Journey Mapping is a way to reflect on the highs and lows of a project. It is a fantastic tool to visually tell the story of a project and to make meaning together. It can be used as a retrospective and as a way to celebrate, mourn, learn, and transition.
To do this exercise, you will need:
- 2-4 hours
- 3″x3″ stickies (2-4 different colors)
- Large writing surface. For a group, you can use a whiteboard or butcher paper on the wall. For individuals, use sheets of 11″x17″ paper.
- Markers and other art supplies
You can use this for an individual or a shared group project. If you are using this for an individual project, you can still do this exercise with others (similar to working out with a buddy).
You can download an easily shareable and printable version of the toolkit that is oriented toward assessing and celebrating your year (including an eggnog recipe). The instructions are largely the same as below.
- You’re going to create a timeline of the highs and lows of your project. Start by writing the months in which your project took place on the top or bottom of a large sheet of paper. If you’re doing this exercise for a group project, you’ll be using a shared piece of paper or surface.
- Without referring to any notes, take five minutes to write down the highs from your project, one per sticky. Place your stickies on the upper half of your timeline according to intensity. High highs go high on your sheet, medium highs go lower, but still on the upper half. If you’re doing this exercise for a group project, make sure that everyone is using the same color sticky. You’ll all place your stickies on the same timeline.
- Using a different color sticky, spend five minutes writing the lows of the project, one per sticky. Place these on the lower half of your timeline, with low lows going lower on your timeline. If you’re doing this exercise for a group project, make sure that everyone is using the same color sticky.
- If you’d like, take 10-20 minutes to review your calendar, notes, photos — anything that might jog your memory about the project. If you’re doing this with a group, help jog each other’s memories. Add stickies you may have missed. Notice what you remembered and didn’t.
- Take a moment to look at your timeline. Adjust the placement of the stickies as you see fit. What patterns do you see? (Feel free to note these on your timeline.) What do you feel as you review your timeline? If you’re doing this with a group, share your observations and reflections with each other.
- (Optional) Repeat the exercise for the next 10 minutes, brainstorming highs and lows from your life over this same period with two different colored stickies. Add these stickies to your timeline. If you’re doing this with a group, make sure that people know that sharing is optional. Reflect, and share.
- (Recommended) For the next 1-2 hours, create a clean version of your journey map on a fresh sheet of paper. The simplest way to do this is to draw a curve representing the highs and lows of the project, with labels and doodles. Feel free to veer from this and represent your past year however you’d like!
Eugene Eric Kim created this toolkit. Many thanks to the following for piloting this toolkit:
- Cherine Badawi
- Denise Collazo
- Travis Kriplean
- Catherine Madden
- Dharmishta Rood
- Adene Sacks
- Danny Spitzberg
- Zoe Tamaki
- Kate Trompetter
- Rachel Weidinger
- Kate Wing
- Amy Wu
- Odin Zackman
- Yi Zhang
Special thanks to Chris Darby, Anya Kandel, and Ei Ei Samai for their feedback.
Unless otherwise stated and to the extent possible under law, we dedicate this toolkit to the public domain.
- “End-of-Year Journey Mapping: How my 2020 Went and How 2021 Is Looking” (February 4, 2021)
- Retrospective Toolkit
February 4, 2021
- First published.