Posted on Mar 5, 2013 | 15 comments
“Your vision will become clear only when you can look into your own heart. Who looks outside, dreams; who looks inside, awakes.” – Carl Jung
I realized sometime last summer that I have a bit of a block (understatement of the year) when it comes to articulating my dreams for my future. Sometimes it’s a matter of clarity. Other times it’s a matter of feeling worthy of what I want. Either way, I was stumbling in circles with no nerve when it came to stating them out loud.
As you know, I write. I share my experiences on this website. On my own, I jot down thoughts and feelings and ideas that are for me alone. Writing gives shape and clarity to what I’m currently going through. When I tried to use writing to project what I wanted to happen in my future, it just didn’t work. It felt contrived at best and like flat out fantasy at worst. I felt extremely disconnected from the process.
In other attempts to map out my future, I’ve talked to close friends and trusted advisors. In all these cases, they were nothing less than loving and supportive. It didn’t matter. I just felt stifled and stupid as I shared various ideas.
As summer turned to fall, I began to think about vision boards (also known as dream or action boards). Yes, I know the concept has been around forever. Like you, I’ve heard lots of people talk about how amazing and insightful they are. My friend Holly wrote about the ones she made (sadly, she’s taken her amazing website down), so I called her up and asked her to explain just how this vision board thing worked.
Holly said she had made vision boards around various “themes” such as her career aspirations or particular experiences she wanted to have. She also had a vision board that was random unrelated items that would make her life better such as having a maid or getting a new car.
At the time, the “theme” idea was too scary for me to even attempt. However, the idea of having a maid was appealing, so I printed out a photo of a maid and pasted it on a piece of poster board. For the next few months, anytime I would think of something I wanted I would print and paste it on my board.
Even though I had been pasting down random pictures of maids and Venice and elephants for the past few months, I still felt a lot of resistance. I realized that I could continue to circle the drain on this whole articulating my future thing or I could just be brave. I decided to be brave.
As 2012 drew to an end, a couple of close friends of mine and I acknowledged the value we garnered from time spent together. We made a vow that we would nurture the friendship by hanging out at least once a month for a meal and some type of planned activity. Without thinking, I agreed to host January and suggested we all make vision boards. My friends liked the idea. It was set.
Now that I was on the stick for creating a successful event, I got serious about the whole vision board thing. I read a few articles on the internet. I gathered up magazines (thanks to everyone who donated), bought supplies, planned the menu, and thought a lot about how to make this vision board idea work. I decided that I really needed to delve in deep, so I purchased a oversized sketch book to have multiple pages to paste the images I chose.
Since one of my goals for this year is generating more income, I decided this would be the theme of my first vision page. While my friends cut out images and words that had meaning to them, I cut out numbers and dollar signs and pictures that represented how it would feel to make more money. I dutifully pasted them on a page of my vision book.
As we worked, we shared words and quotes with each other and talked about how different photos made us feel. At the end of the night, we all felt like we had barely gotten started. Calendars were checked, families consulted, and a date was set for a second vision session the following week.
Everyone came away from the experience feeling like it was time well spent. Both Pam and Jennifer decided to choose images that resonated strongly with them and to allow time to reveal what each of their boards mean. I stuck to my themes. After filling several pages with income images, I’ve moved on to other themed pages such as family, friends, fitness, fun. Since that night, my vision book sits on my desk and every now and then when I have the inclination, I attach a few more images.
I’ve heard stories of people sticking a photo of Oprah on their boards only to find themselves on her show or of pasting a particular house on the board and finding themselves living in it long after the board had been forgotten. I’m open to having that kind of thing happen to me as well. It makes me very careful about what I choose to paste.
The larger benefit for me though has been in stating what I want my future to look like. I may not be able to say it or write it but I’m finding that as a clip and stick, form and shape and clarity are coming into my life. It’s bringing up various long buried feelings which gives me the opportunity to address them as they surface. My vision book is also giving me focus and informing the decisions I make in my everyday life. I find I spend more time working towards those things I’m thoughtfully pasting down. I also feel a lot less apologetic for wanting what I want.
If you’ve made a vision board, I’d love to hear how it went for you. Please leave a comment below. If you’re interested in making a vision board, I’ve included a few links to get you started.
Martha Beck, the queen of vision boards.
Pam Slim’s take on vision boards.
A step by step guide from Christine Kane.