How to use mind mapping to achieve your goals in 2019
In my last post, I shared with you how I set resolutions that I can actually stick with through goal setting. If you’ve tried that for yourself, you might be looking at your list right now, wondering where to start. Time to make a plan!
How? Through mind mapping!
What is mind mapping?
Mind mapping is the process of externalizing your internal thoughts in order to explore them in depth. Starting with a certain problem or goal, the aim is to identify all the variables and opportunities and how they are interlinked to identify pitfalls before you actually get started with tackling your challenge.
Mind mapping accomplishes this by allowing you visualize everything at once, freeing up mental space for other thoughts. All of the foreseeable opportunities, risks and threats are laid out, so you can better understand the problem at hand before you start making any big decisions.
Sound good? Here’s how you can get started:
State Your Challenge
What is the goal or problem you want to work on today?
Develop a statement or challenge to explore. This could be something really specific, like how to double your revenue this year, or it could be something more ambiguous, like how to deal with a new competitor in your market.
Beyond business, you could even use mind mapping to make personal decisions. Thinking about moving to another country, considering that job offer, not sure what the problem is in your relationship? The sky’s the limit and the world’s your oyster.
Getting Setup for Success
To mind map, you’ll need a few tools to work with.
Mind mapping is not as simple as writing down a long list of ideas, or pros and cons, because you want to be able to connect the dots between all the aspects of the problem or challenge, grouping related thoughts around different themes, and shifting things around as you go to create a clear structure and path.
There are lots of ways that you could do this. If stationery shops are the stuff of dreams for you — good news! A trip is on the cards! My favourite way is to use a giant sheet of paper or a whiteboard with post-it notes and markers. If you’re more tech inclined, you could use a simple software like PowerPoint or purpose-built mind mapping tools. Whatever works for you.
Of course, the most important tool will be brainpower. You can mind map on your own, but it can be useful to have a team or a buddy to work with. If you are a company of one, asking a friend or someone who works in your industry can be really helpful. Not only can others help generate more ideas, they can also really help you get outside of your own head and check your own assumptions.
Map Your Thoughts
When you’re ready to start mind mapping, write down your problem statement in the center of worksheet.
Next, it’s time to brain dump everything you can think of that relates to your problem. There are no boundaries here, no judgments and no bad ideas… the important thing is to get everything out. Write each thought on a separate post-it note (or whatever tool you’re using).
When you can’t think of anything else to add, start grouping your ideas, forging visual connections between anything that’s related. For example, you could use general themes, like opportunities, threats, outcomes and other considerations, as well as problem-specific themes, like ideas related to your market, the supply chain, financing or marketing etc.
Move your ideas around, write down titles for your themes, draw arrows to see how things are interrelated. For example if you do X, will that affect Y? How? Does that also impact another variable? How can you avoid that or what can you do to overcome that, if it does happen? How bad will it be? Are you seeing new connections? Do you need to add more ideas? Add them. Working through your thoughts in this manner, you can bring order and structure to your brain dump and turn it into something cohesive — a game plan!
Evaluating your Game Plan
At the end, you should be left with a clear idea of what you need to do to tackle your problem. That doesn’t mean it will be easy, but at the very least, you’ll go in with both eyes open, having a better sense of the possible outcomes, both positive and negative, as well as practical, actionable steps that you can work through one-by-one to get closer to your goal.
If this is not where you got to, it’s possible that you’re not quite ready to solve your problem. If you have too many conflicting ideas, too many knowledge gaps, or an overwhelming amount of negative outcomes, you may want to step back and reevaluate your initial problem statement or goal to identify how you can better equip yourself to get there. Do you need someone else’s input or advice? Do you need to do a bit more research? Is it maybe not the right time for you to make this decision? Try to identify what’s holding you back and try again at a later stage.
If you’ve never tried mind mapping, I really encourage you to give it a go. It can be immensely helpful to get all your ideas out of your head and onto paper. With all that extra head space, and a bird’s eye view of your problem or challenge, you’ll be in a better position to tackle things head on and achieve your goals.
Good luck! Let me know how it goes. :)