Instead of giving you endless background information about visual thinking, I rather keep things as brief as possible by only outlining the key elements you need to know to help you utilize this particular visual thinking metaphor.
If you would like more information about visual thinking, simply visit Visual Thinking Magic. At the conclusion of this article, I’ve included a number of relevant links that will help provide you with more information about the discipline of visual thinking and how it can assist you to become a more creative and effective problem solver.
This template is ideal to use whenever you want to develop a plan of action to help you overcome a fear or outline a path towards a goal.
The template you see at the top of this page is broken down into specific sections that will assist you with building a step-by-step plan of action towards the achievement of a goal or objective. This template is available as a free download that you can print and utilize for your own purposes.
This particular visual thinking metaphor is quite powerful because it provides you with a platform you can work from that will help you to bridge the gap between where you are today and where you would like to be in the future.
Often, most of us struggle to bridge this gap because the gap is often filled with many obstacles that come in the form of emotions, excuses, people, circumstances, lack of skill, knowledge, limiting beliefs, etc., that we simply feel uncomfortable and incapable of overcoming. So even though we want to achieve this goal desperately, most of the time we will unfortunately fail to take the necessary steps that will get us across the gap.
The purpose of this template is to help you to firstly, clarify what it is you want; secondly, to identify the obstacles standing in your way; and thirdly, to develop a plan of action that will help you to bridge the gap between your current reality and your desired reality.
This exercise is simple, however, don’t let that fool you. The simplest of things can often make a lasting and powerful impact on your life. This is one of those things.
In order to assist you with working through this template, I have provided you with a practical example shown below. This example shows how this template was used to help overcome a fear of public speaking.
Here is a step-by-step break down of the template and the practical example:
Within the cloud, right at the top of the template, your first objective is to clarify what it is you would like to achieve. Be as specific as possible, yet at the same time as succinct as possible. There must be no question about what you would like to achieve.
Within this example the goal is to speak at an end of year business convention.
Your next task is to write down today’s date above the tree, and then on the opposite side on the right, specify a date you would like to accomplish your goal or objective.
Within this example we have just over two and a half months to achieve our objective.
On the left cliff your task is to outline your current reality — where you are right now in your life. This could include your current thoughts, feelings, circumstances, etc. Jot down things that are relevant to the goal that you would like to achieve. If you feel comfortable, you can even draw simple pictures that represent your current reality.
Within this example (outlined in red) it is clear that there’s a lot of uncertainty, fear and indecision when it comes to speaking in public. In fact, I have used an analogy of a worm to describe how I am feeling about the prospect of speaking at the convention. A simple stick-figure drawing says it all. These sketches can help you represent your emotions in a visually appealing way.
On the right cliff your next task is to outline your desired reality — where you would like to be and what you would like to experience on the future date you highlighted at the top of the page.
Within this example (outlined in green) I’ve jotted down the type of person I’m going to be at this future date. I’ve also drawn myself happily standing on stage talking at the convention. This is my desired reality, and what I’m working to achieve. However, there are a number of obstacles standing in my way.
Between the two cliffs write down all the obstacles that are standing in your way and preventing you from bridging the gap between your current reality and your desired reality. These could include people, physical things, emotions, beliefs, skills, knowledge, etc. Be as specific as possible, however, only use keywords wherever possible.
Within this example (outlined in orange) I’ve jotted down a number of elements that are standing in my way. Unless I overcome these elements successfully, than I am unlikely to bridge the gap between my current reality and my desired reality. To begin this process I will need to identify what resources I currently have on hand that could help me overcome these obstacles.
On the resources tree there is space for five key resources that you have at your disposal that you could use right now to help you overcome your obstacles. Jot down these resources using only keywords.
Within this example (outlined in blue) I’ve written down five key resources that I know I can gain access to that will assist me with achieving my desired reality. All of these resources are in some way linked to an obstacle that I need to overcome. However, I don’t yet know how I will use these resources to bridge this gap — between my current and desired reality.
Your final task is to take those resources you identified above and turn them into steps that you can take to help you bridge the gap between your current and desired reality. Each of these resources should help you to overcome one or more of the obstacles you outlined in orange. If they don’t, than you simply need to acquire more resources and support.
Within this example (outlined in purple) I have pinpointed a step-by-step plan that I will now use to help me bridge the gap between my current and desired reality. As you can see, I have used my resources to build these steps. Each of them helps me to overcome one or more obstacles that I highlighted below in orange.
As you can see, we only used five resources and five steps to take us to our desired reality. The reason for this is that we don’t want to over-complicate our path towards our goal.
Most of the time it’s tempting to go overboard by adding too many steps along the journey. This normally leads to overwhelm and procrastination. Instead, keep it simple and straightforward — that is the KISS principle of visual thinking. And when in doubt, follow the 80/20 principle by focusing on the 20% of things that will get you 80% of the results.
Once you complete your writeup of this template, pin it up on your wall and use it as a source of inspiration to keep you motivated and focused as you work towards your objective. Alternatively, if you found that the template was a little small for your purposes, than simply take out a large sheet of paper and draw your own version of the bridging the gap template.