Creating an Action Plan for 2015

Creating an Action Plan for 2015

How to collect your thoughts and start turning them into actions

When the New Year hits I seem to take a longer pause to contemplate what the future holds for myself and my wife, Julia.  My thoughts are all over the place and I have found it a little difficult to corral all of them.  That is until I discovered mind mapping. I like to use a mind map to brainstorm, record and organize my thoughts.

Start with what is important to you

The first thing I like to tackle is to remember what is important to me.  I jot down the people, places and things that come to mind.  Where do I spend my time?  How do I feel about my job and community in which I live?  I revisit how I finished the sentence, “Wealthy is the person who…”.  I found that as I and others have finished this sentence the answers come in several categories (Health, Intellectual, Financial, Spiritual and Relational).  Finishing this sentence helps me understand what is truly important to me.  It also provides a framework for which I can set some goals in those various categories.

Spend some time in this area, but move on after you slow down coming up with items.  Move on to the next step. It will really help you to visualize your life.  One of the cool things about mind mapping is that you can easily add things to branches as you process other subject areas.  We don’t think linearly, so don’t feel like you have to stay in the lines.

Milestones are the engine of action

The most helpful way to turn thoughts into actions is to think about Milestones. Think in terms of timeframes.  Say you’re 60.  What is likely to happen to you between now and when you turn 65.  Look up at the list of “What’s Important” and see if that stimulates any thought on what might happen in that time frame.  Maybe it is to retire or you expect a wedding or a grandchild.  Maybe you want to move somewhere else or start an encore career doing something you love.  Do this again for 5-10, 10-20, and beyond 20 timeframes.  Leave a space to keep track of your bucket list that you may not yet have a timeframe. Over the years as you complete items you can drag them down to a section called accomplishments.  This fills my need to check things off.

As you can see, this is a dynamic tool that you can come back and visit each year, or more often if you prefer.

Narrow your focus

Set some specific goals for 2015 that are SMART – Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Results-focused and Time-bound.  This is a little different than Peter Drucker’s acronym but seems to work for personal vs. organizational goal setting. I also like to leave a place to record major life lessons that I learned in this section.  As you can see, you can add one for each year and you wind up keeping a pretty cool history.

I also like to track the various personality or “how I’m wired” tests that I have taken over the years.  This is just for reference material to help me in making decisions.

Make your mapping come to life

There are several features about your mind map that will make it come to life more vividly.  You can attach pictures, documents or web links to any one of the nodes.  You can also share this map with family or friends that you may want to include on your personal advisory board.  You can limit it to read-only sharing or let them collaborate.

Wishing you the best in 2015 and beyond

I hope this helps.  If you need help or would like to see how we use mind mapping for business financial planning, give me a call and we will set something up.

Action Item: Spend 1 hour before the month is complete and get some of your thoughts mapped out. Use the free template I created called “Back to the Future”. See if your spouse will join you in this process.  It will make it more fun and stimulate more thoughts.

Play with it, you can’t break it.


  1. Sign up for mindmeister basic. It’s free! You will be asked to activate this account.
  2. Access my public map.

  3. At the bottom of the screen you will see an icon that looks like this image002

    Click on this and then click Clone.  Click the OK button to copy the map into your account.  This map is now yours to work with.

[caption id="attachment_436" align="alignleft" width="150"]John Dragstrem John Dragstrem[/caption]

Coyle Financial Counsel’s John Dragstrem, CFP® has been providing ongoing wealth counsel to families as they navigate life’s transitions for the past ten years. Contact John to learn how you can get started on your own mind map.