The Twenty-Something Series: How creating a vision board is helping me to dream big

At the start of the year, I created a vision board - and it's totally transformed my way of looking at my goals. Here's why I think vision boards work so well in helping you dream big!

Here's a sentence I never expected to say: The power of the vision board is not to be underestimated.

On the graduate scheme I worked on when I joined the company I work for now, we had graduate development days. Earlier this year, we were tasked with an exercise of drawing out where we saw ourselves in 15, 20, 30 years. People drew homes, yachts, seaside retreats, families and dollar signs.

I drew a red carpet, a huge stack of books with my name on them, a stage with ‘CIO 100’ and ‘TED’ plastered on it. I drew book fairs and an airplane jetting off to LA, Amsterdam, Rome. And, crucially, a home office.

“Is that where you see yourself in 20 years?” someone asked me.

“No. This is more like 5 to 10 years.”

(Aspirational as heck, I know, but that was kind of the whole point of the exercise.)

I didn't struggle to come up with what I wanted to put on my sheet, and found I actually enjoyed the whole thing a lot. 

So, that weekend, I opened up my journal, where I’d written out my list of goals for the year, and opened a fresh double page. I grabbed my Sharpies and got to drawing. It was pretty similar to the one I’d drawn with the grads, but more refined, more carefully thought-out.

Making a vision board was not something I’d done before. I’d seen some online, thought it was a cute idea, and that was kind of it. I’d just never given it much thought.

But sitting down and thinking ‘What do I want?’ was an interesting kind of exercise. 

I wanted to publish more books, maybe do book tours, maybe have more movie adaptations made. I wanted to build my career in IT and become a CIO one day. I want to travel with my friends to places I’ve always wanted to see. I want a house plant and a home office space with motivational posters on the wall. (There was more, but I won’t go into it all here.)

Sure, I knew these things about myself. It wasn’t that hard to come up with answers to that question. But this was the first time I’d sat down and put it all on paper – and committed to it.

Okay, cute, bet that was a fun afternoon, I hear you say. So what?

I can’t remember where I read it, but I saw a great piece of advice on how to use vision boards, and it has stuck with me ever since:

“If you get an opportunity, ask yourself, will this help you achieve what you want?” 

Prime example: A job came up at work earlier this year. I knew the manager, had the right sort of skills. I really wanted to stay on past the end of my two-year contract in September, but asking myself this question made me stop and consider if it was worth it. And it was: I decided that yes, it would help me build my career the way I wanted to, and it wasn’t a job I was taking so I could stay at the company, just because. That attitude and realisation it’s helped me get a lot more out of the role since I started.

I started looking for a house earlier this year, too, once I got the permanent role. My mum was helping me trawl through Rightmove and said I needed a guest bedroom. I argued that what I needed more than that was a home office. That’s what I wanted, and I wouldn’t really be happy if I went through the whole hassle of buying a house just to not have that space. I stuck by that – and we ended up changing the search to three-bed houses to accommodate it, and ignoring any that had such a small box-room third bedroom it wouldn’t function as an office space. 

Having that vision board to refer back to and question has been a big help when trying to make big decisions. 

One of the big things I’ve gotten out of having a vision board is that it’s put me back in the frame of mind to dream big.

When I started sharing my work online, I always thought it would be nice to be published one day. A pie-in-the-sky kind of dream that… ended up working out. I thought it’d be nice to have a movie of my books. A pie-in-the-sky kind of dream that… ended up working out. 

I see other authors talking at book fairs, with posters promoting their books on the Tube, doing book tours – and I think, I want that, too. And there's no reason I can't have that some day. I can work to try and make that happen, instead of just being jealous whenever I see it on Instagram. 

It’s helped readjust my mind set from ‘Ugh I wish that would happen to me’ to ‘How can I make that happen?’ Which, honestly, is way less draining and a way better motivator.

I’m back to dreaming big, rather than just chugging along and getting comfortable. I’m so much happier when I’m pushing myself and being challenged, and doing something I love – whether that’s learning a new language or writing new books.

I got given some advice before where I was told to “take everything to the nth degree”. And you know what? I am doing my darndest.

Learning Portuguese? Oh, fun. Finish that Duolingo learning tree and buy Harry Potter in Portuguese to read! Writing a new book? Imagine it on bookshelves! Having adaptations made! Translated foreign editions filling bookshelves you will one day own in a house you will one day own!

Vision boards might seem silly, or frivolous, but if you harness them in the right way, I really believe there’s a lot to be said for them. And I look forward to re-drafting mine next year!

Do you use vision boards? I’d love to hear – especially how they help motivate you! Let me know in the comments or over on Twitter @Reekles.

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