Do You Take Inventory of Your Life?

By , SparkPeople Blogger
When the weather starts to turn warm each spring, I clean and organize the tangible aspects of my life. Closets are emptied, unnecessary belongings are purged, and everything is wiped clean.

A couple of weeks before the end of the year, I undertake a similar task for the intangibles in my life. I reflect on the past year, take inventory of my accomplishments, setbacks and goals, and then I assign myself tasks for the coming year.

I started these inventories at age 23. My first inventory sent me on the adventure of my life, a respite from my career as a newspaper copy editor to teach English in Korea in 2005. The second took me along the less-traveled road to home. Another helped me realize I wasn't happy as a business reporter and eventually led me to my wonderful job here at SparkPeople. Who knows what this year will hold?

When I took my first inventory, it came shortly after a good friend sagely advised: "Don't try to live your life all at once. Slow down and enjoy it."
Instead of stressing because I had 35 pounds to lose, I relaxed and focused on making better choices each day. Instead of quitting my job, fleeing my mundane life and moving overseas immediately, I spent six months researching my decision and getting my life in order.

Here are my 6 tips for taking inventory of your life:

1. Be specific. Don't say you want to lose weight or travel. Say you want to visit the Grand Canyon or lose 25 pounds.

2. Be realistic. Give yourself ample time to achieve your goals. You can't lose 25 pounds in two weeks, and it's hard to change your life overnight.

3. Be understanding. If you twist your ankle and are laid up for two weeks, cut yourself some slack. Sure, your weight loss might plateau, but keep your motivation levels up and you'll bounce back faster.

4. Be accountable. Tell people about your goals. Write them down, post them on your SparkPage, and tell your partner or friends.

5. Be flexible. Life gets in the way. Plans change. Let them change. If you suddenly decide that those last 10 pounds would be vanity weight loss, it's OK to change your goal. It's also OK to decide to lose 35 pounds or 50 pounds instead of 25, if that what feels right to you. If you can't afford to make it to the Grand Canyon, go to Red River Gorge instead. Small steps count!

6. Be positive. Whether you reach your goal, fall short or surpass it, keep your chin up. Just changing your attitude is an accomplishment. You can always amend your goals.

To keep myself accountable, I'm sharing my goals for 2009:
  • Be more diligent in my yoga practice. Focus on the spiritual aspects as well as the physical aspects of yoga.

    How? I'll set aside time each night and on weekends for yoga. When I practice yoga and meditate before bed, I sleep better and am able to wake earlier.

  • Be as controlled and responsible about eating when out with friends and on weekends as I am during the week.

    How? My boyfriend and I are limiting ourselves to one meal away from home each week. Whether it's a quick bite for lunch midweek or a Saturday night dinner with friends is up to each of us. Knowing I only have one meal out will keep me on track and help me save money.

  • Ride my bike 500 miles over the summer. (Not all at once--spread over a few months!)

    How? Like last summer, I'll hit the bike trail each weekend once the weather warms. It's great exercise and helps me clear my head.

  • Ramp up my strength workouts so I am able to do more "fun" poses in yoga without fear of losing balance or falling on my face. (Mini goal: Achieve bakasana.)

    How? I'll give these difficult poses a try in classes and also practice them at home. In addition, I'll schedule longer, more intense strength workouts each week.

Outside of nutrition/fitness:
  • Remember my friends' birthdays more often. I am terrible with birthdays. I wait for Facebook reminders that birthdays are arriving, and I never remember the actual date once it passes. This year I'll try to send a card or a call (not a text message) to my friends and family on their special day.
  • I want to continue to study languages, at least twice a week for two hours (French, and a bit of Italian, Korean and Spanish) to not lose the linguistic abilities I've worked so hard to amass.

  • I have a list of books I want to read in 2009. My list is on my SparkPage.

Thanks for letting me share my life inventory for 2009. Do you take inventory of your life? Will you?

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RAPUNZEL53 8/31/2019
Thanks. Report
KITTYHAWK1949 6/13/2019
thanks for the plan. Report
thanks Report
Lovely article, very inspiring. I will be incorporating some of these in my life. Thanks Report
Thanks so much for your helpful article. It's inspiring me in my old age to also take stock of my life. Report
Love this line!: Just changing your attitude is an accomplishment. You can always amend your goals. Report
Very good article, self appraisals are needed Report
Inspirational. Thank you Report
This was great. I enjoyed reading about the goals you have set for yourself and I have realized that I can apply some of those same goals to my life and they would work. I think I will try and see what happens. Thank you for sharing. Report
This is a great motivational blog, thank you for sharing and jumpstarting the goals as we can steer our lives towards our personal goals. I do a "monthly-refresh" seeing what's working helping me move in a positive direction, as well as a monthly give away.

If I'm done reading a book & know I'm not going to re-read it I pass it along to someone that may find the book helpful. I also do this with clothes if I haven't warn them in a long time like the stuff at the back of the closet, the back of the dresser drawers. It just helps to keep energy flowing for me. I buy at resale shops so even on my tight budget I can keep things moving.

Take care & be well.
Many Blessings Always Debby Report
great ideas!! I'll start doing this today! Report
Thanks for the inspiration! Report
Great article. Perfect for this time of year. Lots of helpful info to use when thinking about my goals for this year. Report
I learned about taking inventory of one's life. The things you put on your list might not be the same as some one else would put on your list. But that's ok as it is your list. my list includes planning a vacation in 1 1/2 years with Dennis, power walking 500 miles in 2010 and trying real hard to include more veggies in my eating plan. Report
I LOVE this phrase, ""Don't try to live your life all at once. Slow down and enjoy it." I need to practice this daily. Thank you. Report
I just resently took inventory of my life for the first time. It has been an amazing journey! Report
I really don't know of anyone who doesn't reach points in their lives that find this 'inventory' necessary? And I found out a long time ago that it doesn't do any good to 'run away' from anything unless you have a place your running to. Report
WOW...great article.
It has inspired me to organize my life and goals.
Thanks for sharing this.
:o) Report
I take personal inventory quite often myself and readjust my goals.

On a second note, I am a beginner in yoga and love the benifits I have gotten from it. I went to look and your yoga pose goal...

OMG, ARE YOU NUTS?!?!?!?!? Report
I never ever thought about taking inventory of my own life. I am so happy you wrote this blog. I agree with TAMIKATNL you are a great motivator! Report
this is a great motivator Report
Thank you so much for posting this! I've gotten away from my spiritual side lately (life steps in and does that sometimes) and asked the Universe to please place some stepping stones in my path to help me refocus. SparkPeople comes through daily to keep me focused and motivated to dedicate time daily to this ritual. Report
A few years ago I was very sick. I do take inventory of my life and my things of importance changed when I got sick. Great blog! Report
I take inventory of my life often. I sometimes forget to emphasize the positive achievements, not just the areas with need for improvement. Report
Thanks so much, this is a great motivator Report
Thank you for such a wonderful idea, I have never done an inventory on myself,It's always on someone else,but now thanks to you I am going to start on me.I really neeeded to read this article.Thank you so much for opening my eyes. Report
Great article! Excellent tips, thanks so much for sharing! Report
By taking inventory everyday,things that need to change or people I may have wronged,have a better chance of being made right.It helps me to stay vigilant on being honest and staying on the right path! Report
This is great! I am definately going to try this. Report
Thanks for this blog. Yes, I have taken inventory in the last few years. The new year is the perfect time to reflect. Report
I did do this this year, as last year was a jumble of worry, sadness among other feelings. I was actually happy about the assessment of me, and how I have managed to change my lifestyle and mindset. Good blog and very right on target and time. Report
Thank you for your suggestions. They are very helpful. Report
I realize that I had already started this a few days ago. I even wrote a letter to my husband expressing the goals, dreams and visions I have for 2009.Thank you for confirming that I am on the right track. Report
A great blog. I myself am going to do aerobic exercise three times a week including weight training and good ab work at each session., each being 1 hour. Do a 4 mile walk twice a week which takes an hour. Do 6 days of aquasizes at 45 minutes each session. Take one day of rest on Sunday. Report
That sounds so familiar - these days! A year ago, I would have had no idea what you were talking about.

But in the last 12 months I have gradually taken inventory of my life and, much like you, realised I don't like where I am (and in my case, who I have become). I too am about to take a sabbatical to teach English in Spain for a year and as a result am re-evaluating and sorting almost every aspect of my life.

My finances, my living arrangements, the amount of "stuff" I have amassed are all coming under close scrutiny and, in many cases, being brutally rearranged!

I can highly recommend the liberating feeling that comes with realising that you can actually do something about your situation, but you need to break it down into its smallest parts and tackle them one at a time. Like you say, you need specific goals, not vague, generalistic ones.

I can't wait to embark on my adventure, however it turns out in the long run! Report
Your "inventory" and resolutions for the year gave me some new ones to try and a good way to look at how to accomplish them without giving up on them all together. Report
Thanks so much for this blog! It really got me thinking. I want to make some specific goals for my life. Not necessarily because it's a "brand new year!" But just in general so I'm living to be the best that I can be! Report
I've never taken inventory of my life.
Afraid really I havehad alot of sad things happen in 2008 I cannot remember the good at all. I did take control of my eating one cold snowy day in feb. I joined sparkpeople in March and that is truly my salvage Report
I have started inventorying and setting goals for the next year this year. Back in March hubby & I did a lot to get some aspects of our lives more organized. So it makes sense to follow through this way. In fact, I don't know why I haven't been doing it, study after study shows that people who write down goals get more of the things they want accomplished, and I am goal oriented anyway. So I have started doing it, I am looking forward to seeing some accomplished goals in 2009!! Report
Thanks for the inspiration! I am normally very good at setting athletic goals, but I can't say the same things about my personal life. I am off to write a list right now!
Thanks again! Report
Thank you for sharing your goals and examples with all of us! You have inspired me to take inventory of my own life. What a great perspective to look at life as a whole of accomplishents and setbacks, rather than focusing on the resolutions that never seem to last longer than a few weeks. Report
Great idea and I did start a blog today to make myself accountable for my goals. Here is to a NEW YEAR and a NEW ME. :-) Thanks for the inspiration Stepfanie. Report
Thank you for the great advice and sharing it with us. Report
AWESOME AWESOME blog !! As I read this a light bulb went off!! With the "Don't say you want to lose weight or travel. Say you want to visit the Grand Canyon or lose 25 pounds." My goals have always been "I want to get rid of weight". It's never been a number that I put down. I have changed all my goals and I understand it now. I now know I will get rid of 45 pounds. What a difference it is to say a number instead of just weight.
Thank you so much for this blog !!
I am a major list maker and "re-evaluator", however, I tend to be more focused on the immediate tasks. Instead of only enjoying the little things, which I have happily mastered, I also need to dream bigger and stretch my comfort zone a little. Take a few more risks and try some new things. Report
I like lists TOO much. My goal is to live and let live a bit. The guilt level should come down a bit & my blood pressure as well. Report
Thanks i need to do this.. Report
Thanks for sharing, there is some great advice here. I am an inventory person as well; at the end of each year and on my birthday in May I like to evaluate how I am doing on those annual goals. Have a wonderful 2009! Report
I routinely examine my life to determine how I'm progressing towards the goals I've set for myself. In addition, at the end of each year I look back and focus on the lessons learned, including the mistakes and gains that occurred. In this way, I avoid replicating errors and gain a clearer picture of the consequences of my actions. During my period of reflection, dreams are amended or solidified. I record the changes and provide detailed information on my plan of attack and affix a time frame to them all. Report