Personal development – the “ME” mindmap

Ok. You’ve run into this blog post. You’re busy. There’s a deadline for your report around the corner and you’re rushing along to get through your day. Stop. Just stop for 5 minutes and read through this post. Why? Because it might (just barely) fundamentally shift your outlook on life as well as how you plan for the future.

In today’s hectic living environment, we get squeezed with constant deadlines, action items, duties and commitments. Years seem to go by and we often don’t take the needed time to reflect what it really is we want from life. We daydream about winning the lottery, we make promises on new year’s eve about starting from a clean sheet of paper and being better human beings. Then we go back into the same rabbit hole we came from. Daydreaming and sporadic new years resolutions are not about personal development. Personal development is a mindset and a series of ongoing behaviors that yield positive results over time.

Let’s try something out. Take out a piece of paper and a pen. Go on, try it out, i know it’s analog media, but it’s cool to get your hands “dirty” sometimes. Set? Ok. Now draw a circle to the middle of the page and write your name into the middle. This exercise is all about you, and the more you invest into it, the more YOU will benefit from it.

Cool. Now draw a line from the circle and label it “dreams & aspirations”. These can be work or personal related and they can branch out to as many layers as you feel are needed. Think about what you really want from life, work, health, wealth etc. Think short term, long term the full spectrum.The most important thing is to just embark on that journey of reflection and pursuit of happiness.

Next, draw another line to the circle and label it “strengths and skills”. You can either list down what YOUR core skills and strengths are, or list down what skills and strengths are needed to ACHIEVE the dreams and aspirations. Again, you can do this from a work perspective, life perspective or even as a reflection of your current golf skills. You decide.

Great. Now draw a third line and label it “my learning path”. This is not about listing what you are bad at, but more to list what are areas that you would like to learn more about or develop yourself within. Also think about how your learning path will help you develop the skills and strengths you need in order to achieve your dreams and aspirations.

Time for another line. Label it as “network”. In today’s world, the importance of your network is invaluable. Tools like LinkedIN and Xing help us connect business contacts, while Facebook is more about friends and acquaintances. For the sake of this exercise, think of your network in the context of your dreams and aspirations. List down as many names as you want, but please also take some time to profile these contacts to different tiers. For ex. Bob from ad agency: Can help me to cost efficiently setup my startup’s website. Linda from university: Expert on the Chinese market, good contact to help us expand our business there etc. Once you get into the habit of doing this, start keeping a constant diary of the people you meet, work and play with and list down the context around your relationship. This will become an extremely valuable asset for yourself. However, please also remember that you need to “give love to get love”, and the relationships you build and maintain, need to go both ways. Nobody appreciates a free rider.

Ok, last line and then you’re set. Label this as “lifeline/CV”. We often only update our CV’s when changing jobs and too often we don’t even remember most of the stuff we’ve learned along the way. When you consistently document what you have been learning and achieving, you begin to realize all the progress (or lack of progress) you’ve made in the past years. It’s not really about keeping your CV fresh, but more a tool for you to really keep track of how you are developing as a human being.

These are 5 simple dimensions of your “ME” mind map, that will enable you to identify your dreams and aspirations, weigh your skills and strengths against these, as well as identify how you will need to develop yourself and what kind of network you will need to build around you. Lastly, by documenting your lifeline progress, you will be able to measure how well you are making progress. There are some quite nice tools available for doing this digitally, a simple Google search will get you along really well.

Now back to the rabbit hole 🙂

PS. Below you can find the slideset on Slideshare

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