those nonnegotiable parts of yourself – vision boarding


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Six months ago, my husband was out of the country for a wedding and on a Saturday afternoon I invited a group of ladyfriends over to do some vision boarding.

The email started with a disclaimer – “I know this may not be your thing, but hear me out…” and I was surprised when nearly all of the women said, “Ummm…yeah! Ok, let’s do this!” And so, we went through stacks of magazines and ate tortilla chips and had some tea and pieced together our vision boards.

Vision boarding is based on the theory of attraction, which is to say that which you seek in the world will find its way to you. This can work for both the positive and negative and I’ve found the concept to be generally true. The goal is not to attract actual things, but places of mind and opportunities. If you have a basic idea of where you are right now and a basic idea of where you’d like to be in a year or so, mapping that out with images evoking whatever that head space might look like and sticking it in a place where you see it every day can be a powerful motivator. Putting a picture of a Balenciaga isn’t to say “in one year, I would like to own this fabulous bag.” But it could mean that you’d like to cultivate a life of security and nice things, or that you want to live the kind of life where you can invest in your belongings and stop buying $20 crap from places like “Endlessly Twenty Three” that falls apart after two uses.

All of the women who participated were in very different places in their lives, but universally all of us seemed to be at some kind of crossroads. Career, relationships, future plans – there’s something about vision boarding that attracts people who are looking for some guidance. We made our boards, we talked them out, we hugged, and we went our separate ways.

Six months later, I sent an email to reconvene and last Saturday four of us gathered for a delicious, home-cooked Italian “Sunday” dinner at my friend’s flat. We had a small group because nearly everyone else was busy – one person had moved back to the States and was traveling around South America, one was in Dubai speaking at an event, one was studying for a second degree online, and one was taking some much-needed down time to rest after a very busy and successful work project was winding down. All of these things are success stories in my own mind, and it was amazing to sit down with those of us that could make it to talk through our boards.

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Nearly every one had put the board in a notable location and saw it every day. Nearly every one had had some kind of ah-ha! moment from seeing the board, and nearly everyone felt some kind of progress or at least a more mindful approach to life.

For me, so much has changed in six months. We are packing up and moving (back) to our beloved Baltimore City. We worked through a difficult couple of months when things were up in the air with jobs and living situations (something which is stressful anywhere, but truly difficult to process when you’re 7,500 miles away from your home country). I started writing again in a way I hadn’t in years, and it attracted freelancing opportunities and a new friend. And every morning, through all of this, I swung my feet out of bed and came face to face with my vision board which was tacked up on the wall opposite. It was a reminder of the things that are most important to me, the things that should never be compromised, and the things that may have not had a strong presence in my life recently but should.

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The next check-in with the ladies is scheduled for 9 months, so early June. It will be interesting to see where everyone is then, and again at our year check-in. Some internet research also suggested that a vision board should be an organic thing that evolves over time, and should stand for at least a year or two. Perhaps we’ll be revising our boards come September this year, or maybe they’ll stay with us for another year. At some point (ideally), they’ll become stale and we’ll need to craft new visions to take us to new places.

However you view things like vision boards, even when taken with a grain of salt it’s still a pretty interesting exercise and a powerful daily reminder that tends to inform decisions both small and large. Decisions that compound over time and begin to take shape around those nonnegotiable parts of yourself that perhaps got frittered away from spending too much time being reactive as opposed to proactive.

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