A map is a visual representation of a choice you made, a choice you are making, or a choice you will make. Mapping is different than journaling, where you allow your words, thoughts and feelings to flow onto a page to understand them more clearly. As you map, the words captured are more concise, more nugget-focused.
“Mapping” expresses how you visually capture your thoughts. You can use different media to create your map, whether that be in your favorite journal, typing bullet points on a Word document, creating branches in mind-mapping software, capturing your nuggets on index cards or affixing sticky notes to your kitchen wall. Regardless of the form it takes, what’s distinguishing about a map is that it allows you to present each choice visually so that you can view it from a new perspective.
The inquiry process allows you to flush out all the components of your choice and continue asking yourself questions that enable you to go deeper, get more information, gather more insights, and learn more about yourself — who you were, who you are, or who you will be — so that you can use that information to make more thoughtful choices going forward. The map is a vehicle to take all the details you can extract from choice and organize them simply so that the insights you gather are easily accessible for your review. This is distinct from looking at a choice in narrative journal format, where it’s easy to get mired in the myriad of details and lose sight of what’s significant. In the mapping process, key reflections of the complexities of your choice are distilled and edited down to the most salient and simple nuggets.
As you pay attention to the details of your choices, the perspective with which you view your life will become richer and more expansive as you notice and foster awareness about the journey your choices are creating. Once you begin this practice, you’ll bring greater mindfulness to making your future choices. You’ll have greater awareness of what matters to you and greater clarity of your deal breakers, those people and experiences you won’t tolerate.
I’ve created three mapping methods which can be used to examine past, present and future choices — an Unfolding Map examines how a choice unfolds in your life over time, a People Map documents how you know who you know, and an Exploration Map provides a deeper inquiry into your emotions and the whats and whys behind your choice.
I’ll be sharing much more in my upcoming book, The Alchemy of Choice.