Last Updated on March 1, 2023 by the thought method co.
(oxford comma intentionally omitted—deal with it grammar nerds. Love, a fellow grammar nerd)
Let’s face it, we get lost. You may feel lost right now.
Companies are constantly taking inventory of their stock, or creating benchmarks towards their goals. If we want to be successful, we need to do the same thing.
That’s why it’s important for us to take inventory.
Because when we take an inventory we efficiently make goals, build confidence and feel empowered. And we cut out the noise and chatter that isn’t helping us achieve our goals.
This exercise will help you get grounded and create clarity. To realize the things in your life that are going well and the things that aren’t.
It will also help you figure out what you should and shouldn’t focus on to reach your goals and build your confidence.
I did this exercise over 8 years ago and it changed my life. (Hear about my experience and this technique in this podcast episode.)
While you may not be as lost as I was then, this list will still be helpful for anyone who wants to reduce stress and get on the right track.
All it takes is some thought, 5-15 minutes and something to write with.
Taking Inventory Technique
Step 1: Make Three Columns
Use a piece of paper, your phone, a word doc, excel sheet, the back of a receipt or napkin—wherever.
Make a “like”, “dislike”, and “meh” column. You can name the columns whatever you like just as long as you get the general idea across.
Download a free PDF worksheet here.
Sept 2: Fill-in
Have at least 5 items per column.
Keep in mind the more items per column the better this will work. Also remember no one will see this (unless you want them to) so list away.
Tips for filling-in the columns below.
Step 3: Summarize & Reflect
Now it’s time to take a step back. Go for a walk or just do some breathing for a moment.
Then review your list and take note of any patterns.
For example: Books, reading, learning, biographies can be summarized as “reading.”
So if you wrote a lot of items regarding physical health in your likes column you can say “I enjoy focusing on my physical health.”
Step 4: Action
Now use the list to make an action plan.
Focus on adding more of the things you like into your life while reducing the things that you don’t like. For instance, if you wrote a lot of items regarding physical health, focus on physical health.
Is there something in your “dislike” column you can ditch right now? Or something in your “like” column you can do right now?
If you don’t like laundry or household chores work on accepting that the chores are a part of life. You can make them more enjoyable by listening to music or podcasts while you do them.
For the “meh” list, make note of the things that you don’t really care about. So when they come up in outside conversation you can remind yourself to not bother with them.
For instance, I find celebrity gossip boring. It’s on my meh list. So when a friend tries to suck me into the latest celebrity scandal I don’t respond.
Step 5: Follow-up
Make a calendar notification on your phone to review the list in 30, 60 & 90 days.
When the time comes go to your list. Look at your progress and see if you can make any tweaks.
You may have things you would like to add to the list.
And you can reflect and find gratitude for the work you have been doing from the original list.
If you find you have made little progress work on taking more action.
Some Tips for Taking Inventory
- Think of things that are societally expected and how you feel about them. Put it in the appropriate column.
- Reflect on your day and the things that make you happy—or not—during a typical day.
- Think of the apps you use, people you talk to and your interactions with the world. What do you like or not like. What are you indifferent to?
- Look around your house and see what you like. Maybe you do not like the messy pile of clothes in the corner but you like the candle on the table—list them in the appropriate columns.
- Recall memories of things that made you really happy and things that made you sad. Write them down.
- Imagine your ideal life and put some things that are in that image in the like column, things you do not want there in the dislike column, and things you are indifferent to in the meh column.
- Take a couple deep breaths. Calm your brain and just let the thoughts come—uncontrolled. You’ll be surprised what you come up with!
Here’s an example from Friends of relaxing and letting the thoughts come uncontrolled.
Skip to :35
How Taking Inventory Changed My Life
While I couldn’t find my actual list from 8 years ago (what a bummer), the last time I saw the list was a few months ago, so I made a mock up from memory. It looked something like:
- Being healthy
- Consistent improvement
- Expensive cars
- Getting married
- New gadgets
- Flat tires
- High heals
After making the list, I made sure my next job was close to home and my quality of life improved! I feel less stress and my life overall is better!
I also make sure I get enough sleep. I have really dope pillows. I love eating healthy while also having not so healthy foods – in moderation. I am constantly working to improve myself and I have a lot of plants in my quiet home.
In regards to Mondays. I realized I did not like them but they are a day of the week just like any other. I needed to change my perspective because Monday’s weren’t going anywhere and did not care if I didn’t like them.
Now, I do not mind them as much. I accept them and that has contributed to a more positive outlook.
Writing this list 8 years ago gave me a lot of clarity and perspective. With that perspective I gained a deeper knowledge of myself and my personal likes and dislikes.
From there I was less likely to be influenced by external factors and I stuck to my goals.
So write your list and gain some focus. If you need help fell free to put any questions in the comments here.
Photo by Joanna Kosinska