Every now and then some helpful soul will give me a new set of how-to-plan forms. In the past I’ve even tried to use them. Then always felt like I was this failure, because they never worked for me. Well, I’m not a line.
I don’t think in a linear fashion, which is often true for people who have any kind of ADD, ADHD, or other differences in how they process information. If you’ve tried and failed at planning software, paper forms that are supposed to help you get organized, or felt frustrated with the well-meaning but ultimately ineffective methods you’ve seen, the real problem may be the method.
Most planning forms have you start with one large goal and then break that down into steps that you are going to use to achieve it. This makes lots of sense, only it doesn’t work. Your brain is far more likely to be thinking in leaps and jumps, interconnections, and what would look more like a series of bubbles with lines in between them.
Toss your old forms. Bring out a blank sheet of paper, and draw a large circle in the middle of it, about 2 inches in diameter. Write a word or sentence that describes what you want in that circle. Draw a line away from the circle an inch or less. At the end of this line put another bubble. Whatever comes to your mind first, put in that second circle. Go around your larger circle putting new lines, and new bubbles with anything and everything you can think about in connection to that topic.
Repeat step one for all of your smaller bubbles. Some bubbles are going to just a singular thought. Some you will have a lot more to say about and they may even surprise you.
But you’re probably wondering, okay great now that my brain is on paper, how does actually help me achieve a goal? The goal setting comes when you put the bubble up at the top of the page, and start drawing out what you’re thinking, followed by ways to achieve it, followed by steps you can take today.
This technique is especially effective for goals that you have run into a dead end on. If you’ve always wanted to lose weight, but find yourself never being able to actually achieve this. Do a bubble map. Draw your circle in the center of the page, and then put what you want in the middle of it. If your first impulse is put the problem in the center of the page, we may have found your problem. Bubble mapping allows you to see what your actual focus is, and all of the associated thinking processes that go along with it.
Put the positive outcome you want in the center. And then go to town on what your associations with it are. If you had a difficult time achieving your center bubble, there will be a lot of sub bubbles with negative thoughts. Don’t be scared of these. You need to know what’s been stopping you from getting to your goal. If you don’t know the obstacles that are in your way, you will not be able to plan for them.
When you’re ready to put the information into an achievable form, start with a new page and a new circle at the top of the page. Put your goal in the circle and draw lines radiating downwards with new circles on the end of each, write out your thoughts in each of these circles both good and bad. Radiate more lines and circles down from the second level, and fill these in with achievable goals related to each of the thoughts above. Your third radiation of lines and new bubbles is for results you can achieve today.
Remember, the goals that are small, that you can work on today, and that will help you build for success later, are the most effective.
- Grab a sheet of paper and draw a circle.
- Write your goal in the circle.
- Radiate out lines that have bubbles on the end of them.
- Write whatever comes to mind in each of these bubbles.
- Repeat steps 3 & 4 for each of the new bubbles you create.
- Repeat on each new bubble ’till you run out of space.
- Does your original goal still hold true? Sometimes you discover it doesn’t.
- Take a new sheet and put a circle at the top with your goal statement.
- Put bubbles beneath it with at least 5 related thoughts both good and bad.
- The next level down is bubbles that are goals associated with your thoughts.
- Last level of bubbles will be results that are small enough to achieve today.
- Repeat weekly.