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Personal Goal Setting Using Diagrams

Updated on May 22, 2013

It's a Personal Decision, Don't Follow Others

When you work for a diagramming company like I do you get to analyze thousands of diagrams. And everyday you get surprised by the creativity of people and the amazing usage various diagrams. And one thing I learned from analyzing all those diagrams is that different people use different diagram types to do the same things. This is mostly visible in personal goal setting diagrams, which are frequent enough to do a decent analysis.

When we instigated the study our assumption was that it will be dominated by mind maps and Gantt charts would make the rest. But we assumed wrong. So what did we find out? keep reading to find out.

Mind Maps Dominate As Expected

One assumption we did got right is that mind maps dominate personal goal setting diagrams. Mind maps are primarily used to evaluate ideas and in a way a personal goal is an idea we want to make real.

The biggest advantage of a mind map is the ability to visualize your goal as a set of sub goals. For example lets assume your goal is to start a business. Taken singularly this appears a daunting task. But using a mind map you can break it down to few sub tasks like marketing, finance and product. You can break those sub tasks into even smaller tasks. Now you have a set of tasks that doesn't look so daunting and which you can finish off one by one. Plus now you have a clear idea of what you need to outsource if there is such a need.

Starting a business broken down to sub tasks using a mind map
Starting a business broken down to sub tasks using a mind map

Flowcharts are More Powerful Than You Think

This was a bit surprising but the second most used diagram type for personal goals was flowcharts. As the name implies they are used to visualize a flow. In software engineering they are used in a more technical way but still they are used visualize flows rater than setting goals. Flowcharts are probably the most used diagram type in the world and easily recognizable by anyone. Large percentage of our customers primarily use our flowchart software. Perhaps that is one reason why so many use it to set their goals.

But flowcharts do have many things in common with setting a goal. For starters it has start and an end, making the objective very clear. They also have decision blocks, which makes it ideal if you're goal can be achieved via multiple paths. So perhaps it's not that surprising that people use them heavily to map their goals.

Gantt Charts Are Popular Among Techies

Gantt charts are another diagram type used by many to set goals. Gantt charts are usually used to represent timelines and usually a goal has a timeline. So it's logical to use a Gantt chart to plan your goals. Here also you can breakdown the ultimate goal to small sub tasks and map them to the Gantt chart.

One advantage Gantt charts have over other charts is that you can show task dependencies in a Gantt chart. You can do this in a flowchart using decision blocks but it's much easier to visualize when presented as a Gantt chart.

What's Your Personal Goal Setting Diagram

What is your diagram choice for personal goal setting?

See results

Why Should I Use Diagrams?

Some might wonder about the wisdom of using diagram to set your goals. They might argue that a simple task manager or a piece of paper is more than enough to plan your goals. If you're disciplined and dedicated that is more than enough, but using diagrams has many advantages. First of all it's a visual, making it much easier to understand things from a quick glance.

Additionally if you're using a software to draw the diagram they offer additional features to make your task that much easier. For example if you used a web based diagram software like Creately, then you have access to your diagram from anywhere in the world.

Some other features you might enjoy are revision history, automatic aligning and the ability to link to objects.

There are many other personal goal setting diagrams created using other diagram types. Work breakdown structures and tree diagrams are two more diagram that would fit this task. I hope this article convinces you plan your goals via a diagram and if you have any questions about the subject do share them in the comment.


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