Saturday, January 22, 2011

The Eternal Skeptic Goes Life-Mapping

I'm skeptical by nature. Add to the fact that I'm an academic and you can see why things like "personal coaching" and "manifesting your destiny" type of books and workshops never really held much appeal for me.  But I recently came across a blog called in which a young African American woman hosts web seminars and blogs focused on career and personal coaching.  Ever the skeptic I am I thought, "I don't need this.  I'm grown with multiple degrees, a good job, a husband and a house."  But when the blog owner offered a free Life Map exercise, I downloaded the booklet and wow, did it open my eyes.  I never realized how little I paid attention to goal-setting, planning and organization.  But after doing the exercises, it made me look over my own blog posts to see how much of a mess my finances were in, for instance.  I then realized that even though I'm a 30-something, educated professional woman with a husband and house, I still needed to bring focus to my goals and that I shouldn't stop dreaming.

The Life Map places "You" at the center and there are seven categories in which you need to develop an "ultimate" goal for each area.  The categories include: Relationships (Intimate or with Friends), Family, Work, Education, Finances, Health and Lifestyle.  Since I'm a college professor trying to get tenure, I've focused almost 70% of my time to work and have neglected other areas which are in desperate need of attention. Once I returned home from vacation, my first order of business was to develop my life map because I needed to bring focus and intentionality to what I was doing. Spending so much time on work was taking a toll on my relationship with my husband, my weight ballooned, spent too much money on fast food and ways to escape and basically was living life on default.  So here's what I've come up with:

  • Relationships: (1) Show more gratitude to my husband for the "heavy lifting" he does to keep our relationship strong and (2) Do a better job of keeping up with the household chores as this is a bone of contention in our relationship.
  • Work: (1) Stop procrastinating with grading because it affects your stress levels and interrupts your research (2) Engage in more service to the profession (i.e. pursue a committee member position for one of your professional organizations (3) Develop and stick to a research/writing schedule
  • Family: (1) Call or send hand-written letters to key family members (2) Forgive (but don't forget) grandparents and go visit them.
  • Education: (1) Enroll in sewing and creative writing classes for personal enjoyment.
  • Health: (1) Achieve a healthy weight so I can (2) become pregnant with no complications.
  • Finances: (1) Pay off credit card and student loan debt (Live Debt-Free)
  • Lifestyle: (1) Travel and (2) Stay Active with Sorority
I am fortunate that I'm happily married and in a career that I love. I realize, however, that what's been holding my happiness back is my lack of organization and my procrastination tendencies. What this life-mapping exercise is allowing me to do is to focus on things that are important to me and if something comes up that takes my energy away from my goals, reviewing my Life Map can help me ditch that which doesn't work.  I'm tired of having end of the semester meltdowns, losing and gaining the same 10-15lbs, and paying interest on credit cards.  I'm not saying I plan to achieve all of my goals in 2011 but Life Map is helping me getting the ball rolling.

I honestly started to get down a bit because I thought I had to surrender to the routine of going to work, paying bills and keeping a clean house.  What I realize now is that if I get organized, I can do all of those things plus the stuff that brings me joy. Maybe this life coaching stuff isn't a bunch of gimmicky hocus-pocus....We'll see :)

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