Wednesday, August 3, 2016

Mind Mapping a Vision for a New Year

In Jr. High I learned how to outline a paper using Roman numerals as main ideas, and capital letters as supporting details. The problem with this is that, it is too linear to make connections between ideas, big and small, and requires one to prematurely commit to an order. In his book, How to Think Like Leonardo DaVinci,  Michael J. Gelb, explains that mind mapping can help you explore ideas for a paper or project in a way that is more brain balanced.

You start by drawing a picture and a word or two in the center of a piece of paper that represents your subject. It may be body systems for a science project, a character for a novel you are writing, or an upcoming family reunion that you want to plan. From there you draw different colored arrows out from the center, for each main topic; so for the body systems, you'd have an arrow for the digestive system, another for the circulatory system, etc. You may have arrows branching to body parts with in each system. You can draw arrows between topics, for example, the oxygen from the respiratory will mix with the blood in the circulatory system, so add a word or picture and some arrows to show the connection.

I make a mind map each year (my new year starts in the fall with school), to chart my goals and vision for the upcoming academic calendar. I always place a balanced, happy life in the center, which often includes a picture of my home, because home is where my heart is. But the parts that I make goals for include work and finance. Health goals split into physical and spiritual hopes. Family is split into each child and the goals and things that I can help them achieve. I have a fun section that usually includes small, medium, and large trips I want to take. Going to Peru and Italy are long term goals that may not happen this year, but I want to keep them on my radar. Travel is with family and requires financial planning so it makes sense to place travel between the two. Other goals float between sections such as date nights with my husband, which pertains both to my "fun" and "family" topics; reading the New Testament this year is both a family goal and spiritual goal.

I keep my "vision board" mind map in the front of a new sketchbook every year and look at it often. It's not set in cement, but is always open for more scribbles. I check completed goals off with the dates, and sometimes write more detailed plans in the margins, like this last year as I approached the goal to pay off the mortgage and started charting out month by month how much to pay. I finished that goal early thanks to the reminder my mind map gave me.

While I use mind mapping to outline the goals I have for the future. I use other visual ways of remember events from the past. Several recent sketchbook pages have allowed me to look back with more gratitude for the gifts life has given me, such as adventures of scuba and sky diving, snow and water skiing. Rather than just listing out all of the fun things I've gotten to do, I made very simple illustrations to help me remember at a glance.

I may not remember every museum I've been to and its name, but I remember the location of many of them, and tried to document them. I've done similar pages for memorable meals and foods I've eaten, live theater performances, historical sites. I will probably do a page for National Parks and another for zoos, aquariums, and gardens.  Remembering all the little events that make up my life makes me feel rich and happy amid the daily mess of dishes and carpool. It's been fun to give myself these quick exercise in organizing the past and the future in a meaningful way.


  1. I saw Illinois on that mind map travel plan. We'd love to see you guys!! :)

  2. Let's make it happen! I still need to find a month with a little window in it.