On Mind Mapping and Performance Reviews

Almost every organization has annual performance reviews. The best companies and managers also have regular check-ins on their biggest, most pressing goals. Employees are coached midstream and encouraged to adapt performance based on the current status. What’s leading the pack? What’s coming up short? Organizations like this have good coaches, leaders, and a culture of accountability.

Personal goals are no different. How many times have you made a New Year’s Resolution that is already broken by February? Have you ever gone back and rated your performance on your goals? If not, it’s no wonder that by December, you’re already gearing up to set the same goals for another year. “It’ll be different *this* time,” you promise.

I teach organizations about performance reviews, accountability, coaching, feedback, leadership, goal setting, and strategy every.single.day. But I had yet to really apply these concepts to some aspects of my personal life.

I was inspired by a good friend of mine at the end of last year to do something different. I had so many thoughts about how I wanted 2019 to be better…not perfect, but better. But the thoughts were swirling. I didn’t know how to capture the interrelationships between all of the areas where I wanted intentional focus.

Enter – the mind map. It is essentially a tool that groups like ideas into themes under a common vision. The concept appealed to the strategist in me. The mission and vision statement is the guiding principle (for me, progress over perfection). The focus areas became overarching goals and strategies, with tactics under each goal. Unlike the corporate universe, they aren’t quite as linear and they may not all have metrics, but it does give me a “dashboard” to gauge my progress.

This mind map is also the picture of my struggle. These are the things that are more than just New Year’s resolutions. They are life goals that, as we entered 2019 six months ago, I wanted to make significant progress on in the coming year. I am a perfectionist by nature (so sue me, Brene Brown). But in lieu of perfection, making progress makes me feel good. It makes me satisfied when things are moving in a direction, and highly anxious, moody, and a real B* when they are at a stand-still.

The 2019 Mind Map

I have five main focus areas: relationships, career/money, home, fun/personal, and health. Each of these areas has a theme. For example, at home, the general feeling I wanted for the year is “Enjoy – Organize”. These themes help me check in on my feelings. Am I enjoying home more? Do I feel it is organized? It’s a better barometer than simply projects that may or may not get done.

Here is my 6-month performance review to hold myself accountable in the organization that is my sphere of closest friends and family. Consider it my midterm report card.


Theme: Low stress and Love. Low stress was important for this year, because I have spent the last 8-10 years in dramatic, tense, and abusive interpersonal relationships with my ex-husband and mother in particular. I finally felt free of those bonds in 2018, and wanted to spend 2019 enjoying that freedom. Love is where I wanted to spend my time and energy.

Primary Tactics: Getting married, Spending more intentional time with Ely, and “letting go of unhelpful thoughts”.

My best buddy.

Rating: 3/5, Meets Expectations

Rationale: I give myself a “meets expectations” on this score. Getting married happens in 80 short days. Intentional time with Ely has been more of a struggle because our time together had been running for the last year and a half. He hurt his ankle and was out of commission for 3 months, so we had to find other things. We’ve tried to read together more, we started the garden, and now that we are all healed up and baseball is almost over, we’ve hit the road running again. Letting go of unhelpful thoughts will always be a challenge. This was about the two relationships I’ve struggled with in the past, particularly not dwelling on anger and hatred. Depending on the day and level of interaction, I’m doing “fair” on this account.


Theme: Change and Control. When 2018 was ending, I was in a job at a company where I could not see a future. The leadership team was emanating toxicity and I knew it was a matter of time before the “trickle down” would poison the rest of the place. In addition, I had taken a pay cut to go there, and over the course of 7 months, had racked up too much debt trying to adjust. I knew I needed a change, but I didn’t know how.

Primary tactics: Pay off $5K of debt, reduce expenses, and get a new job or new source of income.

Rating: 4/5, Exceeds Expectations

Me, nerding out over a white board on the regular at my new job.

Rationale: New job acquired in February, which brought a return of the paycheck I had made prior to taking a pay cut, and some other financial benefits as well. I did pay off $5Kof debt, but I have added some back due to wedding and honeymoon expenses. Other household expenses have been somewhat reduced, but I plan to put more of a focus here after I am done paying for the wedding and can tell what is “normal” household expenses again.


Theme: Enjoy and Organize. When we gained a new household member in September last year (two if you count the dog!), it became apparent that I had acquired far too much stuff in the first year in my house. We also were having fun going out as a new family, not enjoying the place we’ve all invested in.

Primary tactics: Prepare for the wedding, spend more time outside, and de-clutter one room a month. 

Rating: 3/5, Meets expectations

Honestly, it is waaaay more garden than we need.

Rationale: We decided to have the wedding somewhere besides our house, which relieved a big burden. However, we still have indoor and outdoor projects to complete to prepare for some house guests. We’ve invested in some repairs that needed to be done to the plumbing and our deck, but still have a lot of clean up and small things to get done. We have definitely spent more time outside – cutting honeysuckle, burning burn piles, shooting, grilling, and the biggest new project, our huge garden. I de-cluttered the music room, John unpacked some things for his office, and we all tackled the garage, but right now it seems the house is closing in around us again. Time to get busy!


Theme: Invest and Improve. Fun always takes a back seat. It costs money or time, and it’s easier to spend both on “needs over wants”. For me, the investment is the time and energy more than anything. Having the emotional and mental space to take on new personal things often feels “selfish”.

Primary tactics: Reach out to friends, travel, and read 3 books.

Rating: 4/5, Exceeds expectations

Reading for work AND pleasure.

Rationale: Thanks to my new job, travel is definitely a thing. I’ve been to 8 states in 4 months, all of which were new places for me. I get to go to Denmark with my company in September, which will be my first ever stamp in my passport. And then, we’re headed to Scotland and Ireland for our honeymoon in November. Plus, a few more work trips in between. And this leads to reading…I’m a terrible reader. There, I said it. I haven’t read consistently since grad school 15 years ago. Sure, the Harry Potter series, a business book, and a magazine now and then, but as much as I read as a kid, I just can’t seem to now. But it’s only July, and I’ve already read 7 books this year. Audible is a traveler’s best friend. As for reaching out to friends, I could always do better. I have a small circle of people I love, and I’ve spent intentional time trying to get closer to them this year.

Two beautiful besties.


Theme: Success and Goals. I’ve been on a journey toward a better physical me for almost 3 years. It’s slow and discouraging sometimes. And after a year stuck at the same weight, I wanted this year to feel successful. Reaching a goal I set 3 years ago is really important to me, but it is hard to stay motivated in the long game.

Three years ago to now.

Primary tactics: Run a 1/2 marathon in under 3 hours, strength training, and reach goal weight

Rating: 2/5, Not meeting expectations

Rationale: While I haven’t run a half marathon this year, I did run a grueling 12-mile race that you can read about here. I came in under three hours, and last year, under better conditions, I was over three hours. I’m counting that as a win. There will be another half marathon in my life, maybe next year. I’m ok with the fact that 2019 doesn’t hold one for me. I also wanted to add regular strength training to my routine and be consistent about it. While I did do a weight lifting routine at the beginning of the year, I stopped when my running schedule got intense. Then I did a round of 21-Day Fix, and I’m planning to start another this month. But consistent? No. And then there’s goal weight. I’ve made progress, which is my overall theme, right? Just not as much as I’d like, only 7 pounds down in the last 6 months. I am 15 pounds away from my goal weight (and probably 30 pounds away from the “stretch goal”) but I just can’t seem to get there. It takes a bit of extremism to drop pounds now that I am so close, and committing to no carbs, or 1,200 calories a day, or insane workouts takes so much mental space that it becomes difficult with everything else on my figurative plate. Would I like to look beautiful in my wedding dress at my goal weight? Yes, more than anything. Will I get there? I have to be ok with the fact that I may not.

Sorry, just broke that rule. Thanks for listening.

If you’ve hung in here this long, thank you for participating in my performance review. Accountability is the only thing that puts goals to work. Knowing I need to do these things for me is important, but knowing other people count on me to be my best self and reach these goals is even more motivating.

Have feedback? I’m always welcoming new coaches.

One thought on “On Mind Mapping and Performance Reviews

  1. I love, love, love that you did a formal review of your goals including a 1-5 rating! This brings me so much joy! And inspires me to get serious about doing that same. I do the 12 Week Year system (awesome book to add to your list, if you haven’t read it) and I’ve been a little lax about my year-end reviews… back on the train!


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