In December 2012 I had no idea what my 2013 would look like.
I had a vague sense of what I wanted to happen career-, travel-, and life-wise, but beyond become location-independent, travel and be happy, it was all very fuzzy.
My favorite business websites suggested writing down my goals and creating an action plan detailing the steps to get there. That made sense…but I couldn’t map out my action plan because I wasn’t exactly sure what my goals were.
So I created a vision board.
Let me just say here that I used to roll my eyes whenever anyone talked about vision boarding. I definitely lean more woo-woo than not but I just didn’t see how cutting images out of magazines would help me figure out anything.
But then I started thinking about the VisualsSpeak images I’ve used with clients and students and how they sparked unseen connections, different perspectives, and deep conversations. Images are powerful tools that we can use to uncover what we can’t articulate.
I also read something Martha Beck said that really resonated with me:
“Just page through a magazine (and walk through the world) noticing things that trigger physical reactions: a heart thump, a double take, a gasp. The only responses involved should resemble these:
These “thoughts” register in your stomach, your heart, your lungs—anywhere but your head. You can’t produce them in response to cultural clichés or abstract ideas. Nor can you always know why your body reacts to an image. Wondering, then finding out, is one of the most delicious things about assembling a vision board.”
Suddenly, it made sense. I’m someone who feels things more than thinks them, and I began to wonder if maybe I was going about goal setting all wrong. Instead of setting goals like earn X amount of money or travel to X amount of countries, maybe I should focus on figuring out how I want to feel in the new year.
So I asked myself what will make me feel happy and successful? What will make me feel really alive in the new year?
Here’s how I created my “how do I want to feel next year” board.
I have no idea if I did it the “right” way; I just did what felt right.
The first thing I did was sit on my couch, twinkling Christmas tree lights in view, and flip through a stack of magazines I had laying around the house. I cut out any image, word or phrase that caught my attention. I didn’t think about why something caught my attention or question it; I just ripped it out of the magazine.
When I had a nice stack of clippings I sat on the floor and sorted everything into three piles – one pile for images, one for words, and a discard pile. As I sorted, I whittled each pile down based on what continued to catch my eye or made me feel…something.
Then I sorted the images into themes based on what seemed to go together. As I did this, I continued to ask myself how I do I want to feel in 2013? I didn’t answer that question per se but I felt closer to an answer each time I sorted through my images. At one point I started crying, and I had no idea why! I remembered a writing mentor saying that you know you’re on the right track with your writing if what you’re writing about makes you cry, so I thought maybe I was on the right track with my images.
I ended up with five themes – home, clothing/image, expressing myself, food, and travel. I hadn’t planned on these themes (well, I suppose the travel theme was a given); I found them in the images and words I was drawn to. I was quite surprised to see the home and clothing themes taking shape because I’ve never really cared all that much about either one.
I glued the images onto a posterboard. Again, I didn’t have any specific plan or design; I simply put them where I felt they belonged. When I was finished I looked at the board for a couple minutes, wondered what the hell it all meant, and then stuck it in my home office and didn’t look at it again for, oh, 10 months.
Earlier this fall I found my vision board while re-organizing my office. My jaw dropped when I saw it because instantly I realized that I’d incorporated everything on my board into my life. All year I’ve felt an increasing sense of I love the way my global life is taking shape.
It’s still difficult to say exactly what the images on my board mean. There’s no 1:1 translation of image = something specific in my life. But when I looked at the board I’d created several months earlier I instantly understood that back in December 2012 I knew how I wanted to feel in 2013, I just couldn’t articulate it.
Creating my “how do I want to feel” board also helped me clarify my global life ingredients: freedom, autonomy, and collaboration. It was really awesome to realize that my life in 2013 had actually aligned with my ideal global life ingredients.
(Is this making any sense?)
I think the vision board worked because I focused on figuring out my ingredients – what makes me feel happy, successful, and really alive. The images and words I was attracted to helped me identify my global life ingredients for 2013, which helped me make decisions during the year that were aligned with how I wanted to feel, and those decisions created my ideal global life.
I’m now a believer in vision boards because they can help you figure out your ideal global life ingredients. And knowing your ingredients will help YOU figure out what goals to set and which actions to take to create YOUR ideal global life for 2014.
This week’s project: Create a “how do I want to feel in 2014” board.
Here are some tips:
1. Start by asking yourself how you want to feel in 2014. Then, look for images that catch your eye or evoke an emotional response – positive and negative – even if you don’t know why. (Remember the Martha Beck quote above?)
2. If you’re not into the cut-images-out-of-magazines thing, get online and pin images to a Pinterest board. Get creative. Figure out what works for you.
3. Sort your images into three piles – one for images, one for words/phrases, and a discard pile. If something doesn’t still catch your eye or make you feel something, discard it. Don’t overthink it. Go with your first gut instinct.
4. Once you’ve got a whittled down pile of images (and maybe some words/phrases), look for themes. What are your images telling you about yourself, what you’re drawn to, what’s important to you, how you want to feel? What are your images telling you about what you want your global life to look like in 2014?
5. Arrange your images in different ways until it feels right. Affix your images on a poster board, a bulletin board, a Pinterest board or a plain old piece of paper. Once your vision board is finished, place it somewhere you’ll see it on a regular basis. (Alternatively, you can completely forget about it for 3/4 of the year like I did. That seems to work ok, too.) Continue asking yourself your images are telling you. Don’t over-think it. Just try to feel it.
6. You don’t have to spend a huge amount of time creating a vision board and you don’t have to do it all at once. I created mine over 3 days. And you don’t have to finish it by January 1. Just do what feels right.
Creating a “how do I want to feel in 2014” board won’t give you all of the answers but it will start you down the right path. Check back next Thursday for another project that will help you create your ideal global life in 2014!
Linked to the My Global Life link-up.