Guide to using the Visual Success Map for individuals and teams

Achieving your goals – life and work

Getting started:

Be holistic

Look at and plan your life and work goals in the context of your whole life. Knowing you have addressed this balance enables you to focus fully on the goals you have set yourself. You might build more detailed plans (VSMs) later for specific goals, but start here with the bigger picture

Possible VSM Lines:
My Foundation
My Work/Career
My Passions (Sport/Art/Music etc)
Developing Me

Note: A team VSM might look like:
Our Foundation
Delivering Excellence
Developing Our People
Creating a ‘Winning Team’

Look back first:

Build a foundation of confidence and self-belief.

What have you achieved in the past?

What have you overcome to get to where you are now?

What are your strengths?

Fill in on your My Foundation Line on your VSM (add photos/video clips/music to remind you)

Anchor to these proud stories

Develop ‘physical’ links to them enabling you to recall them when you need strength and resilience; when the going gets tough and achieving the goals you have set yourself is looking fragile.  A broach, a ring, a mantra or your VSM with a song or picture can bring you back to the energy and focus you enjoyed when you were ‘in flow’ and at your best.

Understand Why

Be clear on why you want to achieve a specific goal.  What difference will it make to your life; to the lives of the people you love and care for; to your organisation or team.
Fill in on your My Foundation Line on your VSM explaining ‘Why’.

Cross-check against your Values

Is your goal aligned with your values?
Revisit your ‘My Foundation Line’ on your VSM and add a ‘Live My Values’ Stepping Stone. Here you can list and endorse your values, and maximise their emotional resonance by attaching relevant photos, music, poems, music, videos or quotes in the associated Notes pages.

Horizon Scanning

What assumptions are you making?  What might the future hold that will impact on you? Personally, professionally, environmentally, socially?  And – ask yourself – So What?  How might that impact on my goal and my plans to get there?  What contingencies do I need to build?  What actions do I need to take?
Fill in on the appropriate Line on your VSM, possibly as a ‘review point’ to assess how events have materialised and plan again.

Consider your Stakeholders

Who else do you need to take into account and what impact will you striving for your goal have on them?  If it’s an organisational or team goal, how will you build in the needs and interests of your stakeholders and remain on track?

Build a Compelling Vision

Build a compelling vision of what achieving your goal will mean in your life.  What will your life look like?  What have you achieved?  What have you overcome?  How are your relationships? What do people say about you? Represent your Vision in many ways – visualise it, taste it, smell it, draw it, write or sing about it. Make it Yours!  
Fill in on your VSM as Your Goal and Make it Yours: Tell the story and attach emotional connections – add attachments with photos, music, poems, videos as you like.

Make a courageous decision

Are you really going for this goal?  Look yourself in the eye… are you being truthful with yourself?  If a team – collective commitment is essential – Are we truly prepared to do what it takes to achieve this goal?

If you are serious, you will:

  • Build a plan – your VSM; breaking the goals down into bite-sized chunks. (‘How do you eat an elephant? Answer: Bite by bite!’). Fill in stepping stones of the key tasks you have to achieve to reach your compelling (holistic) vision on respective lines.
  • Connect to it emotionally and rationally. Create emotional connections to each stepping stone – add attachments with photos, music, poems, videos as you like.
  • Tell others and win their support (enriching their lives and yours)
  • Take a first step and assess – did it take you closer or not?
  • Take another step.
  • Review progress regularly and adapt as required to stay on track.
  • Keep your VSM alive – tell your story in pictures, videos or writing as you progress.

Questions to ask someone you’re helping with a VSM

(relevant to both individuals and teams):

  • What would you like to achieve?
  • Why is it important?
  • What difference will it make in your life? Tell your story…
  • What are your values and how does achieving this goal align with them?
  • How will you balance achieving this goal with the rest of your life?
  • Who are you doing it for? How can they support you?
  • Who else do you need to take into account? So what?
  • Who else can support you and how will you engage with them?
  • How will you monitor progress and celebrate success?
  • Where will you get your strength from when things get tough? Tell me about some of your proudest moments?
  • How could you ‘anchor’ back to those moments when you need to?
  • What are the stepping-stones to your goal? The bite-sized activities / tasks you will need to accomplish to achieve your goal?


  • Design your VSM in the way that best suits you to reflect the answers to these questions. Or do this as you go along. You could refer to or use any of the template plans available and adapt your VSM to Make it Yours
  • Share your VSM face-to-face, via email, Twitter or Facebook.
  • Regularly check in with your VSM and your support team. Keep it in your mind – ‘attention density’ and enjoy the journey – following your own plan brings renewed energy, focus and achievement.
  • Build your story from plan to achievement, capturing video clips, photos and mementos of progress as you go. Include the set-backs and tough times and how you overcame them. Share and inspire others and yourself to take on other goals by presenting your journey to others.
  • Use the VSM Presentation Function and tell your story!
  • Become a part of the MiY Community and help others and society.