I’m always on the look for something that can make significant changes in how I do things. Wether it’s a tool, an app, or just a new method or way of doing things, if I think it can help, I’ll give it a try.
For the last month I’ve been been trying something new that I am convinced can make a remarkable impact in achieving goals and making a difference in your life and in the life of those around you. It’s called a life map.
I’m sure Stephen Covey was not the first person to come up with the idea of creating a personal mission statement, but his book, The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People is the book where I was introduced to the idea. For those who are not familiar with the concept, you essentially write a couple sentences which describe how you want to live your life. Then you use this as a guide and it is most effective if you review it on a regular basis.
While I think the idea is a good one, I’ve always struggled with the execution. I’ve gone through the exercise of coming up with a personal mission statement a couple times now, but it has never been something I was entirely pleased with. My biggest problem was that after a while I was just reciting words and not visualizing or connecting to the meaning behind the words. Eventually I gave up on the whole thing and just went on with life.
Then I stumbled across the book The Four Maps of Happy Successful People. The idea behind the book is based on a couple principles:
- Success is determined from the inside to the outside
- Commitments need to be reinforced every day
- To be happy and successful you need to connect with your innermost dreams and desires
- Our brains respond better when drawing and looking at images
Using these principles, the author then suggests that instead of reciting your mission statement, you take the time to draw it, using simple stick figures while visualizing what you want your life to look like.
He then also suggests that as you go through your planning for the day you need to move from your ideal life through to the steps and tactics you will take that day in order to progress towards that goal.
You do this by drawing three other maps (thus the “four maps”).
After reading the book I decided to give these four maps a try. So, for about a month now I’ve been going through and drawing each map every day. It takes about thirty minutes and sometimes I feel like I’m rushing the process because I need to get going with the rest of the day, but even when rushing it, I’ve found that drawing the map forces me to think about what I’m doing and I end up connecting with what is most meaningful to me.
It’s much better than reciting a mission statement every day. The drawings mean more and they change as I gain clarity every day into what I really want out of life.
Do I still have a mission statement? Yes. But now I have a way of making it have more meaning in my life as I create these maps. I connect to my mission on a more personal basis, and I can also simplify it as I work through what I want out of life every day by drawing out these maps.
If you haven’t already read the The Four Maps of Happy Successful People, I suggest you do so and try drawing the maps for a month. If you have already started reading the book and drawing the maps, I’d love to hear hour it is working for you in the comments.
The image is “On the map of Gotheburg ii” by Kristina Alexanderson. You can find it on flickr