Updated: Apr 22, 2022
This new year, my family and I will sit down on the family room floor and create vision boards. We will cut out magazine pictures of things we want to create or acquire in our lives. We will glue them to our boards with inspirational quotes or statements of intention. And my daughters will make sure they are adequately embellished with jewels, glitter, and washi tape.
I haven’t always done this. In high school the expectations and list of elective achievements were pretty clearly defined. There was a list of clubs, awards, and competitions that one could hitch their wagon to and work towards. I chose from the school activities list things that interested and challenged me; my mentors clearly defined what was required to achieve, and I worked diligently towards the goal.
I had spent a lot of time in middle school visualizing what high school would be like. I spent time in high school visualizing what college would be like. Visualizing was a way of life. At the time, I identified as a child (after all that’s what I was) so the movies that offered me examples for what my life might be like were high school dramas like Sixteen Candles, She’s Out of Control, Can’t Buy Me Love, and Ferris Bueller’s Day Off. I didn’t identify as an adult, so it wasn’t easy to imagine myself in the roles of the adults in the movies I watched. And because my culture lacks a coming-of-age ceremony, it wasn’t clearly defined when I could start identifying as an adult and therefore begin visualizing myself acting like someone who is responsible for steering their own ship. After college, the parameters for achievement widened and the list of possibilities became even wider and I found myself overwhelmed and confused; like a ship without a rudder. It turned out that visualizing was something I did as a child, but stopped doing in my early adult life. Setting a goal and breaking it down smaller goals was something I was unprepared to do for myself. It was like I was waiting for someone to give me permission to start making my own rules and live a life according to my own expectations. A quote from A Return to Love by Marianne Williamson comes to mind: "We have adult bodies, adult responsibilities, and adult careers. But many of us lack an adult context for our lives, one in which we give ourselves permission to shine, to blossom fully, to show up powerfully in the present without fearing that we're not good enough."
A big part of this ‘fall from grace’ was that I hadn’t experienced enough failure when I wasn’t responsible for myself. Therefore, I hadn’t had the chance to build the resilience I’d need in the face of inevitable failure. And as I went out into the world, tried to reach new heights of achievement and failed, I chose to stop believing that I was capable of achieving something hard. I stopped believing I was worthy of good things and started thinking I wasn’t smart enough, I wasn’t clever enough, talented enough. And I practiced these thoughts over and over again until they became my beliefs. Maybe part of it was my subconscious mind wanting to experiment with not meeting the expectations of my upbringing out of rebellion; to find out if the values that were given me as a child were what I actually valued for myself. As a result, I manifested some pretty painful situations in my life; staying in a job that made me anxious, frustrated, bitter, that no longer challenged me or inspired me. I manifested a broke bank account on many occasions. I would come to find out that I don’t enjoy that version of me. Often, the dreamer that was still in me would catch glimpses of possibility and start a new ambitious career, project or education path. But I didn’t discipline my mind to stay in possibility and then never finished them.
Then I learned about vision boards and S.M.A.R.T goals. When I first learned about vision boards, it seemed a little too much like magic to me. And magic wasn’t real. But after a while of hearing stories from people I knew of how vision boards were the tool they used to manifest exactly what they wanted, I decided to give it a try. Vision boards took the place of the teeny bopper movies for me and gave me a vision for my life. This visual representation of my goals in a prominent place in my home was key for me to revisit them often. (I tried a vision book once, but never had the discipline to take it out on the daily.) Every time I passed by my board, the images were subliminally inserted into my subconscious mind. Gradually these yet-to-be-manifested ideas became normal scenery for my mind and then they began to show up in more places than just my vision board. These pictures of things I wanted to manifest in my life magically began to happen: trips to visit family, service opportunities, business goals, job opportunities, family activities. They happened. Sometimes not in exactly the way I’d envisioned, but they happened. I don’t care how it works. It works! I’m hooked.
I also created a S.M.A.R.T. goals white board. This is where I have written the smaller goals that get me to the bigger goals on my vision board. These goals are clearly defined and have due dates. I walk past it and add to it often. This fall for my re-branding launch I wrote on my S.M.A.R.T goals white board, “2 new clients by October 31st.” I had two new clients by October 31st. I wrote, “one new client by November 15th”, I had one new client by November 15th. I wrote, “new car by end of 2019”, I got a new car in September. I wrote, “girlfriends trip by my next birthday”, and that is happening too. Coaching S.M.A.R.T goals are further broken down into weekly must-do activities that manifest new clients.
I am no longer a ship without a rudder. Possibility creates my target, thought discipline keeps me believing in the inevitability of their manifestation, inevitability keeps me open to inspiration, and inspiration drives my activity. I am now enjoying my career and find myself watching the clock in anticipation for my next coaching session. The giving of my talents to others and the gift of witnessing my clients transform into their vision is the exchange that gives my life rich purpose.
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