Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Creating a Mind Map to Plan Your Goals

Goals/Mind Map (Rowena's Planner)

Yesterday, I had this big plan to blog this huge post, but it was so big and, while I had worked on it, I hadn't worked on it enough. In the end, it overwhelmed me, because I didn't break it down enough and I hadn't clearly thought out what I wanted to do with it.

So I didn't end up posting at all.

Today, I thought I'd take a smaller bite out of the apple and actually post about planning goals. 

It can be really easy to let the goals that you really want to accomplish in life get washed away in the flood of every day tasks and responsibilities, but the truth is that you have a responsibility to yourself and to the world  to reach for those big goals, to put in the energy and follow your passion. Even as a mom, when it seems that your needs often come last, you are actually giving to your family when they see you actively working on your goals. When they see you working hard, not giving up, believing in yourself, following through, doing something that is important to you. This is a good example for children to see, and to imagine for themselves. 

But HOW to do this, in this world of baking chicken and bus stop pickups and homework help and baths and etcetera?

One of the first things I do when I am faced with a large task that seems overwhelming in the face of living, is to get a precise handle on the task ahead of me. What exactly do I need to do? Are there things I need to do before I can even get started? How can I break one task down into its various elements? And once I know what those various elements are, can I break them down into smaller steps? 

I like doing a little brainstorm with this mind map/spider web kind of planner. I put my main goal in the center... here, we have "Published Novel," and then in the next ring of bubbles, I write out the things I need to do in order to get to the main goal. Here I have "Organize Writing Space," "Finish 5th Draft," "Polish Opening," "Get Feedback," and "Get An Agent." These are the main tasks I have been thinking about, some of which I feel need to be done first, and some need to come later. But even so, they can be mighty overwhelming. So I made a second ring of bubbles to indicate the tasks that I need to do to accomplish the first tasks. 

Here's one corner of the mind map. Attached to "Finish 5th Draft," I have "Delete Chap 3," "Re-read," and "Complete 5th Pass."  That goal does seem a little redundant, but in actuality, it's a refinement. If you'll notice, I left some space to write notes about each individual goal. When I do my 5th pass of my novel, I'm actually going to be looking for some certain things to edit/revise. I'm thinking I want to tighten the writing, pay attention to consistency of character, and add some fierceness... but I am not sure what I'm going to be looking for exactly, because when I re-read, I will be able to spot the elements that I want to focus on in this revision. This is a plan in progress. There is room for me to fine tune the tasks and goals. There is room to add details.

However. There comes a time when you have to stop planning to take action and simply just take action. Notice that at the top of the planner, I added a bubble: "WRITE." Because when it comes down to it, I have to make sure that breaking my goals down and planning and making lists and planners and all that stuff doesn't take over, and the goal remains the focus. It's not about planning to publish a novel, it's about publishing a novel.

Now this kind of goal setting could be for any large task you set yourself. It could be organizing your house or finding a new job, or writing a paper. Whatever the goal, the key is to break down the large tasks into smaller, achievable goals that no longer seem as overwhelming. And then get started on the newly simplified tasks.

Then it's time to get going.


heartandsoulstudio said...

Rowena-- thanks for sharing this. It gets me thinking about my goals and what I need to do to get there. Mapping them visually might be the way to go since that's the way I think
Also, I want to say hi, because I follow you and re-pin a lot of your pins on Pinterest. I think we must have a lot in common!
So, thanks for sharing, and I'll see you around the pin boards
Suzanne Oberholtzer

Cheryl said...

This is here at a perfect time for me. I am queen of planning in my head and not moving forward. Time to sit, map it out on paper and make those first steps. Thanks.

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