Can I manifest my future?
I’ve thought about vision boards for a long time. Part of me wants to write them off as woo-woo nonsense; part of me is so eager for change that I’m ready to try anything. Moreover, many friends of mine have created vision boards, and what has ensued was success. I won’t and can’t say that their vision boards *did* anything, but I need a way to focus my energy, and….why not? Here at this crossroads, I shouldn’t poo-poo any possibilities.
Naturally, I started with a list.
I opened a new tab on my big ol’ project spreadsheet. I named it “Vision Board” and stared at it for a while. All I needed to do was jot down a few things I wanted to see in my life, beyond my basic wants. What direction do I want to go with my whole life? Sure, I know I want the bulk of my 21 challenges to be related to writing and music creation, and I know I want to incorporate healthy movement and nutrition into my daily life, but what else? I feel like I can do anything, if only I set my mind to it, but how do I choose?
I dawdled. I distracted myself with a podcast—specifically, this episode of Hidden Brain (I highly recommend that you listen to it too):
How appropriate for me in this time.
The most interesting thing I learned from the episode is that, statistically, if you are given a choice that you can change at any time (for example, you purchase an item from Nordstrom, and can decide to return it at virtually any point in the future), then you will be less happy with your selection than if you cannot reverse your decision (for example, you buy something at a going-out-of-business sale). I suppose souvenirs from our travels seem that much more precious because exchanges are infeasible. When the option to change our mind is taken away, our brains work to make us happy with our own decisions.
Well, I need to commit. I need to just decide, and move forward, because the indecision is literally making me miserable. So I started typing:
- Beach house
- Published author
- Working with kids
- Performing music
- Pole dancer
- Giving back
This list feels like a solid basic list of the things that would allow me to die happy if they were part of my life. (Not coincidentally, these match up pretty closely with the categories for my 21 x 31 challenges.) I let it stew for a bit, to see if anything else popped into my mind, or if I wanted to change things. I didn’t, which is either a good sign that I’m on the right track, or a bad sign that I’m not engaged enough in the direction of my life (hoping it’s the first one.)
Initially I wanted to create my vision board using digital tools – InDesign or PowerPoint, perhaps – because most of the imagery I had in mind was digital. I thought it might be easier to manipulate my materials, to arrange them and group them readily. But when I started to think about creating headings and choosing font faces and such, it started to feel a lot like work, and I didn’t want to do it anymore. Plus, I kept thinking about how you’re supposed to be able to see your vision board after you create it, so I’d still have to figure out how to get it printed after the fact, which started to seem expensive in addition to effortful. Instead, I sent a quick digital photo order to Walgreens, and I pulled out some supplies.
Fortunately for Current Me, Past Me went through a long phase being a single woman with extra cash on hand, and instead of saving it, I spent a gigantic chunk of it on materials and tools for all manner of crafts. I started by making a pretty poster board with some foam core I had just laying around (like you do) and this gorgeous paper I bought years ago for wedding decorations that didn’t make the time cut.
I figured, if I am going to put my hopes and dreams on a board, and look at it all the time, I want it to be beautiful. I want my life to be full of lovely things.
Next, I started organizing the photos, most of which are either stock photos that represent different ideas to me or quotes that remind me what I’m doing and inspire me to reach for these goals. I ordered more than fit on the board, and a few didn’t translate well from the screen, so I had to cull the best of the best as I started grouping them.
After trimming the photos and arranging them, I started adding my own words—Create, Perform, Write, Teach, Travel, Relax, and Give. As my board came to life, and I revisited materials used for projects in years past, I had the added pleasure and enjoyment of spending time in those dear memories.
In the end, I’m very grateful that I chose to spend hands-on time with the words and images that I want to put at the center of my life, as the result is very satisfying. It’s currently mounted to the mirror in our upstairs bathroom, where the light in the house is best, and I can start every morning with a clear view of the road ahead of me.
What do you think? Do you have a vision board?
Vision boards have actually always given me a lot of anxiety–I think there is something about picking and choosing and laying out in a physical sense that can trigger my perfectionism, indecisiveness, and productiveness anxieties.
Your vision board is absolutely beautiful, and actually very inspiring. Kudos to you to not leaning into the “woo woo nonsense” thoughts that so often permeate my own lines of thinking (“What is the point of this extra project I’m giving myself?”) and also, I love your thought process on why doing it physically means more than doing it digitally. I am usually more prone to want to do everything digitally, but then it just feels like “one more thing” I gotta do instead of a fun project.
I definitely sat with the “woo woo” feeling for a long time before I finally gave in. Truly, I have watched other people create their vision board and then just go ahead and achieve their vision, and I know it’s not the board, but I feel like there *must* be something to it! (When you can’t beat ’em, just try doing whatever they’re doing.)
I definitely had to fight my feelings of perfectionism, because all they do is inhibit me. I’ll tell you a secret: I put everything on the board with poster tack, so I can move it or take it off if I want. That small amount of impermanence, which left open the possibility that I could “fix” it if it was “wrong,” made it easier to actually do it.
Haven’t done a vision board in a while, but did do Danielle LaPorte’s Desire Map really recently (you come away with 4 or 5 “core desired feelings” that you then set really specific goals toward doing, based on the theory(s) you have about those goals –and the PATH to those goals– generating those feelings for you in your daily life as amplified-ly as possible). I want to do a vision board again, though, it’s been a while, and I think they’re great! It’s just good to move stuff around every now and again, and look at it, and think about it, and see how it bounces off other things we’re looking at and thinking about.
Along the terms of “if you can’t beat ’em, just try whatever they’re doing” I have a practice of “if you don’t believe it, pretend to believe it.” For a couple days or weeks or however long, just try on the actions and perspectives of someone who is totally convinced that XYZ is a thing. More often than not, I end up a believer because I’ve engaged in the things that ultimately prove back at me the thing I was trying to act like I believed in.
Sure, maybe it begs the question of whether or not we can trust a dang thing we ever experience, but I like another question it begs even better: “Am I just, like, the awesomest at proving to myself what I wanted to prove to myself ,or what?!” Which has been a really useful stance for me in accomplishing things I want, haha!
Not sure if anything I just said makes sense to anyone else, but it does to me
Yes! Pretend it! It’s like “dress for the job you want” and “be the change you want to see” – align your effort in a direction, and it’s likely that you will go that direction. My downfall is always having too many options and interests, so it’s nice to have one place to see the things that routinely rise to the surface. And yes, it’s good to reevaluate from time to time. Everything on my board is held up with poster tack, so I have already planned ahead on moving things around/changing them out for other visions!
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