How do you find happiness? Start here.

There’s something about fall.

The kids are settling back into school, vacations are coming to an end, and the slower work schedule you may have enjoyed during the summer has kicked into full gear. Fall feels like time to regroup and refocus.

Understandably, then, we can be prone to restlessness and reevaluation.

Maybe you’re considering making a career change in 2017, and you know now’s the time to start your search. Or perhaps you’re feeling unsettled in a way you can’t quite place.

Enter the life audit.

I walk all of my clients through this exercise when we meet. It’s all about assessing who you want to be.

We start by taking a holistic view of your life and evaluating eight areas that make up the life wheel: family, work, money, personal growth, health and wellness, spirituality, community, and living environment. We rank areas according to importance, and then we rank them according to time you realistically devote to each area.

As an executive coach, I use the life wheel to help my clients identify their top priorities.

In her Harvard Business Review article “Steps to Take When You’re Starting to Feel Burned Out,” executive coach Monique Valcour offers this strategy: For one week, track what you’re doing during blocks of time each day. Then, note the value of each activity and how it makes you feel. Angry? Depressed? Joyful? Energized?

“The basic principle is to limit your exposure to the tasks, people, and situations that drain you,” Valcour says, “and increase your exposure to those that replenish you.”

Sometimes, simply identifying your priorities versus your realities is enlightening. For example, you might want family to rank first. But in reality, family ranks fifth. Wish they were number one? Strategize steps to get there. Once you start taking them, happiness follows.

Try it for yourself: Which four areas would you say are your top priorities now? Which four do you wish were your top priorities?

Your answers to these two questions could reveal the source of your fall restlessness.

Maybe you’re putting a lot of time and energy into a job that doesn’t seem to be furthering your personal growth. Or perhaps your health and wellness have taken a backseat to time with family.

When we’re able to clearly define what it is we want, we establish our core values—those things that we say are most important to us. If our actions aren’t aligning with our core values, then, we shouldn’t be surprised to feel anxious and uptight.

Once you’re able to say, “OK, I see where I’m falling short, and I want to make a change,” you can create an action plan. This is a set of specific, intentional, manageable steps to get you to a better, happier place.

That may mean setting aside 20 minutes to go on a walk a few times a week. Or maybe it’s spending an hour updating your resume to reflect your most recent accomplishments.

Just creating this plan can do wonders for your restlessness. You’re already being truer to who you are and what you want.

Finally, once you start acting on your plan, remember to celebrate. It’s easy to complete one step and immediately start thinking about the next. Pause, reflect, and give yourself some credit.

Happiness isn’t elusive. It’s possible. You simply need to define what it means to you—and enjoy the journey.

Interested in help with a life audit? I’m an executive coach in Columbus, Ohio, but I work with clients nationwide. I’d love to help you find your happy. You can reach me at 614.403.4519 or


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