I started creating my vision board a couple of years ago. It was the kind of thing I would read about doing to support my mental health, think it was probably a good idea, and then never bother to make the time to actually make one.
And then I started writing Thrive Through Yoga.
As part of my writing I explored hundreds of meditations and and mind-set exercises and heart-centred explorations and psychological and spiritual techniques that would help people grow stronger and kinder and braver. Vision boarding was one of those techniques.
Fast forward a few years, and pretty much everything on my vision board is part of my life (- apart from the goats. But then having pet goats in my flat could be messy!!). My vision board focuses less on what I want (because, to be quite honest, there’s not that much I do want in terms of material things) and more on how I want to feel (e.g. goats are cute and full of energy and make me feel happy!). So, it consists of images of the things that feel like freedom and connection. The things that spark joy in my life and make me feel fully alive – sunsets, coffee cups, fresh flowers, camp fires, picnics, candles, reading in bed, holding hands, meditating, the ocean…
And this is one reason why vision boarding is so transformational – it helps you think about the kind of life you really want to live. Not the life that society tells us we ‘should’ live in order to be happy and successful. But the life that fits us. I’m still amazed at how many people live a life that doesn’t fit them just because they don’t realise there is another option. Or they realise there is another option but it just feels impossible.
When it comes to chronic dieting and disordered eating this ‘other option’ is eating intuitively, trusting your body, and making peace with food (I’m working on an article which breaks down how to make a Fear-Free Eating vision board to directly heal your relationship with food so I’ll get a link up to that when it’s done!).
So vision boarding is about making this ‘other option’ of a life (the life you really want to live) possible. It’s about connecting with the kind of life you want to live and the way it makes you feel. Because when you invest the time and energy into visualising and immersing yourself into the life you want to live with photos and ideas and quotes, it feels more real. It feels more possible.
Vision boarding is a multi-sensory experience which allows you to connect emotionally with the things that really matter to you. And, because emotion is the glue that holds our life together, when you feel this emotional connection, you actually move closer towards living the kind of life you want to live.
Personally, I used to think (because society had told me) that happiness came from working really really hard and earning loads of money and playing it safe and having a high flying career and staying small and trying to be perfect and controlling what I ate and controlling my body and always striving for more. Vision boarding taught me that to feel the way I want to feel (strong, brave, free, connected…), doesn’t involve money or dieting or being a certain weight or following a certain diet.
And that’s what most of my clients find too. That when they take the time to visualise a life they want, it turns out it’s the simple joys that mean the most after all. Often, all it comes down to is simply spending more time doing the things we love with the people we love.
How To Create a Vision Board
Vision boarding isn’t just about flicking through magazines, picking a load of pretty images and sticking to them to a board like something off pinterest (although pinterest is incredible for finding images you might want to use).
Vision boarding is pretty deep work. Deep work is where you are fully focussed on what you are doing in a way that feeds your soul and helps you grow. Shallow work is the more logical stuff that needs doing but doesn’t challenge you or give your life meaning (emails, accounts, cleaning…).
So, let’s get started…
1. What are some of the happiest memories in your life? Those ones where you were completely present and felt fully alive? Note them down and find images that reflect that feeling (*I’ve put a list of good websites to find images at the bottom of this section).
It might be an image of what you were doing or who you were with. If you love camping, put a picture of a campfire on there. If you love yoga, find a picture of the kind of place you love to practice. If you love making cakes with your kids, put a picture of your kids or a cake or a messy kitchen on there. For example, I have a photo of my nephew and my Dad on my vision board from my Dad’s last birthday because looking at it fills me with love. My Dad passed away in December 2016 so it’s not a moment I can recreate, but I can definitely recreate that feeling of unconditional love.
2. What do you value in life? Note your vales down and find images that reflect those values.
If you value strength then you could use an image of a barbell. If you value kindness then you could use an image of two people holding hands. If you value pleasure then you could use an image of a cup of tea and slice of cake. For example, one of the things I value is freedom so I have an image of hot air balloons and another image of two cups of coffee in a forest, because both of those images feel like freedom to me.
3. What words inspire you? Write them down or type them up and print them out.
These could be words from a book, lines from a poem, song lyrics, quotes you’ve come across on Instagram… anything you read that makes your heart flutter and fills you with love. For example, I have a lot of Buddhist quotes on my vision board because I really relate to the values of love, compassion and kindness Buddhism promotes.
4. Once you’ve found images online, save them to your computer and then paste them all into a word document. I would recommend starting off with images of 15-20 things that inspire you and then adjusting the size of each image so you can get four to eight images on a piece of A4.
5. Once you’ve arranged your images then either print it out if you have a good printer or a use a company that can print it out for you in a higher resolution. I usually use DoxDirect and select the loose leaf printing (it’ll cost about £3.00).
6. Get yourself a cork board. I’d recommend a 40cmx40cm cork board as it doesn’t take up too much space but go as big as you want! You can get these on Amazon, home stores and most supermarkets. Another option is to get an art canvas and stick things onto that!
7. Get some pins. Usual drawing pins are fine or you can get some pretty push pins from places like Paperchase (I have these star ones.)
8. Once you have everything (board, images, and pins), take some time to put it altogether. Give yourself an hour or so to reflect on each image and arrange it so it makes sense to you. Place it somewhere in your home where you’ll see it often and any other quotes or images that inspires you as yo come across them to make it even more meaningful.
*Where to get things for you vision board from:
- Personal photos
- Handwritten notes
- Bits of fabric, dried flowers…
- Images in magazines
- Pinterest – search words, phrases, authors, and topics that relate to your memory, value, or quote
- Google images – just like pinterest but often with other options too
- 500px – beautiful images taken by professional photographers
- Instagram – search hashtags or look at accounts of people who inspire you
- Goodreads – great for finding quotes. You can search by key words or author