Kick-off to 2011: Mind-Maps, Passion and Pancakes

As we enter the second week of the new year, I bring you one of my favorite exercises from one of the most creative people I know – Paul Williams of Idea Sandbox. Paul's Pave Your Life Roadmap exercise (more below) is one that I frequently refer to coaching clients and often revisit myself. I blogged about this exercise in 2008, but wanted to remind you all in the spirit of personal exploration and intention-setting for the year ahead. As I mentioned last time, this is one of the most clear, simple (and fun!) approaches to life planning I’ve seen, and I find that no matter how many times I think “I’ve already done that” – I come up with something new.

Summary of steps from the Pave Your Life Roadmap exercise:

  1. List Your Passions – Make a list of all the things you are passionate about.
  2. Identify Values – Group your passions into themes.
  3. Set the Situation – Determine what conditions should exist for you to feel you’re fulfilling your Values.
  4. Reveal Action Steps – Identify what daily activities you should be doing to fulfill your Values.
  5. Visual Report Card – Draw a graph to visualize and assess your current status. (Don’t worry, no drafting tools required).
  6. Take Action / Follow Your Roadmap – Now that you have the keys, get behind the wheel and follow this plan to drive your life.

I've provided two examples as a kick-start for your own process below (check out Paul's website for a full set of his own examples). Even though I did these two years ago, it's surprising how many of my passions/interests remain the same. In fact, I take that as a great sign that the exercise helped me dig deep enough to get to the core of what really matters to me.

Step one: list your passions by making a no-holds-barred, whatever comes to you mind-map. Never done one? Here’s an example of mine from 2008:

Pave your life roadmap - passions

You might also check out Wikipedia’s article on Mind Mapping.

Step two: identify values by summarizing key themes. For each value or theme, write “If I had a life filled with _______________, I would . . .” and brainstorm five answers for each.

Here’s my example based on the mind-map above:

Pave your life roadmap - step two - themes

A note on Mind Maps and New Years resolutions

Mind maps can be a great way to solve problems, studyset goals and identify priorities. Instead of setting traditional New Years resolutions (though I have nothing against them despite the giant backlash that occurs every year), I create an annual goals mind-map with my friend Liz.

This year marked our third annual mind-mapping/vision session. Each time we do this, we get together over lunch and a pile of colored markers, then outline goals for every area of our lives. We also review our mind-maps from the previous year to celebrate progress.

This year I taped mine to the back of my front door, where I'm creating a vision/idea-board of sorts out of the entire door. When I see things that represent big huge goals, I tape them up to the back of my door (like the coaster from the SoHo House in NYC). I also have a blank sheet of paper with the following open questions: "How can I innovate?", "What problems can I solve?" and "How can I bring my best self into the world?"

For those who are curious, my main goals for this year (different from the larger intentions) are:

  • Figure out how to live on both coasts and/or move to NYC for a period of time
  • Make a bestseller list!
  • Be on The Today Show (or a major morning show)
  • Exercise for at least ten minutes per day, 365 days in a row (even if it's just a walk or a short yoga sequence in my living room)
  • Develop (semi) passive income streams (launch an online coaching program, e-book, etc)
  • Complete my Yoga Teacher Certification (requires teaching 20 group classes and 5 private sessions)
  • Stay TV free; keep up the minimal coffee/dairy/meat intake

Of course many of these are GIANT stretch goals, but I say go big or go home, baby! If I try and I fail, I know I will learn a ton in the process. And the side outcomes of pursuing such big things might surprise me :)

Merlin Mann: Stop Blaming the Pancacke

Finally, for a great article on not giving up on goals or resolutions, check-out Merlin Mann's Resolved: Stop Blaming the Pancake. An excerpt:

No matter how good a cook you are, and no matter how hard you try, the first pancake of the batch always sucks. It comes out burnt or undercooked or weirdly shaped or just oddly inedible and aesthetically displeasing.

...And, like clockwork–usually around today or maybe tomorrow–a huge cohort of those cooks will begin to abandon their resolve and go back to thinking all their pancakes have to suck. Just because that first one failed.

...Accept that the first pancake will always suck. Hell, if you’ve never picked up a spatula before, be cool with the fact that your first hundred pancakes might suck. This is, as I’ve said, huge. Failure is the sound of beginning to suck a little less.

How about you -- how do you set big goals and plan for the year ahead? How do you stay motivated even when the first pancake sucks?


P.S. I guest-posted at Doniree's blog for her "This is my year to ____" series: jump on over to read more about my year to FLY.

P.P.S. Reminder: I'll be delivering a free 60-minute career strategy webinar this Thursday from 12-1 PST. Join us if you can! Here’s a brief description:

The Ladder is Out — How to Manage Your Career in the Age of the App The era of climbing the ladder as a method of managing your career is out. We are now in the age of the app – everything you need is at your fingertips, fully customizable to your unique career dreams and aspirations. Rather than follow a linear path, learn how to explore, experiment and build a strong foundation that suits your dynamic talents and goals. [Read more and sign-up]