Your focus becomes your reality. That’s right, whatever you focus on will become your reality. All that has ever been achieved, all that has ever been created, was brought into reality through action due to focus on an idea. For this reason, success requires a tool to bring focus and cause action. I call this tool a LIFEmap.
A LIFEmap serves two purposes. The first is to bring order and structure to ideas and desires. This is known as definition. The second is to keep us on target. This is known as direction.
Definition – This is the process of taking your ideas and creating a physical representation of your thoughts in reality.
Direction – This is the process of creating a physical reminder that serves as a mental compass so that no matter what happens, you keep on working toward the goal.
When you create a shopping list, this is Definition. As you think of all of the different things you want to buy, you create a physical list on paper to later reference so you can be sure you buy everything. If you have 10 things you need to purchase, but don’t write them down, you may have trouble remembering them all when you get to the store.
When Albert Einstein used chalkboards to develop equations, this was Definition. His thoughts were first brought into reality on the chalkboard where he could put order to them and work with them.
When a songwriter hums a few new notes, this is Definition. They have taken a thought and reflected that thought in physical creation.
Definition is not about a perfect finished product. It actually exists at the other end of the creative process. It is the all important first step where an idea starts to manifest in physical reality. What is done is not as important as the fact that it has been done. It is a matter of getting things moving. The rest of the process is a matter of Direction.
Direction is about being consistent. It’s a compass that keeps you pointed toward your goal. It’s a marker to remind you, to keep you from getting lost, and most importantly to keep you moving forward at all times.
When a man looks at the wedding ring on his hand, that gives him Direction.
When a man in the military looks at the American flag, that gives him Direction.
When a professional athlete sees the finish line, that gives him Direction.
A LIFEmap can take many forms but all of them serve by organizing ideas into a physical reality (Definition) and then using a physical marker to keep you on your path (Direction). It’s this physical reminder that serves to continuously ask you Five Key Questions:
- What is my plan for action that I will take to move me toward achieving my goals?
- Am I doing anything counter-productive to achieving my goals that I must stop now?
- What resources or skills am I lacking and how do I get them?
- Who can I talk to who has achieved a similar goal? Can I find an expert who can guide me (maybe they wrote a book, have a blog, or can be hired as a consultant)?
- What is something that I can do right now to move me closer to my goal? How can I take action now?
…and remember, the point is to find solutions in your answers, not excuses!
The point of Direction is that you are continuously moving toward your goal. And remember, there is only success and learning experiences. There is no failure, only information gained from experience. It’s normal to adjust your plan as you go along in order to overcome unpredicted challenges. Always keep moving forward!
Those are the basic concepts, now I’m going to give you some practical, and easy to use examples. It’s time for you to build your LIFEmap.
“The Collage” – Get a poster board from an art supply shop. Get a stack of your favorite magazines and start cutting out pictures of things you want in your life. Paste all of the pictures onto the poster board. Take the finished product (it’s finished when it’s completely covered – no white space) to a place that does professional picture framing. Spend a little money to have a nice frame put on it (you will see why in just a bit). When you are there, explain to the person who helps you that it’s a LIFEmap and you are putting it up in your house to remind you what your goals are. Each of these steps is very important because each step takes what is in your head and brings it further into physical reality. Each step, even explaining what you are doing to the person at the framing shop, is a physical thing that will start a domino effect in the physical world to bring you closer to achieving your desires. When you get it home, hang it in the most noticeable, high traffic area of your home. Every time someone comes over that hasn’t seen it, spend two minutes telling them what it is and why you chose the different pictures. The most important part is that you look at it no less that two times every day and ask yourself the Five Key Questions as mentioned above. Anytime you have a free moment, look at it and take action.
“The Model” – Do you want a new car, boat, or even a plane? Go buy a scale model, even better if you have to put it together. Put it someplace that you see it numerous times a day and memorize the Five Key Questions. Every day you will look at it, ask yourself the Five Key Questions, and take action.
“The Announcement” – Ideas are great, commitment to action is better. Let’s say that you want to start your own business. You have written a very detailed business plan and you will be ready to quit your job in 6 months. This one is simple. Tell your boss that you will be quitting in 6 months. You will be amazed at how handing in your resignation will keep you in a state of action toward your goal. Or as a different example, let’s say that you like to work out but have trouble lasting a full hour at the gym. Go to a shop that prints custom t-shirts and have a few new workout shirts made that say, “I can last one hour.” …and yes, the sexual innuendo was intended. It will give you something to talk about at the gym. The point is that when you tell others what your goals are, you feel dumb when they don’t see you being congruent in your actions. This tends to force you into action.
“The Picture” – What if you work a stressful job because of the pay? The answer is simple, every time you start to feel stress, remind yourself why you are there by looking at a picture. Maybe it’s a picture of a child that you are putting money into a college fund for. Maybe it’s a picture of a new home that you are saving up for. Maybe a new car. When the boss asks you if you can work overtime, just look at the postcard from Hawaii and think about how you will be just a little closer to that vacation. Just look at the picture, ask yourself the Five Key Questions, and get moving.
“The List Diary” – One of my favorites. Go buy a diary. An actual physical book (you cannot use a computer for this exercise). Start off by writing the Five Key Questions on the first page for easy reference. Then write a list of the three most important goals you have for your life. Each morning, the first thing you do once you are awake (VERY IMPORTANT: The very first thing you do) is to read your list of three goals and then write answers to each of the Five Key Questions. You do this EVERY morning! You then use this same book to take notes during the day as you work toward the goals. Leave this book out on your desk or on top of the TV so every time you see it you are reminded that you need to take action. When you get one of the three goals completed, add another goal. The point is that you always have three (never more) goals that you are working toward in your life. I cannot make a big enough point as to how powerful this system is. Everyone I know who has implemented this system either stops writing in the book, or achieves their goals. All you have to do is keep true to the system, and keep writing in the book. You will be amazed at the results.
These are just some examples. You can pick one or any combination of them based on your personality and specific goals. Now that you understand the tool, you can even create your own. Remember, the more you physically do, the better it will work. Define your goals in physical space, keep focused on them, and watch as you bring them into your reality.
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