Planning for the year ahead
Do you sometimes feel directionless, not know where you're heading, just going through the motions of everyday life? Do you try to make new year resolutions or goals but find that they don't materialise? If this sounds like you, you're not alone. As we are a month in to a new year I thought I'd share how I use vision boards as an effective proactive and fun planning tool.
The dawn of every new year is always accompanied by lots of pressure to strive to be a better person. It's the same every year - "New year, New you". I really dislike this tag line. It pressurises many of us into thinking that we have to make self improvements because we aren't good enough as we are. This can often lead to making unrealistic resolutions. Who wants to feel inadequate, unworthy and demotivated?! Let's remember that we are all good enough as we are!
I have a much more considered approach to the year ahead. I don't spring out of bed on1st January each year with a new found energy and drive that I didn't have on 31st December. I don't write a list of goals to be implemented straight away. I like to ease into the new year. January is always a slow month personally and professionally and I am comfortable with this. It's not a 'doing' month, it's a time for planning. Alongside client treatments I allow myself time to really work out how I'd like to spend the year ahead, planning some direction for myself and forming ideas of things to look forward to. Creating a vision board is central to this. Now I know what some of you may be thinking "Vision boards, what a load of rubbish!" or "What a waste of time!" but please allow me to explain why I love them.
Over the last four years I have achieved so much more than I did during the many years previous to this. These have been, on the whole, really enjoyable times. The main reason is that I have allowed myself the time to focus on me, my family and how I'd like the year ahead to look. Writing a type of 'to do' list, a set of goals and aspirations, almost like a bucket list focuses the mind (although my list doesn't contain a bungie jump or sky dive!). It consists of everything I would like to achieve/do/experience during the coming year and displaying it in a visual way acts as a wonderful source of inspiration and motivation. Don't just take my word for it, well known folk like Oprah Winfrey love a vision board.
So what is a vision board?
It's a collage of pictures, photos, words and quotes that translate into our dreams and aspirations for the coming year (or it could even be for a specific event i.e. a wedding or a house renovation - I'm currently putting one together for a bedroom renovation at home). It acts as a dynamic visual reference. Vision boards can work through the power of visualisation. If we can regularly see and visualise a set of goals, for example daily or weekly, it can help us to plan a path in which to achieve them. However, there is a caveat here. If we are only looking at our vision board, admiring how pretty it is, we will not make progress. We need to work out how to make small steps in order to get to each goal or intention. Having these displayed in a visual way can work really well.
Manifestation, on its own, isn't enough
I'd like to just mention manifestation here. Many people will assume it implies that through positive thinking, the laws of attraction and belief we can achieve our goals. I don't believe that this alone can work. It can certainly contribute, but we need to actively work towards our goals with intention and purpose. It's like a journey from the beginning of the year to the end. We might arrive at some destinations fairly quickly, whilst others take us all year and beyond. A vision boards purpose is to help us bring everything displayed on it to life.
Consider these things when planning your 'to do' list for your vision board
Are your goals realistic? Are they specific rather than too broad? Are they possible to achieve? How will you know when you have achieved them? Is the timescale you are setting workable?
Try to visualise yourself achieving them and the feeling you will get once you have.
Don’t strive for perfection. Making progress and keeping a good pace is more important.
Gain the help of others who might know more than you do about the things you want to achieve – read, educate yourself, attend a class/group/course.
Create an environment that encourages you rather than hinders. This may mean pulling away from negative people or removing temptations depending on what you are doing.
What should I put on my vision board?
A good starting point is to think about your goals and aspirations in the following areas for the year ahead:
Personal growth (self development, social life)
Don't spend too long on writing down your thoughts for each area. Once you've done this you can start thinking about how this might look visually on your board. It doesn't have to be heavily work related if you don't want it to be. It could focus more on other areas of your life. Although everything is related in the end. Perhaps there is a new sport you'd like to try, a place you'd like to visit for a weekend break, family or friends you'd like to spend more time with, an event you want to plan, how you'd like to start donating blood or doing some charity work, a course you'd like to attend or perhaps you've been thinking about writing a gratitude journal or reading several books. It really is endless.
What materials will I need:
A piece of card (A3 or A4 size) or a pin board/notice board
Pins (if using a pin board/notice board)
Access to a printer to print out online images (Pinterest is a great website for image inspiration) Not essential
Travel, fashion, lifestyle magazines etc.
But the list could go on...
How should I put my board together?
The beauty is that there are no rules. It's entirely up to you. Do not worry if you don't consider yourself to be a creative person. I'm not a particularly artistic person and I really enjoy putting mine together. I use a piece of A2 card rather than a pin board and dedicate different areas of the page to different areas of my life i.e. self development, travel etc because, for me, this makes it easy to refer to once finished. I use lots of pictures and photos i.e. of areas I want to train in, places I'd like to visit etc and glue these onto the A2 card. I write meaningful words and impactful quotes around the board in colourful pens. These all really mean something to me. But I leave some space in between the images and writing so that it doesn't look too busy. Otherwise it could look overwhelming which could lead to procrastination making the vision board counter productive.
Make designing your vision board an occasion, turn off the TV, grab yourself a drink, organise all of your images etc and design away. It will only take an hour or so. Put your phone down, relax and enjoy the process. 'The power of an hour'.
So remember, it doesn't matter if you feel like you haven't achieved anything in January. Don't beat yourself up. I haven't achieved much either. However, I know that the time I've spent on this years vision board is time well spent and now I have a clear picture of what I'd like to do during the next eleven months.
If you decide to design your own vision board, leave a comment to let me know how you got on.