at how you currently function. Its also free to do, no one need know but you, and takes little time and effort to put into place. So why don’t we do it!

Davids last blog post..Does it matter what you look like?

Jen December 6, 2008 at 2:37 am

I have a lot of work to do I guess.

Jens last blog post..Help, I need Ideas

Kim Potter December 6, 2008 at 11:47 pm

This year it’s a hard times and Thinking of next year trying to dig out of this year is my goal.

Kim Potters last blog post..HugaMonkey is having a fire sale!?

AJ Kumar January 30, 2009 at 8:40 am

if nothing changes…nothing changes…;)

Great post!

AJ Kumars last blog post..Do You Practice What You Preach?

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