January: Mind — Make a Vision Board

YOU’VE LIKELY HEARD ABOUT A VISION BOARD. It’s that giant piece of poster board (or notebook paper or even a cocktail napkin) filled with your thoughts, ideas, and wishes for the future — not just what you want to create in your life but also how you want to feel. But how do you actually create one? Here’s a quick and easy starter kit that you can begin today!

1. When it comes to setting goals and — equally important — achieving them, we take a lesson from philosopher Aristotle who taught his students:

  • First, have a definite, clear, practical ideal, a goal, and an objective.
  • Second, have the necessary means to achieve your ends: wisdom, money, materials, and methods.
  • Third, adjust all of your means to that end.

Logical, right? Vision Boards are so effective because they become the canvass on which to map out our plans. Understanding this type of visualization is one topic brain researchers and psychologists have been investigating for decades.

Their conclusion: The brain is a flexible organ that is constantly growing and expanding. Whether we are learning to cook a mandarin chicken or actually learning Mandarin, it makes an imprint. The more we practice, the stronger the imprint becomes. Amazingly, your brain can’t distinguish between what you physically experience and your imagination. Credit the thalamus, the brain’s reality-making process, which enables us to use visualization to bring what we imagine into reality.

Need more proof? Research by doctors at the National Institutes of Health found stroke victims could keep parts of their brain alive through visualization. And a study at the Cleveland Clinic Foundation compared people who worked out at a gym with those who carried out workouts in their heads; there was a 30% muscle strength increase in the gym-goers and a 13.5% increase in the visualizers.

So it seems that seeing what we want, as clearly as we possibly can, is truly one of the most powerful tools we have to make our lives better. Let’s start creating!

1. Make a free-form list of all of your goals and ideas for 2021. Don’t edit yourself as you create it. Just write, write, write it all down in your journal or on as many sheets of paper it takes.

2. Now transfer those ideas to your poster board by jotting them down in pencil. This allows you to start organizing and prioritizing. Start by penciling in your biggest hairiest wildest dream (BHWD) on the top right side of the page and move left as you get more concrete in your planning.

3. Get out those old magazines you’ve been collecting and cut our images and words for the vision board. Use anything and everything that jumps off the page. Put them in a pile.

4. Now, sort and arrange the images and words, matching them to the goals you outlined on the poster board.

5. Create, match, and edit. Create, match, and edit. Repeat until you are happy with your collage.

6. Next, glue down your images. Add your own words, doodles, and sketches.

7. Hang your masterpiece in a spot where you can see it regularly.

8. Let it rest a day or two, then begin creating an action plan — in your mind, on paper, then back in that journal, you jotted down the original ideas. You might want to organize your thoughts by what’s most important to you. Then put a timeline around it — by month, by quarter, by the end of the year. Review your vision board and goals regularly. And start making those dreams come true!

From your What’s Next Journal • By Cynthia de Lorenzi and Hope Katz Gibbs • Design by Cindy Seip

Next: Check out our Body article of the month — The Healing Power of Sage