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Why I Still Create a Vision Board as an Adult (Right, It’s Not Just for Kids!)

Why I Still Create a Vision Board as an Adult (Right, It’s Not Just for Kids!)

Making a vision board may seem like something that’s just for kids trying to figure out what they want to be when they grow up, or an activity to fill time at a yoga retreat. However, vision boards aren’t New Age woo-woo, and they aren’t a silly craft project, either.

A vision board visualizes what you want in life.

Most simply put, a vision board is a physical place to display things that symbolize what you want in life. It can include pictures cut from magazines, favorite quotes, colors that inspire you, objects you love, or whatever strikes you as positive and that you want to focus on.

A vision board is also a focal point.

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    It’s something that you will look at every day that will remind you of where you want to be and how you want to feel. It gives you something to focus on that is positive, instead of day-to-day stress and worry. It can be highly motivating to see pictures of the things you want and know that what you do today can bring you closer to that vision or take you farther away.

    Vision boards help you identify and visualize what you want, which can be really helpful because we don’t often take much time to think about what we really want and whether our lives support those things.

    In recent years a lot has been made of the law of attraction, but even if you don’t believe that you can influence traffic lights and manifest parking spaces with the power of your mind, there is something to the idea that what we focus on expands and becomes who we are. That’s why when your day starts off bad it tends to snowball into a comedy of errors.

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    Starting the day by looking at your vision board and thinking about how it makes you feel can help you start the day with a better attitude that will result in a better day.

    But do dive deeper into your thoughts before making a vision board.

    If a vision board still sounds a little woo-woo, you might want to try changing your thinking before diving in. Consider it an experiment – a way to explore your inner world, what makes you happy, and what you want from life.

    It can also seem like you’re focusing on materialistic things, with a board full of exotic trips, big houses, and fancy cars, but it doesn’t have to be like that if those aren’t things that you want. Your vision might be a campfire, a good book, a comfy couch, and someone to snuggle on it with.

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    Making a vision board isn’t as challenging as you think.

      Making a vision board is simple, but it isn’t necessarily a fast process.

      You’ll need some kind of poster or foam board, or even an old bulletin board for the base. Start collecting things that have meaning to you or that motivate you, things that you want for your life, or things that make you feel the way you want to feel. Pull out pictures from magazines and words that inspire you. Add favorite quotes, vacation pictures, or a piece of art your friend made that you love- things that will make you smile.

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      Don’t go into making your board thinking you know everything that should be on it. Allow for serendipity. Put something on there that might not make sense right now. If there’s a picture or a word you’re drawn to and you don’t know why, add it to your board. It may be that some months from now, after looking at your vision board every day, you’ll suddenly understand what that seemingly out-of-place thing means. That’s when this process gets really cool.

      And it’s good to remake your board from time to time.

        Making a vision board is not a one-time project. It’s a process you’ll want to repeat through the years. It’s up to you how often you do it, but once a year wouldn’t be too often. You can also have different boards related to different parts of your life such as health, travel, work, and family. You can add to your board as you find new things that speak to you or new parts of your vision start to open up.

        If you keep your old boards or take pictures of them it’s like a giant scrapbook of what you were thinking and what inspired you at that particular time in your life, which is always interesting to look back on. You might find that in time you get some of what you said you wanted.

        Featured photo credit: Debra Roby. via flickr.com

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        Sarah White

        Freelance Writer, Editor, Professional Crafter

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        Last Updated on October 21, 2019

        How to Be a Good Leader and Lead Effectively

        How to Be a Good Leader and Lead Effectively

        U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren, a contender for the 2020 Democratic nomination, is a reminder of why I am so drawn to leadership as a topic. Whenever I think it is impossible for me to be more impressed with her, she proves me wrong.

        Earlier this week, a former marine suggested that he had been in a long-term sexual relationship with the Senator. She flipped the narrative and used the term “Cougar,” a term used to describe older women who date younger men, to reference her alma mater.

        Rather than calling the young man a liar, or responding to the accusations in kind, she re-focused the conversation back to her message of college affordability and lifted up that “Cougar” was the mascot for her alma mater. She went on to note that tuition at her school was just $50 per semester when she was a student. Class act.

        But by the end of the week, news broke that U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders, another contender for the presidency, had a heart attack. Warren not only wished Sanders a speedy recovery but her campaign sent a meal to his staff. She knew that the hopes of staff, donors and supporters were with the Senator from Vermont and showed genuine compassion and empathy.

        To me, she has proven time and time again that she is more than a presidential candidate: she belongs in a leadership hall of fame.

        What makes some people excel as leaders is fascinating. You can read about leadership, research it and talk about it, yet the interest in leadership alone will not make you a better leader.

        You will have more information than the average person, but becoming a good leader is lifelong work. It requires experience – and lots of it. Most importantly, it requires observation and a commitment to action. Warren observed what was happening with Sen. Sanders, empathized with his team and then took action. Regardless of the outcome of this election, Sanders’ staff will likely never forget her gesture.

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        You would have had to work on a political campaign in order to appreciate the stress and anxiety that comes with it. In this moment, staff may not remember everything that Warren said throughout the lengthy campaign, but they will remember what she did during an unforgettable time during the campaign.

        If this model of leadership is appealing, and if you are searching for how to up your own leadership game, read on for six characteristics that good leaders share:

        1. Good leaders are devoted to the success of the people around them.

        Good leaders are not self-interested. Sure, they want to succeed, but they also want others to succeed.

        Good leaders see investing in others just as important as they see investing in themselves. They understand that their success is closely tied to the people around them, and they work to ensure that their peers, employees, friends and family have paths for growth and development.

        While the leaders may be the people in the spotlight, they are quick to point to the people around them who helped them (the leaders) enter that spotlight. Their willingness to lift others inspires their colleagues’ and friends’ devotion and loyalty.

        2. Good leaders are not overly dependent on others’ approval.

        It is important for managers to express their support for their teams; good leaders must be independent of the approval of others. I explained in an article for The Chronicle of Philanthropy, that:[1]

        “While a desire to be loved is natural, managers who prioritize approval from subordinates will become ineffective supervisors who may do employees harm. For example, a manager driven by a need for approval may shy away from delivering constructive feedback that could help an employee improve. A manager fearful of upsetting someone may tolerate behavior that degrades the work environment and culture.”

        In yet another example, a manager who is dependent on the approval of others may not make decisions that could be deemed unpopular in the short run but necessary in the long run.

        Think of the coaches who integrated their sporting teams. Their decision to do so, may have seemed odd, and even wrong, in the moment, but time has proven that those leaders were on the right side of history.

        3. Good leaders have the capacity to share the spotlight.

        Attention is nice, but it is not the prime motivator for good leaders. Doing a good job is.

        For this reason, good leaders are willing to share the spotlight. They aren’t threatened by a lack of attention, and they do not need credit for every accomplishment. They are too focused on their goal and too focused on the urgency of their work.

        4. Good leaders are students.

        In the same way that human beings are constantly evolving, so too are leaders. As long as you are living, you have the potential to learn. It doesn’t matter how much knowledge you think you have; you can always learn something new.

        I have the experience of thinking I was doing everything right as a manager, only to receive conflicting feedback from my team. Perhaps my approach was not working for my team, and I had to be willing to hear their feedback to improve.

        Good leaders understand that their secret sauce is their willingness to keep receiving information and keep learning. They aren’t intimidated by what they do not know: As long as they maintain a willingness to keep growing, they believe they can overcome any obstacle they face.

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        As both masters and students, good leaders read, listen and study to grow. They consume content for information, not just entertainment purposes. They aren’t impressed with their knowledge; they are impressed with the learning journey.

        5. Good leaders view vulnerability as a superpower.

        It means “replacing ‘professional distance and cool,’ with uncertainty, risk, and emotional exposure,” said Emma Sappala in a Dec. 11, 2014, article, “What Bosses Gain by being Vulnerable” for Harvard Business Journal.[2] She went on to note the importance of human connection, which she asserts is often missing at work.

        “As leaders and employees, we are often taught to keep a distance and project a certain image. An image of confidence, competence and authority. We may disclose our vulnerability to a spouse or close friend behind closed doors at night but we would never show it elsewhere during the day, let alone at work.”

        This rings so true for me as a woman leader. I was raised believing that any show of emotion in the workplace could be used against me. I was raised believing that it was best for women leaders to be stoic and to “never let ‘em see you sweat.” This may have prevented me from connecting with employees and colleagues on a deeper, more personal level.

        6. Good leaders understand themselves.

        I am a huge fan of life coach and spiritual teacher Iyanla Vanzant. In addition to her hit show on the OWN network, Vanzant has authored dozens of books. In her books and teachings, she underscores the importance of knowing ourselves fully. She argues that we must know what makes us tick, what makes us happy and what makes us angry.

        Self-awareness enables us to put ourselves in situations where we can thrive, and it also enables us to have compassion when we fall short of the goals and expectations we have for ourselves. Relatedly, understanding ourselves will allow us to know our strength. When we know our strengths, we will be able to put people around us who compliment our strengths and fill the gaps in our leadership.

        Final Thoughts

        Being a good leader, first and foremost, is an inside job. You must focus on growing as a person regardless of the leadership title that you hold. You cannot take others where you yourself have not been. So focusing on yourself, regardless of your time or where you are in your career will have long term benefits for you and the people around you.

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        Further, if you want to become a good leader, you should start by setting the intention to do so. What you focus on grows. If you focus on becoming a better leader, you will research and invest in things that help you to fulfill this intention. You will also view the good and bad leadership experiences as steppingstones that hone your character and help you improve.

        After you set the intention, get really clear on what a good leader looks like to you. Each of us has a different understanding of leadership. Is a good leader someone who takes risk? Is a good leader, in your estimation, someone who develops other leaders? Whatever it is, know what you’re shooting for. Once you define what it means to be a good leader, look for people who exemplify your vision. Watch and engage with them if you can.

        Finally, understand that becoming a good leader doesn’t happen overnight. You must continually work at improving, investing in yourself and reflecting on what is going well and what you must improve. In this way, every experience is an opportunity to grow and a chance to ask: ‘What is this experience trying to teach me?’ or ‘what action is necessary based on this situation?’

        If you are committed to questioning, evaluating and acting, you are that much closer to becoming a better leader.

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        Featured photo credit: Sam Power via unsplash.com

        Reference

        [1] The Chronicle of Philanthropy: Why Good Managers Overcome the Desire to Be Liked
        [2] Harvard Business Journal: What Bosses Gain by being Vulnerable

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