1. Schedule Time. Please do not start the process of finding your Direction until you have carved out at least 1 hour of dedicated time to focus quietly and completely (NOTE: Finding your Direction may take an hour, or a week or in my case about 20 years, well…I’m a little slow and easily distracted.) This is something that will take a considerable amount of effort and focus for most people so please don’t bother until you can create the right environment for yourself to focus on what may be the most important task you have ever done. A task that will determine whether you make your life an adventure and find the treasures you are looking for…or simply continue to “work” on someone else’s goals. Here are some resources to help:
- Purpose Your Day: Most Important Task (MIT) – ZenHabits.net
- 10 ways to make more time for yourself – start today! – Chronicbabe.com (Great advice for those with or without a chronic illness.)
2. Eliminate Distractions. No surfing, no reading email, no phone calls or dealing with screaming kids while you are working on the rest of these steps. If you can’t remove distractions for a set period of time then wait until you can. You need to be focused and totally present. This is going to be a creative exercise that you need to get wrapped up in and fully engaged. Please give this process the time and attention that it deserves.
- How to Make the Time for Your Personal Goals – ZenHabits.net
- 8 Liberating Strategies for Clearing the Queues in Your Life – ZenHabits.net
3. Use Paper and Pen/Pencil. This is more of a suggestion than a requirement as everyone is different. However, I have found that I have trouble engaging in creative activities while working on a computer. Part of this is the constant pull of countless distractions of computers and the internet (see Step 2). Disconnect yourself from the computer physically if you are like me and prone to distraction. There is also something real and personal about writing with a pen and paper. Don’t underestimate the value of making this personal and opening up your creative capacity. I recommend taking an extra step here and getting yourself a nice journal that is easy to write in and the perfect pen or pencil for you.
4. Create Your Treasure List. It’s quiet and you are alone and comfortable. You have your journal and your special pen or pencil and all distractions have been eliminated. You are ready! You are going to make a list of the Treasures you seek in life. Your life is about to start being an adventure again…but you need to determine what those adventures will be. Start with a simple list. What do you want out of life. A new career? A healthier home? Relationships with the top probloggers in the world? Do you want to wake up every day energized? Do you want to help someone? What do you want to do? What makes you happy? What did you do with your free time when you were a kid and you actually didn’t have to do anything?No restrictions or limits here. Be creative and do not limit yourself. Do not make excuses or think about reasons you can’t or shouldn’t have something. Free yourself and fill up this list!
5. Choose The One Treasure that will be Your Next Adventure. Creating “The Map Habit” was the Direction I chose a while back and I used some of the steps in this article to do it. The rest of the steps in this article are things that if I hade done it wouldn’t have taken so long to find it! Anyway, you need to review, edit and prioritize your Treasure List now. Cross off things that when you think about it you don’t really care enough about them to spend weeks or years of your life pursuing. Cross off things that you don’t feel like you NEED to do. Circle or put numbers on the items in your list that jump out at you… things that get you excited just thinking about them. Cross off things that are simply material possessions (this is just a suggestion – but studies show that having excess money or possesions won’t make you happy – we are trying to dig a little deeper here and find things that will bring about real life changes for the better). You are looking for One thing in the Treasure List that will become your next Adventure. Choose the One thing that you can pour yourself into completely. One thing that will become your life-changing pursuit. You are looking to mix passion with purpose here. Take your time. Make another list if needed. Don’t move on until you have selected that One Treasure.
6. Wait at Least 24 Hours. “What? Are you serious?” Yes, very serious. Please consider 24 hours to be the absolute minimum, probably at least a week or two would be best. “But I’m excited and I want to start NOW!!!” I understand, but you need to let this Direction “stew” for a bit. It is very easy to get excited about an idea or an adventure before you have actually started down the path. Remember there is a lot of fool’s gold out there, especially if the Direction you have chosen came directly or indirectly from someone else. This may be a good time to do the exact opposite of what every productivity expert in the world would tell you and try to distract yourself from your new Direction. If this is truly the right Direction for you, then you will come back to it…nothing will stop you. Better to find out the Direction was not quite right sooner than later (20 years learning this lesson – trust me!). Here are some great distractions to “fill the time” and they just might help you refine or even redefine your new Direction:
7. Revisit Your One Treasure and Make 100% Sure It’s The One. (It’s tomorrow right? You waited 24 hours right?) Seriously though, after waiting for a while take another look back at the One Treasure (or Direction) you have chosen and see if anything has changed. Has your eagerness to pour every ounce of your energy into this new Direction diminished even a little? Has another Treasure caught your eye? Be honest, better to change your Direction now then spend weeks or years searching for something you don’t really want. The next step is going to take some work so make sure before moving on.
8. Write down a detailed story of your life “As If” you already have it. Don’t start planning out every detail and next action step of your new found Direction. That is how people end up in careers they don’t like and look back years later and wander how they got there. But not you! You are going to pretend like it already is years later and you are going to write your story “As If” it already happened. “As If” you already have the treasure you seek. Be detailed here, write out what you eat and what you wear and where you eat and who you talk to and what car you drive and who you are helping and who knows you and what they say about you and what you are working on and what you like about your new life and what you don’t and on and on until you can’t write anymore. It’s like writing an autobiography for your future life.
9. Evaluate your “As If” and adjust, refine or simply start over if needed. OK, you really took the last step seriously and wrote your future autobiography. Now take a real hard look at it. Is that really the life you want to create? Is that really the Treasure you want to spend your time and energy pursuing? This is where you can separate yourself from the rest of the crowd. Can you envision your life “As If” and change your course before you use that period of time up. The quote “be careful what you wish for…you just might get it!” never made sense to me when I was younger. However, after spending years looking back and saying “why did I do that?” it became very clear. Don’t put yourself in that situation. If you think you need to go back to Step 5 Celebrate the weeks or years of your life that you just saved! I can’t stress this enough. Go back to Step 5 a little smarter than you were before and try again until you get it right. If you are sure that this is the right Treasure for you then go to Step 10.
10. This is your TREASURE… your new found DIRECTION. This is your next Adventure! (Now what?) Celebrate the effort you put into finding your true course. And until I get more articles written and more maps created to help you with the next steps of this process I recommend going to Zen Habits for help with making your new Direction a reality. I think that Simplicity is next area to focus on, but more on that later.
CAUTION: Do not use mind-mapping when charting the course to your Treasure. Mind-maps take you from where you want to go to anywhere and everywhere in infinitely many directions. Mind-maps are like having a map that points everywhere! That’s not what we are after. Keep it simple…during the brainstorming stage make lists and revisit your lists and order your lists and prioritize your lists, but always have the goal of finding that one Direction. I’ll expand on this in another article.
[UPDATE: I entered this map in the contest at True North Arts. Wish me luck!]
Some things you might also be interested in:
- The Top 4 Most Likely People to Change Your Life…for the Better!
- The 4HWW Activation Map – Make Life Work for You
- So What is “The Map Habit” Anyway?