I started my Vision Board on Monday and it seems to have brought on a lot of soul-searching, naval gazing and general faffing. Even more than usual.
Who knew something that involves paper scissors and a glue stick could be so troublesome?
For those not familiar with the idea a vision board is basically a big pin-board or piece of card on which you stick pictures or words that depict your dream future. It’s like scrap booking. You can also do it on Pinterest but the idea is that you keep it somewhere that you’ll see it all the time, so I think physical is best.
They’re recommended in The Secret on the basis that if you collect pictures of the sort of life you want, hey presto, you’ll make it happen. John Assaraf, one of the experts quoted in the book, says he cut out a picture of a giant mansion from a magazine for his vision board and five years later found himself living in it. The exact same house.
With that in mind, I went imaginary house shopping. Ever since I went there for work last year, I’ve been a bit fixated by the thought of living in LA for a while. Yes it’s LA-LA land and there are loads of ridiculously perfect people walking around but I loved it. I wanted to stay forever and drink green juices and go to yoga. I had visions of me being all happy and healthy and bendy instead of spotty and tired and hungover.
So I bought a pinboard, some drawing pins and went online to pick out my dream Californian home. I was spoilt for choice. I couldn’t decide between something in the Hollywood Hills or something by the beach. Spanish bungalow or uber modern and glassy? I spent twenty minutes looking at tiles for a bathroom I don’t have in a house I don’t have in a country I don’t live in. Aqua or green? Purple or blue? I did the same with cushions for my non-existent beige sofa.
I kid you not, this got me stressed.
What if I made the wrong choice? How much money am I spending on this? Am I already bankrupt in my dream life? How am I going to keep it up? And as I looked at hundreds of pictures online of perfect people in their perfect houses and I got that familiar feeling of not being good enough. I’m not pretty enough to live in LA! Who will I be friends with? I think I’ll be lonely in my dream house on my own!
Honestly, it was ridiculous.
I moved on to find a picture of the Mercedes I sat in last week, a car I’ve wanted since my childhood days, but even that didn’t make me feel good. A car isn’t going to change my life. It’s just a car. Yes it’s beautiful but do I want it for the right reasons or is it just a status symbol? Will it really make me happy?
I looked through magazines to find my dream outfits but they left me cold too. How many designer jeans have I bought over the years? And how many of them have made me feel magically gorgeous and desirable once the high of the purchase has gone? None.
I looked at pictures of actress Blake Lively (who I think is utterly gorgeous), to see if I could use her as inspiration to be all slim and stylish but that made me feel rubbish. How sad is it to want to be someone else? I don’t really want to be someone else, I want to be me – just with less wobbly bits.
Picking out my dream life made me depressed and confused.
But then I released that was because I was picking out the wrong future. The house, the car, the skinny figure and gorgeous wardrobe, is not my dream any more. There is more to life than a giant shopping list. (Jesus, this self-help stuff must be changing me already).
So last night I changed my approach.
I sat down with my lovely friend Rebecca and her gorgeous daughter Zillah, with a pile of magazines and glue sticks. 18-year-old Zillah got stuck in with gay abandon: smiley faces, gorgeous food, David Beckham’s naked torso and champagne bottles. Her vision board was so perfectly her, it fizzed with life. And ditto with Rebecca. Beautiful food, a huge kitchen, bunches of flowers and a camper van – her vision board was warm, relaxed, beautiful and full of love, just like her real life is. Not a designer handbag or flash house in sight.
I went for images that reflected the way I want to feel rather than the stuff I want to have. I divided it into Travel, Work, Health and Happiness.
This is what I came up with:
Travel – LA Palm trees, Indian temples, Morroccan tiles
Work – A lovely desk by a window, a £100,000 cheque as a book deal for my AWARD-WINNING BEST-SELLING BOOK (the dream is getting bigger by the second). I also put a picture of me with my self-help books with the note ‘My website is a huge success.’
Happiness – I found images of meditation, friends, family, love… I got a bit unstuck when I tried to find my picture of my dream man. Even when I was picking out fictional men from magazines I imagined them thinking: ‘As if I’d even think about going with her.’ Obviously the man thing continues to be an issue.
I started cutting out a picture of the guy who designed the new Routemaster buses in London. There was an interview with him in one of the Sunday supplements and he was lovely! So clever and modest and funny. And he has nice curly hair. Then I made the mistake of googling him and saw he had an equally lovely wife. I felt funny about putting another woman’s husband on my board. Obviously I was over thinking it all. As per usual.
So I started googling generic ‘smiley handsome beardy men’. Ha! Not sure when I decided on a man with beard but I did. Nobody quite right came up. Then I remembered my friend had sent me an email a few months ago with the header THIS IS YOUR MAN. It was a link to another article about Gary Lightbody the lead singer of Snow Patrol. He was talking about being crap with the opposite sex and drinking too much. We are practically twins. And he lives in LA, so on he’s gone…
Health- Green juice, healthy food, a woman doing a handstand (I’ll be doing a lot of handstands in my future life).
I showed my sister this bit and she laughed. ‘You’ve put a plate of courgettes on your vision board?’ Yes. ‘You do realise you can go out and buy courgettes right now? It doesn’t have to be a ‘vision’ it can be a reality.’
She has a point. I have this vision of the ‘perfect me’ and the ‘perfect life’ which is going to happen sometime in the future – but the truth is that most of what I want is attainable now – the exercise, meditation, good diet. And some of the great stuff – this blog, spending time with lovely friends and family – is already happening.
When I was pinning my ‘book deal’ image on my board, I said to Rebecca: ‘Imagine how much fun we’ll have if I get a book deal,’ and she said ‘We’re already having fun, aren’t we?’ And yes, we really really are. I really am.
So that’s where I am on the vision board – it really helped me get clear on what I do and don’t want in life, and it’s lovely to set dreams and goals, but actually I don’t want to project into the future, I want to appreciate what I have right now and remember what’s important:
HOW TO DO YOUR OWN VISION BOARD
Some people say that you should be super specific about you want – the exact car, job, man etc – but others say go for pictures that make you feel good without analysing them too much. I found it helpful to break it into areas of my life. You can come up with whatever categories work for you – work, family, learning, relationships, charity, home, travel etc.. – and some people do separate boards for each. I have a friend who did a whole board dedicated to her dream man. She did it last January and put it away without thinking too much about it. In March she met a man and in October she moved in with him. During the house move she found the board and realised that her boyfriend had every single trait she’d asked for except one – he doesn’t dive. ‘But he can learn!’ she says.
Would love to see any that you do. Bye for now.The Secret
PS – I KNOW WE’RE IN APRIL NOW BUT I’M RUNNING A WEEK LATE. NEXT SELF-HELP CHALLENGE STARTS NEXT WEEK. THANKS FOR ALL OF YOUR RECOMMENDATIONS. XX