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How to Mind Map and Why Everyone Should Do This

by Roberto
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All those who have no idea what mind mapping is say Ay! Fear not. I had no idea what is was either up until about 10 years ago or so. Now, I swear by it.

Before we dive into how to mind map and why everyone should be doing it, let’s make one thing clear. It’s not like the vision board.

How many of you have done the vision board thing and realized it just wasn’t working? Don’t be embarrassed. I tried it too and fell short. No stacks of cash landed on my doorstep and Johnny Depp never asked me to marry him.

Ah well.

Back to the drawing board…er, or not?

(this post contains affiliate links so if you make a purchase I make a small commission-affiliate disclosure)

Mind mapping definition

Oh how your mind will be blown by this.

Now there are probably a million different mind mapping definitions but here’s mine:

It’s a place where you write down your short term and long term goals and tasks you need to do to achieve your goals. You look at them each day and take steps to get closer to achieving said goals. Every day you look at your mind map and every day you work towards smashing your goals.

Now that’s just the Reader’s Digest version of it but it sums it up quite nicely. Let’s go back to the vision board for a second.

We tape a big poster board on our wall. Cut out pictures of things we want. Write out little affirmations beside them. Repeat them daily until said picture comes to life.

Sounds fun. Too bad it isn’t so effective.

Now don’t get me wrong. I’m not pooping on people who use the vision board faithfully and love it. Hey, if it works for you, kudos babe.

But for the millions of others it ain’t working for this article on how to mind map is for you.

Examples of mind mapping

I’ll give you one example of mind mapping and naturally, it’s my own. And promise not to laugh at my design.

illustration of a mind map
Iva’s mind map :p

Now I usually create my mind map on a whiteboard but you can use whatever you want really. More on that later. This is a small example of what a physical mind map looks like.

Many people like to use online software (or their computers) to create a mind map. Honestly, I tried that method and it just didn’t work for me.

Here’s my mind map from Mindmeister (more on these guys later too).

illustration of a mind map
Ugh!! What on earth is that?

You can see I didn’t get very far. I started it with good intentions and let it collect computer dust.

I’m a visual creature and I need to see my stuff right in front of my face all the time or I’ll forget it. My mind map is on the wall, literally 2 feet away from my head. No chance of me missing that at all!

How to create a mind map

First of all, there is no right or wrong way to create a mind map. You do what feels right for you in the most effective way where you feel confident you will reach your goals.

Does that make sense?

If you are using a white board, like me, I draw a circle in the middle, put my name in there with a star and choose only 5 goals I want to achieve in the next 6-12 months.

I choose the most important goals to me. Ones I really really want to achieve this year. I generally don’t set a date longer than 12 months and even that length of time I find is a bit long. For me anyway. I’m a short term impatient person ( I should work on that).

If you look at the above drawing you can see I have 5 arrows coming out of my circle. I write out each goal with an end date and then underneath it I will jot out the steps I need to take to succeed in reaching this goal.

That’s it, that’s all.

Mind mapping do’s and don’ts

Ok I lied. That’s not all there is to mind mapping. You actually have to do the work too. Here are a few do’s and don’ts when it comes to your mind map.


  • look at it daily as often as you can
  • set aside at least 30 minutes a day to work on one of your goals
  • add tasks to each goal as you go along
  • feel it within your soul that you will accomplish this goal
  • stay focused


  • clutter it beyond recognition
  • forget about it
  • set goals that you don’t believe you can achieve
  • be unrealistic in your time frame
  • set your sights too high

Now what I mean by don’t set your sights too high is this:

Don’t write down as a goal that in 6 months you want to be living in a million dollar mansion with 5 BMW’s, a maid, gardener and an Olympic size swimming pool if you know that chances of that happening are next to nil (unless you win the lottery).

You need to set realistic goals. I can’t stress this enough. Goals like, get a better job, move to a nicer neighbourhood/city, get fit, retire from your day job. Things like this.

Now for those of you who just looked at my examples and said “Oh Iva retiring from my day job in 6 months is an unrealistic goal” I have a story for you.

vector of man's head explosion of words and colourful

How my mind map worked for me

I was a hairstylist working in a mall in Northern Ontario Canada. I hated my job as much as I hated my boss and the brutal winters of Ontario. I desperately wanted to retire and leave.

I was in absolutely no position to retire. I barely had two cents to rub together and was literally just scraping by. I had to figure out how to retire and still support myself and then be able to leave Ontario once and for all. Those two goals were on my mind map.

I was determined. To me, they were not unrealistic goals at all.

I became a freelance writer, built my career (while still working 9 hours a day cutting hair) and by July of 2015 I was able to hang up my cutting shears. In October of 2015 I packed two suitcases, bought a one way ticket and jetted off to sunny Guatemala.

I never returned to Canada except for short visits to see family and such.

(I’m writing this from sunny Mexico)

So ya, don’t tell me it’s not doable. I’m here to tell you it so is. All you need is faith and determination. You need to really believe that you can do it. If you have any doubt, you’ll never achieve your goal. ALL of my goals were written out on a mind map and I achieved every single one of them.

A strong mindset will go a long way. Please don’t write out a goal if you don’t think you can attain it. That is so important I can’t stress this enough.

Avoiding a cluttered mind map

This is also really important. Don’t write so much stuff on there that it starts overwhelming you. You will get to the point where you start looking at it and just feel anxiety because there’s SO much to do.

Don’t do that. Keep your tips simple, and neat.

When you start feeling anxiety by looking at your mind map it’s time to clean it up. Anxiety is fear based and that feeling of fear will keep you trapped and you will never reach any of your goals.

Trust me on that.

Mind mapping will work if you work it

Like anything, it takes work and commitment. You have to remember something very important…

You are in control of your life. If you don’t like something change it. If you don’t know how to, figure it out.

Everything is figureoutable (ok so I stole that word from Marie Forleo).

One of the problems we have is that we simply don’t believe in ourselves and don’t have enough faith and confidence that we can achieve a goal or do a scary thing. This recent video from my YouTube channel might help give you the confidence you need to reach your goals and believe in your dreams.

What is the best mind mapping software?

Now for those of you who prefer to do your mind mapping on the computer, you’re in luck. There are so many tools you can use to create your mind map on the computer.

You see I tried Mindmeister but that didn’t work for me but most people I talk to in the blogging sphere love this site. Here are a few more you can take a look at!

  1. Ayoa-(previously iMindMap)
  2. XMind
  3. Lucidchart
  4. Coggle
  5. Stormboard

Of course there are so many more to choose from, some free, some really expensive and some very reasonably priced. The best free mind mapping software I would have to say, imo, is Mindmeister, Lucidchart and Coggle.

You can always upgrade to a more pro version but if you’re just looking for the basics, for free, you’ll be able to do them with those three.

Do some sniffing around to find one that suits you and your needs the best.

So how effective is mind mapping?

To be perfectly honest, it’s only as effective as you are. It’s like anything else in life. If you put in the work, you will get results. If you don’t think anything good will come into your life, like reaching your goals, then guess what? Nothing good will come into your life.

Train your mindset to believe that you do deserve to reach your goals.

You do deserve the life you desire.

You do deserve to be happy and successful.

So many of us suffer with limiting beliefs we inherited from our upbringing or past failures. It’s time you let all those go and start believing a happy, successful and abundant life can be yours.

If you truly want it.

Happy Mind Mapping!

xo iva xo

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