Your Vision

A Vision Board is a name for a collage that serves as an inspirational, aspirational map. The map can be who you want to be or how you want your life to be. Your vision board is a visual representation of your goals and dreams.

Why do I think this exercise is important? Did you know that our minds can only hold any 7 pieces of information at a time? In a world where we are constantly bombarded by images and sounds, smells and feelings those 7 things are just a tiny representation of every moment. Our mind learns to filter all of the information to show us what it thinks is relevant so we don’t get overwhelmed.

Our minds can only grasp about 7 pieces of information at any one time. Yet, there are millions of pieces of information available to us at every moment (think about everything you can see/hear/feel for starters). To ensure we don’t get overwhelmed, our minds learn to filter information and to only show us pieces of information it thinks is relevant. Have you ever noticed that everyone has a blue Prius after you buy a blue Prius? Exactly.

This is how a Vision Board works. Just creating a vision board tells your mind what’s important to you so it can start paying attention to something you may have otherwise overlooked.

THE HAPHAZARDLY CREATIVE APPROACH

There are two ways I think to approach this, haphazardly creative or cerebrally. There is something to be said about both. My haphazard approach starts with a stack of magazines. Flip through the magazines and snip anything that represents what you want in your life. This could be a word like “STRONG”, it could be a shiny wood floor or a sports car, a picture of a graduate, a quote that moves you. You can do this deliberately or without prejudice. You could end up with a box of magazine clippings to sort through and that is great! Next go through your image file and find the things that really represent what you envision your future to be. This method is short, playful, and to the point. You may leave the process being really motivated or you may look at your board and think “yep, that’ll do”.

THE CERBRAL APPROACH

The cerebral approach requires a little more thought. Start in a place that is comfortable. Put on your stretchy pants, pour yourself a glass of wine, light a candle, set a playlist, do whatever you need to do to open yourself up to possibility.

First think about something you really want. Don’t think about whether or not this is possible, whether you “deserve” it, or its practicality. Imagine having this in your life. My example is owning and living at 496 White Oak Ridge Rd in Millburn, New Jersey. Yes, get specific. Grab a pen and paper and write about what it feels like to have this in the present tense. How does it feel to sit on the deck? What do the blooming cherry blossoms smell like?

Are you able to see it? You may not be able to get there for many reasons. A vision statement is an expression of hope, and if you have lost hope it is hard to create a vision. For many of us who have experienced domestic violence we spent years being told “you don’t deserve _____”, “you aren’t worthy of love from ____”, “you are too stupid to work at ______”, “you aren’t talented enough to ____”. You are worthy of hope. You are worthy of love and belonging. Try again.

Once you have your vision of something you want, a single thing, write about it. Fill in the blanks of the sights, sounds, taste and smells if you can. Put aside your “I could never”s and “I will never have”s and reach high. Free yourself of judgment or even reality. Now go further into all of these areas:

Character: If you could be anyone, what type of person would that be? A social butterfly? More humble? Ballsy?

Health and Body Image: What is your healthy ideal? Do you wish you were someone who could eat indulgent foods and not gain a pound? Do you want to be able to run a marathon or swim the English Channel? Do you want to wear a bikini without fear? Would you like to have the curves of Rosemary Clooney or Elizabeth Taylor?

Home: What is your dream home? Is it a loft in Los Angeles? Do you see yourself roaming a ranch in Wyoming? Or a beach cottage in the Caribean?

Tangibles: What material things are in your life? A KitchenAid stand mixer? A riding lawn mower? Manolos for every occasion?

Relationships: Who do you share your life with? A spouse? Religious community? A small circle of close friends or a large weekend crowd? Do you talk to your sister every day? Are you in touch with your parents?

Personal pursuits: Where do you want to travel? Have you always dreamed of taking a ballet class? Do you want to paint on the hillside? Are you learning new languages?

Work: What profession do you dream of? Is there a company you would love to work for? Is there a promotion that excites you?

Community: What type of world do you live in? Would you rather your neighbors leave you alone or be in a neighborhood where street parties are common? What does society look like?

Now think about your purpose. Have you been put here to fulfill a unique purpose? Do you have a destiny to fulfill? Write a reflection about your purpose. This could be really tricky for some. For others it may seem far out of reach but you may have an idea.

If you are like me or many others you have a list of far-fetched and attainable goals. The purpose of this exercise is to discover what it is you most deeply desire.

Now ask yourself “If I could have this now would I take it?” This may be enough to scratch several things off the list. For me I still dream of starring in a Broadway show but it would mean giving up precious time with my little boy and since being his mother is more important to me than applause 8 shows a week I would say “no thanks.” Now if it was a limited engagement and I could have my dream for just 12 weeks I would say “HELL YES!” You may find that there are conditions to many of the things you dream of. Example: Yes, I will take 496 White Oak Ridge Road but only if someone else is paying the taxes and I have an already paid cleaning service and a huge gift card to Macy’s to furnish it properly. Maybe you said you want to live in a castle. If someone gave you an ACTUAL castle would you take it? Would you live in it with its cold walls, lack of electricity, and wood burning stove? Or would your life actually be worse? Maybe what is closer to your dream is a beautiful and well-appointed home that is secluded and safe, with updated or new electrical, appliances and plumbing. (Most castles do not readily have Jacuzzi baths.)

Assume you have it now. How has your life changed? Is it better? Has having this thing made relationships or other goals more attainable or less? What does this say about the underlying needs and desires? Why do you want it? Maybe you dream of a large house so you can have an office away from all of the other activities. Maybe you want that office because then you might have a chance to read that mystery novel you haven’t gotten to. Maybe as a kid you dreamed of being a detective. Have you considered that a career change is something you really want?

Do you see where this is going? This will take some time. Like I said, get comfortable! It may take a few attempts. Maybe you really DO want a castle. Is that an attainable goal? Maybe not. But what are some things that you can do to fill that space? There is no right or wrong way to do it. The goal is to better understand what your deepest desires are so that you can act towards and honor them.

Now comes the fun part! Take your written work. Grab a piece of poster board, mounted canvas, or anything you might have handy. Get a stack of magazines and some glue and create your vision. Use words, phrases, pictures of things or people, moods, anything that represents the future you envision for yourself. Now go to town!

Again, there is no right or wrong way to do this. Don’t compare your work to someone else’s. But you can definitely be inspired by someone else’s vision board. That’s why we share them. In sharing your vision board with others you take responsibility for your future and deepen those relationships. Hang your vision board in your office or bedroom. Put it in a closet and look at it and reflect occasionally. Take a picture and share it with us! The sky is the limit. It’s your vision.

Sample Vision Board

Vision Board

Character: If you could be anyone what type of person would that be? A social butterfly? More humble? Ballsy?

Truly authentic. Willing and able to stand up for what I believe without shutting down or taking out other people. Kind. Gentle. A good listener. An active listener. Trusted. Someone others come to when they are hurting. Fun. Able to embrace silliness and not worry about what is expected of me. Compassionate. Passionate. Determined to advocate for causes I care for until the world no longer needs to correct the problem.

Health and Body Image: What is your healthy ideal? Do you want to be someone who can eat indulgent foods and not gain a pound? Do you want to be able to run a marathon or swim the English Channel? Do you want to wear a bikini without fear? Would you like to have the curves of Rosemary Clooney or Elizabeth Taylor?

I’d like to be able to go back to a dance class and not feel out of place physically. I am out of shape now and would like to be more physically active. I am not currently happy with my body. I am mushier than I have maybe ever been. Though I know I don’t look bad, I don’t feel good about myself. I don’t feel physically strong. I’d like to tone up again. I’d like to enjoy eating well. Though I am a much healthier eater than I once was, I would still rather eat nachos than just about anything. I wish I could WANT to eat healthy foods, not do it out of obligation. I’d like to not let my joints get any worse than they already are.

Home: What is your dream home? Is it a loft in Los Angeles? Do you see yourself roaming a ranch in Wyoming? Or a beach cottage in the Carolinas?

My dream home is here in New Jersey, outside of Boston, or outside of Washington DC. No matter where, my dream is to own an updated center hall colonial. 4 bedrooms and two full baths with a powder room downstairs. It will have a sun room with comfortable seating and at least one, but maybe two fireplaces. The dining room has a big bay window in it, wide double crown molding and a chair rail. There is a large living room on the main floor, big enough to have a grand piano in, and a nice sized family room downstairs so the kids can have friends over. The kitchen has light, probably almond colored cabinets, with lots of counter space for holiday baking and an island that the kids can do their homework at while I make dinner. There is a breakfast nook off the kitchen, big enough to seat six at a booth like table. There is a small front porch, big enough to hang a swing on. The yard is open and level. Lots of hydrangeas and lilacs line the property and maybe a cherry tree. There is a detached garage, far enough away from the house that we can mount a basketball hoop and play ball in the drive. A big swing set in the back and room to set up a volleyball net during gatherings. We’ll have a natural stone patio with a big grill, ideally an outdoor kitchen, and a large table with comfortable seating to spend time at after meals. We’ll have a fire pit with big, comfy sectionals for lounging, napping, and reading.

Tangibles: What material things are in your life? A KitchenAid stand mixer? A riding lawn mower? Manolos for every occasion?

See above. I feel good in new clothes, and though I would never want to spend a lot of money on clothes, it would be nice to be able to invest a couple of hundred dollars a season on something nice and trendy. I’d like for Georg to have a Steinway at home. Is a horse tangible? I’ve always wanted to have my own horse and now that my son is getting into riding that dream is at the forefront.

Relationships: Who do you share your life with? A spouse? Religious community? A small circle of close friends or a large weekend crowd? Do you talk to your sister every day? Are you in touch with your parents?

Georg and I will always be together. Hopefully my parents are able to move closer and my sister’s family so that my family can get together more often. I’d like to be closer with my older sister. We used to be best friends and my first marriage left our relationship strained. I would like to maintain the friends that I currently have and see those friendships grow deeper. I’d like to have a broader base of friends my age with kids. I am optimistic that I WILL prevail in family court and that Aidan will get to be with us full-time. There will come a time when Rolf is no longer a part of my life.

Personal pursuits: Where do you want to travel? Have you always dreamed of taking a ballet class? Do you want to paint on the hillside? Are you learning new languages?

I’d really like to go back to dance class. I want to learn German so we can speak it at home. I would like to take a creative writing class, maybe a web design course. I WILL finish my undergrad and do think I will get a masters degree, but I’m not uber dedicated to that as a goal right now.

Work: What profession do you dream of? Is there a company you would love to work for? Is there a promotion that excites you?

If I could put together a dream job it would be curating theatrical works that empower and tell the stories of women. If I could work close to home and fairly normal hours I’d love to work in a theatrical environment again. If I stayed in nonprofit I’d like to be with a bigger organization with a lively staff and grassroots base to interact with. I have this idea of wanting a collaborative workspace with white board walls.

Community: What type of world do you live in? Would you rather your neighbors leave you alone or be in a neighborhood where street parties are common? What does society look like?

I’d like to be in a diverse community that feels small town but has easy access to all city life has to offer. I’d like to live in a neighborhood with kids the same age as ours so they can run around and play together.

Now think about your purpose. Have you been put here to fulfill a unique purpose? Do you have a destiny to fulfill? Write a reflection about your purpose. This could be really tricky for some. For others it may seem far out of reach but you may have an idea.

I am here to make sure that other women who have suffered know that they are not alone. I am here to raise a son who is a feminist, can see the world without judgement or hate, and to know how to embrace joy.

Resources:
The Coaching Tools Company

Charlotte Roberts, Bryan Smith, Rick Ross, from The Fifth Discipline Fieldbook, Doubleday, 1994

Nicole Lemieux, PeopleGro, Personal Visioning Exercise

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