Over 25 years working with myself and others, I understand one huge obstacle to achieving goals: We don’t begin correctly.
Worse, it’s often when most convinced that we’re really going to make it this time that we sorely lacking what we need to succeed.
What’s missing from common goal-setting efforts?
Quality information. We tend not to really think goals through. It’s not our fault. Few of us are trained how to set ourselves up for success with goals, right?
As a result, many of us try to set goals even though we…
• Have to psych ourselves up to get moving (artificial motivation doesn’t last)
• Subtly doubt our chances of success (unconscious sabotage)
• Say to ourselves: Here I go again. I hope it works this time.
•Have no idea what will be required to succeed.
• Haven’t considered the impact of getting the goal on our life (and others).
• Aren’t being honest about how conflicted we may be about the goal.
• And so on. We just hope for the best.
If hoping for the best while secretly doubting yourself and ignoring the real challenges that lie ahead works for you, by all means continue. If you’re ready for something beyond the throw-it-against-the-wall-and-see-if-it-sticks approach, then I’d suggest a goal-setting mind map.
A mind map is a tool used to visually outline information, especially bulky or complex concepts, in a simple and understandable manner. Mind maps help you quickly identify and grasp the structure of a given topic, enabling you to gain valuable insights at a glance.
I recently asked an iNLP Center staff member, Hannah, who is training in Neuro-Linguistic Programming, to review the IQ Matrix Goal Setting Process mind map.
Disclaimer: FYI this review is NOT an affiliate marketing effort and no compensation has been received for it. The iNLP Center purchased the mind map in question. As a blogger, I am always looking for new and valuable ways to grow and develop. This is one of those tools I consider worth mentioning.
Here is how Hannah worked the Goal-Setting Process mind map for one of her personal goals (in her own words):
After purchasing the map, I printed off a copy, then excitedly dove right in. Unfortunately, I hadn’t noticed there was an accompanying Summary attachment that walked the user through the map, including where to start, so I admittedly wasted a few minutes just roaming around the diagram like a drunken sailor.
The Summary alone was worth the money. A generous eighteen pages filled with additional information and useful diagrams, it walked me through the mind map process, including many helpful coaching-style questions to ask myself along the way. Reading through the summary felt as though I was receiving my own personal coaching session, and I hadn’t even gotten to the map yet.
Initially, I started in earnest with goals for each major area of my life, but quickly realized I would need to pare it down to just one if I wanted to complete my review in a reasonable time frame.
I chose the goal of launching my small business idea…
Making and selling old-fashioned artisan candy through an online shop.
As instructed in the Summary, I started the mind map ‘board game’ at the center by clearly identifying and defining the what, when and why of my goal. Easy peasy. I was going to fly through this thing in no time!
After all, I had spent many hours researching, practicing and outlining the business plan at this point and I was well-versed in NLP life coaching techniques. Goal setting was pretty straightforward stuff!
My bubble burst just moments after I entered the Goal Congruence section of the map. In it, the user is pointed down four paths of inquiry, one of which is the values check; does the goal align with my core values? Of course it does.
Hmmm… suddenly, the previous two months spent dragging my feet (perhaps why the Procrastination map also seemed to jump out at me) was beginning to make sense. My goal met all the other criteria for congruence and alignment, but there was one, small, pesky detail that was like a pea under the proverbial Princess: I had a belief that sugar didn’t fit into a healthy lifestyle.
My sweet tooth was something I strove to overcome.
How could I sell to others the very things I was trying to give up?
I decided to forge ahead in the interest of completing the map and put the nagging congruence issue aside for the time being. The next check point was Ecology, and I followed the black line trail through a series of excellent questions on the potential consequences for both achieving and not achieving my goal.
What sacrifices might I need to make in the short and long term? Who and what might be affected by the pursuit and achievement of my goal?
Next came an in-depth exploration of the more practical Design phase, including creating a Blueprint and a Plan of Action for my goal. I realized that, even though I had spent so much time researching and educating myself in preparation for launching the business, I hadn’t taken the time to really get clear on many of the important details. Having the map to guide me methodically (and relentlessly!) through it all was turning out to be extremely helpful and enlightening.
For instance, I hadn’t thought ahead to potential obstacles, and to how I might overcome them. Having a list of these, alongside a surprisingly long list of my resources (both inner and outer) gave me a realistic sense of what I could accomplish.
The Plan of Action section reminded me to determine ahead of time the steps I would take to accomplish my goal, and of the importance of both tracking progress and rewarding myself for that progress.
The mind map then lead me through the inner work I would need to do in order to stay focused on the achievement of my goal (Building Momentum and Motivation). This section felt a little lighter and less intense than the goal analysis side, and was a very pleasant way to finish off the process.
In it, the map reminds the user to make goals fun, to always ‘think big but act small’ (baby steps towards a bold vision), and to always ask oneself solution focused questions. I chose to apply that particular piece of helpful advice towards taking another look at that ‘pea’ of mine.
My Inner Conflict Resolved
In the Summary pages of this mind map, the author suggests that, when confronting a personal value that conflicts with our goal, this doesn’t mean we necessarily have to give up the goal. It may simply mean tweaking the goal or adjusting our values to bring them into better alignment.
In order to do this, I asked myself the solution-focused question: how might I match my core value of promoting good health and nutrition so that it supported the candy-making business instead of conflicting with it?
Surprisingly, the answer came fairly easily over the next few days. During that time, I didn’t actively search for an answer so much as let one surface. The mind map seemed readily accessible in my visual memory, and I found I could recall all of the various steps and components, as well as the lengthy notes I had made, fairly effortlessly.
In the end, I found congruence between my core value and my goal through the choice of quality, all-natural & organic ingredients, and the inclusion of a significant educational component for my customers on how to consume sweets safely and responsibly. Interestingly, coming to this conclusion for my future customers also allowed me to make peace with my own sweet tooth.
The brilliance of IQ Matrix mind maps is that, for any given topic, one may choose to go as deep as time or effort or mind-frame allows. I could easily have spent hours and hours in deeper examination and inquiry at any of the many stages along the map route, lingering where further personal work was required, and moving forward over those parts that I felt I had a firmer grasp on. The map was self-tailoring, fully adjustable to the user’s particular and unique situation and mental state.
It was easy to envision how, life coaching style, one could use the map as a template to guide a client or friend through the goal-setting process, pausing along the way to more deeply address any surfacing issues or stumbling blocks.
Overall, the experience of using the Goal Setting mind map fell somewhere between playing a long game of Dungeons and Dragons, doing one of those personality quizzes we all love to take (and don’t like to admit to), and engaging in a professional life coaching session. It was equal parts value-packed work and fun, and never once felt like a waste of my time.
Thanks for Hannah for educating us about mind maps!