Zen Habits Treasure Map

I have been following Leo on Zen Habits for at least a year now because he adds value to my life. His articles are always well written and informative and even though I don’t follow all of his habits, I try my best and believe that he is genuine and actually walking his talk. I pre-ordered his book The Power of Less and finished it within a few days and now I am going to read it again.

I thrive on driving out complexity and redundancy. I do not have the time to spend on the things that I most value in life, so these maps will be a work in progress and I would love to get everyone’s feedback so I can continue to refine these maps and add value for others.

I want to make sure that this is clear…the creativity, content, thought process and all credit go to Leo of Zen Habits…NOT ME (if anything is mistranslated, misinterpreted, or just wrong – that would be ME). Leo has an un-copyright policy on his blog content and has encouraged others to share and repurpose the content and that has been amazingly successful for him. This map is based on one of his blog posts on his ZTD (Zen To Done) System.

Zen To Done (ZTD) - themaphabit.com
Zen To Done (ZTD) – ZenHabits.net
Published in: on March 14, 2009 at 12:46 am  Leave a Comment  

So What is “The Map Habit” Anyway?

The Map Habit is relatively simple to explain in theory, but as complex and diverse in practice as humans themselves. So let’s get straight to it…here is the theory:

Always seek to know:

1) Where Am I Now?

2) Where Am I Going?

3) How Do I Get There?

See…simple enough right? The Map Habit is just a matter of knowing where you are and where you want to go. You are unique and you have very different strengths and weaknesses than anyone else. That doesn’t mean that you can’t learn and borrow success strategies from others, but you have to make your own map. This will take some time and effort but it is critical to break the “Self Help Addiction” pattern. It can be very frustrating to see other people being successful (or at least telling you they are) and then after following their “10 Steps” or whatever you find that you are not getting what you want. Sorry, but you have to make your own map. I am a very visual person. I wish I could retain every “TOP 5 blah, blah blah” that I read, and act on it every day, but that has not been the case for me. That is why I have developed the Map Habit.

Say "Map!"

Say "Map!"

Fortunately that is what this site is all about. Developing the Map Habit and using it in YOUR life to make YOUR map to get what YOU want. If you are new to Self Help, or young, just recently decided to make some changes in your life then maybe you can take some advice from someone that has been at this for over 10 years: No one can chart your path to success. You are unique and therefore need a unique map. Only you can make your map.

So how do you get started? Ask yourself:

1) Where Am I Now?

What are your strengths and weaknesses? What are the things you struggle with day after day? You don’t need to make an exhaustive list of everything (although it would be helpful). Just be aware that you are unique and keep your strengths and weaknesses in mind. This is your starting point so you need to put a symbol of some sort to remind you that you have to start Where You are Now. You can’t start where someone else is…this is part of the reason why other people’s maps will usually not work. They may have acquired certain skills that you don’t have yet. They may have natural abilities that they don’t even recognize that allow them to succeed by doing certain things…that others can’t do easily. But remember that you can reach your goals, but you have to find your own path.

2) Where Am I Going?

What is one of your life goals? What are the treasures you seek? Do you want to make more money? Do you want to have more fun with your kids? Do you hate your soul-crushing job? Whatever it is…pick one. I highly recommend you follow Leo’s advice and keep this to just ONE GOAL at a time, to allow you to focus completely on it and minimize distractions.

Just get started. Take any 2 opposite corners of a piece of paper or a whiteboard or whatever and put where you are in one corner (just a symbol is enough, something to remind you that this is your map and it has to be your starting point, not anyone else’s) and a description of where you are going in the other, opposite corner.

3) How Do I Get There?

Now you need to map out the steps that will get YOU from here to there. Remember though, DO NOT COPY SOMEONE ELSE’S MAP. This is very important, you need to make your own map. You need a full understanding of where you are now so that you can create a series of steps that will take you where you want to go. You need to challenge yourself to confront your own reality and make sure that each next step is achievable, realistic, and precise. Here are some examples  for steps in your map:


– Wake up 15 minutes earlier tomorrow

– Contact a specific author and solicit advice

– List the skills needed to accomplish a particular goal

NOT SO GOOD (not specific, not realistic, not achievable for you, etc…)

– Write a novel

– Eat healthy

– Create a website (Unless that’s what you do…unless that is one of your strengths. More likely you need to break this down into achievable next steps and possibly get the help of others to achieve this.)

As I said before, I will continue to post samples and templates and anything else I can think of that will help yor create YOUR  map. So go on and get started…make a map today, right now.

Published in: on March 9, 2009 at 9:47 am  Leave a Comment  

The Map Habit…Map, Of Course

The Map Habit - Map

The Map Habit - Map

I honestly prefer to work on either paper or a giant whiteboard. For me the ideal office (apart from no office) would be covered with whiteboards with marker and eraser stations posted everywhere. It is so easy to create and subsequently forget things on a computer. Maps are critical, and that’s why I made The Map Habit map in paper. I want to see it and feel it and check off the tasks as they are done and see how I am doing and how close I am getting to my goal (or the treasure). If I had a giant whiteboard at home then this map would be on it.

This map in particular was done in a notepad I bought from Barnes and Noble. It’s a little more expensive but the texture and color of the paper lends itself well to the treasure map theme that I keep gravitating towards. In the end it makes NO DIFFERENCE what you make the map in and I will post more examples of electronic maps, and paper maps and whiteboard maps and you can choose what works best for you in any given situation. Obviously when working with distributed teams you really need to keep it electronic for efficiency but you need to find creaetive ways to keep bringing the map to the forefront so you keep everyone focused.

Published in: on March 5, 2009 at 11:17 am  Leave a Comment  

Sample of Latest Map Template

Here is a sample of the latest map template I have been using for projects. I have been fine-tuning and simplifying this template for years. The goal of this template was to make it extremely easy to create as well as to maintain. It also had to retain all of the functionality of the diagramming method I was trained on as well as incorporate some of the additional information that I always felt should be included on the map because when it wasn’t the map lost some of the critical content, which was often never looked at again once the map was created. Don’t worry about the contents of the map, this is just meant to be a sample and it was the most complete map that I had using this new template. It does not include a sample of the risks and issues worked in, nor does it show the incorporated owner and duration, but I’ll have a sample that includes all of that soon.


Published in: on February 28, 2009 at 12:00 pm  Leave a Comment  

No One Can Chart Your Course To Success…But You

I’ve read dozens of (more if you ask my wife) self-help books and although I learned at least something from most of them, none provided me with the “solution” I was looking for. None provided the specific instructions that would finally work for me and give me the life I wanted. All would fall short or prove unachievable or unsustainable for me. The enthusiasm would drain, the quick high would wear off, the latest fad simply did not work for ME for one reason or another.

So what now? I started to feel that the self-help industry thrived by generating demand for itself and that I was just another sucker that fed the industry without realizing the promised dreams if I just followed these “simple rules” or made these “easy changes” to my life.

I no longer feel like a sucker, as over the years I realized that I have been taking bits and pieces from each of these formulas and fads and what I really needed to do was to create my own formula. No one else’s formula was ever likely to work for me unless someone with my unique challenges and disorders and allergies and weaknesses and strenghts and gifts and environment and motivation and energy created a formula and published it. And even if they did the market would be so small it would inevitably fail…a market of two would not sustain it. What I needed to do was create my own personal formula based on everything I have learned and custom fit for ME.

So what I offer up on this site is not another in the endless series of self-help trends and one-size fits all formulas…but rather a new approach to help YOU create a formula (or what I will refer to as a MAP) for yourself. A map that takes tips from the lifestyle design gurus and the self-help masters and the productivity bloggers and charts a course that gets you from where YOU are to where YOU want to be. It won’t be easy and the maps I provide most likely will NOT work for you (how is that for a marketing approach)…but if you come here looking for a simple and easy to  follow formula then you have missed the point, you are in the wrong place…but don’t worry there are plenty of books and blogs and programs out there for you…trust me I KNOW!

Here is a sample a very simple map that helped me get my goals and tasks organized. I have revised this map and no longer use RememberTheMilk for tasks, but I’ll explain that later…I just wanted to share a quick and simple map. I’ll do my best to give credit where credit is due and provide links and references to the thought leaders and lifestyle explorers that I am using to help chart my course. I am simply a map maker…not a pioneer like Tim Ferriss of the 4-Hour Workweek or a simplicity and productivity guru like Leo Babauta of Zen Habits.

Published in: on February 27, 2009 at 11:52 am  Comments (1)  

I am a Map Maker

It took me years to figure out what my path was. I read dozens of self-help books, took online quizzes, searched my soul and still found no answers. It seemed that as soon as I found something that fit and started moving in that direction, regardless of how excited I was, it was only a matter of time before I lost enthusiasm and felt that I was trying to live someone else’s life. Then after years and years of this (about 11 years to be exact) it hit me…

My name is gavin and I am a Map Maker.


Interested in who is influencing me? Check this out: The Top 4 (now 5) Most Likely People to Change Your Life…for the Better!

Published in: on February 23, 2009 at 10:08 am  Leave a Comment