For the past several years, I've made annual vision boards, or treasure maps. This idea comes from a number of places--it has an astrological aspect, is connected with LOA/The Secret (blech), and is a suggestion of The Happiness Project. People I admire, like Christine Kane and Karen Walrond, make them. The idea, basically, is to create a visual representation, in the form of a collage, of what you would like to accomplish in the coming year. Some folks do it at the turn of the new year, the astrologically inclined do it at the Aries new moon in the spring. I've done both and don't see that it much matters how you define your year.
These have been my past three years' offerings:
2011 (done at the beginning of the year):
2010 (done in the spring):
2009 (done in the spring):
It's interesting, looking back at these three boards, how my goals seem to remain relatively consistent. All three boards include references to pregnancy and motherhood, writing, dogs, and exercise, particularly strength-training. I'm really familiar with my boards, because I've hung them in places I'll see them every day for the past three years (generally in/around my closet). And I can't give you a definite answer as to whether or not they have helped me work towards my goals, but I am pretty sure they have, at the very least, helped me to keep my goals in mind.
This year, the Aries New Moon fell on March 22, and I dragged out piles of old magazines and got to chopping away to create a vision board for 2012. I considered not bothering--what goals can I possibly have for this year beyond finishing out my pregnancy in as healthy and comfortable way as possible and surviving new motherhood? But the more I thought about it, the more I thought that I should be a lot more specific than that. Sure, my primary focus this year is going to be on this baby, but that's not my only focus, and I want to do more than survive. So I needed to come up with a vision.
A lot of the images on this year's board are similar to ones I've used in the past. There are several dogs here, including a woman hugging a beautiful Pyrenees in a photograph that just about jumped off the page at me. There are also a bunch of babies, and several photographs of moms and/or dads with babies, playing or resting happily. That's pretty self-explanatory and expected. My writers are here, one writing by hand, another propped up on a laptop, and a third looking slightly lonely at an old-fashioned typewriter. My exercising ladies are here, too--a cartoon of a woman lifting weights and a photograph of a woman on an elliptical machine represent my hope to get back to focusing on my physical strength and well-being after the baby is born. More specific is the small picture of the playing cat on the board's right side, which looks a lot like Atticus--I'm hoping hard for his continued health and well-being. A glass of champagne signifies my hope for celebration and fun during what I'm sure will be a stressful transitional time. I also added carefully chosen words this year, including the "confidence" at the board's top left corner, reminding me that it is OK to fake-it-until-I-make-it with this whole parenting gig, and reminders to travel, to seek balance, and to stop worrying. My favorite words are the ones near the top center of the board, "home is where you make it." That's something I definitely need to keep in mind as we face another year living here.
My very favorite item on this year's board, though, is the most aspirational. Towards the bottom, just right of the center, is a woman in a director's chair. The back of the chair reads "Madelyn Pugh, Girl Writer." Madelyn Pugh was one of the first established female television writers, working most famously on "I Love Lucy" in the 1950s. I don't realistically expect to get a shot at writing for TV this year, but I think adding Madelyn to my board, as a reminder that I have dreams, and that even if they get put on hold while I move into my new role as a mom, or while we live out here, or even longer term than that, they're still important, and still part of who I am.
As it has been every year, making my vision board was a really good experience this year. Seeing which pictures drew me in was a good way to viscerally understand my goals and desires, and putting them all together, overlapping, in a colorful format that I can look at every day helps me focus on them. Like my board, I suspect my year will be largely dominated by our new baby, but there are other things here as well, and I think it's good to keep those in mind, and to see them right there next to the inspirational happy baby pictures. I'm glad I took the time to do this exercise, and I'd definitely recommend it to any of you who feel like you could use some help visualizing or even just elucidating your goals.