This week, I want to convince you that mindmapping is sexy. Yes, REALLY. Because sexy is anything that puts you in the flow, gets you feeling like your best self, and cultivates badass confidence that has you shouting, "Fuck yes I can do this!"
Feeling stuck is anything but sexy. It's constrictive and demotivating and leads you to say things like, "I can never make this happen," or "I have no idea where to even start."
Having a plan is empowering and mindmapping is the most effective way I've found to do this when I don't know where to begin. I do it every month for the goals I'm working towards. I do it on a small scale when I'm planning out an epic blog post or cultivating healthy new routines. And of course I mindmap the hell out of the big dreams that boggle my mind and scare the shit of me.
The thing is, research and planning can easily move into the realm of procrastination. We FEEL like we're doing something, and we are in a way, but we're also getting in our own way and preventing ourselves from taking action. The truth is, we only need a limited amount of information to get started: enough to take our first steps and create the framework for our action plan.
Have a quick comb through Google to pull out any essential information and leave the rest. You can add figuring out that stuff to your action plan and do it when you need to.
I've broken down exactly how to create an action plan for your big dream in just 30 minutes using my own example from when I decided to move to London. So grab a pen and paper, and let's get started!
Create Your Action Plan in 30 Minutes
List the Milestones
The overwhelming part of working towards a big dream is the enormity of it. The big picture is what will keep us motivated, but we need to see the path that leads to it. Because that's how we'll get there: one small step at a time.
Within any large goals, there are smaller milestones we have to reach in order to make it happen. Set a timer for five minutes and list the milestones that make up your big dream.
For example, when I moved to London my milestones looked like:
- Move in with my mom to save money on rent
- Make a budget
- Save enough money for maintenance funds, application fees, and plane ticket
- Learn about what life in London is like (ie. cost of living, how the process of renting a flat differs from Canada, social customs, etc.)
- Apply for visa
- Buy plane ticket
- Find a job in the UK
- Find somewhere to live
- Make friends in London.
If you feel absolutely stuck on these milestones, start combing Google. It's likely that there are forums, blogs, or articles written by someone who has already achieved a similar goal. "How to____________," "steps to ___________," and "___________ blog" are good places to start.
Write your big dream in the middle of a piece of paper and off it, draw a line off of it for each one of your milestones.
Break Them Apart
Each of your milestones can be broken down even further into the individual action steps that need to be taken in order to achieve them.
For example, applying for my visa consisted of the following action steps:
- Find out the cost of application fees
- Find out what forms needed to be filled out
- Have passport photos taken
- Gather necessary supporting documents
- Fill out application, pay fees, and submit online
- Make biometrics appointment
- Attend biometrics appointment
- Surrender and wait
To start breaking apart your milestone, ask yourself the following questions:
- What information do I need to achieve this?
- Do I need any money or resources?
- Are their qualifications or training that I need?
- Do I need to make any appointments or bookings?
- Do I need anyone's permission or assistance?
If your step can't be completed in an hour, or at least not more than an afternoon, try breaking it down even further. This will help with overwhelm because each step will feel manageable and when you get overcome with everything that needs doing, you can just focus on the next small piece in front of you.
Under each milestone on your mindmap, list out the action steps. Some of your action steps will actually be gathering pieces of information that you don't know yet. You'll continue filling in your mind map as you gather this information, so think of it as a fluid, evolving document.
Map it All Out
Right. So now, you've basically created a to-do list. But a to-do list is not nearly as powerful as a PLAN. A plan takes into account priority and time. A to-do list doesn't. So babe, it's time to make a plan!
Jot down next to each action step a rough estimate of how long each item will take and then number each item in the order it should be completed. If there isn't always a logical sequence to the steps, prioritize the ones that are most critical or that you'd enjoy doing least (always "eat that frog.")
The next step is to set deadlines for each of your tasks. I find the best way to do this is to work backwards. When do you want to achieve your goal? Go backwards through your timeline to schedule each step so that they fit within your time frame. Now make sure you go and put each of these steps in your calendar because, remember: what doesn't get scheduled doesn't get done. Set reminders in your phone so that you remember when each of your milestone deadlines is coming up.
Take a Step, Any Step
Hells yes, girl: you've got a plan! Now take a deeeeeeeeeep breath. With your eyes on the path ahead and each step you need to take coming in to view, are you starting to feel a bit more empowered to wrangle this dream and drag it to life?
Don't worry if you're still feeling overwhelmed. That's totally normal so we're going to take it one step further. As humans, we have the really terrible tendency of waiting for an elusive "right time" to start. This is a form of procrastination and self-sabotage. But so often we'll put off starting a new project or goal until Monday or the first day of the month or the new year and it continues to slip through our fingers. There is no right time other than right now. There's a Chinese proverb that says, “The best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago. The second best time is now.”
Identify a step from your action plan that you can take RIGHT now. Even if you're reading this post right before bed, there's something you can do to get started. For example, if you're training for a marathon it could be setting out your work out clothes and putting your phone in another room so you're forced to get out of bed tomorrow morning (and then you'll be that much closer to actually going on that run!) Or it could be as simple as sending an important e-mail or Googling a key piece of information.
Every step we takes builds confidence and momentum, so now that you've got it, put that action plan to good use!
You've got this.