Making a Life Map Journal: Part One

So, I turned my altered composition notebook (I will upload the video of how I made one soon!) into a Life Map Journal.  What is a Life Map Journal, you ask?  Well, it's one part getting to know yourself and two parts life redesign.

Is your life at a standstill?  Do you feel you don't know yourself anymore?  Do you feel you need change but have no idea where to start?  Are you having a midlife crisis?  Do you feel you lack direction for your future?  Are you unsatisfied with the life you have right now?  If you answered yes to any of these questions, then a Life Map Journal is probably what you need!

So let's start with the tools you'll need:

  • something to use as a journal (I am using an altered grid-paper composition book I got from Walmart for $1)
  • a marker set (fine tipped or Crayola, doesn't matter!)
  • pens (your favorite kind--I love Sharpie pens!)
  • pencil & erasers (for sketching)
  • stickers, washi tape, and other stuff to decorate the insides of your journal (if you want--or you can go totally streamlined and have no decorations at all)
  • a ruler for drawing lines
  • glue (for making page pockets if you want them)
  • scissors (for cutting paper to glue to inside or front covers)
  • pictures (one of you for a project and others you may want to include)

Now, this isn't a quick and easy project to make.  This will take some time, but I guarantee you'll have loads of fun!  And you'll be able to get to know who you are a little more, as well as help to redirect your future to a place where you're more satisfied and happier.  So, let's get started!

Exercise One: Let's start with your portrait page

The first page is your Portrait Page.  You can draw a sketch of yourself at the top and then tell the world about yourself.  Who are you?  When were you born?  What were your dreams growing up?  How did you spend your time?  How do you spend your time now?  Write this from first person point of you (meaning "I" rather than "she").  Here is what I wrote for mine:

"I was born in the late 70's, adopted at 1 1/2 years old.  Ever since I could remember, I was always drawing, coloring, or doing something else creative.  I always wanted to be an artist, but as I got older, I realized that I also loved music and writing as well.  And reading.  You can hardly find me without a book in my hand.  My house has always overflowed in books & art supplies, no matter where I've lived.  I've never been organized, but I try my best (though I usually fail).  I am devoted to my family, my pets, and my creativity.  These three things matter most in my life.  I call myself a "creatrix", as I am always creating something: art, food, a new blog post, stories, songs, inventions, etc.  It's who I am & who I will always be.  That & a total dork..."

Now, that you have an idea, go write your own version.  You can make it as long as you'd like (mine fits on my first page).

Exercise Two: Your super duper bucket list!

Now you're going to make your bucket list.  100 things to do before you get too old to do them!  A regular bucket list is very hard: you look at 100 blank lines and think "How the hell am I going to come up with 100 things, I can't even think of 10??"  So, there's a solution: you break them into goals of 10.  You can use these prompts below or make any of your own that pertain to your life:

 -Top 10 biggest goals (the top 10 that's on your mind right now) 
-10 health/body goals
dreams that you always wanted to do since you were a kid
-10 silly dreams (can be as crazy or outrageous as you want!)
-10 business/financial goals (careers you want to try, where you want to retire to, businesses you want to run, etc.)
people you want to learn from/listen to/or meet 
goals based upon your core feelings and values
-If you were given $1,000,000 to get 10 things done in 6-12 months, what would you want to accomplish?
-10 charity goals (anything that helps others without you having financial gain)
-10 lifestyle/home goals (places to live, type of house you want, etc.)

Now you'll have an actual workable list rather than just 100 blank spaces.  Feel free to turn this into a 200 bucket list or whatever number you like.

Exercise Three: Let's make an anachronistic map of your childhood home

(this technique in step three also works for brainstorming ideas for a memoir)

To know where you're going, you have to know where you've been.  We're going to make an anachronistic map of our childhood home(s).  This means you're going to make one picture that will represent your home (if you have more than one, then you will pick the parts that meant the most to you from each one).  So many parts of my childhood home are now different, so it's nice to remember what used to once be and I can revisit it at any time by looking at my map.

You're going to start with a mind map (we're going to use these a lot).  You can use an extra piece of paper or directly draw this in your journal (or get HUGE and use a piece of poster board).  Write "Childhood Home(s)" in the middle and draw a circle around it.  If you have more than one home, use a different color for each home.  If you want to put more than just items in your home, then use different colors for each type of things (aka: memories, friends, games, items, etc.).  Here are a few examples:

If you have several childhood homes.
If you have only one childhood home.  You can add whatever words that apply.

Then go from there.  Keep writing out everything you can remember.  You won't include everything in your map, but this will give you all sorts of ideas on what to use.

When you're done with your mind map, then you're going to draw out your house.  I, myself, have only had one childhood home, so I didn't have an issue with the shape.  But for those of you who've had several, you can either pick your favorite or make a combination of all of them.  I also only had one floor.  For those of you who had more than one (my kids grew up in a 3-floor house!), you can make more than one map or you can, again, combine into one.

Take your ruler and pencil and lightly sketch out the shape.  I tried to make mine exact, but you can make yours as loosely related as you like.  I then took my ruler and sectioned off all the rooms and erased and redrew until I got them to my liking.  I added in all the stuff that I wanted to remember: the bushes outside, our huge maple tree out front, a compass with my friends' names on them to show where they lived in relation to my house, etc.  I even put in all the windows.  Many things did not exist together at the same time, but that's how I wanted to remember it (that's what makes it anachronistic).  If you had bad experiences in certain places you can use this map to explore those things or you can use it change them to your liking.

The point of this exercise is to either remember the good times, what you loved about your childhood home (or the experiences you had there) or to revisit what you hated about it.  If you really had horrible experiences, you can also choose to draw this on something burnable, like paper or a posterboard instead of a journal.  That way you can explore your anger and sadness as hard as you want to, and then get rid of it.  I had bad experiences in mine, but I did this exercise to ignore those parts and remember all the fun I had as a kid (when I wasn't around my parents).  It's completely up to you how you want this exercise to work for you.

Here is a picture of mine:

If you make one, show me yours!  Share your link below :)

Exercise Four:  Let's Mind Map Your Life

Now you're going to mind map your life.  This will be a 2-page spread and you're going to write your name in the middle (or write "My Life") and then break down your life into pieces.  My pieces are: family, hobbies, business, household, creativity, time, and health.  I then used a different color for each one so when I looked at it, I wasn't confused what went there.

Then you're going to break down each of those pieces into what each one contains.  Like for me, the piece HOUSEHOLD has these subjects: pets, decorating, cooking, repairs, laundry, dishes, organization, cleaning, homeschooling, yard work, gardening, and bills (though cooking, dishes, and cleaning could have gone under "chores").  And then each one of those is broken down into smaller pieces.  Some pieces may even go together (like laundry and organization) so you can draw a line between any that match up.

After you're all done, I want you to go over the mind map and see what isn't working for you.  Like for me, in my "time" bubble, I have blogging, playing PS4, shopping/doctor appts., homeschooling, and household stuff (spending time with my family is a given as we're homeschoolers).  I don't have anything fun in other than playing PS4.  And in my "health" bubble, one thing I also notice that one thing I am lacking is exercise.   When you lay out your life on paper, you can clearly see what is being neglected in your life.  Now that you know what's being neglected, it's time to fix it.  So let's make a "What I Need" list.

What do you want that you aren't getting or doing right now?  More fun in your life?  Less family drama?  Make a list on the next page in your journal.  Write down everything you'd like to see change in your life.

When that's done, look over your "What I Need" list and your bucket list to see if there's a theme.  If so, write that down somewhere on the page.  Let this "theme" (or themes) be your codewords for the next year.  My codeword for 2017 is "simplify".  I need less drama in my life (meaning my mother and her crazy behavior), I need to go more minimalistic in my home, and I need to simplify the way I blog or do other creative things.  So many things are so complicated and in turn, they give me stress.  So in order to have less stress, I need to simplify.  When things are simple, they are easier, and a helluva lot more relaxing 😀

Here's a picture of mine:  

Exercise Five:  Let's make a codeword mindmap

Once you have your codewords (or whatever you want to call them), we're going to make another mind map, one for each word.  The word goes in the middle bubble, and then you're going to brainstorm everything that needs to go with it.  Just like how my word "simplify" would have "less drama", "minimalize our home", "go for walks""organize blogging posts", and "read more" on mine, yours would have whatever pertains to your codeword.  Then from there, you'll make steps, one through up to ten or so steps, for how to achieve each one.  Like "less drama" would have the word "mom" off in a bubble attached to it.  Then from there, I'd number each bubble attached to "mom" as "1. don't indulge in her gossip", "2. if she's angry, don't get angry back", "3. don't let her lie-always remind her of the truth", etc.  (My mom has narcissistic personality disorder, so she is my #1 source of stress.)

You get the idea.  Just work it all out in your journal and when this is done, you'll have a clear roadmap of how to get from point A to point B, without having to stress or wonder how you'll get there.

Here's a picture of mine (I will add more to this mind map as I go):

This ends part one, which I hope it filled you up with some good ideas of how to start to make your Life Map Journal.  Just wait for part two where we delve deeper into YOU and who you really are at you core.

If you make one, share your links below, I'd love to see what you're working on!

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