don’t stand your dreams up! 

Vision boards are more than just a collage composed of words and images that inspire you. They can be a fantastic tool to help you focus on your short-term goals and work toward your long-term goals!

hawaii hibiscusI can tell you first hand that these boards have the potential to set you up to finish your year a stronger version of yourself, celebrating the goals you have achieved, rather than just surviving! In 2017, I put a photo of a hibiscus flower on my vision board. It represented “Living in Hawaii” and it scared me to define that goal for myself, because I knew I would have to be intentional about moving toward that dream! But I believe that if your dreams don’t scare you, they aren’t big enough! So I looked at the image, among others, for 18 months, almost daily. On January 1st, 2019, I woke up in my bed… in Hawaii!

That dream was mine for a reason. Because I was destined for this destination. My guess is that you have some destinations that you feel destined to as well! They may not be locations you can pinpoint on a map. They may be a school you want to attend to get your degree. Or a business you want to start. Or the finish line of your first 5k!

If you haven’t created a vision board honoring these goals and dreams, I would encourage you to build one. Resist the temptation to judge your hopes and dreams by labeling them “too silly” or “too big” and therefore robbing them of the power a little faith can infuse your goals with!

I’ve learned that you have to believe in what you are putting on your vision board, even if the images represent goals that others may argue defy logic!

If you have created a vision board before, and struggled to follow through with the goals you set for yourself, consider creating a Believe board instead. Believe boards are my personal spin on the traditional vision board. A vision board typically emphasizes words and images of physical objects like a dream house or that dream guy, and touts the power of focusing on these images to manifest the dream object into ones life. While many people have found vision boards to be an effective tool in achieving their dreams, I personally floundered without a little more structure to my dream chasing.

So I create Believe boards! These boards consist of words and images that represent my individual goals for improved physical, mental and spiritual health (such as an image of someone doing yoga). They are also images or quotes that represent answers to important questions like “How would you like to feel at this time next year – Fit? Successful? Healthy? Grateful?” or

“What is really important to ME?”

When answered with complete honesty, questions like that let me check in with myself. Maybe I won’t put that picture of a Tacoma on my board. Maybe I just wanted that because everyone in my neighborhood drives one! Maybe I want to invest my money in an adventure with my husband… in a foreign country! Maybe I’ll find a photo that represents THAT!

Once I filter out what society tells me I should want, and get clear on what my heart is truly after, I can create a Believe board based on my answers. Many of the images I include are very clearly connected to the dreams I’ve defined. But some are images or phrases that nudge my heart as I flip through a magazine. I may not know why, but I don’t ignore it!

laurenLast year I was creating a Believe board, and a photo of Lauren Akins surrounded by children at an orphanage really moved me. So I cut it out! It wasn’t until this October, while I was sitting in class trying to explain “fertile crescent” to a student who just moved to the U.S. and barely understood English, that it dawned on me… I was surrounded by students who don’t have much by America’s standards. Many of them have watched family and friends be deported. They are at a disadvantage because of their language barrier and their financial status. But they are hard workers with positive attitudes. And while I often think I am making a difference in their lives and teaching them, it is they that teach me! They are the reason that an image I saw a year ago moved me enough to earn a spot on my Believe board!

Beyond answering those questions, I define one goal that would have a positive effect on my life this week, and include words or a photo to represent this goal!

Since my board is a commitment I make to believe in and work toward my dreams, I display my Believe board in a location where I can see it daily and remember to honor that commitment. It gives me the courage and inspiration to move from who I am to who I want to be. But sometimes we need more than courage and drive. Sometimes we need a plan!

If you have created a Believe board, you have taken the first and hardest step. But to truly make the energy and focus worth it, it helps to develop a plan! That’s where a day timer can become your Believe board’s trusty sidekick! Rather than just grab a calendar with glossy images from the discount section at Wal-Mart, invest in a planner or day timer that provides a week and month at a glance, as well as plenty of room for including specific details under each day!

Start by writing appointments, work, workouts and events you have committed to on your calendar. As opportunities and obligations surface, put these on your day timer’s calendar too!

If the planner has blank pages for notes, even better! Because this planner will be the place where you determine what steps will move you from who are to who you want to be! A good place to start is that immediate goal I mentioned above – Write down all the steps between where you are and this goal. If your immediate goal is to obtain your degree because it will qualify you for a job you’ve had your heart set on, then the first step may be to visit colleges that offer the appropriate programs.

Then build a timeline by assigning the specific steps you have just identified with realistic due dates that you put on your calendar!  While you are at it, schedule a day and time each week when you will review the steps you have taken toward your immediate goal, and those that you will tackle in the next week. This is an important appointment you make with yourself… Don’t stand your dreams up!

If your calendar seems to be reaching a weekly capacity at an alarming rate, you may need to be more selective about what you schedule! There are certainly times of the year that are busier than others. The end of December, finals week, the week you move from Boston to the Big Island (wait, that’s me)! But if this is occurring on a consistent basis, it may be time to raise your scheduling standards by asking yourself “Is this task moving me closer to my dream? Then why am I choosing to give this task my energy?” Another essential question when it’s crunch time is “Why did I choose this as my immediate goal?” If you don’t know or fail to remember your WHY, your reason and motivation behind leaning into that dream in the first place, then your Believe board is just a collage! Don’t let your dreams be a collage… Let them become your reality!

one life - on fire

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