Updated: December 8, 2020
In midlife, you’re probably thinking about using a vision board to begin to MAKE things happen or happen AGAIN.
Or maybe you’ve been wondering if you might even be having a midlife crisis and you’re ready to finally having a good clear vision for what you want.
An excellent vision.
Clarity of vision.
Moving forward to create the path to your future…that works.
Throw in some arts and crafts? Really, what could be better?
A vision board really is an awesome way to say goodbye to your midlife funk and take a step in the direction of being more intentional! I like to call “regret-proofing your life.” And in this case…your second chapter.
The problem is however, vision boards don’t always work.
You might go through the motions.
Collect the magazines.
Cut out the pictures.
But…you find that they don’t work to create the future you want.
There are a few key reasons why your vision board hasn’t been that successful in the past. Here are some solid steps for you to make a vision board that really works. But…you will have to also take action.
Before you go any further, check in with your attitude about vision boards.
Are you a believer?
Do you think it’s a worthwhile exercise?
Have you been curious about how they might actually be able to help you with actual happiness in your life?
Or do these ideas just kind of make you want to roll your eyeballs into the back of your head? Maybe a little too “woo woo” for you?
I know what you mean. Sometimes it feels like everyone’s just getting on the bandwagon and no one really knows why.
The pandemic and your vision board
But this year, it’s especially important to make a vision board. The pandemic is a bummer and extremely stressful. Vision boards help you think about the future. You probably want to check in with your attitude about next year as well.
Are you hopeful?
Are you positive?
Are you still thinking about what’s possible? What you really want?
Do you feel stuck in negativity?
Is the uncertaintly really getting in your way?
An intentionally positive mindset will help you create a vision board that’s really reflective of what you want to create in 2021, even with the pandemic.
Let’s start at the beginning with what a vision board is.
A vision board is basically a visual tool to help you focus on what you want. They are personal in that they are filled with images and words that depict what you want to focus on and create in your life, on purpose.
A vision board can be really powerful as a way to get you to think about what you want to create in your life. Midlife is a GREAT time to think about what you want to focus on for your next chapter.
So pause for a second and think about how this might actually work. Visions boards actually set your intentional life in motion because it reminds you to think about what you want more often.
It’s not all about just thinking about what you want.
There’s more to it than this.
But it’s a start because there are thoughts behind those pretty images.
Vision boards, or “dream boards” can be a surprisingly effective first step to bring the things you really, really want into your life.
You feel busy, right?
When you have a hectic life like this, it can be hard to dream.
In fact, I’m pretty sure that a few decades have gone by since you really thought about what you wanted and made some serious plans for the future.
Maybe you did it in high school?
Maybe college or university?
My clients tell me it’s been years.
Even though you probably know that being clear about the idea that what you want to create in your life is directly related to actually creating it.
Vision boards help you get clear.
When you set out to complete a vision board, you allow yourself to have specific thoughts about your purpose, goals, desires and dreams.
When you intentionally choose images to include ON your vision board, there are thoughts BEHIND each image.
And finding the images and figuring out how to include what you’re thinking about takes time…time that you’re really focused on what you actually want.
Use the thoughts behind the images you chose to make your vision board work.
These thoughts create your emotional state. Your feelings.
This is where things get interesting.
Feelings can be an amazingly powerful aspect of what happens next, what you actually do. Your behavior is based on your feelings.
In fact, everything you do or don’t do is because of your feelings. And, your vision board isn’t all that’s needed to create changes in your life.
This is a big mistake that people can make.
We’re attracted to the idea that the vision board has a lot of power. But it can’t do it all.
The outcomes that you create in your life are all because of your thinking. Your results prove your thoughts.
Circumstances can trigger thoughts.
Thoughts cause feelings.
Feelings cause actions.
Actions cause results.
Results prove thoughts.
The Thought Model is the working engine “behind” a successful vision board.
The thing is, it’s simply NOT enough to create a vision board and focus on what you want. That’s not enough to MAKE IT MOVE FORWARD.
The piece that’s missing is what will motivate you to ACTION.
Let me repeat.
If you’re not clear about what you’re thinking, you may not take the action you want to take that’s reflected in your vision board.
Your thinking and your feelings are KEY and are what’s required to be “lined up” in order for you to move forward the way you want to in your next chapter.
This is why vision boards often fail.
What will help you overcome the obstacles in between YOU and your vision for your life?
Believe it or not, the answer is the way you feel.
Your feelings are why you do things…or don’t do things.
You’re the one who has to do something differently to create the change you want.
A vision board helps you get clear about what you want. An excellent start.
But not enough.
You have to have a certain way of thinking to produce the results you want.
The results will include action.
And action is fueled by your feelings.
And feelings are created by your thinking.
It’s all related.
The prep work you do to create your Vision Board is only a small part of the importance of the activity.
As you can see though, the part that is critical to the success of the whole operation is being able to think and feel on purpose. You will do this work in your MIND.
Of course, the activity of putting a beautiful vision board together can be somewhat meditative and for sure, fun, but the real power of a Vision Board is what happens BEFORE and AFTER.
Think about what you want BEFORE you get started. Think of this like a supportive HUG you’re giving to yourself!
Don’t skip this part.
Most of us are walking around…or racing around…just getting from point A to point B, in a chaotic blur.
If you’re not in a chaotic blur, congratulations!
But chaotic blur or not, have you allowed yourself the necessary time to really think about what you want?
That’s the rub.
Most of us haven’t done that in decades.
You’re too busy with life.
And so on.
And before you know it, you’re 50 and freakin’ out and thinking where did the time go.
So just like a coloscopy when you’re 50, I would like to strongly advise you to do a vision board. I think it should be the number 1 thing you do to regret-proof your life.
So let’s break it down.
Here’s what you do BEFORE you start a vision board:
Step 1 : Think through your vision. Spend some time thinking about what you want your future to look like. What is it that you dream about happening or creating? It’s OK to want what you want.
Think about your vision for your contribution, that is, your work.
Your vision for your relationships with others.
Your vision for your relationship with yourself.
Your vision for new skills, experience and travel that you want in your life.
Your ideas for things that you want…for no other reason than because you want them.
Important values in your life.
And finally, your key words for the year. What words do you think really sum it up for you? The words you really want to have top of mind more often?
Step 2: Notice themes. Now that you’ve done the first piece of work, look to see what themes are emerging. What’s really important to you in terms of goals, values, principles and concepts. It’s quite common for you to see patterns. This bit of structure from the worksheet will help your brainstorming and insight.
Step 3: Pause to notice how you FEEL when you think about what you want to create in your life. Thoughts create feelings. If your thoughts need some work, you can also decide how you want to FEEL and then think a thought that creates that feeling. You can feel intentionally…so when you check into your emotions, you can decide if you are feeling the way you want to feel. Don’t skip this step. Really, it’s everything.
Step 4: Prepare to create your vision board. First, Start the hunt. Start collecting images that reflect what’s most important for you to bring into your life in the future. You may want to include photographs, graphic images from magazines, small found objects, things like this. Second, You also need to make a decision about how you want your vision board to look. You have a few options. I would recommend either posterboard, canvas or wood panel.
If you use poster board, you can use glue. If you want to use canvas or wood panel, you can use a decoupage glue like Mod Podge.
So ask yourself, what kind of look do you want? And big do you want it to be?
If you want something larger and less expensive, I would go for Posterboard.
If you want something smaller and easier to display, I would go for canvas or an wooden art board.
Step 5: Include a picture of yourself in your vision board. A great way to add connection to your vision board is to actually include a photo of yourself. Many people forget that they are at the center of making their dreams come true. You can choose any picture of you that resonates when you think about your priorities. It can be just a head shot of you, you doing something you love, or perhaps even one of your family. It doesn’t matter but what does matter is how you feel when you look at it.
One other tip is to use a current photo that accurately reflects who you are now. When you intentionally choose photos from years ago (when you were thinner, younger, etc.), you’re are not really accepting the reality of your amazing life now and what’s possible for you and the future.
Step 6: Actually MAKE your vision board. Put it all together. There’s no right or wrong way to assemble your visions board. By now, you will have a pile of images that you want to include. You can make a simple collage or you can make more of a design. It doesn’t matter.
You will find tons of cool ideas on my Pinterest board. Check it out at www.pinterest.com/coachwithsuzy. The sky really is the limit. I don’t really want to go into details like this here in this blog, but trust me, you can have a lot of fun with this!
Here’s what you do AFTER (when the vision board is finished):
Step 7: Use your vision board to remind yourself of what you want to make happen in your life. Don’t just put it aside and forget about it. Decide where you will put it so you can see it. Or, remind yourself when to look at it and think about it. This is KEY!
Remember, the whole point of a vision board is to use it as the name implies. Vision boards are basically visual reminders for what you want. Our brains respond extremely well to visual cues. And who doesn’t like a reminder? I love reminders! Sticky notes, phone reminders, LOVE THEM!
There’s absolutely nothing wrong with reminding yourself to think about what you really really want in life.
One of the best ways to live with intention is to think on purpose. This means reminding yourself what you WANT to think, so you can feel the way you WANT to feel, and create the results that you WANT to create.
That’s why vision boards can be used as tools to help you live more intentionally.
Vision Boards make it easy to think on purpose. They remind you of what you want to create in your life. Simple as that.
Now, it might seem like a funny concept that you need to actually remind yourself what you want, but it’s just supervising your mind.
And you really do need to supervise your mind. Especially in midlife.
We all do.
Otherwise, you’re thinking and feeling all kinds of things that you don’t want to think or feel.
If you go to all of this trouble to make a vision board and then just tuck it away in your office or under your bed and don’t look at it to remind yourself of what you want, then I’m not sure there’s much point to it.
In fact, this is the other main reason vision board exercises fail.
You can’t just think about what you want; that’s only the first step. For sure, it’s a critical first step, but you have to keep going. But you have to take action.
Remember the thought model that I go on and on about?
- Thoughts create feelings.
- Feelings drive action.
- Action creates your results.
- Results prove your thoughts.
Take a good look at the ACTION piece of the model. FEELINGS DRIVE ACTION.
That’s why you need to make sure you’re feeling the way you need and want to feel, on purpose.
ACTIONS are what create results.
Not feelings on their own.
Not thoughts on their own.
Imagine the feeling of motivation, for example.
If you’re like me, I’m sure you would love to decide when you want to be motivated to get things done.
But, you can’t always count on motivation to just be there when you want it to be. But when you look at your vision board, i’m sure it’s full of things that need motivation so you can take the steps to move them into action, so you can create exactly what you want.
Ask yourself, why don’t you take the kind of action that’s required to do all of these amazing things that you want that are on your vision board?
The answer, my friends, is because of indulgent emotions like overwhelm or worry.
So therein lies the problem.
That’s why your vision board has so much potential. Remember Step #3 about feelings?
When you manage your mind, you can choose to think thoughts that create the feelings you want to feel.
So if you want to feel motivated so that you can have the relationship with your husband that you really want, or to excel at work the way you know you can, then you can use your vision board to remind yourself to think the way you KNOW will create the feeling of motivation.
See what I mean? We all need these reminders.
Otherwise, it’s just to darn easy to get sucked into think things like “It’s too hard” or “I’m afraid I’ll fail.” Classic thoughts that we all get sucked into thinking.
These thoughts create indulgent emotions like worry and overwhelm. It’s just not useful to think thoughts like these.
It’s better to focus on thoughts like “I’m figuring out how to do it” for example, because this is a thought that creates motivation.
Images on your vision board can remind you to think thoughts that are useful to you.
That’s why it’s powerful.
You can train yourself to think useful thoughts on purpose.
Remember to put the pandemic in perspective.
As you’re getting better at managing your mind and your emotions about your future, it’s a great time to also put the pandemic in proper perspective. It won’t be here forever. Yes, it’s difficult. Yes, there’s uncertainty. But things will improve and life will go on. Ideally, your vision board reflects the life you will have as you continue to grow next year and beyond. It’s important to remember this too.
So, to summarize, here’s the secret to creating a midlife vision board that works:
Step 1: Think through your vision and decide what’s important for you to actually regret proof your life.
Step 2: Notice themes as you’re identifying concepts, goals, principles and values.
Step 3: Notice how you FEEL when you think about what you want to create in your life.
Step 4: Start to prepare by deciding what kind of vision board you want to create and collecting amazing images that reflect what’s really important to you.
Step 5: Include a picture of yourself in your vision board.
Step 6: Put it all together and make your vision board.
Step 7: Remind yourself to look at your vision board, so you can be reminded of what to think and feel, so you can take the action required to make shit happen. That’s it in the nutshell.
Just remember, when you’re making your vision board, the responsibility for bringing it to life is still yours. But WOW, your vision board can really be the first important step you take to make sure you don’t have regrets going forward.
If you haven’t downloaded it yet, grab your free one-page brainstorming template. It will really help you with the structure and thought work you need to prepare for your vision board.
Remember, as an older and wiser woman, you really do owe it to yourself to do a midlife vision board and regret proof your life. One thought and one cool idea at a time. Can’t wait to see what you come up with!