As 2016 rapidly draws to a close, you’re probably thinking about what you want to accomplish next year. If you want to improve in your work, home and/or personal life, you’re going to need a plan to help you reach your goals.
But, before you can even get to that point, you have to figure out exactly what it is you’re trying to achieve. This can definitely be easier said than done. What would make you happier at work, for example? How can you improve your marriage? Well, figuring out how to accomplish those lofty goals might take a little brainstorming.
Lucky for us, former Google career coach Jenny Blake has shared her unique trick for figuring out complex challenges. She creates what she calls a “mind map,” according to CNBC. By the looks of it, Blake is really on to something with this. It’s a great way to break out of a linear-thinking pattern, as Blake explained to CNBC.
“Go broad. Go big. Go sideways, and then experiment to see which of your ideas is most likely to lead to a resonant next step,” she said.
To get started, you’ll write 2017 in the middle of a big piece of paper (we imagine a dry erase board would work as well). Then, you’ll put a big circle around it and branch out from there. In the branches, include parts of your life that are important to you: work, personal life, health, finances—all of these are fair game.
Then, from those little bubbles, you’ll write down specific ways you can improve that aspect of your life. For example, you can see below that the “family/friends” bubble includes specific goals to “document family history” make “regular phone calls.”
During this step, it’s important to ask yourself, “What’s important to me about that? And what does success look like?” Blake said to CNBC.
Planning next steps isn’t easy, but maybe when you lay it all out on paper, it helps tease out what it is that you really want to achieve. After all, a broad resolution like “improve relationships with family and friends” can mean different things to different people. That’s why writing down those specific steps is so important—and will hopefully help you see that making a meaningful change might not be as difficult as you imagined. And most importantly, it’ll be worth it.
Lifehacker also points out that you can use mind maps in other facets of your life, and it’s a great problem-solving device and even helps with memory recall.