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How to Make a Personal Roadmap

In the days before smartphones, a map was something you’d use when going on a trip.

Gas stations sold them, or sometimes gave them away with advertising included. Maybe these still exist for people who don’t have phones? Who knows.

These days, roadmap is more of a startup word. A company (or a team of some kind) publishes a roadmap to show where they’re going in the months to come.

So I wondered … why not make a personal one? Something visual to plan out your goals with a rough timeline.

That’s what this post is about: how to construct a personal roadmap.

What’s On a Roadmap

A good roadmap has just enough information: not so much to be overwhelming, but more than just a line between two points. It includes goals, milestones, and any important markers that you might want to pay attention to.

Your roadmap seeks to answer three questions:

  • Where are you now?
  • Where are you going?
  • What might you see along the way?

The first question seems easy enough, but when you’re lost—it’s important! For the second and third questions, you have a few different ways to display the answers.

Two Styles of Roadmaps

Timeline view: with this roadmap, information is displayed in a matrix view with horizontal rows for goals and vertical columns for time. It’s a lot like a Kanban board, where you track items that are completed, in progress, and coming up.

Swimlane view: this view focuses more on the “swimlanes” of the map (the horizontal rows). In place of a timeline, the vertical columns often include categories or roles.

For the benefit of simplification, I adapted a version that combines both attributes:

To make your own, there are lots of free roadmap templates available for download, some more helpful than others. I found a few that I liked at this site, and then I modified one of those for the example in this post. That last link includes the template files that I adapted.

Format-wise, most roadmaps are made using a spreadsheet app (like Excel or Google Spreadsheets) or a presentation app (like Keynote or PowerPoint). The best option for you is the one you’ll use most, so it’s just a matter of preference.

One note: even though the digital formats are helpful for maintaining the roadmap over time (it’s easy to update when you can just delete and type over), it might seem stifling to use them for the initial creation process. I tend to use a simple journal for that part, eventually transferring over the key info.

Making Your Roadmap

To start, choose 3-5 goals you know you want to work towards in the next year or so. I tend to think it’s best to choose goals in different categories.

If your roadmap is based strictly around work or business items, your categories might be the names of specific projects. If your roadmap combines work and non-work, you might have categories like Relationships and Wellness.

Bonus: If you’ve done an Annual Review, you already have them! A Personal Roadmap can work in tandem with a Review.

Next, assign a rough timeline to each goal. Roadmaps can be as granular as you want, but generally I think it’s good to focus on timing in months. What will you accomplish toward each goal in each of the next three months?

Again, if you’ve done a version of this before in another format, you can simply move it over.

Finally—at least for a basic roadmap—you simply plot out the goals according to the rough timeline in the visual format of the Roadmap. Voila! One simple roadmap, check.


Okay, so you want more. No problem! I tend to prefer the Swimlane view, since it displays information differently than other tools I use. It’s also easier to view or print when adding to the rows instead of the columns.

After I made the roadmap pictured above, which is largely about my public work projects, I made an expanded version with more personal goals. I’ll share that one later in the year when it comes time to review.

For now, here’s an example of a roadmap from an NFT project I’ve been spending time with recently. (It’s also a play-to-earn game where you get paid for taking care of virtual chickens. We’ll have to cover that topic in another post…)

Notice that the creators of that roadmap expanded the information in both the vertical columns and the horizontal rows, adding “phases” in addition to months for the timeline, and multiple projects in the swimlanes.

From the basic template, you can choose to invest more time to fill out the roadmap a bit more. For example, you could add:

  • Key performance indicators (KPIs)
  • A reminder of your primary values (just a few!)
  • Any other roles you hold
  • A “good to great” or stretch goal section
  • Or something else! The best roadmap is the one you use


I wanted to make my own personal roadmap as I prepared to enter a new phase of my work cycle. WDS X is now complete, and I have no other big events to prepare for. I’m writing a book, but I can only spend an hour or two on that every day before my creative energy begins to wane.

I still have the daily podcast and a few other projects, but I also have some open time that’s unscheduled. I’m not purposefully trying to fill my whole day—I tend to work better when I’m not tightly scheduled—but I also know I find meaning in being creative within a certain structure and routine.

With that in mind, I used the roadmap to identify a couple of other things I’d like to pay more attention to in the next few months.

If you end up making your own, let me know! I hope the model is helpful to you.


Images: 1, 2, 3