Life is really busy – for some reason, time just goes out the window. Trying to think about the future is difficult when I am so busy in the present. I want to learn as much as possible about the many things that interest me. This needs to be combined with working on the house, in the garden, study, cooking, washing-up etc. I have a full time job (for now!) that involves travel but I also spend a lot of time building websites and trying to build a portfolio of photos. There is a pile of books that I am working through and at least 10 films to watch!
As part of my lifestyle assessment, I have looked at the above and tried to decide if I am trying to do too much. Is my focus in the right place? Should I be shifting my priorities?
My short term goals need to consider where I want to be in the future. I need to get a clear idea of what I want to achieve in order to decide on how to get there. My experience in Marketing will help with this but knowing the method alone is not enough… I must develop a vision! It is time to break open the Moleskin notebook and get mind mapping.
There is nothing more effective than a mind map to help get things into perspective. Actually, there are likely to be hundreds of effective methods but Mind Maps work well for me! It is one of the tools that I use when making decisions or plans that revolve around a number of different factors. In fact, I have used them during meetings and for planning answers for study assignments! The simplicity of the process means you can get all of your ideas put down quickly and in context with each other. They are also very easy to return to at a later date because of their logical structure.
The idea is that you start with a central idea and develop it along branches to further points. These points can then also be expanded upon. The benefits of this non-linear approach is that you can add information to any point on the diagram at any stage, as and when the thought occurs. At the end, you should have a complete overview of the subject you are mapping. You can find plenty of detailed instructions and guides with a quick Google search, but its important to understand that anything goes.
Some explanations provide details of what different shapes mean, different connecting lines, different colours etc. As long as you are using the maps in the way your mind works, you are doing it right! If you are interested, here is a short list of mind mapping resources I found.
- Wikipedia guide to mind mapping – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mind_map
- Mindmeister: online mind mapping tool – http://www.mindmeister.com/
- Freemind: Free cross platform software – http://freemind.sourceforge.net
- XMIND: Free software with online collaboration – http://www.xmind.net/
Some people like software tools, some like online systems and some, like me, prefer to use a pencil! If you get comfortable using mind maps, whichever tool you use, there will be ways to modify it to suit other needs.
Defining my vision
To be honest, this is really hard. It’s easy to consider dreams and aspirations but these are not tangible goals. By completing the above assessment, I know how much money I need each month to cover outgoings and I have detailed the aspirations I would like to reach, but formalising the statement is very difficult. For today I think I will settle on a few statements!
- I must earn enough money to cover my ‘needs’ and save towards my ‘wants’.
- I would like to earn money through flexible and fulfilling means.
- I must take opportunities when they are available.
- I must put more focus on health and fitness.
This might seem to be an open-ended list, however, I think it will provide enough basis with which to work on. These are my first draft notes and will narrow the parameters for the next stage. I am going to leave these for a few days and then look again. With decisions like this, a bit of reflection time is valuable as it allows you to look again with ‘nearly’ fresh eyes. The next post will be on planning an ‘Experience’.