Updated: Jan 16
How A Simple Vision Board Changed My Year & A How-To Guide For Building Your 2020 Board
By Becky Roemen
If you haven’t ugly cried in a Target parking lot have you even Adulted? We’ve all had those times in our lives where we think ‘this is it, the world just might crumble around me, there is no feasible way I can do it all’. For me, this time in my life was mid-August 2018. I wiped away the tears and proceeded into the store to buy groceries for the grill-out we were hosting the next day. Despite the fact that I just got turned away from what, at the time, I perceived to be my dream job, lived through the most hellacious week and had the feeling of sheer overwhelm, I was famous for over-stretching myself and simply couldn’t allow myself to cancel a dinner party. As I shopped for buns and charcoal, I said to myself enough, Becky. This isn’t sustainable or healthy. And this definitely isn’t happy.
It's okay to have a meltdown, so long as we don’t live there permanently. I just love that saying because it reminds us that we’re human; let it happen, let it out and move forward. We can talk all day about how to prioritize and tackle your career ambitions, how to organize your to-do list, knock out those action items. But if we don’t know how to love ourselves, remind ourselves what is truly important to us at the end of the day, then we can never be our best selves at work. Period.
Originally written as only a how-to guide for creating a successful vision board, I quickly decided that I had found my “why” and that there was beauty in my imperfect journey. As customer service professionals, many of us naturally fall into a pattern of people pleasing, and I was no exception. People pleasing and constantly saying “yes” can quickly overwhelm and muddy the prioritization hierarchy. The Vision Board was merely a tool, but it had a profound effect on me, my year, and my happiness. It is uncomfortable to publicly share stories like this and expose both my professional & personal vision to the world, but I am confident this will help someone. And after all, being comfortable in uncomfortable situations is on my 2020 vision board!
Journey To Happy
After noodling over the infamous Target-parking-lot-sob for a few weeks, I was certain that my life was about to shift in a major way, because it would become my focus. I was fixated on finding balance, peace and happiness in my life and finding others seeking to do the same. Like most Type-A personalities, I first started out with a significant amount of research. It quickly became overwhelming and the advice was plentiful: make SMART goals, track your progress weekly, break your goals down into smaller goals. The list went on and on. I knew it wasn’t reasonable or sustainable to make my goals feel like work or require a lot of heavy lifting. I needed something to be my navigational buoys, but not be so rigid that I wouldn’t be able to set sail.
How could I measure my success without feeling defeated by my struggles or failures? How could I maintain accountability without feeling like I’m constantly behind? How could I more gently give myself structure but also give myself the grace to be human?
One thing I had come to realize quickly was that I was constantly allowing others to prioritize my time, and therefore my life. Going from one fire drill to the next, one commitment to the other, rinse and repeat. This may have been because I had trouble saying no, but equally responsible was the fact that I never had sat down and documented my priorities. I had never recorded where I imagined my life going or what I envisioned happiness to look like and, without that guidance, I was throwing rocks into the dark to prioritize my life. Where I landed was the vision board; a place where I could document my affirmations, look at my mantras, and have a constant reminder of what was most important to me that year.
I created my 2019 vision board and got it printed & laminated so it could sit on my desk as a reminder to me each day. When I was lost, felt defeated, or concerned I wasn’t spending time in the best places, I would go back to my vision board and let it guide the way. It gave me permission to say no to some things, and gave me the courage to say yes others.
Appreciate How Far You've Come
If I’m being honest, never new how to be goal-oriented and realistic at the same time. I tackled each goal, task and opportunity with the enthusiasm and energy of a caffeinated child at Disneyland. Until the burnout would set it, or when things wouldn’t go according to plan, and the excitement wore off or I felt like I was failing. Giving myself the grace I needed to achieve big things and make changes was truly a differentiator for me. Lets take the crowd favorite New Year's Resolution: health. Like most people, in the past perhaps I would have measured success based on the number on the scale or the number of miles I could run. Instead, I decided that I just wanted to do. Success didn't have to mean any finish line had been crossed so long as I was keeping an active body, a healthy mind, and a fulfilled soul. I encouraged myself with affirmations and mantras about just getting outside and doing it, meeting myself where I was, and letting go of excuses. And holy smokes did the pieces just start to fall into place after that.
I’m grateful that I figured out this magical little trick, to give yourself some wiggle room and to love myself where I’m at right now. As we close out 2019 we are not just closing out a year, but a decade. This is an imperative time to reflect on where we want to go and what we want to achieve, but just as importantly how far we’ve come in the past year and past decade. We need to take time to appreciate where our hard work has landed us, where life has gone, and how beautiful this part of the journey has been. Although I looked at my vision board most days throughout this past year, I would sit down periodically and look at my vision board with the lens of “where do I need to course-correct?” I feel like these periodic reminders to stay the course, or get back on course, allowed me to fail forward in those moments, but not let negative self-talk trickle into my reflection.
As you reflect on 2019 and the decade that is coming to a close, remind yourself of all the things you did well and all of the lessons learned. Sit down and reflect on how far we’ve come and appreciate the resiliency, dedication and determination it took to get where you are today. Be proud and celebrate the accomplishments; be kind to yourselves about the shortfalls. Perhaps channel your inner Bob Ross as you go about reflecting on your year and remember that there are no mistakes, just happy accidents. Wherever you feel you could improve will usher you into your 2020 vision board.
Goal setting and visioning is so much more than just finding pretty pictures and memes that personify what you want to achieve (although I do enjoy this part). As I have mentioned, it’s the mantras and affirmations that will shape how you prioritize and live the next year of your life. Think about things that make you a holistic, happy human being and document those in a way that motivates you. The motivation and encouragement in all areas of our life ultimately allow us to show up to work each day as the best versions of ourselves.
I will look at my vision board nearly every day of 2020 in some form. The target of a vision board should be a visual reminder of how you want to live your year and spend your time. It should be a representation of what’s important to you, what you need to do to achieve these things, and what your mindset should be. Each image is a reminder to myself of how I should prioritize, what I should prioritize, and how I can course correct should I lose my way.
Ready to get started on your vision board? Here’s how to get started in 5 easy steps:
1) Write down the things you want to accomplish over the next year and the items you want to make progress on.
Here are some items that land on my list consistently, because I am never done growing in these areas: physical health, mental health, self-talk, self-care, relationships, how I can positively impact others, traveling, getting organized, financial security, professional ambitions, better habits, and routine.
2) Write down potential barriers to success.
Being cognitive of potential barriers to success are important. My huge barrier to success is always time. One of my goals this year is to train for and compete in a Triathlon. It will undoubtedly take a time commitment to make this a reality. Within my vision board I have a reminder that a short run is better than no run at all. Any progress, any time spent training, is still a step in the right direction.
3) Let the search begin.
Take time over the next few weeks to search through magazines, blogs, Pinterest, newspapers, etc. to find inspiring articles, sayings, images or quotes. These clippings should represent your vision, how you want your life to be and how you will get there. I always have way more than I could fit on one vision board, but looking through my selections is such a great exercise because it paints an even clearer picture of where I want to go and how I will get there.
Need inspiration? Check out my 2020 Vision Board Pinterest board for some ideas!
4) Get Crafty!
Start assembling your vision board. You can do the tried and true method of pasting your clippings onto a poster board or you can go electronic! I, personally, prefer the electronic method and leverage PowerPoint as an easy way to assemble my board. I leverage a 22 in x 28 in page so that I can print it out to-size at a print shop!
5) Keep It Visible & Reflect
I get my vision boards laminated because, after all, it needs to last you an entire year! I keep my large printout on my desk for easy viewing and regular reflection. I also keep an image of it on my phone so as life gets busy or I’m on the road, I always have it with me as a reminder should I need it. Build in regular reflection periods into your week or month, I try to reflect each Monday morning as I begin the week.
The activity of creating a vision board each year has really been a game-changer for me, and I hope it will do the same for you. In the sake of transparency and accountability, here’s my vision for my year ahead:
Happy visioning to all of you! If I can help you thrive in any way in 2020, please do let me know. 😄
Becky Roemen is a Customer Experience enthusiast & evangelist with an enduring love for digital transformation and CX strategy. As a Minnesota native, she enjoys the lakes, hiking and breweries. Find her work on the Tin Cans & String blog!