It’s a well-documented fact that athletes use visioning to help them up their game, and great leaders are charged with executing big visions to move companies/policies/armies/etc to great successes. But what can we do when we are running around in our daily lives, not sure of what we want and generally hoping things will be ok as we float downstream? About 11-12 years ago, I was at this point. I was still in the muck of the mess of my life and doing what I could to move to a better mindset. That was when I created my first vision board.
Some new girlfriends I’d recently met were getting together for a vision board making party. I had little idea what it was, but the chance to hang out socially with them was my incentive. It was a fun evening, and afterwards I put the board away. Did you know “creativity takes courage”? (Henri Matisse). This was before I started down my path of adventures to fully understand my own courage. I remember feeling shy about what I created, and compared mine to others in the room. Fortunately, they reassured me about how everyone’s vision board is supposed to be unique to the individual.
I had forgotten about the vision board until about three years ago, when the magazine I was working for (Weight Watchers) was writing a story about them. When I mentioned I had done one years ago, the editors asked to see it. I pulled it out of wherever it had landed (behind a dresser maybe?), and I took a look. The surprise? So much of what I had put in it had come true! Maybe not exactly as in the photo, but the feeling of what I wanted had come true.
IS THERE SCIENCE TO VISION BOARDS?
Many people dismiss the concept of vision boards because they were popularized by the book/movie The Secret, which promises that if you follow their rules, the Law of Attraction, just right, you will get everything you desire. No work, just purely allowing the Universe to bring it to you because you had all the “right” positive thoughts. While there is some good stuff in the Law of Attraction, I don’t believe it 100%. When you apply science to this magic, it starts to make sense as a good tool for helping you create the life you want. A way to look at the information from The Secret is as a starting point, not the only point.
When successful athletes and people use visioning, the most effective outcomes happen when they not only vision the goal, but the process of getting there. It’s not just the destination, but the journey too. According to Marisa Peer, internationally known therapist and author, your brain does exactly what it thinks you want it to do using the pictures in your head and the words that you use.
Your mind loves what is familiar. If you want to vision a new life, want to change the way things currently are, then you need to change the images in your head and the language you use with yourself. You basically retrain your brain by making what is familiar unfamiliar (so no visioning about yourself doing something you don’t want, like over-eating or procrastinating) and make the unfamiliar familiar (so visioning yourself how you feel great from eating healthy or getting things done).
Vision is key as it is the primary sense which the world is experienced. When creating a ‘vision’ adding the other senses is powerful. Creating a physical vision board is like art therapy— the action of feeling the paper as you cut out images and words, the movement of placing the images on the board, the music that you may have playing or the conversation with friends as you work on your art and the smells in the room (even from the glue you’re using to paste down the images) all play a part with integrating the positive messages into your subconscious.
This concept also is at play when you hand write in your journal instead of typing or allowing the thoughts stay in your head: handwriting better engages your brain, making it easier to retain the information.
THERE IS NO ONE “RIGHT” WAY TO MAKE A VISION BOARD
The goal of creating a vision board is to help you get clarity on your goal, to help you focus on what you want in life. It can help you discover the things that “light you up” for future adventures. The vision board could be a simple cardboard sheet with images glued down. Or glued into a book with handwritten notes all around. Or it could be a 3D mobile you hang. Or you could create a digital one (Pinterest was launched after I had created my first board, and I’ve always thought of this site as an online vision board).
The images could be symbolic, or precise and literal. You can get them from magazines, free brochures, photos you have, greeting cards, or images you’ve printed out from the internet. You don’t have to use images if you don’t want to! You could use words, phrases and favorite sayings. I like mine free-form (sort of chaotic, overlapping, images placed where it feels right). Others like having them orderly with lots of space.
You can cover one area of life, or all of them. Your board could have themes: current me vs future me; travel; goals and/or the journey/process; relationships; discover your “why”; work; decorating; health; wealth; and family.
My first one covered several areas, sort of a general overview of what was key to me then (love, friends, health, relaxing, home). The most recent ones turned into three boards. One for my personal life, one for the process of being a successful entrepreneur and the third is specific to – well, you (how I want you, my reader, to feel while interacting with Adventure Wednesdays).
Some people believe that you have to look at your board daily. Tony Robbins, the self-help guru, sees visioning as a daily habit. This time around I have my boards in prominent places, as regular reminders. Others believe you can put them away, and let the magic of the Universe take over and guide you to your goals. This is what I did before, and I feel either way works. You get to decide what feels right for you.
HOW TO MAKE A VISION BOARD
Let’s make this an adventure! Remember, there is no right or wrong way to do this. It’s to help you get clarity on what you want. It’s not about making perfect wallpaper.
- Poster board, cardboard, foam core, cork board
- Glue stick (or thumbtacks/pins if you want more temporary positioning)
- Images/words (from magazines, catalogs, brochures, stickers, church bulletins, postcards, greeting cards, your own photos, and images from the internet you’ve printed out)
Nice to have:
- A heart center or grounding meditation prior to picking out images (which helps getting to the goal of how you want to feel, vs staying stuck in your head not knowing what to pick).
- Music you enjoy listening to (help keep the positive atmosphere)
- A big area to spread all your images out before gluing down
- A bunch of friends doing this with you (I once participated in a vision board party via video call! It was fun because a woman from India joined us and it was fascinating to hear her point of view on life)
- Time (this can take a few hours, or even a few days/weeks. For my recent ones, I made this a longer process. Going through magazines and ripping out pages before recycling. Gathering brochures at a travel event. Picking up tourist pamphlets at train stations and rest stops. Then taking time to cut and sort the images. Then narrowing down those images. Then meditating and allowing my intuition to help me choose and place images).
Get your materials and everything together. Place the images in a pattern that’s pleasing to you. Glue (or pin) them down.
If you’re doing it online, that’s great. Pinterest has tons of images. I just think it’s hard to look at regularly. But that’s me. A friend made his vision board on PowerPoint. He could move the images around, resize them, add words and colors. And then print out the finished product.
Ta da! You now have a better idea of all that you desire to have in your life. The next step is to make adventures of the “how,” and let go of the outcomes. I believe that one of my goals involves cacao pods and sailing in the Caribbean, or actually…writing a book on a sailing ship in warm waters that involves chocolate. But who knows? Maybe it means I will live aboard a sailboat while a cacao farmer brings me chocolate. That too would be an awesomely happy life.
Are you inspired to create a vision board? What did you learn from doing this adventure? Let me know in the comments. Or you can post it on Instagram and tag me! (@adventurewednesdays)