I can now report that for the last two months I have started the day with a personal map – with the exception of Sunday off for good (or bad) behaviour. It all started at the end of last year when I was asked to do a training session in Mind Mapping for a group of Anglican nuns. They are a progressive and imaginative group and took to it immediately for a variety of uses. One of them works in pandemic planning at a hospital that the order founded and she immediately saw the usefulness of the software for long range strategy formation.
After being with them, I was reminded of the importance of practice as opposed to awareness. A conversation with a colleague yesterday confirmed this – more about that conversation another day – so I started 2007 with a hand drawn map of things that were important to me during the coming year. There are branches on it concerning my work, learning, family, volunteer commitments, health and spiritual growth. These serve as reminders to balance these elements. I still have an In file and an Outlook task list to look at when I move to the computer – but the quiet start to the morning is now a well established habit. I map the day on a three inch square starting from the elements on the 2007 map.
Each day has its own colour image in the centre – something to indicate what’s happening. Today’s has a piano keyboard and plane to honour my great niece – arriving en route to auditions at some of America’s leading music schools – I’m celebrating her already impressive musical career at age 16. There are tasks relating to getting ready to receive guests along with reminders to follow up on last night’s meeting. I have to prepare for a presentation on complicated issues. Yesterday’s map reminds me that I missed the mark on exercise I also missed on the previous day. I can’t avoid this one any longer, so it will happen early in the day.
This is not about perfection and I try not to beat myself up when I miss the mark. It’s about trying to do better an inch at a time.
Is it worth it? Socrates and the other ancients all have reminded us that the unexamined life is not worth living, but it is so painfully easy to charge ahead without thinking. I use visual mapping for lots of things that are more technically sophisticated. But I often am brought back to the simplicity of the hand map in avoiding self deception and learning from one’s own experience.