I was inspired by one of the people I follow on Twitter – Jillian is a fan of vision boards to help frame your year. In the past I’ve heard of vision boards, though most often in the cut & paste from magazines sense, but I’ve never created one. This year, I’ve felt compelled to pave my own path with more conviction than the past two.
One evening, I set out to create my vision board. By Jillian’s suggestion, I used Oprah’s site, although I’ve never seen her show, read the magazine or watched the network. Instead of seeking out my own images, I browsed what was available.
And I came up with this:
At first, I was a bit worried – my board looks nothing like Jillian’s. I don’t have any motivational quips or inspirational images. However, when I look back at my vision board, it says everything I need it to say. I did not create my captions and seek images to match them – I found images that caught my eye, tried to group them accordingly and wrote my aspirations to speak to those themes. Maybe next year I’ll change the format but I think for a first attempt, I’ve hit the mark. No two vision boards are the same, and there’s no wrong or right way to create one.
The past year, due to many reasons, I’ve found my home to be a less-than-relaxing place. I’ve never done a good purge of my belongings, five years after moving in. My boyfriend moved in with me over a year ago, which introduced another layer of complexity. Last year I was consumed by other worries, like a stressful job and renovating my basement suite, which left me little enough time to see to the basics, never mind cleaning out my home.
So, this year I want to take more pleasure in my humble abode. We’ve already started this process – I’ve assigned one (or more) room to each weekend in January for a complete de-cluttering. All in all, I live a pretty minimalist life, but I’m finding that I have no more space, figuratively and literally, for new items in my life. I’m purging everything, donating what I can and throwing out the rest. My bedroom alone yielded two large garbage bags of trash and two more of clothing donations between the two of us this weekend, along with half a bag of stuffed animals (all mine, of course).
We’ve also re-arranged my living room so that the TV isn’t the focal point, and that there’s a conversation/lounging area, meant for reading, being on your laptop, or just taking a nap. Throughout the year, I have plans to further simplify my home so that it’s a peaceful retreat instead of a beast that constantly needs to be tidied or fixed.
Respect my body
While we’ve done well at making meals at home, with all the energy that went into my career and other responsibilities last year, my choices away from home weren’t always the best. And exercise has been minimal. In order to be the person I want to be, I need to respect my body in three different ways:
Eat healthier – choose to bring meals from home, pick the healthier choices over the ones I crave at the moment, and ensure I am sticking to meal plans instead of giving into laziness and ordering in.
Exercise – in 2008, I was the healthiest I’ve ever been in my life and I’d like to get back to that state. A big part of this will include exercise: get myself moving, continue to push myself harder and mixing up my activities to keep my body guessing.
Stop consuming dairy – it seems like a no-brainer, but I keep falling prey to my cravings and eating items that I know likely contain dairy. If you didn’t know, I am dairy-sensitive; consuming any product derived from any sort of dairy causes inflammation in my body. For example, last week, after 10 days of staying at home and eating well, I chose to eat a scone from Starbucks; 10 hours of abdominal and back pain ensued – I counted. That’s not to mention the 24 – 48 hours of general malaise I feel afterwards. If I “fall off the wagon” for a couple of days, I start to feel joint pain and have trouble sleeping. No rational person does this to herself.
Find time for myself
I find that last year I was focused on many things, namely work and volunteering. I neglected to carve out time for myself. I didn’t find time to exercise. I didn’t find time to puruse my interests. I didn’t find time to appreciate the good aspects of my life. These are all things I do because I enjoy them, but also because it makes me a better person. I need to take care of myself. I am an introvert – I need down time. Others can go out and socialize every night of the week; if I don’t have at least two nights off, I implode. This also means being more selective about where I spend my time – I should be getting more out of my interactions while still maintaining a schedule that is conducive to me.
A friend who had a very tough year created a “year in review” for 2013 – despite undergoing incredible upheaval in hear life, she still managed to have an amazing year. It was a tough year for me, too, so I tried to do the same thing, but I found I had much less to document. My year was, very much, as terrible as it seemed; this is partly my fault. My friend proved that just because one aspect of your life isn’t working the way you planned doesn’t mean you can’t throw yourself into other pursuits while trying to pick up the pieces. Instead of shutting down if things are falling off the rails, I want to push out of my comfort zone and try things I wouldn’t ordinarily consider. This isn’t always as easy as it sounds, I know from personal experience, but it’s a reminder to myself that things can, and will, get better, and my actions throughout will determine what life looks like before, during and after. Embracing adventure also means travelling to new places, instead of the same old, and considering smaller trips to new places rather than grand vacations. At the end of 2014, I want every month to be an accomplishment, even if there are (and there will be) challenges along the way.
I am an avid scholar – I enjoy learning new things. I took a marketing course last year which, naturally, fell at the worst possible time and ended up being more of a stressor than I’d hoped, but in the end I came out with a greater appreciation for the field. I want to keep learning, although this year my focus will be communications and PR more than marketing – I am looking to taking courses to ground my knowledge in my chosen career. However, learning doesn’t always have to take place in the college sense. Learning can be honing skills with my camera or taking an artistic course, which for a non-creative type is terrifying in itself. I want my learning to be planned, spontaneous, alone, together… I want to meet up with more people, network, have coffee, listen to what others are doing. Last year was very much spent folded into myself: this year I am going to broaden my horizons.
Live with purpose
I know this is an overused phrase but it does describe how I want to conduct myself going forward. Instead of going with the flow and following an invisible path along with everyone else, I want to re-evaluate the commitments I’ve made and take steps towards maintaining better control of my life. This will largely fall out of some of the themes above – all of them include being a more active participant in my own life. I see this year being a defining one, a step towards deciding where I want my path to lead and how I can modify my short- and long-term goals to get there. My path will not look the same as anyone else’s and, while I will need advice and support to get there, only I can determine what the light at the end of the tunnel looks like.
The above may or may not make sense to you. I’m still trying to make sense of some of it myself. But it does give you insight into where I am going with this year. I have a fairly good idea of goals in some of these themes, still developing them in others.
On to you: have you created a vision board or similar concept for 2014? What does yours look like? Link it!