Most people have a mental map of where they live – they are familiar with the area surrounding their town and within even a greater sense about their state. People know where to turn to drive to the grocery store and can give directions to visitors looking for a nearby location. And most of us can give a very good estimate of how much time it takes to get from Point A to Point B. We are able to visualize our surroundings, estimate travel times over long distances and arrive at the proper destinations.
This powerful concept can also be applied to “mentally moving” toward a new goal or destination. By knowing where you are in life and knowing what your ultimate destination is, you can determine what route will get you there and how much time you need to accomplish your goal. You are able to create a clear and conscious path to navigate toward your goal.
”Mental mapping” can be accomplished by writing a list or by creating a visual mind map. You can lay down stepping-stones and build a bridge from one nebulous thought to a structured plan with several options.
Start by writing down one of your major goals and drawing a big circle around it. Now jot down words or ideas around that big circle that could help you realize your goal. These ideas often become the small successful steps that help you reach your goal. Many influential CEOs have built companies or made significant changes in their industry from a simple napkin drawing. By giving form to your ideas, you may now “see” your solution and can make thoughtful choices to move in this new direction.
Connect your circles (ideas) with “branches” to similar or associated ideas. This makes your steps easier to remember and creates a logical connection about how to move forward. If you hate to write, fill your mental map with drawings and images that speak to you. This process is all about realizing where you are and where you want to go. It is a very simple and effective tool for exploring creative ideas and options to make a change.
I have included a simple mental map as an example; there are many variations. Curvy lines, organic thoughts, and bold colors incorporated with free-association style thinking encourage many people to come up with even more ideas. Your free-form thoughts can be streamlined into a strategic action plan. Let yourself be open to new possibilities and experiences. You may discover a brand-new solution you never dreamed of before!
Share your maps on Twitter or Facebook. It would be great to see how others express their ideas!