Last month, when I was on The Karen Hunter Show on Sirius XM, I mentioned my use of mind mapping. In case you’re unfamiliar, mind mapping is a visual thinking technique, made popular by the late Tony Buzan.

Mind mapping is a non-linear way to collect data, which can help you with problem solving, making decisions, and plotting out next steps. It’s a simple, but powerful tool that helps you get out of your head so you can see more clearly the relationships (aka connections) between various ideas, concepts, and pieces of information.

I mind map almost everything! From content ideas for the blog, podcast and speaking presentations to thinking through product and service specifications. It’s how I convey ideas and concepts to coaching clients. It even served as the framework for how I developed my signature exercise – The Financial Wheel.

In a jiffy, I’m going to share three examples of how you might use mind mapping for your personal finances and career endeavors. But let’s go back to a couple of weeks ago…

On the show, Karen and I were talking about getting paid. We touched upon matters like: 

  • How do you know if you’re getting paid fairly; or 
  • How do you even know what to ask for; or
  • How do you weigh the value of an alternative that is being offered when it is not “cold hard cash”? Things like recognition and exposure.

This is when I mentioned how mind mapping can be a helpful tool. Especially when you need help shifting from the notion of “pricing your worth” to “pricing your value.” And if you work as an employee, this can be similarly applied — it can help you with negotiating your salary (and other compensation elements).

Julee, on Twitter, wanted me to elaborate. So, you can thank her for this post. -:)

First, let’s all agree that the “pricing your worth” mindset is troublesome. Because it is tied to you as a person. And, you’re priceless. So, the next time you hear someone exclaim this sentiment, please correct them. If it is you that tends to say it, please stop.

Second, let’s agree that “pricing your value” is a better mindset to adopt. Because it is tied to your skills, gifts, talent, knowledge, education, experience, perspective, personality, etc. – maybe even what/who you have access to – and how this concatenation helps you uniquely solve a problem, help others overcome a challenge, meet a goal and/or fulfill a desire.

You may think of the difference as a splitting of hairs, but it is a significant, noteworthy one.

Before I share the examples promised above, let’s dive into some benefits as they are aplenty!

Sure, there are apps you can use and they are beneficial, especially if you intend to share your mind map or need to collaborate with others. But, truly, all you need to tap into the power and creativity of mind mapping is pen and paper

All mind maps begins with a circle, the inside of which is the topic you want to explore, or the question you have, or the problem you’re trying to solve, or the challenge you’re trying to conquer. This is your central idea.

Lines extend from the circle, much like branches extend from a tree or spokes from a bicycle wheel. The lines (and the short words, phrases or symbols written on them or next to) represent what you’re capturing as it relates to the central idea – be it ideas, data, thoughts, concepts, questions to pursue further, tasks that come to mind. The lines are sub-ideas and some of these may have additional sub-ideas connected to them.

What are the benefits?

Clarity

You gain greater clarity about the central idea because all the ideas swirling around in your head are no longer in your head! They are on a piece of paper (or your computer screen). Therefore, mind mapping helps you think through and think about your central idea and the additional ideas it inspires – sometimes identifying elements you have initially overlooked.

Analysis

With a mind map, you get more than what you see. Meaning: in front of you is the big picture and all the parts associated with it. But this combination helps you to notice patterns and relationships/connections you’d likely miss – if you were trying to process everything in your head. Ironically, as you plot the sub-ideas and draws lines to connect one thread to another, your mind map can become visually messy. And yet still retain it’s key benefit when it comes to clarity!

Creativity

This organically comes forth via the connections you draw. Examining your paper or computer screen will help you see possibilities. It’ll also help you recognize when you’re making assumptions you may want to challenge the validity of.

Mimics your brain

A mind map invites you to “spread out” and think in many directions. This mimics how your brain actually works, as it represents a multi-dimensional reality. And because you’re not operating in a linear, list-based fashion, it fosters flexibility about where you start and what are the next best moves afterward.

Promised Examples

Personal finances – big picture

Yes, you get statements from your financial institutions. Yes, you get reports from the financial apps you use. But a mind map can visually connect the data from these various documents, as well as your goals, in a way merging all these disparate statements and reports never could.

Try this:

  • Make “personal finance” your central idea – so it is written inside your circle.
  • Label your initial lines (or sub-ideas) extending from the circle, traveling around the circle, like this: savings, investing, spending, debt, earning, expenses, insurance, estate planning, budgeting, values, goals, to-do’s, financial team, relationships.
  • Additional sub-ideas might look like this: extending from savings (emergency fund, vacation, entertainment, gifts, and other things you might be saving toward); extending from investing (retirement savings, property); extending from financial team (CPA, financial advisor, financial coach); extending from estate planning (Will, power of attorney, health proxy) 

Personal finances – specific goal

Let’s say you want to spruce up your savings:

  • Make “savings” your central idea – so it is written inside your circle.
  • Label your initial lines (or sub-ideas) extending from the circle, traveling around the circle, like this: 30-days; 12-months; the different buckets you have (which are typically tied to your goals); habits (the behaviors you’ll need to practice.

Career

Let’s say you’re interviewing for a new job – it may be at your existing place of employment, or at a new company:

  • Make “the title of the position” your central idea – so it is written inside your circle.
  • Here are examples of initial lines extending from the circle, traveling around the circle, that are related to the position: job’s responsibilities, tasks, goals, role of the position in the department; role of the department in the division; role of the division in the company; size of the team; “where” is the position in terms of the team’s hierarchy; what’s the “job” of the position.
  • Here are examples of initial lines extending from the circle, traveling around the circle, that are related to you, specifically: all skills (not just those used or potentially utilized by this role), gifts, talent, knowledge, education, experience, perspective, values; what do you want to be known for; what problems do you like solving; what are you goals; what do you currently earn; what do you want to earn; what do you need to earn.
  • Here’s an example of a sub-idea related to “skills”: communication (written and oral), research, problem analysis, detailed oriented, visionary thinker.

The sub-lines (and their associated sub-lines) related to you specifically are what you’d use to “package and sell” your value as it relates to what you’ve documented about the job, department, division and company. This serves as the basis for communicating (aka marketing) how you’ll get the job done differently than someone else, which is also the foundation for what/how you’ll convert your package into a monetary value you can negotiate. ​​​(Entrepreneurs and small business owners would do a similar exercise as it relates to matching their “package” to the needs/desires of their prospects and clients/customers.)

Back to the beginning

Can you see how plotting out the above (or something similar) could help you negotiate your salary (and/or total compensation)? Can you see how it could help you evaluate what is being offered if it is something other than “cold hard cash”?

Most important, can you see how using the technique of mind mapping can help you focus on your value – vis a vis the value of the skills you bring to the table, the “job” you’re helping to get accomplished, along with your strengths and personality?

Look, don’t let the simplicity of mind mapping diminish its profundity. Because it’s a powerful tool! Use it to help you navigate any of the examples above, along with any of the other multiple projects, ideas, desires and goals, challenges and tasks on your plate. 

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