Holly Richardson: Vision boards and words of the year

And no, you can’t create a vision board of what you want other people to be, do or have, tempting as that might be.

(Photo Courtesy Holly Richardson)

Last week, I wrote about SMART goals (Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant and Time-Bound), CLEAR goals (Collaborative, Limited, Emotional, Appreciable and Refinable) and BHAGs (Big, Hairy Audacious Goals).

This week, I want to share a couple of other ways to set goals — vision boards and a word (or phrase) of the year.

Vision boards are visual reminders of our goals and intentions for the future. Generally, they are less about the specifics of how and more about the what, especially the feelings that “what” invokes. What do you want to be? What do you want to do? What do you want to have?

Vision boards are deeply personal, of course, and similar pictures may be chosen for very different reasons. For example, a picture of a babbling brook may end up on someone’s vision board as a reminder to spend more time in nature, or to meditate more, or to increase their outdoor photography skills or maybe even a reminder to drink more water (just skip the giardia part).

Vision boards can be large and detailed or they can be small and simple, like my daughter’s. A year ago, as a 20-year-old, she made her first vision board with one picture from a National Geographic magazine and one word: Explore. Last year, she spent two weeks in Africa with Mothers Without Borders. This year, she’s spending a week in Paris (France, not Idaho) and has Ireland, Iceland, Portugal and Kazakhstan on her “let’s go there next” list. That simple vision board is still on the wall in her bedroom as a constant invitation.

The process of creating a vision board is simple: Get a poster board, some old magazines, some scissors and some glue. Flip through the magazines and rip out any pictures or text that “speaks” to you, trim them (or don’t) and glue them onto the poster board. Easy.

As vision boards are artistic endeavors, there really aren’t any rules. Don’t want to use poster board? Great. Create a Pinterest board. Don’t want to use magazine pictures? Fine. Go online and Google your heart out. The point is to get your vision out of your head and into some form of tangible reminder. (And no, you can’t create a vision board of what you want other people to be, do or have, tempting as that might be. It’s just for you.)

In addition to vision boards, another fun, simple, yet powerful way to focus your goals is to pick a word or phrase of the year. The concept is easy: Choose one word (or phrase) to focus on for the entire year. This word can be the umbrella your other goals fit under, or, it can be the entire goal for the year.

I first heard this idea a few years back and chose the word “Grace” as my first “word of the year.” It reverberated in my head and kept me focused on at least trying to take the high road when false accusations were spread about me and when I lost a political race. Last year, I spent literally weeks trying to pick the “perfect” word (did I mention I am sometimes a perfectionist??) before eventually landing on a phrase “Take Imperfect Action.” All year, it helped remind me that while “perfect is good, done is better.”

There are so many ways to play with this. Find (or make) a sign with your word. Make a vision board just for your word, then take a picture of it and use it as your screensaver. Turn your word or phrase into a hashtag: #DoTheWork or #Abundance or my good friend’s #TheJoyProject. At the beginning of a rough year, Bonnie knew she wanted to feel more joy, so she decided that every day she would post about something that brought her joy and tag it #TheJoyProject. All year, those of us who share her social media space got to share in her pictures, quotes, stories and videos of all the many ways she found joy, even in the midst of trial. Inspiring.

One last note: vision boards and words of the year aren’t magic wands that will deliver everything you want just because you stuck a picture on a board or posted a word on your bathroom mirror. Achieving your goals - your vision - takes action. Get out there and make it happen! I’m cheering you on!

Holly Richardson knows she is a work in progress and tries to keep moving in positive directions. Her word of the year for 2018 is Joy.

Return to Story