The marvels of mind maps

Posted on February 5, 2012


The Emirates Lit Fest is fast approaching and last week I booked a host of tickets to hear the good and the great impart their wisdom with the likes of you and me.  One such event is with Tony Buzan, the pioneer of mind mapping.  Me being the quintessential Type A personality, loves mind mapping … loves any such tool in fact that facilitates goal setting and more importantly goal reaching.

Mind mapping isn’t just for organisational or career planning … it’s also a brilliant tool to map your running, fitness and adventure plans. Your destination is your A race … the ultimate event for which you’re training and preparing. Your mind map helps you plan your route to get there and enables you to pinpoint possible deviations or switch backs that might appear without warning … life getting in the way, work commitments, illness, injury and so on …

With mind maps you can design your life, leaving less to chance or accident. Use them to manage your weight or quit the cancer sticks, run a race or get picked for a team. Anything in your life in fact that requires some dedication and determination.

And when it comes to dreaming up those goals in the first place, follow these golden rules and you can’t go far wrong …

Think BIG

Been told to set ‘attainable and realistic’ goals? Blah blah blah.  How boring. This will only encourage you to under-estimate what you can achieve. Think of the highest achievers you know and they’ve mostly set themselves massive and seemingly unrealistic goals. The secret is just to break them down into smaller sub-goals that can be achieved without losing sight of the grand vision.

Think backwards

It can be daunting to have a mountain to climb in front of you. Instead, it’s much easier to stand on the summit and look at the path that you took to the top. Imagine then yourself in the future once the goal has been achieved. Then look back in detail and see the steps that you took …

  • What were the major milestones?
  • What resources did you need?
  • Who helped you along the way?

You’ll gain more clarity and insights this way plus you get the added bonus of vivid and compelling visualising full stop!

Keep focus

Keep focused and remind yourself regularly of your final target. If you use affirmations make sure they’re positive … let’s say you wanted to lose weight and give up eating chocolate. Waking each morning and saying “I will not eat chocolate” is a negative so you’ll be doomed from the outset. Better, stand in front of the mirror each morning and say, “I am slim and healthy”.

Tony B calls this technique meta-positive thinking. It puts the focus on the process of change and the desired outcome. Keep the focus on the good new habit and you’ll make good progress along the road towards your goal.

Tomorrow never comes

A goal is just ‘a dream with a deadline’ so it’s important when goal setting to give it a deadline.  Give it some urgency and priority in your life and you’ll be forced to take action … otherwise, it’s too easy to continually procrastinate.  I find I am excellent at prioritising the stuff I want to do but should have a doctorate in finding excuses not to address those that don’t interest me!


Remember the Spice Girls song ‘Wannabe’? The key line in the lyrics is the phrase, “Tell me what you want, what you really, really want”. I think about this song when setting goals.  Sometimes the hardest part is actually working out what you really, really want … NOT what you ought to want, NOT what your mother would like you to want, NOT what it is easier to want but what YOU really really want! Goals will always change over time though so review and adjust to your heart’s content!

Back to Buzan

The idea behind Tony’s mind maps is that they should tap into your creativity making your goals visual, structured and memorable. Mind Maps create a graphical representation of your thoughts on a single page making use of images, colour and associations between ideas.

Have a great week and make some small steps towards your goals.

And, needless to say, get those tickets booked while stocks last.  You’ll find Wouter Kingma & I both hanging on to every word!

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