Mind mapping the return to work is incredibly powerful. There was a step change in my return to work results once I had done this exercise. There’s lots of research supporting mind mapping’s impact.

I took an absolute age to go back to work. I came up with a million reasons why I shouldn’t return. For instance: kids too small, husband needed me, why couldn’t we make do with the income? My mum was always home for me so likewise, shouldn’t I do that for my kids?

 Mind mapping  the return to work helped me build up the complete picture of what was possible. Moreover, it propelled me out into the world.

Mind mapping the return to work looks like this:

Sit down/pace with a blank sheet of paper and a pen. In addition, write as though there were no constraints AT All on you getting what you want. 

Firstly, your central idea – an image in the middle that represents your mind map topic e.g “my ideal role”. The central image is a constant anchor. It is from which all ideas and thoughts flow. It may change as you go.

Secondly, a landscape layout and an image that represents your topic ( you could download a picture from Pinterest that resonates).

 

Thirdly, a main branch drawn out from your central image, in a thick, curved, coloured line.

 

Keyword: this is the main word that you associate with your topic area on top of each branch. Use one keyword only. This creates explosive freedom to draw from your subconscious. If you use a sentence, you limit the thinking for the rest. 

Continue to draw main branches with keywords from your central image, where possible working clockwise. Add keywords or ideally images to the sub-branches.

Ideally you should work with curves, colour and images as this more closely mimics the way that you think.

Visually pleasing images are evocative, therefore bringing you closer to what you are really driven by.

Keep going with sub-branches. Above all, get bigger in your thinking. Ask questions like “what if I could?” as though the answer is always “why not”. Moreover, make this precious process as unique as possible to you.

Mind mapping the return to work – benefits for you

You can start to visualise the desired outcome. You focus your energies only in the relevant direction and with relevant people. In addition, you become incredibly articulate in your proposition (what you bring and what you want). Subsequently, you have more impact at interview.

Ideas for keywords in your mindmap:

Work Location – the Physical Environment

Where will you work? Could you work remotely? Walk from home only or how long is your maximum commute?

Your work style

Are you the boss? 2nd-in-command?  Autonomous or collaborative?

What are you doing all day?

What do ex-colleagues say you’re good at? List your “flow” skills, these should be big in your dream job. Look at relevant CVs on Linkedin and cherry pick tasks.

Balance

What hours do you work? Is full-time manageable? Can you only manage part-time? Is a compressed week or job-share feasible?

Culture

What workplace culture will you be most compatible with? What policies are important to you? Could you be a culture champion?

Strengths

What professional strengths can you bring to bear in a role? Consider old appraisals, or if you have ever done a Strengths Finder 2.0 or Myers Briggs?  It is worth here connecting with your adaptive (personality) and transferable (experience) skills.

Values

What is important to you? Read my blog post on Ikagai. It roughly means the reason you get up in the morning. Dr John de Martini  provides a free online assessment.

Once you have done this you can have a clear idea of what it is you hold dear; thereby ensuring these are not compromised in your job. You can make plans and decisions that honour them.

Your professional profile

Is it important that you are a thought leader? Are you shooting for board/leadership committee representation? See organisations like Women on Boards and decide if it’s important to have an employer that supports your ambition.

Type of company

Large or small? Is it important that it is a strong brand? Do you like the innovation of a startup or would you prefer something more secure and stable?

The Value that you Bring

The way to answer this is to think back over your work history to specific achievements and key accomplishments.

Mind mapping the return to work – benefits for you

You can start to visualise the desired outcome. You focus your energies only in the relevant direction and with relevant people. In addition, you become incredibly articulate in your proposition (what you bring and what you want). Subsequently, you have more impact at interview.

Get visualising today. Truly, mindmapping the return to work for me was the difference between sitting at home fearful and securing the perfect role. I want this for you!