As a mom, there are not many opportunities for me to ring in the New Year with a party. Most New Years consist of a notebook, a bottle of wine, and my partner sitting next to me while we discuss our ideas, plans, and goals for the next 12 months. We come up with some pretty crazy ideas! Some, we laugh about, and some (surprisingly) we make happen! Resolutions have a way of being forgotten about, so my partner and I do something a bit more effective to help us stay on track and pursue opportunities that will allow us to achieve our goals: we create vision boards. No doubt you have heard the term "vision board" and you may have even created one for yourself before. There are a lot of tips on how to make a vision board out there, which can be a little overwhelming, so here is my take on creating a vision board to see your ideas come to fruition. What is the purpose? Vision boards help bring focus to thoughts we have about our ideal lives. They give a picture to an idea. They serve as physical illustrations to the mental images we draw in our minds. Vision boards serve as reminders of where we want to go, what we want to experience, where we want to travel or live, what we want to own, how successful we want our businesses to be, and how we want to feel at the end of a day (or week or year). Let's face it- we are too busy in a day doing a hundred different things- and without a visual reminder of why we are doing what we are doing, we lose sight of it. When you are running from one side of your home or office to the other, taking care of a myriad of "to do’s”, a vision board can remind you to stop, refocus, and tune in to what you are doing and why. By having a reminder of a grander vision for yourself, you could probably eliminate over half of your "to do’s" because they become irrelevant to your end goal. In fact, by having two photos on my desk and reminding myself to look at them when I feel busy or stressed, I often re-route the focus of my entire day to line up with who I really am and where I am really going. There is no need to fill a day with senseless busy-ness if it means I am only running around in circles instead of walking forward or progressing in the way that I want. This is often why goals are not realized. We get busy and fill our time with "stuff" that does not help us move forward- and we lose sight of our direction in the process. Vision boards are just that- visual. They remind us to slow down. Breathe deep. Refocus. Realign. Pursue opportunities (and responsibilities) that keep us on our paths. Try to remember as well that vision boards are not about saying no to things you do not want (I don't want to be broke) but yes to things you do want (I want to feel abundant in every facet of my life). Recap last year with appreciation. Before you buy new clothes, you have to make some space in the closet by getting rid of old clothes- pieces that don't fit your body properly and are unflattering, sweaters that are kind of itchy, and jeans that squeeze the wrong places. Why do we hang onto these things and not make more room for the new clothes that make us feel fabulous?! It is best to get rid of the pieces that no longer serve their purpose or make you feel how you want to feel when you wear them. Then you go shopping! In the same way, we need to release the relationships, jobs, worries, failures, and problems from last year and make room for new opportunities. You may choose to have a talk with a person if you feel you need clarity or closure, but a lot of times, releasing resentment can be done within yourself -without adding unnecessary drama or arising new problems. Just make a decision to let it go and move on. It is a good mental exercise and excellent practice for visualizing yourself opening up space in your life for good. As you release things from your past, do it with appreciation. Thank your body for healing from a sickness and let it go. Thank your car for breaking down for the umpteenth time last year- if everything was replaced last year, you don’t have any parts to replace this year (speaking from experience). Thank your challenging situations for teaching you whatever lessons you learned, and let them go. We appreciate the lessons, but are ready for what's next. Leave that mess in the last year and let's move forward! This also applies to the good experiences you had last year. Remember your realized goals, your triumphs, your signed contracts, the new skills you gained, the new art you created, the vacation you took, the race you finished (or won!), the humanitarian project you were a part of, the love you shared, and the happiness you felt. With the good, just as with the bad, thank it, appreciate it, and leave it in the past. It is time to fill your year with more of that, but if we are always holding onto that-one-thing-that-happened-that-one-time we cannot move our focus forward to what is next. Acknowledge. Accept. Appreciate. Advance forward. Vision Board Plan Now you have the mental space to think about your upcoming year. You may choose to spend some time thinking about this by yourself before joining forces with your partner or kids. Personally, I begin planning my vision board and goals for the year by myself for a few days. Then I spend a night or two with my partner. Then we help our kids with their vision boards for a couple of days. By being clear on your own vision, it becomes easier to merge ideas with those of the rest of your family. As you begin the process, here are some questions to contemplate: What areas of my life do I want to cover? Grab a piece of paper or a notebook, and write all of the areas of your life you want to see something new or beautiful come to fruition. Here are some subjects I typically write down before adding pictures to my board. \tArt concepts I would like to explore \tBusiness goals \tPeople I want to meet \tPainting ideas \tWriting goals \tBlog goals and topics \tHome decor ideas \tPlaces to travel to \tFinancial goals \tClasses to take \tTopics to explore further \tPhilanthropic goals \tFinancial goals \tGarden plans \tBooks I want to read \tHealth goals \tDiet goals and ideas \tParenting intentions \tHomestead skills to master What supplies do I need? I have read and heard many ideas regarding how to create a vision board. I have friends who make physical boards, but I choose to create digital vision boards because I travel a lot, and I like to look at my board from anywhere. I would be unable to take my vision board with me on trips otherwise. If you choose to create a physical board- something you can touch and hold- you will need some kind of board or flat surface, magazines full of photos and inspiring words, scissors, and glue. If you choose to create a digital vision board, all you need is a computer and a creative mind! You could probably use a software program or digital scrap-booking account, but I like to keep it simple and use a program that I use every day anyway: Pinterest! The method you choose is completely personal. The important thing is to set intentions with your vision board, feel good about it, and be able to see it often. Whichever method that is for you, go for it! Process Here, I will discuss my process for using Pinterest as my vision board because it is my preference. If you choose another program or to create a physical board, just apply these techniques to the method of your choosing. It is often best to create your board for yourself and not share it publicly in order to avoid criticism and negativity- you don’t want anyone to diminish your flame! Therefore, create a new board, and set it to private. Title your board something inspiring to you or simply "2016's Vision Board". Don't think too hard about "how" your goals will become a reality. Instead, focus on the "what" - the actual vision. This is not the time to limit yourself. This is your time to dream and visualize what you want your life to be. The act of envisioning in itself will put you light years ahead of anyone who chooses not to. Envisioning brings you one step closer to taking action. The act of attaching an actual image to the ideas in your mind brings you one step closer to seeing it manifest physically. This is because when you see a photo of something you want to own, see, do, be, etc., you imprint in your mind that this thing or idea already exists. It is something real and attainable. And if it is real and attainable- someone else has already owned, seen, done, or become what you want- it seems a little less impossible for you as well. It seems a little more real for you. Refer back to your piece of paper, the one where you listed subjects to base your goals off of. Begin with the first subject. Take some time- a few minutes, a few hours, or even days- don’t rush yourself. Envision yourself tomorrow, next month, 3 months from now, and at the end of the year. With regard to that subject, what do you see for yourself? The tricky part is to not allow doubt or "realism" to interfere with your vision. Referring to my list above, as an example, first on my list was "Art concepts I would like to explore." I sat quietly alone one evening and saw myself in my art space (not quite a studio- but that is also on my list!), and I envisioned what types of art mediums I want to explore this year. I saw myself painting colorful paintings, which is something I already do. While enjoying the vision of myself doing something I enjoy, I moved on mentally to another idea. This was my actual thought process for the particular subject: "I love to paint. What else could I paint? The garden wall outside would be an exciting challenge. I could sit out there with a glass of Jamaica and a plate full of fresh fruits and just paint away. I hope my glass and plate don't break while I’m out there. I have a really thick mason jar that would be pretty sturdy. My plates are kind of crappy. Wouldn’t it be cool to paint my own plate? How could I make a plate. I’ve seen some Mexican clay plates. Can we eat on those? Sure, if they are protected. How cool would it be to make my own clay plate ware and paint them? I love that idea." I searched on Pinterest for clay plate ware, and found some designs I loved. Then I looked on YouTube for some artists throwing clay on a wheel and crafting plates. I loved it! A week later, I found a local artist who had a clay wheel, and she is going to teach a friend of mine and I how to craft our own clay ware. In no time, I'm sure I will be eating on my own clay plates while I paint the wall over my garden outside! This is only an example. But this is how I do it, and it works! I move through the rest of my list and allow my imagination to run wild. I even come up with new subjects to explore as I go, and my vision board is the most beautiful and exciting visual reminder of what I am doing, who I am, who I want to be, and what I want to see, have, feel, or learn. It's amazing. About Words and Affirmations A common practice when creating or looking at vision boards is to include positive words, phrases, or affirmations. Choose words that inspire or motivate you. If you are adding a list of affirmations (or including them in the descriptions beneath your pins on Pinterest), begin sentences with "I will...", "I am...", "I have...", or "I feel..." If you are familiar with the Law of Attraction, then you understand the power of your words. Another practice is to choose "words to live by" this year. Some choose a specific theme or a word for their year. Others choose two or three. Choose between one and three words for yourself, and try to back up your vision board, your daily life, and your practices with these words. For example, one of my words this year is "freedom". So my vision board has a lot of images of travel, being on a sailboat, walking barefoot, swimming in the ocean, reading in hammocks, camping, laying under stars, dancing in the rain, and aerial dancing (a new passion of mine that I thoroughly enjoy!). Words are powerful. As long as you choose words that speak to you, you can't do it wrong! Sharing Sharing your vision boards can be tricky. You want to share your passions and excitement with others, but in most cases, people will misunderstand you and can often be more discouraging than encouraging. Most of the time, these types of projects are very personal and very intimate. There is hardly a reason to share with a lot of people. An exception might be your spouse or partner if you feel confident in doing so. My partner already thinks I'm crazy, so a vision board is just a little icing on the cake. If you choose to include your partner in your visions, you can begin to add to and enhance each other's visions. This is the same process we use for our kids as well. The only difference with the kids is that we like to let them create physical boards since they are young (5 and 7 years). They have their boards in their rooms where they can enjoy them daily. That's it! You're well on your way to creating a beautiful year full of your highest and best ideas for yourself! If you have any additional tips, we would love to hear them in the comments below.