By: Mark McClure
Many people look to goal setting templates as a structure around which to base their planning. The good thing about these templates is that they enable you to organize your sometimes disjointed ideas. However this can come at the cost of sacrificing a degree of imaginative and creative thinking. This article examines how mind maps can add a stimulating component to your goal setting.
The historical origins of mind mapping are debatable (see the wikipedia.org entry for background information) but it has become popular in the English-speaking world these past 30 years, partly as a result of the work of British psychologist Tony Buzan.
Mind mapping starts with a central topic word in the center of the page. As additional ideas are generated they are added to the map in the form of keywords that branch off into related areas, mainly through associative thinking.
For example, if I write the keyword “careers” in the middle of the page and allow my imagination free rein in coming up with connecting words and concepts, it’s very easy to generate a creative flow that links careers to corporate to overseas to expatriate to Asia to Singapore.
The important thing is to let the ideas start flowing in accordance with the the mapping guidelines of using single, connecting keywords in a nested branch structure.
As a flexible goal setting template, the use of mind maps has exciting potential to tap into ideas you may not have thought about when trying to actively create smart goals in a traditional linear note format. Structure still exists with the mind map itself because the use of single keywords connected via branching lines directs the mind to see possible linkage relationships, particularly as additional words are added to the paper or screen.
Recently there has been an increase in the number of goal setting software packages on the market as people grapple with finding online tools to help keep track of the many important and related aspects of their careers and lives.
Unfortunately, most of these products inadvertently guide their users into inputting visions, mission statements, goals and objectives as chunks of linearly constructed data. There’s little scope for allowing the subconscious mind to contribute to the triggering of related ideas.
This is where mind mapping excels. Computer literate people have a number of mind mapping software tools to choose from, both commercial and open source. Should you go with a software solution, I recommend that you confirm the program’s capability to export into standard linear format e.g. Microsoft Word – and also confirm its ability to import a word processing document into the mind map format. The potential for combining the best of logical and analytical thinking with that of a more intuitively conceptual form of idea generation is a very powerful personal development tool. Make use of it!