Why use Mind Mapping for Career Planning?
Very often "career planning" is something that gets a little bit of attention at some stage during your education, and that’s it. In my case, we had a "careers guidance counsellor" who was a teacher at the school and took on that role part time. I saw him once – he asked me what I wanted to do, and I replied what I was thinking of at the time, and the interview was over. So much for guidance!
Career planning should actually receive a lot more attention during your education to make sure that you are learning the things you need to learn in order to be successful in your chosen career. These days, thinking of any career as something that will be permanent is probably pretty short sighted, so along with the decision about which career to go into, and what you need to learn in order to get into that career, you also need to work out what you want to learn while you are in that position. In other words, you go in with:
- a learning strategy,
- an advancement strategy,
- and in many cases an exit strategy
defined even before you start.
The structure of Mind Maps help you build a plan which maintains the focus on the objectives and outcomes while defining the actions you need to be taking to achieve those outcomes. When you are at school or university, career planning can be a stressful thing, but when you organize it all in Mind Map form it is clear where you are going and what you need to do, so it takes most of the stress out of it.
The other thing about career planning is that it is a constant process of checking where you are up to with your plans and objectives, and updating your mindmaps as you go.
Your First (or Next) Job
Whether you are employed, a University student or a high school student, Mind Mapping can help you plan out your future. By putting your ideal job / position in the centre and reverse engineering your career, you can quickly and easily come up with a cohesive plan for your future.
If you are a parent with kids still in school, you can use a map to help them decide what their course load will be, what required classes they will need to take, what practical experience they will need to acquire, where they can gain specific kinds of experience and what licenses and memberships may be considered advantageous.
The Mind Maps clearly identify knowledge gaps and how to fill them. You will find yourself powering ahead of people who don’t map out their future like this.
Professional Development Mind Maps
A professional development Mind Map is a complimentary map to your career Mind Map (or, it may even be a branch from your career Mind Map).
There are only a few reasons to be in a particular position. The most common ones are:
- Learning so that you can advance to a better position
- Learning so that you can set up your own business
- Earning money to fund your lifestyle and investments
- Being in a position where you can contribute to a product or cause
As you can see, for most of these reasons for being in a position, they also imply a time for moving on from that position.
- If you are learning to advance to a better position, then once you have the necessary skills and knowledge, because you have mind mapped it out, it is clear when it is time to move on.
- If you are learning to be able to set up your own business, then you would define the things you needed to learn from that position, and when you had learned all you could there, it would be either time to move on to the next job to learn more, or go ahead and set up your own business.
and so on.
In order to stay focused, it is a good idea to print out your mind maps in color and put them up on the wall where you will see them regularly.
Mind Mapping for Career Planning – Practical Exercise
The objective of this goal setting exercise is to use Mind Mapping to establish a five year career plan.
Place your particular goal in the centre of the Mind Map. Your goal may be:
- physical: a particular position, job title
- mental: learning something that will advance you
- material: salary range, buying a house, a car, going on holidays
- esoteric: wanting to contribute to the community, working in a third world country, working with disabled children.
Now, for ten minutes, without correcting or critically analysing what you are writing, create branches from the central idea and brainstorm anything that comes to mind that would lead to that goal – education, networks, people – it can be obvious, impossible, outrageous … this is brainstorming, only you will be reading it – go crazy!
Write for a full ten minutes without stopping.
Once your ten minutes are up, walk away from your Map for a little while – whether this is ten minutes, an hour or a day.
Come back to it and begin thinking about what you’ve written.
At this point, it is certainly much easier to go through this process if you have Mind Mapping software as this allows you to make changes, move things, delete things, and add things without having to redraw the entire map. It also makes it very easy to add color and pictures.
Group the things you think are ‘impossible’ or ‘useless’ to one side – don’t delete them! You never know when they will become ‘useful’ and ‘possible’. Narrow your Mind Map and work on it until you are happy that you have a clear path mapped out. To do this, you may need to conduct research or talk to colleagues. Ensure that you record all of the results of this research in your Map.
Make sure that you use plenty of colors and key words – cut out pictures from magazines that represent your goals if you are Mapping by hand or copy and paste pictures from the internet.
Note all the things you will learn in the attainment of your goal, and the changes you will undergo as a result of pursuing the goal. This pre-frames you for getting the learnings you need to get, and becoming the person you need to become in order to successfully accomplish the goals you have.
When you feel happy with what you have produced, print it out and hang it on the wall in a prominent position. This step is important – you want to stay focused on your goals by having them around you. You may even want to make a smaller version of your Map that you can carry with you.
This kind of Mind Map needs to be revised on a regular basis. For the first week, read it through every day, making any changes that feel right to you, then read it once a week for the next month, and then once a month after that.
At the end of six months, create a new Mind Map, looking at your existing one only for the title. Critically assess whether the goal is still relevant and suitably stated.
Now create your new Mind Map without referring to the old one, and using the same brainstorming techniques. Once you have finished, compare your two Mind Maps and see what the similarities and differences are. Note how the priorities have changed. This will help you to constantly refine your direction so that it matches your current position, and any new information you have learned.
Remember to reward yourself for your accomplishments as you achieve them and mark them on your Mind Map so you remember them every time you review the Mind Map. Continue the review procedure and full rewrites every 6 months to keep everything relevant and focused.
Have fun – make it a joyous process. You are, after all, designing your life – it should be an enjoyable, creative and stimulating exercise!
For Further Information
Please see the links in the text above. There are a wide range of topics covered in the Mind Mapping section of the web site..