Mind Map Your Future

I had a dream last night about being lost and confused en route to the beach. It seems I jumped in my car and thought I knew how to get to the ocean instinctively. (In real life I reside in WI so that would be quite a trick). I took a few too many wrong turns and ended up in a diner in the middle of nowhere wishing that I had consulted a map and plotted my route.

When I opened my eyes this morning with the dream still fresh in my mind, I had this flash of “Yeah, I need a map!”. As the fog of sleep receded I realized what I actually need is to create a roadmap for my life and business aspirations for this New Year. You may be familiar with the saying; “If you don’t have a destination and a map to get there, how will you know when you’ve arrived?”

In working with clients in career and life transitions, I have found the Mind Mapping process to be invaluable as a method to open up new possibilities for fulfilling work, create business plans and orchestrate life changes. It is a technique to utilize both the linear, analytical, logical side of the brain with the intuitive, creative, artistic side. Definition: “the Mind Map is the external mirror of your own radiant or natural thinking facilitated by a powerful graphic process, which provides the universal key to unlock the dynamic potential of the brain.” (from mindmapping.com)

We are taught to make lists and write or type from the left to the right in rows. The brain doesn’t think linearly, it works by association branching out in many directions from each thought.

As you think about what you want to accomplish in the New Year, you may want to access both your intellect and your intuition, the left and right sides of your brain respectively. Give it a try!

How to Mind Map:
1. Use a large piece of paper, like flip chart size or poster board.
2. Place your topic in the center of the page and work outward.
3. Use color and graphics to represent themes, associations and to emphasize.
4. Play some invigorating music to stimulate your right brain.
5. Keep your writing hand moving, if you don’t know what to write next, add color or circle words of importance.
6. Consider using stars, arrows and icons to connect different ideas or elements.

Don’t censor yourself, as ideas pop into your head, get them down on the paper. Think of this exercise as making a giant doodle with a purpose; to utilize your whole brain! Use whatever arts and craft stuff you have on hand: crayons, markers, colored pencils, stamps, stickers etc. For some visual examples and more information on Mind Mapping check out these resources:

The Mind Map Book, by Tony Buzan and Mindmapping, by Joyce Wycoff are my favorites.


Twelve Questions to Help You Find Your Calling

150 years ago peoples’ jobs were primarily determined by what they had a talent for – people worked at crafts and provided services based on their natural skills and interests. In modern times, most of us end up choosing careers for all sorts of reasons that have little or nothing to do with what we enjoy and are naturally good at. We end up in careers that are inherently wrong fits for us and we languish in cubicles or stress out in jobs we don’t like. What if we got in touch with our hidden talents and found a way to utilize our natural gifts to do work that we found satisfying, or even fun? Here are 12 questions for you to ponder to help you discover what might become your life’s work:

1. What do you love to do? Think about your hobbies, interests, recreational and volunteer activities. Most of us enjoy doing things we are good at, so our leisure activities can be indicators of your gifts and talents.

2. Recall an event when you were so absorbed in what you were doing that you completely lost track of time. What activity were you engaged in? How did it make you feel?

3. What do you naturally do well? What actions are easy for you? (for example: writing stories, fixing things, analyzing trends, cooking, organizing events, managing money, remembering facts, teaching, envisioning new ways of being, resolving disputes, creating beauty, etc.)

4. What are five things in your life, past or present, which you are most proud of or feel were your most successful accomplishments?

5. Is there a cause, a movement, or an idea that you feel committed to and passionate about? What would you “put it all on the line” for?

6. Think of a time when you experienced a breakthrough
Can you describe what you were doing and where you were when you had an “ah ha” moment?

7. Looking back over your life up to now, do you see any repeating incidents, patterns or themes? What can they tell you about what you like (or don’t like) to do with your time?

8. What do you daydream or fantasize about doing? Have you ever said, “Some day I’d like to do that?” What would that be?

9. Can you think of a time when you were watching or reading about another person’s accomplishment(s) and wished you could do that? Is there a person living or dead that you greatly admire? What do you most admire that person for?

10. Do you have a sense that you have things yet to accomplish? Try to identify those. From the perspective of being at the end of your life and looking back, what will it feel like if you never attempt to do these things? What do you still want to do in your life?

11. What kind of work would you do if you knew you could not fail and money was not an issue? Think big here!  Would you work on saving the environment, advocate for social justice issues, create art or write direct a motion picture?

12. What do you want to be remembered for? How will you have contributed to the world?


Last Sunday as I was enjoying my coffee John Lennon’s “Imagine” came on the radio. It must be one of the most wonderful songs of all time, and it got me to thinking about his incredible talent and the legacy of music he left us.

John was raised by his aunt who resoundingly told him he couldn’t make a living playing a guitar. What if he had believed her? Think of all the songs John wrote that we would never have heard. Imagine the last 30 years without the influence of the Beatles! Thank goodness John pursued his passion for making music.

The key to happiness is to do what you love to do, and do it very well. Use your talents, skills and abilities in a way that brings you fulfillment.

What have you thought about that you’d like to do “someday?” It could be anything from cooking to captaining your own sail boat, playing a musical instrument or presenting a workshop. An amazing thing happens when you connect to your creativity, you become energized, engaged, and excited. From this charged place, all manner of opportunities can arise.

I spoke with a woman yesterday who, having been downsized from her office job, decided to take the European trip she’d always wanted to do. Wandering through the markets in Italy and France, she found fabulous jewelry, handbags and other womens accessories. Back in the states, friends and strangers alike commented on her beautiful purchases. She decided to explore the market, to see if small retailers might be interested in carrying similar Italian and French imports. How great would it be to fund her travels to Europe and pay herself for going shopping? She has now made a couple of trips and has established several buyers. Her passion has turned into a profitable business.

What have you always wanted to do? What do you love? Please share your thoughts, and we’ll discuss how those things could be turned into viable and profitable business ventures in future posts.

Enterprising Ideas

I taught a class last week “First Steps to Starting a Business” at the Job Center.  You know, where everyone who has been “downsized” goes to file their unemployment claims.  The class was packed with both blue and white collar workers seeking an alternative to job hunting in a dismal labor market.  What many of them failed to bring with them was an idea of what kind of busness they could initiate.  I overviewed the contents in my last blog entry and then suggested they do some research.  Yep–market research on the web.

There are some terrific sites out there to help you get the gray matter moving.  One I frequently suggest is www.springwise.com .   They have 8000 or so spotters who “scan the globe looking for smart new business ideas delivering instant inspiration to entrepreneurial minds”.  What is so great about this is that many of the ideas that have been put into action are from Europe and Asia.  (Meaning that maybe no one stateside has thought of it yet). For instance, I recall a story of a clever enterprise using coin operated/card powered stationary bikes to charge cell phones at music festivals in England.  The attendees waited in line, cash/card in hand to jump on the bikes getting some exercise and the ability to text their buddies at the same time.  After the concert the guys simply packed up the bikes and moved on to the next venue. Brilliant!

Need some ideas?  Check out Springwise.  And if you find some other interesting sites, please post them in comments to share ’em.