Building Self-Awareness and Deeper Connections with Life Maps

Jason R. Waller
4 min readDec 1, 2019
Photo by Toomas Tartes on Unsplash

If you haven’t heard of a life map, that’s not surprising. You might have done something similar, or this might be completely new to you. I’ll explain more about what it is, but first I want to share why it is. A life map serves two functions. One, it’s an opportunity to genuinely reflect inward.

A life map is a powerful way to explore your journey through the world at a higher, more meaningful level. It’s an opportunity to reflect and build self-awareness, take a step back and take stock. Two, it’s an opportunity to vulnerably share outward. It can be an incredible tool for practicing openness and building deep connections with others, especially with your team.

It’s something I recommend trying at your next offsite or teambuilding event. And it’s something I recommend trying silently, gently on your own.

What a life map is

The concept is straightforward but instructions are deliberately ambiguous. Take a blank sheet of paper and map out your life journey up to this point. That’s it. It can be a picture or illustration, it can be a series of symbols or doodles. It can be a chart with your life events plotted against time, like mine was.

I’d guide you to use visualizations and avoid too many words or bullet points here. Try activating a different part of your imagination, and stay with the journey to date. Don’t stray into goals or the future too much, this is meant to be a reflection.

If you’re doing this as part of a group, I’d recommend that each person take 10 minutes of quiet time to draw out their own life map and then take turns with others sharing their own story and why it’s meaningful to them. Dig deep on what made you who you are today and create some space to receive other people’s stories and journeys. You’ll need about 45 minutes in total for a group of 6. If doing it on your own, block out some time to do this well and sit with it. You might want to talk about the results with a friend or partner, or it might just be for you

“We are like islands in the sea, separate on the surface but connected in the deep.”
–William James

My experience sharing my life map



Jason R. Waller

Executive coach to CEOs and leaders. Partner at Speaker, combat veteran, ex-consultant. Top writer in Leadership.