I don’t know about you, but there are some times in my life when I feel as if thousands (I mean THOUSANDS) of ideas are running through my head. I pride myself on my velocity in thinking… but it is in these times when I just feel like I have to start to write it all down to sort through my thoughts. I have tried many things – voice notes on my Android, Evernote, phone apps, Dream Boarding/Vision Boarding, blogging, list making, extreme list making, journaling… you name it, I have probably tried it or at least given some thought to doing so.
There is one technique that seems to trump them all in my experience. That is mind mapping. I was first introduced to mind mapping in a cultural entrepreneurship class at Arizona State University. We learned that in some cultures, maps were often drawn with a stick or finger in the ground to demonstrate the physical location of where things are. This process is also used to teach people who do not have another tool to teach from, such as a white board or chalkboard. Then to go one more step further – to draw or map ideas on the ground as a form of idea organization. Imagine that. And who said playing in the dirt wasn’t fun (and useful)?
As much as I would love to join in the fun – Arizona desert sand is a bit hard to work with – and I might get burnt while sitting outside too long. So I decided to use my bathroom mirror. I found some old lipstick and used a dry erase marker and went to town.
It was an exhilarating and yet calming exercise for me. Before I decided on the mirror – I can’t tell you how many random pieces of paper and to do lists I used (unsuccessfully) to try and sort through my thoughts. The mirror was much better. It felt amazing to put a tangible picture to my rapid series of thoughts. I realized I achieved nearly all of my goals I set out to achieve as a child by the time I was 24 and now I had not set new goals. I was really excited to realize I had achieved so much already – but was frustrated about not feeling led to move forward in any particular direction. I felt like I was drowning in my thoughts – swept in one direction then in another. I hadn’t realized that I was in fact making progress towards completing tasks on my to-do lists, but not necessarily on my path to reach my long-term dreams – until I did this exercise.
My mind map mirror was so helpful that I decided to make an even bigger one. You might ask how I went about doing this? Well… the thought did cross my mind to use an entire wall and paint it, but then I realized I might get paint on the floor, I have to go buy the paint that could potentially find its way on the floor…etc. Then a friend suggested I go buy those giant post-it notes. Now I have to side note this and say that I have a secret obsession for post-it notes. I love writing lists and notes to myself – and really enjoy the variety of sizes and colors that post-it notes has to offer – now back to the story. I decided to take every mind map bubble and create a sticky note just for it. The idea was to use the first mind map (mirror) as the big high level strategy, then create smaller and smaller strategies until I had exactly which steps I could take today to start acting towards achieving my goals. This is a work in progress, but my goal is to cover the entire wall with sticky notes (ok really it is to figure out what to do – but I think it would make a great picture). I will post it when my masterpiece is complete. Muhahaahaa 🙂
For my fellow blog reading history buffs – A little history lesson on the origin and life path of mind maps – the technical definition of mind mapping is ‘a form of visual thinking done by writing one’s ideas down in the form of pictures or other graphical representation in order to get as clear a picture of the subject in question as possible.’ Mind mapping is not new – it has actually been around for centuries – a philosopher, Porphyry of Tyros, was thought to be the first mind mapper and he is ridiculously old (3rd century BC). Interesting how we find some ‘really old’ concepts still effective today. Other more popular mind mappers are the great Leonardo da Vinci, Dr. Collins (apparently the Father of Modern Mapping – because he decided to publish his ancestors’ work), and Tony Buzan (1960’s British psychologist).
Now a days, you don’t find many people playing in the dirt to figure out their life stories – but rather using technology — mind mapping software and smart phone apps. iMindMap, NovaMind, Mind Map Memo, MindMeister, iThoughts, SimpleMind+, iBlueSky …
If I were you – I would evaluate where you are in life right now. Is it where you want to be? Where are you going? Is it where you want to go? Have you ever thought about it? Now is the time – because tomorrow never happens.
My challenge to you is to go home and make your own mind map – share a link or post a picture here. I’d love to support you in reaching those goals!!!