Updated: Oct 5
Most people who start coaching want to jump into designing the future right away; however, the road map is not the beginning of the journey. It is the culmination of several weeks of self-study. The self-study is important to ensure that you are working towards things that matter, and that you keep going, even when you hit bumps in the road.
Most action exercises involve setting a vision and goals and then outlining all of the steps needed to achieve that vision. While this is a nice exercise, life doesn't work that way. It's messy and impossible to know what's next. We need tools that allow us the flexibility to learn and change course as we go along. This exercise will only ask you to establish the vision plus a few steps in the first phase, then re-evaluate before planning the next phase.
Come in with the goal of learning, not perfection. The value of this activity is not in getting it right, it's in writing it down. There is clarity that happens when we cement a plan on paper. Now it's real. It lives somewhere.
In 2015, I wanted to make a career change into the field of organization development and facilitation. I was one year into graduate school and miserable in my job. I decided it was time to get clear on exactly what was important to me in the next opportunity. I created this road map.
A year later, almost to the date, I found myself presenting this road map during an interview for the OGSystems Visioneering team, a high-performing group of professional graphic facilitators and the most wonderful group of mentors, friends, and colleagues I have ever worked with. I got the job, and it was the one that propelled me forward on the career journey of a lifetime.
When we envision with intention, we naturally start to pull what we want closer and take the steps needed to achieve our goals. This is not about checking boxes; it's about solidifying what is important. If you're not a person who enjoys planning, do this exercise and put it away for awhile. Set a reminder to check in with your progress in a month or so.
If you're a person who loves planning, do this exercise and hang it on a wall in your workspace. Use it way to check-in every day or week on your progress, and "check the boxes" to your heart's content.
You might also use this as a guiding tool for decision-making. For new opportunities that come your way, ask yourself, "Will doing this get me closer to my vision?" If the answer is yes, proceed with confidence. If no or unsure, pass or at least make sure you're doing it for another reason that is important to you. Consider getting a bit more essential.
Looking back at my vision from 2015, I feel fulfilled and am excited to continue my journey with new goals, and this can work for you, too.
Journey through these blogs and then meet back here to do your road map:
I recommend completing one or two blogs per week over the course of a month or two.
Let's design your journey ahead.
Try this: Road Map Canvas (15-45 minutes)
Get Grounded. In the "Roots," write and sketch out a few of your values, needs, self-care rituals, decision-model, and other grounding practices. If you created a personal mission statement, add that here, as well.
Determine timeline and add check-ins. Is this a three month, six month, one year or longer vision? If you're not sure, start with six months to a year. Divide the timeline into thirds and create a check point schedule. In other words, if this is a one year goal, you will "check in" and evaluate your progress every four months. Add the check-in dates along the top of the worksheet in the white triangles. Wherever you keep your reminders, set a notification to pop up on that date.
Write a vision statement. Record your final vision statement in the tree. This is where you hope to grow, anchored in your mission and values. If you don't think your vision is possible in your established timeline, adjust the vision or adjust the timeline.
Add goals. If your vision is achieved, how will you know? Write your top one to three supporting goals around the tree.
Learn and gather. Consider the environment, resources and relationships you might need to support this vision. Take note of any steps you can take to gather information in the Phase I column. Write these as clear tasks with a verb and a descriptor.
Plant seeds. What in your current context provides the seeds for the future that you want to bring to life? Where do you see your future beginning? Take note of a small experiment you could do to learn and gather data about this possible future. Add this in Phase I as well.
Add "Signs of Growth." What are some quick wins or small milestones that you would look for along the way? Add these, in any order, along the bottom of the timeline.
(later) Evaluate learning and design Phase II. At this point, you may have noticed that we've only built out Phase I. That is often as far as we can get in the beginning. If you're familiar with software development, you know that the Agile method is based on changing the path as we learn more about the needs of the project. We can't know the whole plan in the beginning, and if we do, we run the risk of getting stuck when our plans go off track. For that reason, we've set "check points" in the timeline. There should be at least two. Set a reminder (in your own way) to check-in with your plan and design the next phase using these prompts.
What did I learn in this past phase?
Will I pivot from this path or persevere further?
What are my next steps for getting further towards my vision? It's possible that you've learned enough that you may want to start a whole new worksheet at this point. Allow yourself the flexibility to do that. Remember, the goal of this exercise is more about learning than getting it exactly right.
Tips on improving your action planning on a day-to-day basis.
This article may contain affiliate and/or compensated links. For more information, please read our disclosure here.
You may also like to read these Self-Coaching blogs:
If you loved this blog and want us to continue offering content like this, please consider donating to Dancing with Markers via PayPal.