One of the biggest issues in manifesting our dreams and goals is a lack of concrete vision. By lacking that vision, we allow the tasks and duties of daily living keep us from dedicating the quality time needed to bring our dreams to reality.
Many of us who want to go from “life A” (life now) to “life B” (dream life) are so busy with life A that we cannot even sit down to think about how life B would look.
A few years ago I did a wonderful “Time Mapping” exercise with a coach of mine, Christina Marie Kimball of Artful Thinking. She talked me through the Time Mapping exercise in detail and sent me away to work on it for the week. I found it so incredibly powerful that I sit down every November and put myself through the process again. Going through the exercise allows me to see the length of space between how I am spending my time now and how my current dream schedule (always changing!) would look.
I am happy to say that every year the space between Life A and Life B is closer and closer.
Time Mapping: How To Make Your Year Crazy Successful
Often, just seeing your life on paper starts your brain problem-solving ways to slowly shift you from A to B. And what can feel like overwhelm in your mind, becomes a sense of optimism for change when you document how you spend your time in full color.
The Time Mapping Exercise
Take the Time Map PDF and print two copies. Get some brightly colored pens and pencils and find a quiet 30 minutes that you can dedicate to this process.
Close your eyes and think about your current schedule. Not just your work schedule, but imagine all the roles you play during the week: parenting obligations, workouts, volunteering, date nights, church, and friendships. The list can be long because you probably wear a lot of hats!
Now assign a color to each role or task you have and start to fill in your calendar. Be as specific. Leave as little white space as possible so that you can see how you are spending your time.
Color in the blocks thoroughly so that at a glance you can analyze a few things.
- Where is my calendar over-weighted?
- Where am I spending time doing something I don’t enjoy?
- Where are slots taken up that would be better spent on “dream building” activities?
- Where is there a color that should have more weight? (workouts, volunteering, quiet time, dream building activities)
- Am I spending the amount of time with family/spouse/friends that I want to be?
You get the idea. This first exercise is to get a deep sense of where you are. You will be surprised at the subtle immediate changes that will pop out to you right away that will lead you toward Life B.
The second half of the Time Mapping exercise is the fun part!
Take your blank piece of paper and place it in front of you. Put the other one to the side face down. Close your eyes. Spend at least five minutes thinking about your dream schedule. How do you REALLY want to spend your time? If there were no boundaries how would you dedicate each hour of your day? Perhaps there are a couple of new categories you want to add like, music lessons, hiking, or a Meet-Up group you have wanted to join. Now, open your eyes and start filling in the calendar. Avoid censoring yourself because “Johnny has football that night” or “I’ve always gone to church Sunday morning.” Let your deeper dreamer come through and show you how he/she really wants to be spending time. Make sure to color in the blocks fully and vibrantly. Now stand back and take a look. Make sure you did miss any “dream” ways you want to spending your time.
Now the reveal.
Put the two charts side by side. Life A is on the left, and Life B is on the right. I bet a couple of simple shifts you could make to move toward Life B present themselves quickly. Maybe you take a longer lunch and attend that yoga class once a week. Perhaps you take your boss up on working from home one day a week so you can attend that mid-day volunteer group you have been eyeing. Or maybe you can see a way to create a four-day work schedule so you can finally write that book during the Fridays you are now at home. The options are endless. The bigger changes you will need to make will take time. But now you might see some action steps you need to put in place in order to start moving in that direction. Now you can clearly “map” out a plan because you know what the end game looks like.
Make sure you keep an open mind throughout this whole process. Time Mapping can be some very powerful vision work. Your brain might struggle a little to dream big. Be sure to acknowledge that inner naysayer who says, “you can’t do that” and kindly tell them to go to Hades, you’re busy designing your life plan.
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