The Power of Mind Maps to Build Your Career Master Plan


This past week, I worked with one of my clients from the career coaching program to create her career master plan.

She is a young, smart, and motivated entrepreneur finding her way in this world. She has lots of great ideas with plenty to offer the world.

What we needed to do for her was to build her career master plan with a mind map through brainstorming, idea organization and categorization.

We decided to accomplish this using the most powerful tool I know, a method that I have often used with clients, students as well as in my own projects, that of mind mapping!

“Mind map is a picture outside your brain of how your brain thinks inside.” ~Tony Buzan
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A Simple Introduction to Mind Mapping

Mind maps help you think the way your brain was designed to think and organize and process information. And well, your brain is one amazing powerful intelligent system, so why not use it – even exploit it – to empower yourself with mind mapping?

If you have never used mind mapping, it is the single best way to visually and textually organize your ideas, projects, thoughts, and tasks in a way that gives you a structure and sensibly links related concepts.

You can apply mind maps to just about anything, from writing a book to creating a marketing plan to simplifying your bills. The one that I want to share with you today is a simplified version of what resulted from my client session, the foundation of a Career Master Plan (see image above).

Mind maps have many levels. Some calls these branches, as in a tree. In the center, you have the root – the core concept, and then from that center, you branch out. Your first level of branches are your key core branches, the thick ones that you first notice when you look at a tree.

You can then go on to create second and third levels to your branches, as you build out each brand in more levels. The levels add layers of detail.

For this blog post, I want to share only the level 1 branches of a Career Master Plan.

Reminder: Did you know we have a step-by-step course here to teach you everything you need for getting recognized, getting promoted and creating your dream career at your job?

You want a mind mapping software to do this. I use Mindjet Manager, have for years and just love it.

There are lots of free or premium mind mapping programs out there. Free Mind is one – although I haven’t used it. I will not cover them in detail here.

Suffice it to say, there is one out there for you to use. If not, you can resort to paper and pencil. The mind maps are accessible to all of us!

How to Build your Career Master Plan with a Mind Map

You have a purpose. You have work that you want to do in this life, work that is meaningful to you and to those who benefit from it. And yes, you have a career in you!

Whoever you may be, whatever field of work you may find yourself, and whatever your situation right now, you can have a career so long as you have desire for one.

Sometimes, careers go through ups and downs, sometimes life demands that we set them aside to do other things, sometimes we forget that we even have career goals and dreams.

Well, the number one purpose of my Career Master Plan mind map is to help you build your career master plan with a mind map. It can remind you that you have a successful career in you and I want to get it out of your brain and into a mind map so you believe it too. Are you ready?

What you see in the image above are what I call the foundational pillars of your Career Master Plan. These are the level 1 branches, and the basic exercise is to go through every single branch and come up with the answers that are true for you.

Definition of the Pillars in the Career Master Plan

Current job or role: This is what you are doing right now, whether you are managing a large project, running your own business, or are in between jobs or staying at home taking care of loved ones. Define your current role here.

Career Goals and Dreams: Goal setting can be useful if you do it right. List your short-term (6-9 months) and longer-term (1-3 years) career goals and dreams. What would you ideally like to accomplish in those time periods? What does the end result look like? Details are great.

Your Big Why: You need to know why you want to do the work. This is a difficult one, because if you are in a role that is making you miserable, you don’t want to do it, and so write down why you are still doing it. If you are pursuing your real career goals and dreams, write down exactly why you want those precise goals and dreams for your career. Clarity about the why behind doing the work helps ground you and validate the next steps you need to take.

Core Values: What are your top 3-5 core values that you are not willing to compromise? Write them down even if you are not observing them 100% right now, because it’s important to know them first before making changes to your work and career. Examples of core values are integrity, collaboration, financial freedom, flexibility, and so on.

Limits and Boundaries: These are your limits. What is it that you are not willing to do? Whom do you not want to work with? What boundaries are you honoring for yourself in your work and business? If you’ve never thought about this, now is a good time. This one earns you respect in your career.

Top Strengths: A strength is a combination of your talents and skills, learn how to identify strengths here. What you are really good at right now? What’s in your power tool box right now as the careerist that you are today. Example: You can put together a compelling keynote or negotiate brilliantly while building great relationships with your adversary.

Desired Strengths: These are the gaps you want to fill in your skills and talents. What strengths would you like to acquire when you consider your dream career? What do you want to be able to do really well?

Education investment in Yourself: This is what you are willing to invest in yourself. Are you going to conferences, joining a master-mind group, or hiring a coach? I just made a large investment in a private coach for myself and I know that not only will I reap the benefits but my clients will get a better coach for them in return. Invest in thyself! Are you finishing a master’s program or taking evening classes or enrolling in a workshop? Outline your plan for 6-12 months on this. Also, outline your plans to fund this investment.

Execution Strategies: These are strategies that you implement to get you to your career goals and dreams. This is your roadmap. For instance, you may start a business, a side-hustle, a website, a meet-up group, a speaking career. You may change jobs or companies or industries. You work backwards from your dream to your current state and fill in the gap.

Role Models: Who are the people you admire? I have a list of role models that changes and grows all the time and you know what, I admire certain people for certain things, so for instance, I look to one for speaking and another for writing. Who are your role models? They can be people who are alive today or people whose stories have inspired you from decades or centuries past.

Ideal Client or Company: It is critical to know whom you want to serve with your work. Be honest with yourself. What is your ideal client or company like? Describe them, their character, their common core values with you if any, their names even. If you dream of working with Google or Apple, then that’s your ideal client but you must know why. What makes them ideal?

Ideal Professional Self: This is a 25-word exercise where you describe your ideal professional self. How do you want to see yourself? What words do you want others to use to describe you in a professional capacity? Great speaker? Amazing writer? Incredible presence? Kind and compassionate? Great at connecting? Best relationship builder? You name it.


So that is the foundation of your Career Master Plan. I did not want to overwhelm you with the additional branches in each of the levels, so the above definitions should get you started. If you want to work with me privately to create your accurate Career Master Plan, I’d be honored to help you in a power coaching session. Just nudge me for a consult, and tell me why this is important to you, and we’ll get to work.

How did you like this topic? Have you done any mind mapping work before? What was your experience? And have you ever sat down to map out your Career Master Plan? Tell me in the comments.

And if you are ready to make things HAPPEN in your career, to get promoted, move up the ladder and stop spinning your wheels, well, first stop working so hard. And second, start learning the strategies:

  • Maxwell Ivey

    Hi Farnoosh; First, I have to admit that I had never heard about mind mapping until reading this excellent post about it. You have given me many things to think about. I would appreciate a book preferably by a well known author as those have the best chance of being available through the national library service for the blind talking book program. I have realized that it does me no good to work with or try to work with other brokers as they are all so teritorial that I am never sure if I will receive my commission in the end. This is because most are also very short sighted. some of my ideal clients would be name carnival companies like james e straights, ray cammick shows, pat crabtree, amusements of america, vivona family, etc. I would also love to get in with some of the major amusement parks although every time i submit my info to their vendors forms the answer is no thanks. Even the landry’s food empire would be great as they operate a lot of aquariums, small parks, and themed restaurants. So, now i have many things to think about to fill in the pillars you discussed. thanks and take care, max

    • Farnoosh

      Hi Max, I have not ready any books on the topic but my little research shows that Tony Buzan is an industry expert for mind mapping. You can just create a visual mind map in your head and answer the questions. Since this is a very visual exercise, I think the best thing to use next to your eyes is your memory, and I am sure your memory is sharp as a tac. My brother has excellent memory too. Hope this helps!!

      • Maxwell Ivey

        Hi Farnoosh; I just checked nls for tony buzan and mind mapping and got no results. So, I guess I will have to copy your great article and go through it with my memory as you suggest. Memory is just another thing you learn to train when other options like writing things down isn’t possible. Although I find myself making notes on the laptop. Will copy the post so i can give it further study. Hope that is okay. take care, max

        • Farnoosh

          Of course it is totally fine, use it however it can help you and I know you are resourceful and will find a way to make it work for you, Max. Thanks so much for being an avid reader here.

  • Melly Deen

    Hi Farnoosh, I used Mind Mapping once or twice in my job for a project. The project lead was showing us how to lay out project tasks and I really liked the visual way we put everything out in a mind map. I need to start using it again. Thanks for a great post – and yes, we all have a career! :)

    • Farnoosh

      It’s an excellent tool for project management too, Melly. In my previous life, I was one and we used Mind Maps a lot to outline the details of the project. But you can use it now to create your Career Master Plan!

  • Bradley

    Thanks for writing this article. I love this application of mind mapping, because career planning (which sounds kind of dull on its face) is really all about exploring one’s self; one’s mind. That is how I decided I wanted to be an entrepreneur as well, and that is why I find happiness in my work efforts. Again, what a great application! I really think mind mapping can help people with thinking more profoundly about pretty much anything. I’ve got a blog going that I hope you might sample,, thanks again

    • Farnoosh

      Bradley, hi! Great to hear you enjoy mind mapping too and very true – career mapping CAN be dull but mind mapping adds a fresh perspective, and nothing dull about being an entrepreneur.
      I have your mind mapping site linked up to your name and hope you continue to add more on your page. Great to see you here!

  • Vincent Nguyen

    I’ve never taken the time to do a mind map before even with the advice of one of my mentors. This is a great guide and I’m now convinced that I NEED to have one. I have the big why answer to work, but I have yet to find the what. Hoping the mind map is the answer to my question.

    • Farnoosh

      Hi Vincent, don’t worry, I set it aside for a long time too and it was just so motivating to do one recently that I am convinced it’s a power tool we under-utilize. Go ahead and use one and let me know what great things you discover with the power of mind mapping!

  • brett

    I just found out this week that I’m being laid off. I have to fly up to Lyon tomorrow to meet with the director and discuss my “exit.”

    My wife and I have been asking ourselves even just 30 minutes ago what I would like to do afterwards… I don’t have a clear idea, and it scares me, honestly… and then I see this article (by chance?) just now… I’ll definitely give your mind map example the depth of thought it deserves.

    Focusing and taking stock of where I am at this point in my life seems a lot more helpful than the “freaking out” + cold chills I get sometimes in the face of the unknown…

    Anyway, thanks for being you and for posting some much-appreciated, practical advice to get my head on straight.

    • Farnoosh

      Hi Brett, I’m sorry to hear that. It may just be your cue to start on a brand new direction in your career, and I’m very glad that you are going to take the Career Master Plan seriously. Look up Free Mind, it’s a free mind mapping tool. And know that this could be one of the best turning points in your career because it’s pushing you way outside your comfort zone and that’s where great stuff happens. Best of luck. Keep me posted.

      • brett

        I appreciate your encouragement, and I’ve begun going through the MindMap (I use Xmind, btw, it’s also free and I rather like it.)

        Visiting different links in your articles, I’ve listened to the podcast 28 about strengths. In fact I’ve just ordered from amazon (about 60 seconds ago) the books by Marcus Buckingham that you recommended, and I’m looking forward to thoroughly absorbing those, and taking the test.

        I suspect it will confirm that I’ve done a decent job of doing things that leave me drained, rather than energized and motivated…. I’m rather curious to read these two books.

        The interview with my director went very well, given the circumstances. I now have 2 options to consider within the next 3 weeks, each with their own set of benefits/consequences… so my ‘other next step’ is to gather necessary information about that quickly so I can decide…

        Anyway, I really appreciate you and what you’re doing… I see you as being my own ‘Jiminey Cricket,’ if you don’t my saying so.

    • Maxwell Ivey

      Hello; I first wanted to wish you and your wife the best of luck during your transition. And I wanted to say one of the things I really love about Farnoosh is her ability to write or speak on a topic when i need to hear that message that day. I suggest you check through the archives of her podcasts as I’m sure there are other messages that will help you in this time. take care, Max

      • Farnoosh

        Too kind, Max, thank you1

  • Alex Blackwell | The BridgeMaker

    Hi Farnoosh,

    This is a great use of mind mapping. I typically use this tool for project creation and development, but I guess my career is a project, too.

    Thanks for sharing your wisdom,


    • Farnoosh

      Hi Alex, how great to see you here…. yes, your career is a mind map of its own. Go for it. Do you use a particular app?

      • Susan A

        Hello Farnoosh, don’t know where to start….I came across your Healthy Juicer’s Bible in the store yesterday. As you pointed out in the begining, I must have been at the point where I needed it and so it was there for me, so I took it. I have been through this before recently when I was on a weight loose journey and my company brought in a healthcoach…so I was a sponge and soaked up all she had to offer…one topic was juicing and I meant to get involved in it but it just never happened…..I have since lost my job so I no longer have access to the healthcoach or a salary (another story). Anyway, I have spent the morning reading your book and I can’t wait to go borrow my daughter’s juicer and go shopping! I am so excited to try my first juice! Not only for myself but for my husband who needs help in many ways and I think this is really going to make a difference! I went online just because I was curious about you and then I stumbled across this road mapping article by you…another coincidence? I have been out of work for 6 weeks and have begone to feel overwhelmed and stressed out as a constant state….(my husband can’t work and I need to get a job for the salary and benefits). I am over 50 and I am having a hard time figuring out what jobs I should shoot for….so much has changed in the job market and what you need to do to find the next job…that in itself is overwhelming…I am trying not to panic, so I will look at your roadmap concept and see if it can help me…wow, two areas that you have already shown me I can explore, thanks so much! Susan

        • Farnoosh

          Dear Susan, welcome here, welcome and I hope to continue to help you in as many ways as possible. It’s so nice to hear your story. Which store did you buy my book? I am curious. My publishers have it in several stores and I am just so curious and excited about The Healthy Juicer’s Bible. Your first juice? You will LOVE it! This will be the first step to coming back to harmony and getting things in order. Juicing is a miracle. I am so excited for you!!! Keep me posted.
          Yes, I focus on more than just juicing. I have a health focus + a career focus in my business, and I work with a lot of people who are either defining their careers, or moving up the ladder in the corporate world or getting out and building their dream business, so I am more than happy to be of help to you in either way. Feel free to check the archives, sign up for the newsletter and thank you again for being here!

  • Hannah

    I love this idea Farnoosh! I use mindmaps all the time for work, but it never occurred to me until now to take that one step further and use them in other areas of my life as well. I’ve already had a lot of thoughts coming up after reading the categories you suggested, so I’m looking forward to sitting down and going through this properly. It’s inspired me to translate mindmaps into goal-setting tools :)


    • Farnoosh

      Hannah, how are you? It’s been a while!! Oh my goodness, you can use mind maps for EVERYTHING! You can use them for your nutrition plans, for travel planning, for exercise routine, for zen habits, for reading list, for so much. Love that you are so inspired, Hannah and thanks for stopping by!

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  • Kuldip Naarayan

    Hi Farnoosh,
    Mind map is really excellent post that help to create career master plan.
    after doing this Exercise I find out so many ideas that help to organizing my career plan.


    Kuldip Narayan

    • Farnoosh

      Hi Kuldip, so glad this was a useful exercise for you. Mind maps are fabulous! :) Keep it up and stay on top of your career!

  • Rob

    There’s a cool app for iphone that you can get for mind maps call “simple minds”. Very cool and i’m sure anyone interested would find it very useful for mind mapping out your ideas while on the move.

    • Farnoosh

      Hey Rob, yeah but how do you create mind maps on an iPhone? That’s gotta be challenging. I’ll need to check it out nonetheless. Thanks!!!

  • Shawn Ryan

    Thanks for this post! I love mind maps and think that everyone should use them. You really can use them for just about anything. The trick that I have learned is that writing dreams, goals, or thoughts in general by hand on a piece of paper is powerful. This is sending the thought out of your mind and into the physical world. It is not only therapeutic, but it makes the desire into your reality bringing you a big step closer to achieving that goal. And… It just plain helps you organize things a little bit better.
    Well done. Keep it up.

    • Farnoosh

      Hi Shawn, you are right, you can do them for just about anything!! I love the way you put it. Tony Buzan said something similar about how you can see what’s in your mind by putting it on a mind map and then you can open space to THINK better :) Glad you enjoyed it, Shawn.

  • Jacob Share

    One tip to add to this already extensive already- like your resume and other job search docs, keep this mind map updated. Give it a glance at least every 6 months to gauge progress and see if it still makes sense, perhaps you even have something new to tweak or add.

    I’ve blogged about mind maps and job search before, but that was specific to resumes.

    • Farnoosh

      Hi Jacob, I saw that CV, that’s very smart. I think of CV as a current snapshot of where your career is at any given time and the career master plan as more of where it’s headed …. so both are very important. Thanks Jacob! I linked it up to your name so people can reference the map directly by clicking on it!

      • Jacob Share

        Good idea for the link, thanks Farnoosh

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  • mind map

    This is really useful and informational ..

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  • Nisha Thakur

    This thing really looks promising. Never heard of such career map plan before. Thanks for the information Farnoosh. :)

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  • Karren Barlow

    Thanks for the tips! I have also recently found a website that teaches What is a Mind Map? and it is very helpful and easy to use! I would recommend it to all!

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  • Shalin Siriwaradhana

    Good information. I think mind maps should be presentable as well. As in using mindmap template to create mind maps will decrease the time it takes to create it.

  • Vanshaj

    I have just started using Mindmap and after reading this blog I’ve started creating a mindmap for my career planning. What do you suggest to keep oneself on track / insync with mindmap ?