My Life Map: a book review

Thursday, November 15, 2012
As a rule, I'm not really sure self-help books are meant for Midwesterners.Yeah, we have doubts and worries and anxieties about life and our role in it during our brief time in this world just like every other person on this planet, but why on Earth would we want to talk, or even think about such things? That seems awfully personal, awfully emotional and maybe even a little selfish. We forge our way through life armed with independence, an emotional hardhat and adherence to the motto: "When the going gets tough, the tough get going." Around here we believe in hard work, not naval gazing.

So when a copy of Kate and David Marshall's latest self-help journal, My Life Map: A Journal to Help You Shape Your Future, arrived on my doorstep, I assumed I needed it like a hole in my head. Part of me wondered if the book had arrived at the exact wrong time in my life (since I'd just made a commitment to a new work contract which basically guarantees that things will stay pretty much the same around here for the next two years), while a larger (and more cynical) part of me wondered if this might be a waste of time.

My Life Map engages the reader in a series of introspective questions. The questions are simple, but that doesn't mean they're easy to answer. (I mean, you try to name the top three responsibilities in your present life!)  The reader is then asked to boil their answers down to the most important points and plot those points out on a life map so that your entire life - past, present and future - is laid out in front of you on a single page. The entire book centers on the idea that if you're going to get somewhere in life, you have to know where you're going. 

 The book has a very loose format. It's not designed with the intent that you start out with the first exercise and continue through the journal in a linear fashion until you've completed every single exercise. Instead, Kate and David encourage readers to do any exercises they find helpful, but to skip over any seemingly irrelevant ones. As a result, I did the whole life map exercise, but skipped the 10-year subject map where you're asked to plot out the next ten years of your life in six areas: family, friends, learning, work, service and playing. You don't even have to fill out the pages in the book. If you prefer to do the exercises on your computer, you can download a toolkit from the Marshalls' website with all the forms you'll need to complete the book's exercises.

Despite my initial apprehension, I was surprised by how challenging I found the exercise questions and how helpful it was to have my hopes and goals for the future lined up next to my past and present accomplishments so that I could identify trends in my own life (and personality) and have a better idea of how the future might actually play out. If you need to gather your thoughts about the big picture of your life, this is a great book which will challenge your assumptions and cause you to carefully observe the trends and motivation in your life

Sure, it's naval gazing.

But how can we expect our external life to make sense if our internal life is a confusing tangle of mixed emotions and unacknowledged fears, desires, and motivations? If we want to live our lives clearly and intentionally, both a little navel gazing and a lot of hard work are in order.

You can find more information and discussions about My Life Map over at the BlogHer book club.

Disclosure: I participated in this review for the BlogHer Book Club. I was compensated for my time and received a complimentary copy of the book. However, all opinions expressed in the review are my own.

1 comment:

  1. I would like to invite you to join me at the Clever Chicks Blog Hop this week!

    I hope you can make it!
    Kathy Shea Mormino
    The Chicken Chick


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