Do you ever feel like you are not moving forward? That there are great things that you want to do but are missing out on?
Well usually this is due to the fact that you are not working towards your goals and are instead just grasping at things and opportunities as they come by. This leds to the idea of Life Mapping
Life Mapping: A Vision of Success
Success is more than economic gains, titles, and degrees. Planning for success is about mapping out all the aspects of your life. Similar to a map, you need to define the following details: origin, destination, vehicle, provisions, landmarks, and route.
Origin: Who you are
A map has a starting point. Your origin is who you are right now. Most people when asked to introduce themselves would say something like, “Hi, I’m Jean, I’m 17 and I’m a senior in high school.” This does not tell you anything about who Jean is; it only tells you her present circumstances.
To gain insights about yourself, you need to look closely at your beliefs, values, and principles aside from your economic, professional, cultural, and civil status.
You can also reflect on your experiences to give you insights on your good and not-so-good traits, skills, knowledge, strengths, and weaknesses.
For example, Jean might realize that she was highly motivated, generous, service-oriented, but impatient. Her inclination was in the biological-medical field.
Furthermore, she believed that life must serve a purpose, and that wars were destructive to human dignity. Of course, she might not say all of this to everybody she met; but the knowledge would inform all of her words and actions.
Destination: A vision of who you want to be
“Who do want to be?” This is your vision. Once you know who you are, you will also have a clearer idea of who you want to be, and the things you want to change whether they are attitudes, habits, or points of view.
If you hardly know yourself, then your vision and targets for the future will also be unclear. Your destination should cover all the aspects of your being: the physical, emotional, intellectual, and spiritual planes.
Continuing Jean’s story, after she defined her beliefs, values, and principles in life, she decided that she wanted to have a life dedicated to serving her fellow human beings.
Vehicle: Your Mission
A vehicle is the means by which you can reach your destination. It can be analogized to your mission or vocation in life. To a great extent, your mission would depend on what you know about yourself.
Jean had recognized that she wanted to help humanity. Now she needed to identify a vehicle, a way to do this. It seemed to her that she was suited to becoming a medical doctor. She also wanted to travel and promote peace. Describing her vehicle or mission fully: it was to live a life dedicated to serving her fellowmen as a doctor in conflict-areas.
Provisions: Your knowledge, skills, and attitude
Food, drinks, medicines, and other travelling necessities are the provisions that you take on a journey. Applying this concept to your life map, you will need certain knowledge, skills, and training to carry out your mission successfully.
So you need to assess what knowledge, skills, and attitudes you have at present (what provisions you already have) and what else you need to gain along the way.
Clearly, Jean would need to go to college and medical school to gain the knowledge and professional qualifications to become a doctor. She also knew that she had a tendency to be impatient with people and this was something she wanted to change.
Landmarks and Route: S.M.A.R.T. objectives
Landmarks confirm if you are on the right track while the route determines the travel time. Thus, in planning out your life, you also need to have a route and landmarks.
The landmarks are your mini goals that measure your success on your way to your main goal. These mini goals, like your main goals, must be S.M.A.R.T.: specific, measurable, attainable, realistic, and time bound.
Going back to Jean as an example, she identified the following landmarks in her life map: completing a bachelor’s degree in biology by the age of 21; completing medical school by the age of 27; earning her specialization in infectious diseases by the age of 30; getting deployed in local public hospitals of her town by the age of 32; and serving as doctor in war-torn areas by the age of 35.
Anticipate Turns, Detours, and Potholes
The purpose of your life map is to minimize hasty and spur-of-the-moment decisions that can make you lose your way. But oftentimes our plans are modified along the way due to inconveniences, delays, and other situations beyond our control, or a genuine change of mind.
For example, during her medical training Jean might find that she became more interested in pediatric medicine than in infectious diseases. Switching to pediatrics would change her route, but would not stop her achieving her goal.