B108: How to create a vision board

By January 4, 2022The Simplifiers Podcast

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Happy New Year, friends – to kick things off on the right foot, here’s how to create a vision board to help guide you in the year ahead. This has been a tool I’ve used for at least the last four years and let me tell you, it works! I create mine right at the beginning of the new year and it serves as a visual guide to help me remember what is most important in my life. 

Let me explain… it’s a visual representation of my core values, my desires, and my goals. Every single element I put on my vision board has been carefully picked and prayed over to ensure it feels right… and it’s actually what I want to create in the year ahead.

As such, I wanted to share my top 5 tips on creating a vision board, so if you want to make one for yourself this year, it’ll be a simple process.

Here goes…

Step one: Replace “New Year, New You” with a better guiding thought. 

You hear people (especially personal trainers, gyms, and nutritionists) saying this right about now… “New year, New You! Time to hit that reset button!” And yes, there’s very little that’s more motivating than getting to leave behind the yuck and step into a new, shiny thing. However, we all know the pattern, right? We start off guns a-blazing and totally gung-ho. We buy all the fancy day planners and scented gel pens… or we replace all of our athleisure leggings for new ones… and we start off strong only to get hit with an unforeseen obstacle about three weeks in that TOTALLY derails you. Sound familiar? Yup, we’ve all been there. We’ve all done that. And we’re left feeling guilt, shame, and an overwhelming sense of “not enough.” No bueno. 

This year, let’s vow to do something different… just shift the paradigm ever so slightly in our favor. So, instead of “New Year, New You,” I’d like you to consider replacing it with this:  

“New Year, Same You… New Opportunities.” 

An artist I love and adore is Katie Abey and she recently reminded us of this very notion. She says this: “Your yearning for self-improvement can coexist alongside wholehearted self-acceptance.” Yes to all of this!! More from Katie, “You are whole now… complete as you are. You are sparkly as FORK, right now. Yes, have dreams. But love where you are now and who you are on the journey.” 

Honestly, I couldn’t say it better myself… So this year, I hope you start here first and let those words REALLY sink in. “New Year, Same You… New Opportunities.” 

With a strong starting point like this, you’re building on solid foundation and ensuring your vision board isn’t a thing that will later shame you or reinforce your underlying feelings of “not enough” – but rather, it becomes a powerful tool and a compass to guide you back to YOU, your true self… when you drift off-course.

Step two: Gather the supplies.

Okay, here’s the basics on gathering what you need to create a vision board. In short, you need:

  • a backing board (white foam core board or heavy card)
  • elmer’s glue (or PVA glue)
  • magazines (a wide assortment)
  • scissors

First off, you’ll need a backing board. I like to use white foam core board, which if you’re in the states, you can easily find at Office Depot or Hobby Lobby. They’ll even cut it down to size for you if you ask nicely. If you’re in the UK, you can likely find heavy card at WHSmith or Tesco Extra in the school supplies section. How big do you want it? Well, it’s up to you, but I like mine to be 1’ tall x 2’ in length so it can sit on my mantelpiece above the fireplace… a place where I’ll see it multiple times, daily. 

Second, you need glue. I prefer Elmer’s white glue (PVA glue). I find that works best instead of stick glue which tends to rip magazine paper easily. Just one bottle is more than plenty.

Third, you need magazines. Lots of them. If you have a local “Buy Nothing” group in your area, that’s a great place to find some for free. Just put a request out on their app, saying you’re “in search of magazines, all kinds” and that you’re “able to pick them up today.” Depending on how big your Buy Nothing community is, you’ll likely get a few people responding with hours. Easy peasy. 

In the UK, there’s a free app called OLIO where you can do the same thing there, as well. So simple! Otherwise, you can try your local library, doctor’s offices, or nail salons and see if they’ve got old magazines they are looking to get rid of. I’ve had great luck by simply being friendly and well, asking. Most places will gladly give you at least 2-3 magazines for free. 

I aim to have at least 8-10 magazines to make my vision board… and of course, keep in mind, the type of magazine will greatly affect the words, images and pictures that you cut out of them. So a gun enthusiast’s magazine is gonna give you a WAY different vision board than say, National Geographic. So, it’s good to have a mix of different magazines to choose from, in my opinion.

Lastly, you need a good pair of scissors. You’re going to be cutting lots of stuff out, so make sure they’re sharp, comfy on your hands, and up for the job. 

Step three: Create the space.

I realize for some of y’all, this is the hardest step of them all. To create the space away from your work, your loved ones, and your ‘crazy-busy’ to-do list. I feel ya, 100%. But let me encourage you for a second… when you invest this time into yourself NOW, you’ll be thankful for it throughout the year ahead. 

This isn’t just another thing to add to your to-do list… for me, it’s the top priority, A-1 MOST IMPORTANT task for me to kick off the new year on the right wavelength. Give it the time and space it needs to serve you through the year ahead.

At bare minimum, I think you need at least 4 hours of uninterrupted time for this project. Ideally, I like to take a whole two days to make mine, but I realize that isn’t always realistic for more people. But hear me out, two days is the magic number for this work and I’ll tell you why in step four.

For now, remember that creating space requires preparation. So for those two days, I shut off all notifications on my phone. I close all the tabs open on my laptop and also the ones that are proverbially open in my brain. I tell everyone I’m out of the office and clear the decks… no meetings, no obligations to the outside world, no nothing that can distract me. At the very beginning of the work, I also like to do a quick breathing exercise, which you can listen to and do with me over on Bonus 106 – How to calm your nervous system.

If you’re like me, I have to reassure my elderly parents that I’m fine, I’m not dead, and just need some space. I’ll be honest, they struggle with that, like a LOT… but really, it’s a boundary that I must set to create headspace and more importantly, to create a truly sacred space for this work. Just remember, the world (your clients and your loved ones) will be fine for two days… trust me. Once you do it, you’ll feel more grounded, centered, and buzzing on a higher frequency afterwards. So remind them that this is just as valuable for them as it is for you.

PS> If you struggle with chronic Boundary Busters in your life, I feel for you… I do too. I highly recommend going back and listening to my recent episode 213 with Terri Cole on “How to stick to your boundaries.” 

Step four: Why two days is the magic number and tips on what to cut out from the magazines.

Here’s the real secret to the work… Day one is all about slowing down, cutting anything and everything out that speaks to you, and taking time to get clear on what it is you desire for the year ahead in all aspects of your life. You do NOT glue anything down on day one… I repeat, NOTHING gets glued down on day one. Put the glue away.

Just cut out pictures that you find appealing… the words or phrases that energize or empower you… or maybe cut out colors, textures, graphics, or artwork that you find catches your eye.

  • Don’t question what your spirit is attracted to, just cut it out.
  • Don’t add any sort of story or give any of it meaning, just cut it out. 
  • Don’t second guess yourself either. Remember, this is sacred work and your soul wants what it wants… who are we to stop the flow of great things that could potentially come from this wellspring of Intuition from Source?  Just cut it out and place it into one big pile.

While you’re cutting things out, I highly recommend having your favorite playlist of music playing in the background. You can find mine on Soundcloud and it’s called “A whole lotta YES!” – Click the link to find it and play for free. Again, don’t get caught in the trap of spending 10 hours making the perfect playlist that you run out of time to actually create the vision board. Use my playlist if you don’t have one already… it’s just music to set the tone and get you in the right headspace to achieve flow state.

At the end of day one, lay out everything you’ve cut and see if you can place them into sections… whether it’s by color or vibe or something that joins those things together. Lay it all out on the floor or a giant table so you can see the big picture of your harvest.

For example, let’s say you’ve found yourself cutting out lots of travel images of beautiful beaches and blue skies. That’s interesting. Place them together, without judgment and then, put other images that maybe are related to food or cooking in a different section. Maybe all the green images together… and then, the yellow ones over there. Are there words that keep coming up, like “strong” or “joy” or “calm?” Again, interesting. Just see what recurring patterns have come out of the work.

I want you to take a good, long look at things… is there anything that’s surprising or unexpected to you? Maybe you have a HUGE pile of travel photos and a very small pile focused on food and nutrition? Or vice versa. Maybe you found yourself gravitating towards colors that aren’t normally your thing. That’s cool. No judgment, just notice what came from the process and what out of it makes your heart sing.

Get a good night’s rest and pay attention to any dreams you have that night… all of this is important data to help guide you the next day.

Okay so, day two is all about making commitments to your spirit. With fresh eyes after a good night’s rest, you’ll approach the cuttings with a whole new perspective. It’s time to choose what you desire the most. What images and words speak to you and start to place them into a mockup of what your board could look like. Note, you still aren’t gluing anything down yet. Just place words on top of images and colors, creating a collage of the very best things that your Intuition brought forth. 

Keep in mind, you get to say NO to things in this process and you should. There’s no way to incorporate everything onto one board… there simply isn’t enough space! So this culling of the harvest is a sacred practice for your spirit to help you reinforce that doing less is in fact, the secret to simplifying. 

Distilling things down to the very best, the very root of what you want and desire the MOST… this is how you gain clarity and truly get to the root of your greatest goals for the year ahead. 

Ask yourself: 

  • Do I really want this? 
  • Why do I want this? 
  • …and as my mentor Danielle LaPorte reminds us all, ask yourself: “How do I want to feel in life?” 
    • Once you’re clear on how you want to feel, you then get to decide what you’re going to do in order to feel the way you want to feel. 
    • Does what you’ve cut out and culled down align with your Core Desired Feelings? 
    • If not, cull even further. Edit, edit, edit!

Remember, this is a fluid practice… edit out things that just don’t make the cut and aim to have less things on your board rather than trying to cram everything in. There’s something really nice about white space on a vision board, like there’s breathing room for things to grow… not only in your imagination but in your actual life. Try it.  

Set a 7-minute timer and see what you can cut out of your final vision board design. Does it fit? Do you really want it or is it just something you “think” you’re supposed to want or maybe what your people want for you but it’s not really your thing… Drop it like it’s HOT! 

Remember, this is YOUR vision board… no one else’s. No one else has to see it besides you. It doesn’t have to be perfect and it doesn’t have to fit the mold. It’s yours and yours alone! 

Step five: Time to lock it down.

Now… When you’re ready to glue things down, a couple of things to keep in mind. One, I want to give you permission to be messy as FORK. You can glue things down however you like… let it lay down beyond the boundaries of the board or add in weird shapes or go 3-D, if that’s what you feel it needs. Remember, it’s your board – go for it!

As with any collage, think in layers… put down background images first and then lay on top the words and phrases. See how it all comes together (again, BEFORE gluing it!) on top of your board. If it looks and feels right, then start to glue things down, bit by bit… starting with the background images FIRST. And then the middle layers next, and the top layers last.

Once you glue, you can’t go back. This part of the process can be exhilarating and for some, totally scary. Push past that fear, make a decision, stick with it, and glue it down, my friend.

Okay, so if something rips or glues down in a weird way, don’t sweat it at all. It happens… I mean, if that isn’t a metaphor for life, I don’t know what is! 

Take a deep breath, hear my voice in your heart saying, “Team Good Enough!” and move on. Maybe there’s another thing you can add, edit or remove to adjust things? Maybe not and that imperfection is exactly the right thing to be included on your board… either way, you get to decide but don’t give up. Never give up. As in life, the same applies in this sacred work. We never give up on ourselves… we keep going.

Remember, a little glue goes a long way… the magazine pages are delicate, so take your time gluing them down. Easy does it, you’re doing a great job!

Now once you’ve got everything glued down, I highly recommend going outside for a walk, watch the sun set or gaze at the stars. Just take a moment for gratitude… this was a BIG thing you just did!

For me, I enjoy walking the dog around the neighborhood and saying out loud my gratitude prayers. For some, that might sound weird – it’s cool, it’s just my thing. I find it helps me speak to Source (you may call it God, the Universe, Love, Mother Nature, Jesus, Allah, or otherwise… Call it what you want. Use whatever you want or use none of it, that’s fine too.) But for me, I pray out loud with my outside voice to say thank you for all the gifts I have received in life: 

  • the space in my calendar to make it happen, 
  • the roof over my head to keep me safe, 
  • the abundance of healthy snacks in my life to sustain me, 
  • my dog Owen, 
  • the Divine nudges and my Intuition that guided me through the entire process, and 
  • the ability to create a visual representation of my deepest desires for the year ahead that magically came forth in the small harvest of supplies. 

The work can be utterly beautiful if you create space for it. 

I hope it will be for you, too.

One final whisper

Throughout the process, you might hear your Negative Nancy inner voice coming through, telling you “this is dumb” or “you don’t have time for this” or “you’re not an artist,” or whatever.

Remember, that’s just FEAR trying to keep you safe. 

You’ve been conditioned somewhere along the way, most likely early on in childhood, to believe certain things about your identity… good or bad. 

  • “I am strong, I am resilient.”
  • “I am no good at this sort of stuff, I am dumb.”

Good or bad, they are all just anchors that have been dropped down into your brain and your heart over time… most of it is in your subconscious, so you’re not even aware they are there most times.

Hear me friend… if you have a thought bubbling up that tells you you’re “doing it wrong” or lowers your vibration in any sort of way through this creative process, I want you do this:

  1. Say out loud, “thank you for your feedback”
  2. Pat it on its head, like you would pat a dog you meet at the dog park.
  3. And imagine yourself walking away from that thought.

You don’t need it. It doesn’t define you. You’re doing fine and you make the conscious decision to keep going. Keep cutting out things from magazines. 

Keep your focus on the Light and your chin up, trusting and believing in the process. 

Every artist goes through a “this sucks, this sucks, this is the worst, this is horrible, oh look it’s pretty cool” cycle when creating art. Even if you don’t identify as an artist yourself, you’re still going to (likely) go through that cycle too when creating your vision board. It’s a given… but it doesn’t define you. Rise above.

You can do this, I believe in you.

It’s time to SIMPLIFY.

If this thought of the day inspired you…

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Happy new year, my friends! As you might have heard in the new intro, my last name has changed… more on that in the near future. But for now, I’m sending you my love and encouragement and I look forward to hearing how your vision board creative process went! Reach out and DM me on Instagram at @thesimplifiers and spark a conversation.

Thank you!

Show credits: Suzen Marie, our Podcast Editor and Jeffrey Lynn, our Video Editor. Aubri Nowowiejski, Chris Justice, and George Mills, our advisory board. Big love to Dennis Coleman and Kristen Kurtis, as well. And I’m your host, Mary Baird.  Thank you so much for listening and telling your peeps about us.

As always friends, keep things simple.

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