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What is a vision board? How to create a vision board? These are the questions that this article will try to answer.

This was originally posted on this blog (and spotlighted on BlogHer) in 2012.

I am a career counselor and teacher by training and experience. I trust this process as a helpful tool in career and dream exploration.

If you are unfamiliar with it, I hope this article will be helpful.

 What is Vision?

The definition of “vision” that we are looking at with regard to creating a vision board is “the act or power of imagination.” 

[vizh-uhn]

a : the act or power of seeing : sight
2a : something seen in a dream, trance, or ecstasy; especially
b : a thought, concept, or object formed by the imagination
3a : the act or power of imagination
(for the full definition: vision)

 

A vision board is essentially a creation of imagination.

It is either compiling your dreams into a physical, viewable form, or it’s finding out what your dreams actually are, and compiling that in form that makes sense to you. It’s usually created with images, but if you are blind, I’m sure something more tactile would work.

I think many people in America confuse this bit about “vision” and about “wanting” something with what mainstream tells us we should want – stuff, mainly. You know, a new car, a big house, plump retirement plans. Slim bodies, ageless faces, yada, yada, yada.

What I found in my years of counseling people was that at the very heart of it, people don’t care so much about that stuff. No. In our core, in that deep and still place inside, we yearn for our own unique life experiences, for things that are not things, but rather feelings, emotions, opportunties, learning, growth. Love – we all want love.

When I heard that enough times to understand that it’s truly universal, I realized that there is room for us all.

What I mean when I say that I realized that there is room for us all is that I realized that none of us are actually in direct competition with each other. We’re not in direct competition with each other because none of us wants exactly the same thing. Each desire is unique, each vision of that desire is different, and the expression of it all is different.

 

We get tired, this shlepping from job to home to family to life and it takes its toll. It’s hard to frame that desire – pull it out, even – and I think we often keep it tucked away inside us as we go about the day-to-day.

And sometimes we don’t even know what it is we want.

Creating a vision board is a great exercise for fleshing out those desires, sometimes hidden, sometimes unknown and sometimes achingly clear. 

At whatever stage you might be, it’s a handy tool.

This is how I make my vision board:

What you need:

  • Magazines, lots of them, and a wide variety at that – even reach for the magazines that you don’t normally read. (beauty shops and the library are my go-to places for free old ‘zines)
  • Glue – I recommend using spray-on adhesive type, rubber cement and glue sticks. 
  • Scissors. Sharp ones. I usually have a razor blade as well, for some harder-to-cut items
  • Poster board. I think it’s worth it to just buy good presentation board (it’s between $3-5) rather than used cardboard, but whatever
  • Any other types of art/embellishments: glitter, pages from art books, story lines (I love Griffin and Sabine)… there are no rules here
  • Music is great. Something that truly floats your boat
  • Space
  • Time. I have done mine in increments, but you really need to have at least a couple hours an increment to really *get into it*

This session:

I created a vision board right after I got married.

It was a great vision board. It helped me actively develop my vision for that time, and helped me to see what my goals actually were.

It gave me something to dream about as well (babies! long driving trips to Mexico!)

 

That board served me well.

For this next board, I wanted to keep a few elements from the old one, like the newborn baby images, but wanted the rest of it to reflect my changed vision.

what is a vision board and how to make one

I set up my materials

 

My boy was working his cardboard model wheel on the table across from me.

 This is another thing that I love about making a vision board – while it’s easier to focus and do it alone (or with friends), if you are in a pinch, you can do it with your kid(s).

Just get them set up, have the music going and they will be happy.

I haven’t had the chance to work at it alone for a long, long time – and that’s okay.

This is a kid-friendly activity.

 

Getting Your Board Set Up

There are a few approaches to cutting/collecting what you want on your board.

In one, you have an idea of exactly what you want – and you find those images in the magazines, or you find them online and print them (or better, draw/paint them yourself!).

But sometimes you don’t know what you want.

Flipping through a wide variety of magazines and randomly cutting out the things that are interesting to you will serve you  with a big pile of images and maybe words that you can sift through and use – or not – later.

That’s important to remember because as you create your vision board and focus on what it is that makes YOU happy, don’t allow thoughts of possibility/impossibility to enter. Just focus on what visually makes you happy in the images.

Forget about what anyone told you that you ought to want or should do, forget about (or try to forget about) the years of conditioning on what “makes sense” or is “responsible.” Just flip through the magazines and cut out things that make you happy or you like. 

If you do this, then assemble and glue on the images, you will see themes emerge from what you cut out. This happens usually without you even being aware of it!

For this board, I was specifically seeking images of couples – My One True Darling Man and I have a really hard time managing the logistics of Date Night – and just spending time together the two of us.

Romance gets lost in the wayside of raising two small children. So I specifically wanted to have us reflected in my vision.

And…it’s hard to find pictures of happy normal couples! This is what I was coming up with:

Um, yeah. Or this:

 Totally us, no?

Redbook was a surprising fount of sexy-stuffs:

"twister"? a vibrator ad?!
"masque" - are you kidding me?!!!

Hilarious though they were, “intimate massager” and “flavor enhancer” visuals were not what I was looking for… 

My point: it can take a while sometimes before you find what you are looking for or what feels right to you.

Don’t settle for less.

 This little gem I loved – I wish I could find more like it.

Kids engaged in super-cool activity, kids exploring, kids traveling.

I was really looking for pieces that reflected what I wanted for my kids.

 

Vision Board Coming Together

My new vision board came together over a period of a couple of weeks.

It was exciting to see it emerge, this new vision that I have and will remain mine until either the vision shifts or new details emerge.

There were things that I was completely expecting to see there, like travel, living life with moxie.

I was surprised to see how much running-related ended up there – I guess it’s even more important to me to try and keep with running than I thought it was.

That’s another thing that I love about vision boarding: even when I think I know everything about the vision that is in my heart and what I want for my future, the action of creating tangible, visible evidence of that vision always gives me something to be surprised about, something that I wasn’t fully aware was there.

 

Where to Put Your Completed Vision Board

The act of creating the vision board was powerful process and the end product is important.

You want to be sure to place your vision board in an area of your house or office that you look at often. Above your computer or workstation, in your kitchen, or by your alter if you have one are all solid choices but you know what’s best.

The most important thing is to place it in an area that you look at often.

Tucked away behind something? No.

Your vision board stays out and in a place you can look at often, and absorb pieces of.

Take your completed vision board one step forward with journaling about the themes you see in your board.

Take those those themes and create a plan for yourself.

For more information on things to do with a completed vision board, sign up for my career development newsletter (here) – you’ll get all the new posts directly.

Vision Board: How to Make a Vision Board and Why it Matters

I'm a double ox. Or rather, I was born with the sun sign of Taurus, in the Chinese year of the Ox. This might not seem like a big deal, but I was actually hired in Asia on the basis of being an Ox – us oxen have this crazy reputation for being good workers over there. Over there, where Chinese signs are taken a lot more seriously than just putting them on a placemat in a Chinese restaurant like they are here – "what are you, a rat?! ha ha."

What I like about Chinese astrology is that it gets complex. You have your year animal, then you have your element. There are 5 elements: water, metal, wood, earth and fire. Each element rotates in cycle with the animal. So while you may be an earth pig , for example, your particular combination of element and year only comes around every 60 years or so.

The element part of the Chinese zodiac is critical – it completely shades and tempers each year animal. Like a rottweiler to a chihuahua, a fire dog is different from a wood dog. I didn't understand how I could be an Ox, honestly, until my element (water) was applied. Ox, you see, detest change. I like to move furniture around for fun. Water gives flexibility, fluidity – so my sign, a water ox, is the only one out of all the 5 types of oxen that can like change. My furniture moving makes sense.

In any given year, you are supposed to be able to tell how your year will be be by your given animal's compatibility with that current year animal. You are a rooster? Well, roosters get a long with Ox so you'll likely have a nice time in the Year of the Ox. And if you are an Ox, don't think everything is going to go your way during your year. I learned this when I was 24, living in Taiwan – I was given a jade bracelet by my best friend for protection, and was admonished at every turn by everyone who knew how old I was to "be careful – it's your year!"

Your year, you see, was the year you were born.

It's a time of great change.

It's a time in which you are more likely to die. It's a time where large, life-shaking (or breaking) events can happen.

I was told to tread lightly, carefully during my years: 12, 24, 36, 48 and so on. Every 12 years: watch out!

***

I'm not going where you think I'm going with this.

Basically, after a decade of being "into" astrology, another decade of career counseling and I think that Chinese astrology is pretty much the same as career assessments like the Myers Briggs or a good feng shui reading. Most of us are fascinated with ourselves and love to learn about our respective potential. It's fun to be told who we are, fun to hear it said we can be something, do something, go somewhere, be someone.

But really?

I think that just as the prism reflects light wherever and whenever the light hits it, we all have jaw-dropping potential. There are no exceptions. The only thing that flavours our potential, I think, are aspects like our Chinese element – are we change-oriented or do we prefer something with more rhythm?

So the key to it all, I think, is figuring out the space in which we operate best. That's where the astrology and assessments have worth – they might clarify some aspects, provoke us to think a little about things we usually keep hidden inside ourselves.

I'm thinking about these things as I am up here in Humboldt County, staying with my brother as I crawl out of my post partum depression.

2012-12-29

I think about the nature of change, about things being what we make them.

About the hocus-pocus through-the-fortune-tellers-globe aspect that both the Chinese zodiac and career counseling have to them. That they are both simultaneously true and false, truthfully false and falsely true with truth and falseness baked into their marrow.

Anything can be something. If you want it to be. It just depends on what you want.

IMG_7494

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Want to learn more?

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One of the biggest concerns that we have for embarking upon the Pan Am Overland is work. Perhaps that’s understandable, given that we are quite firmly in the low income territory here – for us to save the amount we’d need for this trip, I would need to go back to work full-time, live on one income and save the rest for a year. I thought hard about it, but in the end, the math doesn’t add up, when you factor in childcare (in the San Francisco Bay Area, most people work for their childcare) and the emotional wreck it would make me. My sanity is just not worth the money I could make.

So that leaves us with working during the trip to finance it. That can go two ways – either by stopping in a place and actually getting a real-life job (teaching English or leading bicycle tours or something of that nature), or by taking our work online and have “virtual” careers.

In my quest to figure this out, I’ve wandered into some interesting portals. I’ve been ghostwriting now for a couple of months (that’s where you write an article or piece for someone and give the credit, along with the writing, to them). It’s interesting and I like it. It doesn’t pay well but it’s easy to do and I can do it around My One True Darling Man’s schedule – or my mother will take the kids for a fun day of play while I nosh out a bunch of articles.

The trick to being a successful ghostwriter seems to be in gaining a reputation, being intimate in the industry, and bidding for a specific writing contract at the perfect moment. I’m still very much learning about it, but more on this later.

Transitions Abroad, an old favorite of mine, is bookmarked and visited often. I’m also looking through Dave’s ESL Cafe for a sense of the English Teaching climate in the countries we’ll be going through. I’m looking into teaching English online – I love the idea of teaching English to kids in Korea while in Honduras – isn’t that just the *best*?!

FlexJobs is interesting – but I don’t like that you need to pay for it. I joined it a few years ago to test it out, wasn’t terribly impressed and stopped. But I might give it another go. I need as many resources as I can lay hands on.

Career Counseling is still something I am fascinated by and enjoy very much (I currently work part time for the State in Career Coaching people with severe disabilities). Virtual Career Counseling is an interesting option. I’m certain I’d be more inclined to it if I had a little more time to set it up. I like – make that love – the idea of continuing to work in career counseling and coaching while on the road. And if I can teach English to kids in Korea through Skype, why not some Career Counseling as well?

These are all thoughts on my virtual pinboard. Inspirations comes from Christine Gilbert’s Travel Books – I also enjoy her blog, Almost Fearless, as well as some other family-travel blogs like Snaps and Blabs and Family on Bikes.

What about Mikey? You might be asking. That is a question. You see, while he’s actually far better with English than I am (he’s the one that makes the kids say, “to whom”), he doesn’t have all the paper that I do – I went to grad school and beyond; he didn’t. He thinks all his “to whom” thoughts and zen-like stuff while fixing bicycles or cars or trucks. What this means is that either he can do something bicycle related or he can get himself some paper by re-training himself to be an editor or something along those lines.

My eyes are peeled for him too.

That’s where we are right here, right now. If you know of online resources, sites that are great for writing jobs and so forth, I’d love to hear of them.

Thank you!

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