Why This Year’s Vision Board is a Game Changer
I’ve noticed (word of the year!) that this year’s vision board is a radical departure from those of yesteryears. Reflecting on that little fact led me to the conclusion that there are actually three different categories of vision boards, each serving their own purpose.
Version #1: The Fortune Teller Vision Board
When you don’t have a clear intention, spend an hour or so ripping appealing pictures and words from magazines. Don’t overthink. If you love it, tear it out. Then lay those images out on a board and look to see what has emerged.
Making a vision board in this way feels akin to reading tea leaves. When you step back to look at the choices you’ve made and what you’ve placed near what on the board, there’s always a bit of a surprise.
For example, I made this vision board in 2006, approximately six months before I left my job with the school district to pursue an independent career of writing books and leading workshops.
I knew that I felt a lot of stress in my work – I’m not good in political systems. It wasn’t until I looked at the board, however, that I realized I wanted to be soothed, I needed play, and I craved a new beginning. I got the last and repressed the first two.
Version #2: The “I Want It!” Vision Board
Most of the vision boards I’ve seen, and a few I’ve made, fall into this category. In fact, “I Want It!” could be considered the raison d’etre of vision boards.
Vision boards exploded in popularity in 2006 alongside publication of The Secret. That’s when the “build it and they will come” mantra from Field of Dreams was supplanted by the Law of Attraction’s, “visualize it and it will manifest.”
People making “I Want It!” vision boards are encouraged to get as specific as possible in every aspect of their life. As a result, these vision boards are often crowded with images–something for each of physical, social, emotional, intellectual, financial, and spiritual health.
Here’s one I made in 2009. I was at Tama Kieves’ Unleash Your Calling workshop at Omega in Rhinebeck, New York. My first book had been published and I was hoping to emerge from the two day retreat with a creative, awe-inspiring five year plan. That didn’t happen –Tama’s the woman who told me the “creative life as unpredictable stepping stones” metaphor –but we did make vision boards.
My board included everything I craved that year: sleep; solitude; passions that weren’t work; the company of vibrant, engaged women; learning, and art. I can’t recall what of that list manifested in the following year, however, I’m certainly noticing that these desires are proving to be a central theme of my life. The more some things change, the more they stay the same!
Version #3: The Metaphor Vision Board
I like this quote:
Metaphor is the right brain’s unique contribution to the left brain’s language capability. — Leonard Shlain
and this one:
Metaphor is a medium of fuller, riper knowing. –Philip Wheelwright
Comparing an abstract concept to something tangible permits a “fuller, riper knowing” because a good metaphor can’t be developed without really thinking about the essence of the concept. And a good metaphor demands layers of interpretation. When a metaphor is made visible on a vision board, it therefore engages interest and encourages frequent reflection.
I made a metaphor vision board for the first time this year.
I had to take a bit of artistic license with my metaphor. Please imagine the pipe as part of an old-fashioned hand pump. None of the photos I found of hand pumps had any water coming out of them, and that’s an important part of my metaphor.
If you’ve ever tried to pump water, you’ll know several things. You’ll know that:
- it can be really hard to get the pump started, especially if it hasn’t been used in a while.
- once started, it helps to develop a steady rhythm – not too fast or too slow.
- depending on the water source, the piping, and how long it has been since the pump was last used, your initial efforts may yield an awful lot of mud.
- eventually, if you stay with it, the water runs clear, crisp, cold and, hopefully, plentiful.
The Border and Words
Before I give my interpretation of the metaphor, let me introduce you to the supporting cast on the vision board. You’ll notice a border on three sides, pieces of artist Claude Monet’s Water Lilies painting. My word of the year is NOTICE. The word TODAY is there as a reminder that there is no tomorrow, there’s only ever today. The word VERB reminds me that it is far better to be a verb than a noun; to be writing rather than a writer, creating or making rather than an artist.
And then there are the bears. I’ve had three dreams about bears – two in March and one in December. I take the dreams seriously because it’s apparently unusual to dream about bears, and because the three dreams have formed an evolving, increasingly explicit series. Jungian Jill Mellick, in her book The Art of Dreaming, explains:
“if we pay attention the evolution of the series, these recurrent themes and images leave us a little more conscious after each visit.”
That has certainly been true for me. Although the context has varied, in every dream the bears have been ambling about paying no attention to me, but intent on sending a message. In the third dream, the bears got insistent and the message was explicit. They repeated, over and over –“If you want to understand, you have to work at it. Ask questions. Work.”
Why This Year’s Vision Board is a Game Changer for Me
I am finally ready to move from intention to action, and this vision board reinforces that. Each element on the board speaks to the importance of practice. It is through practice that I will get better at writing in genres that are new to me. I won’t be very good at first, but I trust that eventually the water will run clear.
The vision must be followed by the venture. It is not enough to stare up the steps–we must step up the stairs.Vance Havner
Practice will help me develop my artistic skills and confidence. Attentive, daily practice will help me strengthen my body and train my dogs.
The importance of practice isn’t rocket science. I’ve known it forever. Two quotes on my studio wall remind me on a daily basis:
If you wish to be a writer, write. –Epictetus
If writing is your practice, the only way to fail is to not write. — Gail Sher
I put those quotes on the wall more than a year ago. This year, I’m going to live them and my vision board, propped near my bed, reminds me of that every morning and every night.
Did you make a vision board this year? What version was it? Is there a metaphor that serves as a guiding principle for your life? I’d love to hear your thoughts.