What is threshold mapping?
Hello, hello. Welcome to the first ever threshold mapping post! 🙂 In this post, you will learn about what exactly is threshold mapping and how you can use it as a fun system to organize and map out your life. Let’s get right into it!
Threshold mapping is part of a productivity system that taps into the concept of gamification (applying various aspects of a game such as scoring points, completing quests, and/or competing with other players) as well as creative imagining to allow you to engage your goals and visions in a fun, personalized and dynamic way. (I am tentatively calling this productivity system “imaginarium”, since it’s a really cool word describing “a place devoted to imagination”, but I haven’t settled!)
“Imaginarium” calls for the ability or willingness to construct a personal metaphor to centralize the many areas of your life. In creating a metaphor that threads the different parts of your life together (such as career, spirituality, relationships, etc) you can perceive your life in a manner that is streamlined, coherent and meaningful. This helps you gain a coherent and powerful sense of progress as well as focus.
In short, it’s a productivity system that aims to make being organized and productive fun and more meaningful for you. Branching off of imaginarium’s gamification and creative planning, threshold mapping follows the same core concepts, but specifically, it primarily focuses on the transitional periods in life (new years, career changes, relationship cycles etc). Hence, the term “threshold”.
Create a metaphor for your life. Is life a race, an adventure, a journey, a quest, a mountain climb? Or is it a playground, a garden, a business, a store, a space odyssey, an heroic epic? Pick a metaphor that holds personal meaning for yourself.
The threshold mapping in this blog post will use metaphors that mostly focus on the images and vocabulary of mapping, journeying and epic questing.
Threshold mapping focuses on transitional periods in life. Right now, new year is the most relevant, but really, you can use it and apply its concepts to any kind of transitions.
It has three main focuses:
- The Past: a reflective chronicling of your experiences in the previous year
- The Present: a self-exploratory exercise that promotes self awareness and understanding as well as identify your strengths and weaknesses
- The Future: a positive process of visioneering to generate momentum + connect with your sense of purpose + solidify your goals for the new year
The Chronicle: Yell the story of your previous year and make the best out of your experiences
Chronicle means a “factual written account of important or historical events in the order of their occurrence.” This portion of threshold mapping focuses on the process of reflection and evaluation on yourself, your experiences, your successes and failures, your transformative journey through the past 12 months of the year. During the chronicle stage, you allow yourself the opportunity to recount all the important events and lessons as well as to examine and extract their embedded wisdom. To live is to learn, and we cannot learn if we do not take pause and internalize what we have learned.
You can do this in several ways. Threshold mapping is completely and utterly flexible. It’s meant to inspire you to connect with your strengths and engage in self-betterment through the authentic and creative expression of your voice.There are literally so many things you can do to self reflect. You can journal, you can perform a ritual (alone or with a friend), you can discuss your insights with someone who is willing to hold space for you, you can create a visual (and actual) map if you’re up for it, you can make a poster or vision board that captures the important milestones of the previous year, or you can give yourself a tarot reading. It doesn’t really matter what you do or how you do it, the important thing here is that you take the time to process your experience and “externalize” it one way or another.
Here are some “points of entry” to help you get started:
On your “map”, in whatever shape or form, note down the important and worthwhile “landmarks” or “milestones” that have held meaning and/or impacted you in a significant way. You can note down these events literally, or give them a fun, creative name, such as the Breakup Bog of Eternal Stench (shout out to Labyrinth), The Glorious Climb Up Mount Promotion, Stung by a Love Bee, The Caffeinated Curse of Sleepless Nights….
Use your imagination! Ask your inner child to participate, or your inner poet. This is definitely up his or her alley.
Stroke of Luck
Count your blessings! When did you feel lucky in the year of 2016? Who made you feel lucky? I like to think that “luck” comes from gratitude, and a genuine appreciation for the opportunities and blessings that have come your way. It’s all about perspective. I know you’re probably tired of hearing the glass half full or glass half empty analogy, but I’m going to throw it at you anyway. More importantly, if you have a glass half filled with water, in my opinion, you should go ahead and pour yourself more water and fill it to the brim! In fact, make yourself a cup of tea while you’re at it. Switch the boring glass of water into a cozy ceramic mug. Pour in some fluffy hot chocolate powder and marshmallows. Make your glass colourful! And take note of all the colours, place them at the tip of your tongue, savour them. And then, you slowly swallow, taking them towards the stomach of your happy memories.
Life isn’t just about being happy with what you’ve got. It’s also about creating more goodness and happiness with what you’ve got. Why settle for just half a glass!?
Feats of Courage
You may have expected it: now that we have counted our blessings and taken note of the good times, we also have to look into the bad and the ugly. Life isn’t the same without moments of challenge in which we must rise to the occasion. Optimism isn’t about only focusing on the good things or looking at life through a rose-tinted lens so everything is “all love and goodness”. I personally don’t buy that. Optimism is about knowing that despite the hardship, we have the agency to make the right choices to empower ourselves and make things better. And the incredible resilience that we display during those moments of challenge–those are true feats of courage. So how have you been brave in the last 12 months? How have you risen to the occasion and faced a formidable challenge? How have you displayed and tapped into your inner strength and advanced courageously? Recognize the power that you have and the power that you are building.
Note down your lessons and the wisdom you have gained throughout the year. What did you learn about yourself? What did you learn from your relationships? What did you learn about life? Note down anything that has helped you reach a better understanding of yourself and how your “reality” works–anything that has inspired you or helped you grow. For example, under “The Caffeinated Curse of Sleeplessly Nights”, you can write (or illustrate!) something like “a much dreaded but long-forthcoming lesson in self care. I realized that conviction to proper sleeping habits is what broke the caffeinated curse.”
What new territories have you ventured into this past year? What is something you have experienced for the first time? What are the “new areas” that you have explored? Where did these portals lead? Were they what you expected? How did you feel? For example, you can note down: Found a secret passage way to the Pond of the Singing Frogs–a group of terrible singers aspiring to be decent karaoke participants. Finally, a non-judgement and non-sarcasm space where I can stretch my throat and make off-pitched noises. Went there for two sessions but got distracted by work–definitely going to commit more in 2017!
Fog of War
For those of you who don’t know–this is a game term that describes the unexplored areas on a battlefield or game map, and therefore the area’s landscapes or features will not be revealed. For this item: what have you not explored but would like to? What is something that you have knowledge of or are aware of, but you haven’t actually ventured into that particular area of interest? For example, you’ve always wanted to attend an annual professional networking event downtown, but you’ve never actually attended despite your interest. This might be something you want to mark on your map for the upcoming year, like this: A glass staircase for nervous, newbie writers wearing lead shoes and clumsy hair. Destination? Unknown. Actual fragility of the staircase? Unknown. Creatures residing at the top of the stairs? Glitter? Will have to mark this on my map for the upcoming months.
Here are a few “honourable mentions” that didn’t make the big list, but I thought I would include them here to give you some ideas!
- Angels (or personify important aspects of your life + bring them to life using mythical creatures that you know of): angels can be mentors, healers, counselors, and/or true friends who care about you and your well-being.
- Tricksters (you were expecting demons or devil, weren’t you?): tricksters are people (or events) that show up in your life to specifically mess it up so you are given the opportunity to put it back together again in a better way. A trickster experience isn’t always fun and it’s oftentimes difficult or highly inconvenient. But hey, it’s all about the lessons that we learn!
- Plot Ninjas: Borrowed this term from Nano Wrimo. 😉 Plot Ninjas are WTF moments that you have experienced–things that come out of nowhere and seem so random that you don’t really understand how it’s connected to your life, and you are still processing it even as the year ends.
- Plot Bunnies: Again, borrowed this from Nano Wrimo. These are “story impulses” or your personal impulse to live out an aspect of your story or a new story. What’s something you’ve been meaning to do and it’s been on the back of your head for like, months? This one is kind of similar to the fog of war.
Your story has so many treasures and precious gifts. Did you enjoy unearthing them?
Like I said–this is not the end. Only the beginning! I hope this blog post has inspired you to see yourself in a new light and appreciate the experiences that you have had. Stay tuned for part 2: Hero Status Report + Mark Your North Star!
So much love,