I’m a nerd, I admit it freely. I LOVE self-help books and The Desire Map by Danielle LaPorte is no different. I’ve had people complain to me in the past that they don’t get why I do a lot of introspection. Personally, I don’t get why people don’t do more introspection. I love workbooks. I love Psychology, I love learning what makes people tick, I love seeing things from different perspectives, I love getting to the root of why I get in my own way, and why I don’t get as many things done as I’d like to, and learning new ways to look at things like goal setting. I love coming up with ways that I can work better with myself instead of just constantly beating myself up about never being good enough / doing anything as well or as much as I’d like to.
I can’t remember how I came across The Desire Map – I think I heard about it in a podcast? Anyway – I downloaded it and read it over the course of New Year. I don’t celebrate New Year because my grandma died on New Years when I was a kid so it always seems kind of disrespectful to go out partying on an evening of remembrance, so instead I get down and dirty with my introspection and figure out how I want my next year to look instead. Last year I didn’t do this, and I didn’t set any goals and consequently spent the entire year floundering around completely lost.
The main body of the book
I’m a bit of a strange one when it comes to ‘woo-woo’. I have crystals at home, I do yoga, I love Chai lattes, I meditate, I sometimes even do chakra meditations. I have a favourite sleep hypnosis Youtuber (Michael Sealey), a favourite motivational speaker (Mel Robbins) and I have a favourite Indian spiritualist (Sadhguru) but when I read someone else harping on about realigning their chakras, or meditating with prayer beads or asking ‘the universe’ for guidance, I find it incredibly difficult not to snort or roll my eyes and go ‘oh please’. She does the whole universe ‘woo-woo’ talk quite a lot which, for some reason I find pretty off-putting, but that’s her style, and that’s ok, and it doesn’t minimise or invalidate the good stuff she has to say.
The book is based on the concept of ‘Core Desired Feelings’, or CDFs. These are words tied to emotions that encapsulate our values and help guide us through our goal setting and day to day decisions.
I like to make notes when I read self-help books and in my notes. Fairly on in my reading, I wrote ‘From the mind-numbing ream of words, I like the following:…’. I didn’t really understand why she just had pages and pages of words, and got quite annoyed that I might have just shelled out for a dictionary, but actually what she did was quite clever – planting seeds in our minds for our subconscious to chew on as we progressed through the book. Reading back over my notes in order to write this review I discovered that 3 out of my 4 ‘CDFs’ where already picked out in that list.
She does raise some really good points, and the book is peppered with great quotes. She gets into our psychologies, looking at positivity blockers, acceptance of who we are, what we want and where we’re at, and acceptance of how other people are. She teaches us positive ways of handling negativity and letting go, and explains why traditional goal setting may not be the best way to get what/where you want.
A key element of The Desire Map is evolution – that what you want and how you want to feel doesn’t have to be set in stone – as we grow and change so will our desires and our goals and we shouldn’t feel trapped and restrictied because we said ‘I want to feel X so I am going to do 1,2 &3’ – if 1,2&3 aren’t doing it for you then change them, if X no longer serves you then change it – it’s ok to let things, dreams, expectations and people go.
My takeaways from the main body of the book:
We don’t need to bark orders at ourselves all time, or at all even.
To feel the way you want to feel as often as possible, you just need to do easy things to help you feel that way every day.
You can feel light when someone else is heavy
Constant racing for success creates habitual and unconscious goal-setting. We need to re-learn how to move toward our dreams
If a crop isn’t growing, the farmer doesn’t keep wasting water and fertiliser – he yanks it out, tills the soil and plants something else. (Good point!)
Behavioural scientists aren’t writing many articles about the power of multi-tasking. To the contrary, we’re mostly hearing about the corrosive effects that split-focus and juggling have on the quality of creative output
Beware of affirmations that create cognitive dissonance
Resistance is actually a good thing
Negative emotions can feel so familiar to us (especially if they mimic our past) as to actually be comforting.
She breaks down your life into 5 areas:
1. Livelihood & lifestyle
2. Body & wellness
3. Creativity & learning
4. Relationships & society
5. Essence & spirituality
And then asks you a bunch of questions relating to those, and also making you think about the physical and mental sensations that relate to those – for example, the sensations of positivity. For me, the sound of joy is bubbling laughter and water, if delight was an animal it would be a robin, and love smells like baking. I’m not a psychologist but I presume that by anchoring our feelings in tangible things like this that we can already relate to it makes setting goals that will enable us to feel those things much easier than a vague concept like ‘lose 10 pounds’.
She gets you to look at the things you’re grateful for and why, your fears and wounds, finding your words, narrowing them down and analysing why those words resonate with you and how you can use them to form the guidelines for your life.
You will need paper and a good stretch of time to get through this. I’m pretty self aware and very decisive, so I find filling these things in quite easy but it still took me a day. Like she says, you don’t have to do it all in one go like I did. You can work on it a couple of hours a week, or whatever works best for you. It’s totally holistic.
DOES DESIRE MAPPING WORK?
Yes, I think it does. I have a bullet journal I’m pretty obsessed with, and I’ve built in a tracker to help me make sure I’m doing something every day to support at least one of my CDFs. I am noticing a difference. It is easier to motivate myself to do things, more natural to make choices that support my values and CDFs and I am generally feeling much happier and better in myself. You can read more about how I’ve used The Desire Map to build my own goals and how I feel they’ve worked here