Throughout this website there are various articles about strategic life planning and goal setting. My last few posts were on personal strategic planning and a product called the ‘Personal Strategic Planning Programme’ where you sit down and logically work through a series of exercises to come up with your vision statement, mission statement, goals etc. You set five year goals, three year goals and one year goals. I worked with a Life Coach in 2015 and she had me do the same thing. Draw up all these goals (1 year, 3 year and 5 year).
That is all fine in itself.
However the process in my opinion is quite tedious (Yawn) and probably doesn’t engage the imagination enough. It all feels very business-like and cold. I had three sets of probably too many goals and it all looked a bit confusing and overwhelming. It can also be demoralising when after 6-8 months you look at all the goals you have not achieved or are way behind on. It can become a stick to beat yourself with.
Perhaps the biggest problem is the lack of review of plans made. We all get caught up in the whirlwind of life and forget to check back on our goals. This happens to me. I forget what I am supposed to be aiming for and get distracted from my goals. Weeks and months can go by and I don’t read my strategic plan. I also think it’s too left brained and logical. We are human beings and not robots. We just need to engage emotions more when planning.
I recently read a great little book called ‘The Four Maps of Happy Successful People‘ by Robert G. Allen. The book contains some brilliant wisdom which sums up much of what I have learned about personal development over the years.
Allen makes the point that our minds are forgetting machines. We may have all these great plans and strategies, goals, vision and mission statements etc. However we then promptly forget them all and don’t look at them (well that happens to me anyway!).
Allen in his book advocates for the daily practice of drawing four maps. By drawing these four maps you keep your goals and purpose in life in front of you each and every day. You recommit to your goals every 24 hours. In drawing the 4 maps you engage your right brain and your also use visualisation to imagine your desired future. You engage your emotions which is the language of your subconscious mind. Each day you plan three key tasks for that day and you clearly link them to longer term goals. The process of drawing the maps is simple and clear.
I have been drawing the maps now as part of my morning routine for the past month. I have a hardback notebook and pencil and I draw my four maps like a kid in primary school. I love the simplicity of drawing with a pencil.
At first it was hard and I thought this would never work. I thought that drawing the four maps would be too time consuming and just difficult to draw everyday. However the more you draw them then the quicker you get. Now I can draw the 4 maps in 10-15 minutes each morning. The 4 maps is now part of my daily morning ritual and I like doing it. Today is all that matters and I recommit to my goals each morning.
What are the benefits?
I feel way more focussed and committed to my goals. I have three goals I am working on right now and I can actually remember them most of the time!
As I mentioned I totally agree with the author that the human mind is a forgetting machine. We forget our goals and plans especially if we only look at them periodically.
Try out the 4 maps for yourself. Make it a part of your daily routine for the next 30 days and see the results for yourself.