I found myself thinking about the purpose of this blog. What am I really aiming to do? Indeed what is my goal! So after a quick visual goal-setting session it became clear that I want to develop the optimum method for establishing, setting and achieving desired goals and for solving all manner of problems. In thinking long and hard, drawing lots of images and reading various books on the subject I found myself going back to mind-mapping. When you Google visual goal-setting it’s websites that offer mind-mapping tools and processes that are most frequently returned. But mind-mapping isn’t really what I’m talking about. As I stated in my previous post, I’m a huge fan of mind maps. I’ve been using them for about 14 years since my academic supervisor introduced me to the them to help with my research. I most often use them these days to create documents and for the past four years creating essay plans – I plan it all out on my mind maps and then flesh it out in Word. So I found myself this week returning to the work of Tony Buzan, the man credited with creating the the modern mind map. In doing so I came across the following clip on YouTube in which he makes some great points on the importance of the mind map being free flowing and the importance of images and colour, aspects which I think have been distilled in many modern mind map approaches.

However, as a qualified and experienced engineer who has also studied for a Psychology degree for the past four years I have some reservations about the mind mapping technique or perhaps the claims made about it – and I know others have too. Our understanding of the brain has come on in astronomical leaps and bounds since Buzan’s original television work that first introduced mind maps some 30 years ago. My own experience also leads me to disagree with one thing he says in this clip. I am not convinced about the layout of mind maps with a central node and off shoots coming from the centre – at least not for me and not for all purposes. Here are my reasons why:

1. I see time as being from left to right so if there is a time element to my goal setting it is intuitive to me for it to span from left to right. Different people and notably different cultures see time in their mind’s eye differently. Some see it bottom to top or even right to left. So it feels to me like any goal-setting, problem-solving solution might need to take that into account.

2. After four years of revising for exams I have noticed that I remembered things on the right hand side of my notes or a book much more easily than the left. Advertisers often charge more to advertise on the right hand side of a publication. Does this have any impact on how I draw my goals? Don’t I want the images I walk around with in my mind, the most prominent ones to be my goals or solutions rather than current ‘stuck’ state? So should I draw solutions and goals on the right?

3. I have absolutely no idea why but when I pick up a magazine I often start at the back and work my way forward. In my younger days I often bought newspapers solely for the sports pages at the back. Is it just a habit then? The trouble is my sister, who has zero interest in anything sporting, apparently does the same thing….. and neither of us has ever lived in Japan!

Other goal-setting visual methods out there use either left to right or bottom to top approaches but I want to have a clearer idea on which is better, or should we start in the middle and work our way outwards like a mind map? Does it depend on the individual or the purpose of the activity? Further investigation required I think but I would love to know your thoughts so please drop me a comment……

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