Treasure Mapping

Visualizing and Achieving Your Goals

Treasure Mapping - Visualizing and Achieving Your Goals


Find the end of your rainbow with treasure mapping.

When you really want to achieve something, have you ever tried closing your eyes and imagining yourself "there"? In your mind's eye, you can touch it, feel it, and see every detail clearly.

But when you open your eyes, the image quickly fades, and it can take real effort to recreate your visualization each time you need inspiration.

Treasure mapping is a simple tool for keeping hold of that vivid image, so you can refer to it whenever you need a reminder of what you're working toward.

In this article, we guide you through the process of creating your own treasure map, to keep you motivated and focused on your objectives.

What Is Treasure Mapping?

You've likely seen treasure maps in pirate movies, or computer games like Minecraft or Fortnite. But the kind of treasure maps we discuss here won't show you how to find buried loot! Instead, they'll point the way to your most highly prized life or career goals.

A treasure map is a physical representation of your goals. It's a collage of images and text that acts as a reminder of what you want to accomplish, and how you will do it. It intensifies the effects of visualization – a technique which acts on your subconscious mind to motivate and encourage you toward reaching those goals.

Treasure maps, also known as "vision boards," bypass language, so you don't have to "talk yourself into" believing in a situation. Language is the medium in which you rationalize. Yet it also leaves you vulnerable to negative self-talk, which can damage your motivation.

But by creating and focusing on a physical image of yourself in your desired state, you can build confidence and belief in your own abilities to achieve what you set out to do.

How To Make a Treasure Map

Follow these five steps to create your own treasure map:

1. Identify Your Goals

First, identify the goals that you want to set for yourself. See our article, Personal Goal Setting, for more guidance on this.

2. Visualize the Goal

Once you are clear about what you want to do, write it down in detail and start to visualize your goal. Ask yourself what you'll see when you've achieved it. What will you have that you didn't have before? What will you be that you weren't before?

Think about how you will celebrate your accomplishment, and consider how other people will see you and your achievement.

3. Visualize the Journey

Next, visualize the journey toward achieving your goals. What will you have to do? What will you have to stop doing? There may be important milestones or necessary sacrifices along the way. Visualize these, too, and think about the images that could represent your journey.

4. Gather Your Images

Collect images that represent your visualization and arrange them on paper as a collage. They can be from magazines, websites, or any other source.

Place the images that represent your ultimate achievement in the most prominent position on your treasure map – at the top or in the center. Also, place an image of yourself at or close to the focal point of the collage. This helps to reinforce the idea that the goal is personal to you, and that you're the one responsible for making it happen.

Also, make a note of anything new and positive that comes to mind as you put the collage together. You may stumble across interesting side projects to carry out as you complete your main goals. For example, getting fit and training for a marathon may bring the opportunity to raise money for a cause that you care about.

5. Complete Your Map

Finally, paste onto your collage the images that represent your goals, your journey toward them, and any sacrifices you will need to make. Arrange them in a way that reinforces your desire to achieve your goals. For many people, a visual Learning Style is a highly effective means of absorbing information and ideas. So keep your chart in a prominent place so that you see it daily: it will help to motivate and to inspire you each time you see it.

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How Do I Use a Treasure Map?

Use your treasure map as a source of inspiration. Take a few minutes every day to focus on it. Reflect on what successes you've already had, and think about how you'll reach the next milestone in your journey.

You may also find yourself thinking fresh thoughts about your goals, and looking at them from new angles. For example, if you're visualizing a promotion, you might develop new insights into your current role and responsibilities.

Treasure mapping is a powerful technique for motivation and self-confidence. But it's not magic! Simply making a collage of things you want to achieve won't make them happen. So, aim to develop an internal locus of control, and to take ownership of the decision making and actions necessary to get what you want.

And, if you start having doubts about your ability to succeed, try using an approach like positive affirmations to counteract them.

Treasure Mapping Example

Amanda decides that she wants to enter, train for, and complete a triathlon. Although she's reasonably fit, she hasn't trained hard for an endurance event before. She decides to put together a treasure map.

She begins by drawing up a list of goals. She doesn't just want to complete the triathlon, but to turn in the best time she can in each of the three disciplines – swimming, cycling and running. And she wants to use the experience to raise money for a local charity that supports disadvantaged children.

Amanda starts to collect images that reflect her goals. There are inspirational pictures of athletes training, and images that represent the times she wants to accomplish. She also uses images from the promotional literature of the charity she's supporting.

In the center, she places an image of herself alongside a triumphant athlete wearing a medal and holding up a trophy. She also collects images that show how hard the training will be, to remind her of the effort that she'll have to put in.

Every day, before she trains, Amanda looks at her treasure map and reflects on her progress. She also visualizes the challenges that lie ahead, both in training and in the event itself. But above all, she maintains a strong mental image of herself succeeding, and the happiness and satisfaction that she'll feel when she does!


The Lean cycle

Triathlon Training Treasure Map

Key Points

Treasure mapping is a potent way to bring your personal or career goals to life. It gives you a clear, physical image of what you want to achieve, and how you will do it.

First, set out your goals and plan what you need to do to reach them. Then, visualize these goals and actions.

Gather images that represent your goals, and how you'll feel when you accomplish them. Arrange them into a collage, keeping your final achievement right in the center.

Use your treasure map daily, as a reminder of what you want to do or who you want to become. Incorporate any new insights or opportunities that arise as part of the process into your map.

This site teaches you the skills you need for a happy and successful career; and this is just one of many tools and resources that you'll find here at Mind Tools. Subscribe to our free newsletter, or join the Mind Tools Club and really supercharge your career!

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Comments (12)
  • Over a month ago Michele wrote
    Hi khanjanl,

    I really like treasure mapping too. Many of us are highly visual and going through the experience of creating a picture of our goals and the path to achieve them inspires us to reach the final destination.

    Mind Tools Team
  • Over a month ago khanjanl wrote
    Treasure Mapping - what a great idea! This is the first time I heard about this tool/technique of creating a physical visualization. I'm definitely going to try this out
  • Over a month ago Michele wrote
    Hi Bosede,

    What I have discovered is when you visualize something, it becomes more real and achievable. Making the map unleashes your creativity and is fun to do all making the experience of dreaming your future a positive one.

    Mind Tools Team
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