Monday, May 21, 2012

Step #3 –A Personal Inventory Assessment – Part 2

Part 1 of Step #3 discussed creating an inventory assessment of your personal tangible assets. If you’re even remotely like me, you’ll continue finding tangible assets for a long time. When I gave up the ranch and undertook the major part of my downsizing I had a perpetual “moving sale” for over a month including a couple of weekends of open houses. A lot of tangible assets left the premises through that sale. I also sent four dump trucks of old files, ancient personal papers, nearly 40 years of Christmas decorations and similar “stuff” to the landfill. I carted about 20 heavy cartons of books to a used bookstore. I made trips to Goodwill and the Salvation Army donation centers. Yet, I still had enough left to fill up a 300 square foot storage unit with what was leftover.

I’ve been clearing that unit out now for the past three and a half years and I’m getting close to closing it out. But, during these three and a half years, I am astonished that I’m still finding assets of varying value that I’ve totally forgotten about. They have been hidden in boxes and various other containers where I suppose I put them at some time in the past with the idea that I’d get back to them someday. Well, someday has arrived. So, as you’re working on creating your personal inventory of tangible assets, don’t allow it to stress you. Most people are pack rats of one shade or another. Just keep adding to your list. In another step you’re going to make decisions about the items on your list.

Inventorying The Intangible

Now, you’re going to begin working on Part 2 of your personal inventory assessment. Part 2 deals with the intangible assets in your life. These intangibles are housed within your physical body, your mind and memory and your soul/spirit/third eye/heart or however you choose to describe that part of your being that isn’t as easy to quantify as your tangible physical self.

This time you’re going to create several different sheets to list your intangible assets. I’m going to list several here and tell you what information you’ll need to list on them. As you’re working on this step you may find that you’ll need to create some forms of your own. Go right ahead and do so, everyone is different and unique so there is no “one-size-fits-all” in this 12 Step Plan.

Here are some forms to create:

  1. People
  2. Education
  3. Professional/Vocational
  4. Personal Individual Interests/Hobbies/Avocations
  5. Body/Mind Health & Fitness
  6. Reading/Listening/Viewing
  7. Travel Experiences
  8. Spiritual – Religious (not necessarily the same thing)
  9. Positive/Negative Experiences
  10. Finances gains/losses
  11. The Dark Side
  12. Enlightenment/Aha Moments/Joys

You may, as I suggested, add more forms as you work through this step, but this is plenty to start with. You’ll find that some of these forms will have more listed on them then others and that’s fine. Once again, there is no standard pattern. Everyone is a unique patchwork quilt of human experiences. As you make your personal inventory of intangible assets you’re, hopefully, going to discover just how unique and interesting you are. Also, you’ll hopefully begin discovering a pattern through your life that will suggest a number of possible directions you’ll want to explore in your quest for living freer and happier.

It’s also important to realize and accept that these intangible assets can’t simply be eliminated through yard sales, Ebay, Craig’s List, donations or dumping at the landfill. They are part of you and will remain part of you until you die. What you want to do is identify these intangibles, many or, perhaps, most of which you may take for granted. Everything about you beginning with your genetic make-up makes you a designer original. There is no other person on this planet of seven billion people who has experienced life exactly as you’ve experienced it. Your life is your own “road less traveled.”

Form #1 is about People. Label columns across the top of the sheet as follows: Name, When, Where, Relationship, Contact, Value and R/S/L (stands for reason, season and lifetime)

Here is what they mean. Name is, of course, obvious. Name every person you can think of or remember that you’ve had some kind of interaction with. Of course, there are many you won’t remember and that’s not important. But, if you do remember someone then they have played some role in your life. There should be at least hundreds as you continue thinking about this.

When, means when did you meet them – you could say childhood, school, church, college, job, etc. leave enough space to elaborate enough to make it clear. Where means, it was a specific neighborhood, school & grade, company, city, and so on. Relationship can use abbreviations such as Fam for family, Fr for friend, B for buddy, BF for best friend, M/S for manager/supervisor, T for teacher, P for professor, V for vendor or supplier and you can make up your own as you go along. Don’t forget to create a key for these abbreviations. Contact means how often are you in contact – F for frequently, S for seldom, O for occasionally, S/M for Social Media contacts, N for never, etc. Value means VP/L for very personal/loving, obviously reserved for spouses, parents, offspring, siblings and similar. F/L is for close loving friends. F is for casual friends. A is for acquaintances. P is for professional, L is for little value and T is for toxic.

Finally, R/S/L means that someone came into your life for a Reason, like a college professor or a teacher or religious leader and so on. Or the person came into your life for a Season, perhaps you were close friends for several years through college and then went your separate ways, but you gained from the relationship in some way. And the L is for Lifetime and these are the people who are with you and continue to impact your life for a lifetime, either their lifetime or yours. They would be parents, siblings, offspring, lifelong friends, etc.

Form #2 is Education. This one requires that you simply list all of your formal education and training including pre-school through high school, college, advanced degrees, occupational/professional, military, seminars, in-service, continuing education programs, certifications, recreational/hobby and any other forms of specialized knowledge/training you’ve experienced during your lifetime. All of these experiences are part of who you are and are intangible assets.

Form #3 is Professional and Vocational. On this form you’re going to list each job or professional experience you’ve had from the very first until the present. When did you begin to learn about the necessity of doing something to provide for your survival and well-being and ultimately that of your family, if you have one? Did you begin helping your father or mother around the house for which they paid you something? We often call this an allowance, however, there were usually some small chores attached to that allowance. I was a newspaper boy at age 12 and learned about handling money, responsibility, commitment and what I could do with the money I earned. Did you have a lemonade stand or mow lawns or shovel snow? Did you have part-time jobs in supermarkets or fast food restaurants, gas stations, newspapers, etc.? Did you have work scholarships or graduate assistantships in college and graduate school? What full-time and part-time jobs have you had during your adult life? Have you been in business for yourself and created your own job? Indicate when each of these experiences occurred. And, here’s the most important part. Indicate what you learned, gained, experienced in each of these situations and how you apply it to your life currently. You may not think it has, but there is no way it hasn’t influenced who you are today.

Form #4 is Personal Interests and Hobbies. This probably won’t be a very long list since most of us find these interests and hobbies when we’re fairly young and they evolve with us and us with them. So, list your personal interests and hobbies? When did the initial interest begin? Do you belong to any organizations with other people with the same interests? How much time during your lifetime have you been able to devote to these interests? Are you fine with where you are with your current involvement or would you like to expand the involvement? How have you benefited in your overall life because of this special interest or hobby?

Form #5 is Body/Mind Health and Fitness. Here you are going to list everything you’ve done in the past and currently do to keep yourself physically and mentally healthy. You’re also going to list the negative things like dealing with broken bones, heart attacks, cancer, diabetes, MS and so on. What treatments did you undergo? What were the outcomes of those treatments – full-recovery, limited recovery, loss of some functionality, etc.? What have you learned through these experiences about yourself and how have they impacted your life to the present time?

Form #6 is Reading, Listening and Viewing. What books have you read? Who have you listened to in lectures and music in person or on tape (the old format), CD’s (a current format) or downloads (the format of the future)? What movies and TV shows have you watched? It is, again, impossible to remember every single book, every single lecture, every single piece of music and every single movie or TV show you’ve ever read, listened to or watched. But, the ones you do remember had some impact on you or you wouldn’t remember them. Attempt to remember when you read/listened/viewed them and the reason or motivation for reading/listening/viewing them. For example, books that have influenced me include “Atlas Shrugged” and “The Road Less Traveled” to mention just two of far too many to go into for this example. How have these various forms of input impacted your life to the present?

Form #7 is Travel Experiences. Perhaps you have not had an opportunity to travel broadly. On the other hand, maybe you’ve traveled the world. Any travel, even if it’s only to the nearest large city is going to change your outlook and worldview. List everyplace you’ve ever traveled since you can remember as a child. List the circumstances of the travel, such as a family vacation, to visit grandparents who were some distance away, to attend a wedding or funeral and so on. List all your adult travel for fun, for business, for obligations of various kinds. Then list the impact each travel experience had on you. What did you learn about the people you met, the things you saw, the places you went, etc.? How has this impacted your life and worldview in the present?

Form #8 is Spiritual and Religious experiences. It doesn’t matter if you’re a devout Christian, Orthodox Jew, Muslim, Buddhist, Agnostic, Atheist or anything else. Humans, by nature, are spiritual beings. You may not practice any religion, however, there are times when you do experience some kind of connection to another human being or something in nature. You may not describe these feelings, attitudes or experiences as spiritual, but that’s not important. The fact that you do is all that matters. As humans we grow and evolve and all of these experiences add a dimension to who we are ultimately becoming on a practical, real world basis. So, list every religious experience, the religious education you may have had as a child, the organizations you may have or may still belong to and any other experience that may be explained in some manner as spiritual in nature. When did these experiences occur? How have they influenced and impacted your life and who you are currently?

Form #9 is Positive and Negative experiences. Some of these may have found places on other lists that you’re currently making, but list them here anyway. During your lifetime there have been positive experiences such as your first boyfriend/girlfriend, the first time you made love, the standing ovation you received at your first solo in elementary school or the blue ribbon you received on a project you did for the 4H Club. Perhaps, you graduated with honors from high school or college, received a full-scholarship to the university of your choice or became a partner in the firm you worked for. The negatives could have been the break-up of your first relationship or later in life, the divorce or death of a spouse. Perhaps you flunked out of college or were fired from a job you really liked. Maybe you took a big loss in the stock market or you had to bankrupt your business. List every one of the positive and negative experiences you can remember. Then list the positive impact regardless of the positive or negative nature of the experience, each has had on your life. Don’t be concerned with the negative impact. That’s over. But, every experience has a positive side to it and that’s what makes you better for it – the intangible asset.

Form #10 is Financial Gains and Losses. It doesn’t matter who you are, including Warren Buffett, Bill Gates and “The Donald,” you have realized some financial gains and some financial losses. That is simply the way the world and life works. List them including when they occurred and the impact on your life and how you gained, even from the losses. Perhaps, you had a business go under where you had invested every cent you had. Maybe, due to the loss of a job, your house went into foreclosure. You may have made a pile of money in the stock market and took a sizeable sum of that money and, unsuspectingly, put it into a fund that was going through Bernie Madoff. List the positive outcome of each experience whether positive or negative. Again, you gained and it’s part of your current intangible assets.

Form #11 is The Dark Side. Yes! There is some Darth Vader in every person, including you. It’s important to remember that this is YOUR personal inventory. No one else needs to ever see this. The only person it’s important to is you. So, look deep inside and dig out those dark things that you don’t want anyone to know about. List everything you can remember that you’ve ever done that you’re not proud of or that you’re ashamed of. I won’t make any suggestions here. You know your own heart. And the reason you know these dark things is because in some way, at some time, they have shown their ugly colors. As you list them, also list all the positive things that you do and have done because of realizing you have this dark side.

Form #12 is the Enlightenment, Aha Moments and Joys of your life. This is the opposite side of what you listed on Form #11. Mostly, you are a very good person. There may be a few people in our society who are sociopaths and dwell in their dark side. Most people control their dark side and live in the light. You have not only enjoyed doing positive things for yourself and others, but you have gained from others the same way. List all the times of enlightenment and aha moments when something of wonder crossed your path. Also, recall the times of great joy when you may have done something for someone else, without consideration of any reward, compensation or return. You just experienced the joy of making someone else happier or made his or her life a little better, perhaps at a bad time in his or her life. List how these experiences have impacted your life in a positive way and how they are evident in whom you are in the present.

May The Force Be With You

That’s all for this step and that’s plenty to do regarding your intangible assets. After you’ve worked on this, even for a short time, you’ll realize just how important and unique you are. You’ll better understand where the real assets are in your world and they aren’t in your attic, basement, garage or storage building. They are all within you.

Later, we’re going to learn how dealing with the tangible assets and utilizing your intangible assets more fully will allow you to begin living free and being happier and more joyful. But, as I wrap up Step #3, I want to remind you that this is not an evening or weekend project. You have the rest of your life to complete this step. There is no deadline or finish line in this process except the “ultimate” and final finish line we will all cross at some point in our lives. So, take your time and enjoy the process. No matter what you do, as long as you do something, you are the beneficiary.

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