A fun and creative process for thinking about your future
Here’s a simple and fun activity to try. The questions below may offer insights for journaling or self-reflection. But an even more fun way is to actually draw a map. You don’t need to be a skilful artist. Just take a large piece of paper and start drawing. You can use the prompts below to help.
I like to draw in pencil initially and keep an eraser handy. As my picture gets clearer, it’s easy to go back and color it in or make the lines stronger. If you’re looking for inspiration, check out this article about using drawing and creativity to unlock your future.
Step 1 — What landscape are you in?
You may be in multiple landscapes at once. Your career may feel like the arduous climb of a mountain, while your relationship may simply be pulling you along like a river. Or indeed, the inverse might be true.
You might feel lost in the desert of your career while navigating the forest that is family life. There is no right or wrong landscape. A better question might be How is life serving you in getting to where you want to go right now?
Landscape can be a powerful way to think about where we are at. Here are some clues to knowing the landscapes you are in:
Mountains have a clear goal that requires discipline and focused pursuit. The going can get tough, and it will test our mettle.
Forests are full, complex, and busy. They offer growth in finding mutual support and interconnectedness. Forests encourage us to stay in the present moment and attend to what is needed now.
Rivers pull us along effortlessly in a direction out of our control, although if we aren’t careful, we can hit rapids and turbulent times.
Deserts offer the gift of having no destination or horizon. It’s a landscape of retreat to reflect on what’s important. It helps develop inner resilience.
You will find lessons in any landscape if you look deeply enough. I’ve also written about oceans and caves. You might find wisdom in cities or suburbs.
If you are using the drawing approach, literally draw a mountain or a river or a desert. Make it as large or as small as it feels to you in your life.
Step 2 — How is this serving you?
You landed in this landscape for a reason, and it may be serving you in some way. Perhaps being carried along by the river of your relationship may give you the kind of respite and support you need while climbing the career mountain.
We can use landscape to help understand what’s important to us. If you are drawing your landscape, add little notes to your map on what you are discovering about yourself. You might even give your landscape features a creative or descriptive name.
Step 3 — Where do you want to be?
This is where it gets really fun. Think about each area of your life — career, health, friendships, intimate relationships, finances, spirituality — and ask:
How can I use landscape to change how I think about this area of my life? Do I need to change landscapes?
You may already be clear about your goals. Perhaps you want to create a new career. If that career has a definite destination, preparing to climb that mountain may be helpful. If you aren’t sure what you want to do, some time in the metaphorical desert may help.