If you have Facebook, then this link communicates what Facebook thinks your interests are! If you find them funny, feel free to post them and tag @with_joewehbe with #interestmapping.
But the real question is, are you going to let others, be they friends, family or social media sites – tell you what your interests are? Or are you going to craft them for yourself?
Interest Mapping is a ten minute exercise that helps you unlock the potential of your life, by revealing to you the things you can most passionately and intrinsically work on.
Credit for it goes to my good friend Scott McKeon, who first introduced me to the concept.
The importance of interests are well documented in a previous article – You must build interests or die tryin’ – preface to Interest Mapping. I need not repeat this here.
How does it work?
Interest Mapping is an exercise where we list as many of our interests as possible in ten minutes, either online or written simply on a piece of paper. That’s it – but the positives of this exercise will ripple over the rest of your life.
What is an interest?
This question is at the core of the exercise of Interest Mapping – and Interest Mapping, you will find, is a process of widening your perspective of what an interest is.
When people do this exercise the first time they typically struggle, and this is only because they have a limited idea of what an interest is.
An interest is whatever you determine it to be – it is hard for there to be a wrong answer because this exercise is very intrinsically focused. That is, it comes from inside you.
What are you interested in? What are you curious about?
The question is not “What are your friends and parents interested in?”
The question is also not “What do you or others think you should be interested in?”
Rather, just turn the tap on and let it go.
Josh’s Example. Part I.
I got my friend Josh, who is one of the co-authors of the Doohat Labs book, to help by filling in his eighteen-year-old version of himself’s interest map.
Hey Joe, thanks for the opportunity to share what my interest map would have looked like in 2012. As I said in my chapter in the book, I had a bit of a limited outlook back then. I think these would have been my interests…
- Personal Training
Josh’s Example. Part II.
I asked Josh to compare this to his 2020 interest map. For context, Josh and I also did this exercise together at a retreat I ran before we started the book project.
Yeh Joe, this version is different to how I did it at the retreat, different to how I would have done it before.
Note that this was done in like five minutes while we sat together at a cafe – I could have kept going but for our purposes here, it’s just good to show how easy this is to do, how quickly it can be whipped together.
Also notice a big difference. Not just the number of interests, or the depth but also the specificity. In the earlier version Josh talks about ‘Business’ as an interest, whereas within his current work he’s become very specific on his interest in HR.
Eighteen-year-old Joe’s Example.
Though I never did Interest Mapping as an eighteen-year-old, this is what I think I would have come up with.
Rugby League. Soccer. Skiing. Films. Faith. Community Service. Leadership. Psychology.
Current-day Joe’s Example.
The last time I did Interest Mapping, this is what I came up with in comparison. You can see the growth and advantages of a more diversified, “Interest Wealthy” version of me.
How does this ‘Interest Wealth’ improve life?
1) It makes it easier for amazing opportunities or “doors” to reveal themselves to you.
Note that terminology – reveal THEMSELVES to YOU. In that phrasing, you are a passive object – not out there chasing, but the greatness is INBOUND, like a magnet and attraction effect.
For example, Josh started talking to me about a business idea for a new-style of coworking space. Seeing that he wanted to get more proactive and start a new project, I suggested he come along to our Doohat Labs retreat and be part of our book project – and so two months later, he became an author.
But if he didn’t take the time to first think about this ‘itch’ to scratch, I would not have known to ask. Look at him now.
2) You become diversified.
This was a central point in the article on You must build interests or die tryin’ – When COVID-19 forced lockdown in Sydney, I had to dial down a lot of the activity in my real estate business, Sydney Listings. But I was blessed that my spirits were not to be dialed down.
Rather, I saw the opportunity to dial up my writing, podcasting, reading, cycling and exercise, and long-held and passively stored interest in education revolution (Enter Doohat Labs!).
Having these interests mapped out is like having multiple sources of income – a whole portfolio of investment properties if-you-will. If one falls down or the renter moves out, it’s a slight speed bump rather than a car crash.
3) You increase resilience
This flows on naturally from diversification and what I refer to as ‘the tightrope’. People with their interests mapped out get fulfillment from more areas and this makes them more resilient when things go wrong in life – simply because they have another area to go to.
Even if another area of life is suffering – like a relationship – interests which turn into passions, hobbies, projects or areas of research flesh out your balance sheet and keep you ‘healthier’ mentally.
4) Enhances your connection with others.
When I started doing nonprofit work in 2016 with Nick Abraham, I developed friendships and connections with a depth I’d never experienced before. This was also an amazing platform to meet more remarkable people who shared this interest with me.
Obviously people you share interests with are people you will deeply resonate and connect with. I now lean even further into using my interests to open doors with such people.
The best example of all is probably Scott McKeon: Scott and I were decent enough friends at school, but now our lives have a way deeper overlap, and we offer each other way more support. In fact it is 6am in the morning and he is sitting across from me right now with another like-minded friend, Tylah, at our local 5:30am Club.
Relationships tend to centre on shared experiences, shared values and shared interests. Interests can be a great way to start these chapters off and open these doors.
5) A backlog of interests and better competition for your time
Do you ever participate in social events out of obligation but feel disconnected, despite seeing friends? Do you ever attend or opt-into something because you have nothing better to do?
Well to be blunt, that’s a pretty disappointing filter for your decisions and investments of your time. Having your interests mapped on the other hand leaves things in the bank that you can get to.
Also, as you try to scratch all these itches of interest, you have more wonderful things competing for your time. This drives up the quality of how you use your time, which drives up the quality of how you use your life.
6) The Thousand Doors Journey
My beloved metaphor for the non-linear journeys we can take through life is referred to as “The Thousand Doors Journey”. Non-linear means that it can’t be planned in advance. For example, Josh and I have been friends for years, well before I worked in nonprofits or at Doohat Labs.
He couldn’t have opted-into our friendship with the expectation that it would have led to writing a book one day. This was random! He had to go through one door at a time, not knowing what lay in the next room.
A great way to start YOUR dynamic “Thousand Doors Journey” is to map out your interests. Think of it like setting up a website or putting up a billboard – if your interests are hidden from the world, they can’t be seen and others cannot bring opportunities to you.
And worst of all – if they are hidden from you, how will anyone else find them?
I was recently challenged on my interests.
My good friend ‘Gilly’ challenged me on this list, asking if there was an interest I’d left out. I scratched my head in confusion… and he filled the silence.
“YOU. You’re interested in YOURSELF.”
At that point a grin spread across my face. I’m interested in myself.
How fundamentally important. Be interested in yourself.
Take yourself on dates, wine and dine yourself. Make yourself feel comfortable and trusting so you open-up about your deepest dreams and curiosities. Get to know yourself. Keep exploring these, and be patient.
Good things will find you if you do the work.
Start your Interest Mapping Challenge RIGHT NOW
There is no time like right now, and you have nothing to fear. Reveal your interests to the world!
This will not only reveal your interests to the world, but also encourage more people to take up this challenge.
A final word from Josh.
Without giving a book spoiler if you haven’t read it already, Josh talks about his big challenges and how in no uncertain terms, he spent seven years after school feeling a little lost and heading away from, rather than toward his passions.
As he puts it, he took a turn off ‘Interest Avenue’ onto ‘Pretender Street’. The path of Interest Mapping and introspection takes one to powerful places, opening up a part of the map that you can’t otherwise see.
As Josh says, “you can’t be on Interest Avenue and Pretender Street at the same time”.