I love these days between Christmas and New Year, a pause in the middle of the madness providing time to reflect on the outgoing year and redefine dreams and goals for the year ahead. Like most people I can spend too much time in my head, caught up with the mind chatter of ego and other people’s ideas of a successful life. These few days allow me to breathe deep, sink below the surface and reconnect to what Glennon Doyle refers to as her “Knowing”. We can also call it intuition, gut instinct, sixth sense. Our True Self. This is the part of us we want to converse with in order to determine our dreams and goals, but to hear our Knowing we need to be still. Back to Glennon, “We’re like snow globes: We spend all our time, energy, words, and money creating a flurry, trying not to know, making sure that the snow doesn’t settle so we never have to face the fiery truth inside us – solid and unmoving”.
Hearing our Knowing takes practice. And commitment. And courage (we may not always like what we find). Mindfulness, meditation, and journaling are all great ways of giving voice to the Knowing. A little every day.
Once we are able to converse with our Knowing, and have acknowledged our true dreams, how do we go about making them a reality? Interestingly, the practices which help us to hear our Knowing can also help us to realise our dreams. Meditation enhances neural plasticity which means it can help to change hardwired habits and unhelpful belief systems. What we think, we become. If every day we tell ourselves we are stuck or a failure or not good enough; how can we ever expect to become free, successful, and happy?
Last year, after reading the work of Dr Tara Swart (doctor, neuroscientist, and business advisor), I decided to go one step further and I created a vision board (or action board) of my goals and aspirations for the year (pictured above). Research shows us that pictures seep into our subconscious brains more easily than words. By looking at this vision board every morning and evening; we are priming our subconscious brains to help us make small decisions every day that will steer us in the direction of our dreams. It isn’t like waving a magic wand, and hey presto – we suddenly have the perfect life. We still have to do the work. But it is another tool that we can utilise which helps us to make choices in life that propel us closer to our dreams. So, how did it work for me?
In all honesty when the first covid lockdown hit us I put my vision board away and mostly forgot all about it! Not ideal, I know. That said, I do wonder how much of my vision had already ingrained itself into my subconscious. As I reflect on 2020 and look back at these images, I am amazed by how far I have come in a year crammed full of totally unforeseen challenges. There are still plenty of areas I would like to grow in, and dreams I have yet to realise, but this is the point. To reflect on what is working well, on what I need to work on, and to check in with what my dreams and aspirations look like today. I am looking forward to adapting my vision board for next year and beyond, and as I now work almost entirely online (a covid silver lining), I can pin it above my desk where I will see it every day.
Wishing you all a bright, beautiful, and bold 2021. For in the words of Von Goethe “Whatever you do or dream you can do, begin it. Boldness has genius and power and magic in it”.
How to create a vision / action board:
- Take some time out to listen to your True Self, your Knowing, your gut instinct. What is it that you truly desire in life?
- It may help to chunk this into areas. Work and career, health and body, relationship, friends and fun, personal growth, money and finances.
- Collect images which resonate with you and which create a feeling or an emotional attachment to your dreams. I tend to google for most of mine, although a big stack of glossy magazines would be a great. Don’t be too literal and don’t rush the process.
- Play around with these images over a few days. You want this to sing to you. Get rid of any images which jar or just don’t feel right (back to gut instinct). Some people may like a big board with more space, others may prefer to work with a piece of A4 paper. There is no right or wrong way to do this.
- Put the board away for a few days. Then get it out again and check everything still feels right.
- Glue it all down and place it in a prominent place where you will see it every day.
- Review every 12 – 18 months.
Adapted from The Source (2019), Open you mind, change your life. Dr Tara Swart