A couple of summers ago, I read Designing Your Life during hours spent by the pool. It is now a book that I recommend to anyone that will listen – friends, family, clients, strangers I meet in coffee shops. I have no limits. It’s a gem of a book, full of insights and exercises to help the reader create a life that brings them fulfillment and happiness. I went through each exercise, right down to logging my day to determine which parts I loved and which parts I didn’t in an effort to figure out what kind of life I wanted to create.
Spoiler alert: I loved coaching, writing, and hanging out with my dog. I did not love my 9-5 office job. I loved the people there, but I was bored to tears with the work and felt stifled in my ability to show what I was capable of and to grow in the role. The exercises in Designing Your Life helped me find clarity on what I wanted to create in my life – more freedom to do the things I loved (and film school!).
Over the years, I tweaked the method and added additional pieces to develop my clarity mapping exercise.
Clarity mapping is designed to help you get clear on what you want out of life and develop an action plan to get there. It allows all of those thoughts and daydreams floating around in your mind to come out onto paper and to be shaped into something tangible.
Clarity mapping starts with a mind mapping exercise and ends with five questions (inspired by Ashley LeMieux) to dig deep.
Mind mapping utilizes word clouds to organize what’s in your head in a visual way. Write down your main topic in the center of a circle, then add circles around it and connect them to the main circle with thoughts and phrases that relate to it. For example, if “career” is in your main circle, those circles connected to it may be things like the job title you want, the salary you desire to receive, and goals you want to achieve.
I like to do this with my name in the very center. From there, I’ll add circles around it for areas of my life like “career,” “relationships,” and “home,” and then focus on adding relevant circles to each one. I tend to do this on a poster board taped on my wall where I have plenty of room.
From there, step back and see where the common threads and themes are. It will help you see patterns which is great insight into what you want and where you want to go. So if you have “freedom” attached to your career circle and “adventure” attached to “self,” that may mean you want more freedom in order to have more adventure. That could look like finding a new job that comes with more time off or a better work life balance that in turn makes it possible for you to travel more.
From there, it’s time to journal.
I look at five deep questions:
- What is my intention?
- Why am I worthy?
- Who can I serve?
- What can I set down?
- Who is the truest version of myself?
These are deep questions that were inspired by Ashley LeMieux of The Shine Project. On occasion, I’ve put them on poster board and used shorthand to dump my thoughts, then later dug into what came up. Whether you want to go the poster board route or the journal route or both, you can’t go wrong. I recommend going with whatever feels right for you.
Once you have your mind map and your clarity questions down, start making an action plan. For example, say you have your eye on a promotion within your organization. Maybe your action plan is:
- Develop/improve skills needed for the role
- Ask someone in a similar role to have coffee
- Update your resume
- Let your boss know you are interested in the role
Clarity mapping is a powerful tool to help you get aligned and take action. I touched on my clarity mapping practice in this post, but I made a more detailed workbook as a free download if you would like to take this practice further. Download it right here.
Have questions about clarity mapping or about what came up for you during the exercise? Reach out!