Vision boards are trash.
There I said it. But at this time of year I think it needs to be said. I spent a good few years sucked into the allure of the vision board and, in retrospect, I can loudly proclaim that they were vapid, restrictive and shallow and did nothing to help move me towards my goals.
Around about that time of ‘The Secret’, the vision board peaked in notoriety, encouraging anyone and everyone to grab a pair of scissors and a uhu glue stick and ravage the pages of their old Marie Claire magazines and luxe real estate mail-outs to create a cacophonous collage dream-life that looked more like a Real-Housewives-of-LA, glitter-infused, acid trip. These vision boards were often completely appearance-based and very consumption-focused. They focused on what you were lacking from life, and highlighted all the material and possessional acquirements that could help you quench that lack.
It’s important to get clear on what we want out of life, but our guidance should come from within, not from external inspiration of what success looks like in the pages of magazines or on celebrity social feeds. So, inspired by my love of craft projects, self-exploration and a desire to set up this year for success, I dived into building my own, more nourishing version of the vision board – The values board.
Instead of an empty and vapid collage of shiny things, I wanted to create a board that made me feel something. A sense of connectedness to myself, to the things that are important to me and to the things I want to work towards in my future. That means getting clear on what I want on a deeper level – really understanding my values and uncovering the genuine and authentic core desired feelings that I want to fill my life with – feelings that soothe, inspire and motivate me.
Step 1: Get clear on your values & core desired feelings.
This one can take a little digging, and it will inevitably shift and change throughout your life. But outlining your values will help you understand what brings real purpose and meaning into your life. Core desired feelings are also important to consider – these are deep-seated, values-based feelings that offer a more emotional and visceral understanding of how you want your life to feel.
Some quick questions to help shortlist your values & core desired feelings (it can be handy to write your answers down. Try to write intuitively – don’t let yourself think into it too much).
- Think back to a few times where you felt really proud of yourself. What were you doing? Where were you? Were you with anyone or alone? What values may have been present for you in those moments? Beyond feeling proud, what else did you feel? Remember, this doesn’t need to be any huge, fancy occasion. It could be a simple and humble moment, like baking a wonderful cake, putting your daughter to bed, or lifting weights in the gym.
- Think back to a few times where you felt really in touch and connected with yourself. What were you doing? Where were you? Were you with anyone or alone? What values may have been present for you in those moments? What else did you feel?
- Imagine it’s ten years from now and you’re living out a regular day in your ideal future life. Write down the experience of this day, from getting up in the morning to going to sleep at night. Try not to get too Kardashian-esqe with this. You can dream big, but try to focus on how this life makes you feel – not just on how it looks.
Step 2: Find visuals that allow you to resonate with those values and feelings.
Now that you’ve got an idea of what you value and how you want to feel, it’s time to find visuals that tap into those values and feelings. These don’t need to be literal, they can be visuals that allude to your values, and evoke the types of feelings in you that you so desire, such as excitement, joy or calm. Growth is one of my values, so I have pictures of beautiful, green plants. I also value the importance of the journey, so I have a picture of a long, open road. Get creative and explore! Pinterest is a great place for sourcing photos, but you might also have luck with specialty magazines, brochures and newspapers.
Step 3: Weave in visuals from the past that remind you what you’re capable of.
These types of boards are often very future-focused, but it can help to include some snapshots of your past where you felt particularly aligned with your values or that bring up feelings that you’d love to feel again. These might be travel pics, or wedding pics, dried flowers you received as a gift or concert tickets!
Step 4: Get gluing and stick your board somewhere inspiring.
Lay out all your pictures on a board or in a journal. Get rid of the pictures that don’t really do much to inspire any sort of feeling or sensation in you. Glue them down and voila! You’ve got a values board. Pop it somewhere you can see regularly, add to it accordingly, and check in with it to re-align with your values and core desired feelings.
If you love working on yourself and gaining more insight into who you are and what you want to get out of life, you’ll love our Get Your Shit Together course! It’s now available online, where you can go through the sessions and activities at your own pace. Or if you’re Sydney-based, you can join us at Indigo for a four-week in studio course.