We want to help you craft a life you love, but how do you hone in on what that life looks like? If you’ve read the SheFactor book, you already know that mind mapping is our method for identifying what we’re passionate about. However, if you haven’t, we got you - we’re going to tell you all about mind mapping and how to put it into practice, right here, right now. Let’s do this!
First thing’s first, break out a piece of paper and start listing everything you enjoy. No pressure here, there are no wrong answers. Think back over the various stages of your life so far, and free-write the things you have enjoyed along your journey, no rhyme or reason necessary. SheFactor founder Heidi Ganahl puts it best: “write down your hobbies, your pursuits in high school, what you do to decompress, where you love to be, accomplishments that made you feel especially proud, jobs you’ve loved, tasks you’ve loved--everything that gives you joy and fulfillment in your life.”
At this point, the items you write don’t need to be logical or follow any particular structure. That’s the beauty of this exercise--feeling the freedom to get the information out on paper in a really simple format. When we brainstorm internally, our mind doesn’t operate in a linear format. No, it jumps around and goes down different tunnels of thought. mind mapping duplicates this natural way your brain thinks through things but in a visual, easy-to-reference way.
Now, take a step back, and look at your list. Can you pick out any patterns? Does any theme in particular stick out to you? On a separate paper, circle the theme that sparks passion in you the most. From there, write down more specific ideas related to that central theme. Circle these ideas and draw lines to connect them back to the original theme. Try not to get too bogged down in the details here--even loose connections are worthwhile. Your mind map will start to look more and more like a web of circled ideas, all connected by lines. Keep brainstorming as specific as you feel, and let your imagination take over.
It may be helpful to use different colored writing tools to do your circling and line connecting! This will really help those themes really jump off the page at you during further analysis. Remember: what’s the central theme connecting all of these ideas together? YOU. With that in mind, there are no wrong answers here in your mind mapping.
If you’re struggling to identify commonalities, feel free to walk away from your work for a bit. Coming back to the mind map with fresh eyes can help you get inspired in ways you didn’t at first. At this point, we challenge you to get even more specific with your ideas. If your initial idea is fitness, you may start with different broader ideas like nutrition, physical movement, or rest. However, you can narrow these ideas down to get as specific as thinking about specific workout routines, different nutrition goals, or rest routines.
Perhaps you finish your first mind map and still have more ideas… Would it be terrible if we suggested a second mind map?! Although this is an exercise we use at SheFactor to turn your passion into purpose, mind mapping can be utilized for any time you need to brainstorm: solutions to a problem, planning the steps in a process, outlining a project, or considering different possibilities. Again, there is no wrong way to mind map - even if you’re coming up with ideas outside your comfort zone or unrelated to what you first were envisioning, it’s OKAY.
If you want to take mind mapping even further... use the skills associated with your SheFactor Silhouette to identify the ideas in our mind map that align (or don’t) with our given skillset. While you may initially put down a variety of ideas that do or don’t inspire you, thinking about your mind map in the context of your Silhouette can help to note which ideas can become real opportunities. It may not be pretty, it may not be neat, but Mind Mapping helps you develop and fine-tune your thought processes.
If this exercise feels a little too messy to you, explore using a mind mapping software on your digital device. Not only does such software allow you to save your map for future reference, softwares like Pic Monkey or Simple Mind enable you to rearrange and reorganize your mind map, as needed. More detailed options include adding images, icons, and links to your map’s components. In the meantime, give mind mapping a go, and let us know if you get stuck along the way. We’re always here to help!