Guide to life maps

What is a life map?

A life map is a timeline that includes key moments from the past, helping you gain a broader perspective of the goals you're trying to achieve and your progress toward those goals. You can also use a life map to explore future plans, projections, and goals.

Life maps feature visual elements, such as photos, drawings, symbols, and icons. These visual elements provide additional context and make your life map easier to scan and understand.

As the name "life map" suggests, you can use these maps to explore your own personal life and goals, but you can also use them to explore the timeline of a company, project, or product. Life maps are powerful strategic planning tools that help you organize information and make better, more informed decisions.

When to use a life map

Life maps provide a framework for a chronological look at a company, project, or product. Analyzing a project's historical progress helps you see recurring issues, repeated themes, and other valuable insights. Common life map use cases include:

Goal setting

Use a life map to set team goals and track progress. When taking the time to plan and organize company goals, it helps you appropriately allocate team members to the right roles and tasks and ensures successful project completion. The life map format helps managers and individual contributors achieve goals while sticking to a timeline.

Showing company history

A life map is an ideal format for displaying a company's history. When starting with the company's founding date, companies can create a history life map that includes mergers and acquisitions, key executive hires, product launches, and other major milestones. Business leaders can use a life map to show their long-term success, reflect on growth, and plan for the future.

Project planning

Life maps are a useful strategic tool for project planning. Create a life map to display the timeline of a project from inception to completion. Add in sequential steps and (or) project milestones, along with any important dates. Project managers often use life maps to track their progress.

Mapping industry trends

You can create a life map to track industry trends to gain a better perspective on industry ebbs and flows. Pick an industry and a timeframe and make a life map with details about the state of the marketplace, key industry players, and notable events. Marketers and strategists often find patterns, cycles, and other insights when taking a chronological look at trends.

Benefits of life maps

Benefits of life maps

Life maps provide a broad look at a specific timeframe or project, often inspiring further inquiry and deeper exploration. Notable benefits of life maps include:

Outline growth

Life maps present a sequential layout of major events and milestones over the life of a company, project, or product. This zoomed-out view helps highlight long-term growth and advancement toward goals.

Help develop insights

When looking at a comprehensive overview of a project, it's easier to see patterns and draw conclusions. The timeline format makes life maps ideal for this type of strategic analysis. After you fill your life map with project details, you should spend some time reviewing it to see what insightful conclusions you can draw.

Seeing the entire picture

When deeply involved in a project, it's easy to get caught up in specific details and lose sight of the larger picture and overall goals. Life maps keep you on track, showing you a full look at the project—including tasks, milestones, and goals. With the complete picture, you can more effectively prioritize tasks and ensure all team members understand their roles.

Ensure all team members are on the same page with company goals

A life map can provide a practical roadmap for project workflows and progress toward company goals. You can use a life map to communicate expectations and standards, ensuring all team members are on the same page within a company or project.

How to create a life map

Follow these steps to create a life map:

  1. Define your purpose. Choose a topic for your life map. It can be anything spanning across a timeframe, from a company's multi-year lifespan to the short-term duration of a project.
  2. Plan the layout of the map. Pick a starting point for your life map. That could be the company's founding date, an important kickoff date, or another point at the beginning of your timeline.
  3. Create a timeline. Start filling in the life map and adding important milestones and key events chronologically. You can start at the beginning and then work toward the present, or you can choose to begin with the present and work your way backward.
  4. Consider your most essential goals. As you're building your life map, think about the highest priority goals for the company or the project. These goals likely influenced past events and will be important as you move forward.
  5. Look at the future. With your top goals in mind, set short-term and long-term goals. You can add these to your life map as future points on the timeline.
  6. Review your map. Spend time looking over the life map, adding additional details that come to mind, and making notes of trends and insights.
  7. Update your map as needed. Life maps are dynamic tools. Refer to your life map for inspiration later on and add to it as you progress toward your goals.

Why use MindManager to make life maps

You can make life maps by hand or in any graphic design program or use a program specifically designed for life map making. MindManager, an industry-leading life map software, allows you to create complex, detailed life maps with ease.

MindManager's key benefits include:

  • User-friendly, intuitive interface
  • Extensive image library—over 700 topic images, icons, and symbols to add to your life maps
  • Premade life map templates
  • Convenient file storage, retrieval, and sharing
  • Powerful integrations with file storage apps like Box and OneDrive
  • Google Docs integration via Zapier
  • Various tools and features to facilitate brainstorming and strategic planning
  • Google Chrome extension—MindManager Snap—to easily collect and import text, links, and images from the web

MindManager helps you synthesize ideas and information by providing a simple, intuitive framework for organizing your thoughts. With MindManager, you and your team can clarify complexity and collaborate in new and unexpected ways.

Life map templates

MindManager comes pre-installed with many life map templates. To use these templates:

  • Open MindManager
  • Click NEW in the navigation menu
  • Select the template you want to use
  • A preview screen will appear - check to see if you'd like to use your selected template
  • Select 'Create Map'
  • Customize the template for your specific project
Life map templates

Life map FAQs

What is an example of a life map?

One example of a life map is a timeline of a company's history. A company history life map would include the founding date, key events, and major milestones. Business leaders can use life maps to assess progress and set goals for the future.

What should a life map include?

Life maps vary depending on each specific use case, but all life maps should include:

  • A starting point
  • Important points along the timeline, such as events, milestones, achievements, and notable challenges
  • Short-term and long-term goals

Put everything into focus with life maps

Life maps are an invaluable tool for visualizing your past progress and setting targets for the future. Professionals across various disciplines use mind maps for project planning, goal making, showing company history, mapping industry trends, and more.

Visualize more with MindManager

MindManager offers a selection of premade life map templates and a library of images and icons to enhance your visualization. To start making your first life map, try MindManager today.

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