Mind Mapping & Creative Thinking

January 18, 2010

Roles and Goals

Filed under: Design Technology — Editor @ 7:56 am
Tags: , , , , ,

I have just read the blog posting on Mind Map Tutor: The Mind Map in the post which can be downloaded as a template or full image is restrictive in my opinion. Tony Buzan would ask why the Mind Map was not conforming to the much researched and tested one word per line rule and why it did not contain any images. I ask the same.

I have redrawn the Mind Map to suit my purposes and maybe others will find it useful too. If you would like an iMindMap file or PDF version then please contact me and I will forward them to you.

Roles and Goals alternative version by Tim Fulford

Living on Purpose

Last week’s article, living on purpose, introduced you to big picture thinking of your life. If you always have the big picture in mind, passion, which is a primary ingredient of success, is usually sustainable.

Single-minded focus is undoubtedly the biggest guarantee of success and a Mind Map is the ideal tool to document this focus, as a Mind Map always has a central theme – a single focus.

While having a single purpose and focusing on it, will dramatically increase the chances of you achieving success, does it bring balance into your life?

The need for balance

I believe that having a balance in your life is crucial to sustained happiness, but a balanced life is anapparent contradiction to having a single purpose.

A common complaint quoted in ‘First things First’ by Stephen R. Covey and A. Roger Merrill is:

‘I want to provide for my family and be successful in my career. But my company doesn’t think I’m serious about advancement unless I get to the office early and work late and on weekends.

By the time I get home, I feel exhausted. I have more work to do, and no energy to give to my family. But they need me. There are bikes to fix, stories to read, homework assignments to help with, things to talk over. And I need them. What is quality of life if it isn’t spending time with the people you love most?…’

Does this sound familiar?

Let’s examine how we can remain focused on our main purpose in life and still live a healthy, balanced life.

The Mind Map as a thinking tool

Before we dive right in, I would like to remind you of the Mind Map’s benefits as a thinking tool. It is not for nothing that Tony Buzan, the inventor of the Mind Map, calls it the swiss army knife of the brain.

The Mind Map can be used in many ways as a thinking tool, but one of the ways I often use it, is to Mind Map the big picture and then drill into the details. I use this method to learn something new as well.

Using Mind Maps can be compared to assembling a jigsaw puzzle. You start with the big picture, which you keep visible at all times. From this big picture, you start putting down the pieces you know, one piece at the time, often starting in the centre or one of the corners and building on them.

As you are building your puzzle, it may not look like a cohesive whole, but it is still being built with the big picture in mind. You will see the centre core growing and the corners growing until they start to meet and become one.

Life is often like that. If you only focus on the detail pieces, you lose track of the big picture. If you onlyfocus on the big picture, you don’t do anything. It just exists in your mind, in your imagination.

Putting together Goals for yourself is very similar to building a jigsaw puzzle.

You have to start with the big picture if you want a more fulfilling life. Having the big picture – the purpose -gives you hope and keeps the passion burning. Passion is the one ingredient that is uniquely yours. The amount of passion you put in is often the most determining factor of all.

But passion without direction, often leads to nowhere. It can also consume you and even lead you down the wrong path. You need something else to restore the balance.

What is balance?

One way of looking at our lives is via four dimensions: physical, spiritual, social and mental. I like the concept of using these four dimensions to ensure balance in my life.

The physical dimension requires or creates resources, the spiritual dimension connects to mission, purpose and principles, the social dimension involves relationships with other people, and the mental dimension requires thinking and learning.

By having a long term view of these dimensions, you start building a picture of a well balanced life. Often, to succeed at something, one of these dimensions become the focus for a short period and it appears that your life is not balanced. It is important at this point to look at the big picture again to give perspective. Balance is determined over months and years, not days and weeks.

A very good example of this is having a new baby. I remember when my daughter was born. She was only four months old when my wife and I decided to leave South Africa to go to The Netherlands.

My wife left her job and spent the next three years in a foreign country where her main focus was looking after our daughter. Her life seemed out of balance at the time. She had no friends, no extended family and no job.

If I look back at the last decade of her life though, I get a very different picture.

Her choice at the times was also very difficult because of the way modern society sees motherhood. I share the sentiments of Rebecca A. Merrill, one of the co-authors of the book ‘First things first’:

‘I’m often troubled by the stigma attached to women who choose to focus their time and effort primarily on motherhood. It is as if society somehow deems it less valuable to raise competent children than to raise the profit on a company’s product line.

A woman who chooses to focus on motherhood, and does so out of a clear sense of her own personal vision, becomes truly energized in her role. She recognizes the value of shaping the characters of future leaders in society. And in the process, she develops competence and character to fulfill other roles. Perhaps a second career or another degree are in the plans, but that doesn’t distract from the task at hand. It is not a matter of capacity, but of chosen contribution…’

It is as if this piece was written for Jasmine, my wife. Today she is in a second career and has another degree. She studied a new degree while being a ’stay home mom’ and when she decided to go back to work, she landed not only a new job, but a new career!

Did her period of focused motherhood detract from her success in any way? I think not! If anything, it gave her the character and strength to accomplish greater things. It also gave her a balance of the physical, spiritual, social and mental dimensions.

When looking at balance therefore, one should not have a short term view. If you are starting a new project, a new business or venture, or having a new born baby, your life may seem out of balance as you are focusing so much time on one thing. This focus is of the utmost importance to succeed. It is the peoplewho don’t have the discipline to focus on what they need to do to succeed, that fail.

This imbalance is often short lived though, if you have your Roles and Goals well defined.

Restoring balance – the power of Roles and Goals

We all have to fulfill different roles in life. Knowing the roles that you have to play, and the goals you have for them, will help ensure that you start, and continue, to live a balanced life.

Take some time out and draw a Mind Map with yourself as the central theme. Draw six branches coming out of central theme and list the roles you have to fulfill in your life. An example of roles could be:

  • Father/Mother
  • Son/Daughter
  • Brother/Sister
  • Employee (List job function if you want to)
  • Business Owner
  • Community Service
  • Manager
  • Etc.

Once you have these roles on your Mind Map, put down three goals for each of them on your Mind Map for the coming year.

Does this bring a new perspective into your life?

Each role must be seen as a stewardship. You have been entrusted in life to fulfill each of these roles. They are your roles. You’ve chosen them. You also choose the goals for each role. Remember, it is YOUR choice.

Each of the roles contain all four dimensions: physical, spiritual, social and mental so ensure that you set goals using these four dimensions as a guide.

As mentioned, sometimes one of the roles needs more focus than the others. This is quite normal. By having a Mind Map picture of your roles and goals, you are able to bring it back on track to ensure that you have a balance.

I’ve added two Mind Map PDF downloads at the end of this for you to print out and use to define your Roles and Goals.

This one year picture of Roles and Goals is a bit more detailed than the Purpose vision of last week, which is a lifetime vision.

Remember the jigsaw puzzle analogy? The purpose is the centre of your jigsaw puzzle and the roles and goals the corners.

Planning – The next step

Your Roles and Goals Mind Map will give you a roadmap, but the journey still needs more detailed planning though and will be covered in a future article. Be sure to look out for it.

Before we get to the detailed planning though, Goal Setting needs to be covered in a bit more detail. That will be the subject for next weeks article.

Click here for a download of the Mind Map PDF guide.

Click here for a blank PDF template.



  1. Hi Tim, I am the author of the article.

    Firstly, I would like to thank you for your comments.

    I agree with you that in it’s ideal form a Mind Map should have one word per line, but there is a reason for me not using one word per line. I have covered Mind Map Principles in a previous article http://www.mindmaptutor.com/2009/02/mind-map-principles. In it I state the need for images as you suggested, but I also state that the rule I break most frequently is the ‘one word per line’.

    My deviation is not a result of not knowing the principle, but based on my experiences. One word per line is “open”, which allows the brain to make almost unlimited associations, but that is not what I am trying to achieve with this Mind Map. I am trying to achieve almost exactly the opposite. This Mind Map is an index of the article below and serves as a guide when reading the article. That is why the branches correspond to the headings in the article.

    I could have made a linear contents page, but I think it will be less effective than the Mind Map one. Even Tony Buzan’s books have a content page, and guess what, they are linear!

    So, in summarising, I feel that the Mind Map I have given is better than a linear one and serves the purpose of guiding the reader accurately through the article.

    The reader can make their own summary with one key word per line like you did to get maximum benefit from the article.

    Once again, thank you for your feedback.


    Comment by Faizel Mohidin — January 18, 2010 @ 7:02 pm

  2. Hi Faizel, thanks for your reply. I think it is rather strange to have a rule and then break it personally! All Tony’s recent books all have summary Mind Maps which act as contents pages and they have a linear version as well. If you are used to Mind Mapping and have grasped the one word rule effectively trying to read a multi word per line Mind Map becomes very frustrating particularly if you are then trying to use it. Surely if you are trying to encourage goal setting then the subject needs to be as open as possible first and then focus in? Certainly in all my years with setting targets and goals with my staff teams thats the way we have very effectively played it. I have seen many systems operated in business which effective restrict and control the outcome of goals which of course ultimately restrict the business, thus defeating the object of the original objective.

    Comment by Editor — January 19, 2010 @ 8:19 am

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