In this NPR article, psychologist Jordan Peterson says, “The act of writing is more powerful than people think.” He created a course for at-risk university students which centers on a writing assignment to “reflect on important moments in their past, identify key personal motivations and create plans for the future, including specific goals and strategies to overcome obstacles.” He calls the two parts ‘past authoring’ and ‘future authoring.’ YES! What he refers to as “self-authoring” is what we call “life mapping.” McGill University studied the results of the course and found a “powerful positive effect, reducing the drop out rate and increasing academic achievement.”
My theory for why New Year’s Resolutions fail so often is that they usually aren’t grounded by a bigger purpose. So you want to exercise more. Why? To attract a vibrant life partner? To be healthy enough to play with grandchildren? To have many years to work on a cause you care about? The more clarity of the “why,” the more motivated you’ll be to follow through.
Yes, this takes some thought. You’ll need some guiding questions and exercises to either talk or write about. Maybe you have a wise friend or someone else wanting to dig deep who can partner with you. Maybe you could take a personal development workshop on the topic, or hire a life coach. Or you could simply find some good reading and journaling materials.
I highly recommend Tara Parker-Pope’s recent New York Times article: Creating a Mission Statement. She suggests asking yourself some of the same questions that David and I walk you through in our latest book, My Life Map: A Journal to Help You Shape Your Life.
If you like Parker-Pope’s article, consider letting My Life Map guide you through this discovery process.
A lively discussion has been going on over on BlogHer.com about personal experiences with our life planning journal, My Life Map. We’re touched by the honest and sometimes deeply personal stories and reactions this group of woman share about what it was like for them to use My Life Map to examine their lives and begin to clarify what they need and want to live happy lives. We invite any of you using, or thinking about using, My Life Map to go join the conversation.
Karen Ballum, the capable and funny Book Club leader, opens each discussion with a blog of her own experience with the book and then poses questions.
The three main Book Club Questions:
1. What Does Service Mean to You: What does service look like in your life map? Are you more likely to give time, money or both?
2. Lifelong Learning for the Win: What would you like to learn?
3. Making Play a Priority: How do you play?
4. The Ten-Year Map: What did you learn during your My Life Map journey?
Some highlights from the last question:
“One of my favorite things about this book was that it encouraged planning for play. It serves as a great reminder that all work and no play creates a dull person!” -RhiRhi
“I learned that it’s ok to own goals that seem big. When I was younger I was more able to dream in huge ways, and then along the way I got to where I was ok planning out a grocery list but felt like big dreams weren’t part of my life “right now.” – TiarasandTrucks
“The value of My Life Map doesn’t come from a creating a perfect map. It comes from taking the time to reflect and think seriously about things…I learned that I’m not quite as allergic to the thought of long-term planning as I thought I was. So thank you Kate and David!” – Karen
“The ten-year plan was exactly why I wanted to do this book…it has been so easy to say, “oh yeah, that is in our 10-year plan,” which really just came to mean “some day” which is totally vague and meaningless when it comes to planning. This book allowed me to put down the things we have actually talked about.” -SluiterNation
“My plans for the future were always a bit vague. So I learned to clarify and nail down some of the ideas and wishes floating around in my head. It was definitely an eye-opener in a couple of places.” – Tima
“I learned that I really NEED to write in order to plan…I need to be able to write, draw, branch off in tangents and physically put pen to paper.” – ParentingMiracles
“It helped me reflect on the things I truly enjoy and helped me create future goals that will provide me with a well rounded and happy life.” -OneFrugalGirl
“My Life Map helped me to realize that looking ahead and planning and dreaming are so good for my outlook, because, in truth, I’m doing more than surviving. It helped to shift the way I was thinking a bit.” – MyMommysPlace
“I’m most excited about the Learning and Play sections. I really did need the kick in the pants to figure out a few things in that regard. Do I have it all figured out? Nope, but I’ve got a lot more figured out than I did a month ago.” – Karen
“I really liked this book, the quality of the paper was perfect for journalling, the examples were ones I could identify with and helped me to understand how to use the book for my own life plan.” -Kath
“The book made me really think about what truly fulfills me in life and reminded me that while making enough money to live comfortably is important, I need to carve out more time in my life for friends, play, and continued learning. “– AdaWrites