How to Use Mind Mapping to Design Your Career and Get Unstuck
Changing your career is one of the most complex, difficult decisions to make, and as such, it deserves ample time and creativity to make sure that you’re on the right track. Whether you’ve been pushed by the pandemic to find yourself a new professional path, or you feel it’s time for something new in your life, instead of just googling potential and available positions that might suit your skills, how about a new approach?
Mind mapping is a creative take on thinking about your life’s choices, your career included. It can help unveil some unknown facets of your persona, guide you towards new and exciting opportunities, and it can be exceptionally potent for discovering new ways to build a lucrative business out of an idea. In my experience, mind maps have proven to be most useful when you feel stuck and don’t know how to move forward. For that very reason, I’ve created this simple guide to help people searching for their next professional challenge, and to make mind mapping a more seamless process. Enjoy!
Making Sense out of Chaos
Your mind is likely filled with questions such as “Would I be any good as a tutor?”, “Is it better to switch to working from home?” and “Would I have more family time if I choose to freelance?”. Mind mapping can help you put these questions in perspective and answer them when you do your research. For instance, if you’re a language teacher, you can indeed set up your own online classroom, work with existing schools from home, or look for an opportunity to work in a physical classroom – as soon as the situation permits it.
Mind maps serve to help you understand your own concerns when you put them in a new, visualized perspective. They help you focus on key hurdles so that you can find out what you need to do in order to move forward with your career.
In the early days of my own career-building, I imagined starting my own online English tutoring school. Once I researched what that entailed (building your own website, registering your business, understanding tax laws, marketing and advertising yourself, etc.), I immediately realized that I’d prefer a less convoluted road to professional growth, which allowed me to focus on what was both realistic and rewarding at the time.
Outlining Milestones in Your Journey
Searching for the next job requires more than just sending out your old resume to as many companies as possible. In fact, this is your chance to see what you need to do in order to accomplish your goals. For example, if you’re in healthcare and you want to work with children to provide pediatric advanced life support, you might need to boost your credentials first.
That’s when you outline your specific milestones for your desired career path and get as concrete as possible. For example, getting a PALS certification can make you a more viable candidate in your healthcare system – but considering the circumstances, maybe you should take an online class until the situation calms down. Do the same for each career opportunity, be it administration in healthcare, palliative care, or working with oncology patients – each requires a different educational component.
Freedom for Your Creativity
In addition to creating mind maps for their own sake, this beautifully creative process allows you to actually enjoy every step of the way – use colors to create meaningful connections, to separate what you’re most interested in (red works for me for this category), from prospects that sound a little less appealing (I always go for the pink here).
Add to that, using a mobile mind mapping app make it easier for you to continue this process organically while you’re, for example, commuting or waiting in line. It’s a no-mess way to keep the process going and always have a way to note down your ideas on the go.
Unleashing Your Playfulness
It’s no wonder we get so bored after hours of scrolling down the same old job ads, trying to find something that “calls” to our instinct. When you’re not sure what’re you’re looking for, it’s difficult to spot that special opportunity, because you won’t be able to discern what makes it so special to begin with. That’s where you can use your mind mapping inspiration to delve deeper into what motivates you to choose a particular career.
A close friend of mine has worked as a social media manager for years, but she got tired of hashtags and snappy posts, even though she has always been great at her job. So great, in fact, that is was impossible for her to imagine doing anything else but that. We were having coffee one day, and after the third eye-roll she gave me after another dull day at work, I suggested mind mapping. Right then and there, we picked up my notepad and started talking about her skills and focusing on what she does like. Thirty minutes of fun exchanges and brainstorming later, she exclaimed “Wow, I never would have guessed that I should be looking at customer support positions instead – I love conflict resolution, solving other people’s problems, and talking to people one-on-one!”
As your mind map expands and branches out in new and unexpected directions, you can create brand-new mind maps tackling your motivation and drive for the specific career choices that appeal most to you. Consider this a brilliant, yet simple way to understand yourself better and have a one-on-one with your innermost instincts and passions.
Simple to use and very easy to fall in love with, mind maps can become your go-to tool for unraveling life’s mysteries and making tough decisions slightly easier on you. Now that you’re at a crossroads and in need of guidance, mind mapping can help you consider all your options, even the ones you didn’t know you had, and only then move forward with a decision. With such a creative outlet, you can take your time and freely play with your ideas and enjoy the process more than ever.