Saturday, March 14, 2009

Taking a Life Inventory

Every once in a while it's good to take stock of where we are in life. Maybe we want more out of life, maybe we are perfectly content and don't feel the need to make any changes. Taking time to reflect on our lives and doing a life inventory can help us set a path for ourselves to take in life or determine that we are on the right one.

This kind of inventory of course doesn't include material possessions like your car, clothing or jewelry. It is about more important things like your relationships, work and other things that, even though you can't see them, you can take ownership of them. Things like goals, accomplishments, feelings, memories, dreams - these are all things that you can take ownership of that should be included in your life inventory.

We may spend a lot of time feeling good about things that have gone well for us or wishing we could change this or do that, but how often do we take a detailed, in-depth look at our lives?

When you have some quiet time and can be alone with your thoughts, pull out a piece of paper or open a word document on your PC. Think about different areas of your life, different times, where you are now, and where you want to go in life.

I've done this before, and I love making lists, so I used a list form. It's great to make lists for something like this, that you can get a lot out of. But you can do your inventory any way you want - make charts, write an essay, jot down some notes - whatever you like.

Some things to think about in taking your life inventory :

Make a list of all of your accomplishments, personal and professional. Go back as far as you like. It can be anything, no matter how small.

We all need to be acknowledged for the good things we've done and to celebrate our successes. Sometimes we fail to give ourselves the credit we deserve, so after you've finished your inventory, make sure you do something to reward yourself for your accomplishments.

Think about what is happening in your life right now. Are you doing the things you wanted to do when you were younger? Have you found the person you want to spend the rest of your life with? Have you achieved your goals thus far? What other things would you like to accomplish? Are there any other activities you'd like to be participating in, or do you have too much on your plate?

Have there been major changes in your life, recently? Have they been good or bad? How are you handling them?

Think about how you are feeling. Are you happy? What gives you the most joy in your life? What, if anything, is making you unhappy?

Doing a life inventory can help you determine if there are things you want to change. Maybe you aren't enjoying your work, and you decide you want to go back to school and prepare for a career you'll find more fulfilling. Or maybe you just want to find another job that you like better.

Think about the basics of contentment, like being content with who you are and your relationships with your family and friends. Are your relationships with those around you strong, or are there problems? Do you want to reconnect with someone you have lost touch with?

Keep it positive. See this inventory not as a way of pointing out what's wrong in your life, but as opening a door to coming up with solutions to any problems you may be having and dealing in a positive way with the things that may be making you unhappy.

Your life inventory should include some ideas on how you might make things better and maybe even a list of resources that could possibly help. Focus on things you can control, things you can change.

In thinking of the past, don't dwell on regrets, failures, things you wish you had done differently. Keep that stuff at the back of that high shelf in your mental closet behind the embarrassing moments.

Think about what you want your future to be. Looking ahead, think about that popular job interview question, Where do you see yourself in five years? What are your goals for the future? Do you want to change careers? Get married and start a family? Buy a house?

What are your dreams? Do you want to travel the world? Write a novel and have it published? If a genie gave you a wish, what would you wish for?

Taking your life inventory can make you feel good about how much you've achieved, show how much you have to be grateful for, and give you a place to start in working on your goals and making your future what you want it to be.

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