A Practical Guide to Getting Started
So you've cleared time and you are ready to start dreaming about your future life. But where do you start? I thought I was "ready" and I sat down to start writing down my goals.
…but nothing came out.
I kept trying to think about the things that I thought I'd want to do but I wasn't inspired. I kept thinking about the things within my current box. It was hard to think outside of that box.
So I turned to mind mapping. I never thought I would do a mind map, I hated them. Mind maps in the Information Technology world is this giant messy maze of connections that never seemed to make any sense to me. But I saw this video by a former Google career coach who talks through using a mind map to brainstorm on what you want to do. She talks about breaking out of linear thinking, which is where I was stuck.
What I found was that it allowed me to think freely about things, just things that were circulating in my head. It was amazing. At first I was a little blocked, thinking about the things that I thought were right. But I heard what the coach said about experimenting. And I remembered one of the tenets of agile and the frameworks that I train and coach on - an empirical process based on inspection and adaption. Stay with me here.
Innovation is based on experimenting - trying things, observing results and adapting. So I decided to do the same. What I didn't know, I left open to experiment. I opened myself to try things, even in my personal life.
I used the mind map to identify some areas that I knew I wanted to work on; finances, health, etc. But I left open some of the areas of work and how I wanted to work and play. I didn't know how I liked to play. Meaning that I didn't know what I enjoyed doing. So one spoke on my mindmap read - "fun". And I jotted down some ideas but left it open to see what that might become for me.
A few things that I learned doing mind maps:
- It's liberating to put it down on paper. My thoughts were just random things in my head but I was able to dump those thoughts onto paper and then put a plan around them.
- There were things that I wasn't conscious about that manifested themselves once I started writing. I did know some things, I just wasn't aware. I believe that we know in our hearts and mind, it's just that our brains are so cluttered, we can't see clearly.
- I started using mind maps any time I was stuck. I even did it at work for a project I had that I didn't know how to put my thoughts together for. It immediately provided clarity and I was able to plan out the themes of the project.
So now what? I know this is a lot. And when you are feeling overwhelmed, it's impossible to think that you can just start thinking about the future.
A few words of encouragement
I will warn you that you'll need some patience. You'll need patience with yourself and with the time it takes. It's slow moving at times. Sometimes clarity of mind takes time. Connecting the dots takes time.
All of this requires a mindset shift if you have been programmed to go, go, go. If you are like me, you adapted to the speed of life and just became more efficient at managing it all. You might even claim to be a good multi-tasker and you are darn proud of it. Maybe being busy is a badge of honor. You'll have to move away from some of these behaviors that are validated with things of value.
The hardest part of giving yourself permission to slow down is to take back time for yourself. You may have grown to accept that this is the life you deserve. If you are like me and believe that you are lucky and should be grateful to be where you are, it's particularly hard to give yourself permission to slow down and let the non-essential fall by the wayside. But you know why you are here reading this. You already know that this can't be all there is.
And while technology threatens to invade our spaces, our relationships, and our sanity, we're also living during amazing times. We have more options than ever to create things and connect to people and places. There's a world out there where your life can become what you want and it's all at your fingertips.
You owe yourself, your family and your friends the space to think and live with intention.
Try your mind map today. Watch the videos or check out my mind map. Take a few moments to breathe deeply and let yourself imagine again. Dream a little.
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What we are reading and watching
Book: The Artist Way