Vision boarding is much better than waterboarding

2014 Vision Board

Last night I went to a vision board party. Part of me feels like this is akin to telling people I like the band Aqua (which, yes, I do) because they’re both admissions that are likely to provoke the response, “You what?” I’ve decided I don’t care though, probably because I’m getting older and I find myself putting up with less shit as the numbers rack up on my personal age odometer.

For those of you unfamiliar with the term, a vision board is a collage of images and/or words cut from magazines and pasted on a board which represent the things you want to attract into your life in the coming year. It’s sort of like Pinterest, with paste. It’s partly based on The Law of Attraction which is a concept I have mixed feelings about. The law of attraction hit a peak of popularity when Oprah did a two-part show about the book The Secret many years ago. I don’t know if we can really attract things into our lives by thinking about them and pasting images of them onto cardboard, but I do believe if you make a list of goals and keep those goals in the forefront of your mind you are more likely to take actions that will help you achieve those goals. A vision board is basically a visual to-do list and I’m a huge fan of to-do lists. (In fact, “Make a vision board” has been on my to-do list for at least a year. Not joking.)

Every January for the past seven or eight years I’ve created a to-do list of the top 3-5 things I want to achieve that year which I’ve posted on the side of my refrigerator. (Then I take it down when someone is coming to cat-sit because my goals feel as personal to me as the contents of my medicine cabinet. No snooping!) Which is not to say I’ve been successful at achieving those goals. “Lose weight” has been on there for several years in which I only gained weight. And “make more friends” had been on there for years too, though I only started to succeed at that in 2013. That’s because I started visiting Meetup.com and attending various WordPress and tech meetups in my area, which has led to connecting with lots of interesting people, and lots of boring people too, but let’s not focus on that. It’s also led me to get lost in the dark a lot, which is not a correlation I would have predicted. (Make more friends -> Get lost in the dark a lot.) Most of these meetups take place after work hours when it’s dark and difficult to read building numbers and street signs, so I’ve spent a lot of time circling in on the location or trying to find somewhere legal to park despite the fact that I have a GPS. It’s such a recurring theme that I now add 10 minutes to my estimated commute just so I have time to get lost.

It was at one of these gatherings, Wordcamp Raleigh to be exact, that I met Niki who was hosting the vision board party. So, it was that “make more friends” item on my to-do list that ultimately led me to the vision board party, which seems fitting.

And as you could probably predict, I got lost in the dark trying to find Niki’s house.

Once I located the place, I had a great time. Six of us showed up, though twice that many had RSVP’ed, but that was ok with me because it was the party size that I feel most comfortable at. There were enough people that the conversation kept going, but few enough that I felt like I really got to know the people who were there. Some of the people already knew each other because the vision board party has been something they’ve been doing annually for 6 or more years. But there were also a couple new people like me. It was a really comfortable atmosphere and I felt like I’d been hanging out with these people for awhile instead of having just met them. And I didn’t even have to drink alcohol to feel that way!

After some food and chit-chat we sat down at a table Niki had set up in her living room that had more glue sticks that I’ve seen in one place since I was a Girl Scout. All that was missing to induce a full Brownie flashback were pine cones, glitter, and googly eyes. Everyone brought old magazines with them, so we had a variety of images to choose from and I got to cut out stuff from magazines I wouldn’t have had access to if I’d tried to do this alone at home. I believe vision boarding is more fun and easier to do as a group because of that. And although a small part of me still feels self-conscious telling people I was at a vision board party, I think there is courage in admitting to other people that you want to change things about your life and in committing to visualizing those things even if other people might make fun of you.

I also learned that the vision board parties themselves had led to changes in their lives. One of the women had met a teacher at a party a few years ago which made her realize that being a science teacher was her dream job. And now she’s a science teacher! At the party I attended, one woman mentioned she wanted to find a way to make some money on the side and one of the other guests hooked her up with a possible freelance editing opportunity. So you don’t necessarily need a glue stick and scissors to make these visions happen! I wasn’t immune either because several people at the party were training for either a half marathon or a 10K, but they all admitted they were slow runners which I found reassuring and made me feel more motivated to get back into shape so I could achieve some slow athletic goals too. I also took home lots of fruits and veggies from the food spread Niki had set up for all the people that didn’t attend, so that’s another step to better health that came from the party. (Forget the part where I ate a German chocolate cupcake. At least it was vegan!)

After I’d cut out a ton of images and words, I laid out all my clippings on the floor and started to arrange things. I’d cut out several large images of landscapes, mountains and skies to paste on first as a background so I didn’t have any white spots. Then I pasted my words and other images on top of that, which made a fairly visually appealing board but probably also revealed I’m a freak about planning things in advance even if it’s just pretty pictures glued to a poster. Even my dreams must be nicely organized! I did get several compliments on my board, and one girl joked that now she needed to add “Make a nicer vision board” to her board, which was funny but also made me think, “Yes! My vision board is awesome! I am so good at vision boarding!” But it also made me feel ridiculous and petty for being competitive about it, like I was saying, “My dreams are better than your dreams, and more elegantly visualized!” Oh, dear. I think I need to add “Be less competitive about vision boarding” to my board.

When we were all done we went around the room and explained why we’d included the elements on our boards. There were some common images on several of our boards, like finding love or earning more money, but we all had unique goals as well. I know vision boards are supposed to be more focused on finding the things that will make you emotionally and spiritually fulfilled, but despite that I did include a new car and a pile of money on my board :) I also included imagery about writing more often, creating more things this year, and ultimately being more healthy.

Once the board is complete you’re supposed to put it out of sight and pull it out again in a year to see if anything on your board has happened. For the people who’ve been doing this for years it’s been a good way to chronicle the changes in their lives, or even the change in what they want in their lives. For instance, one woman said she’d found the word “leadership” in a magazine at this party which is something she would have cut out several years ago for her board, but now wasn’t as important to her. I’m kind of tempted to put my vision board up where I can see it so I’m reminded of the things I want to achieve in the next year. I haven’t decided which way I’m going to go on that yet.

All in all I ended up spending six hours at the party, which was way longer than I thought I’d stay, but also did not feel like six hours at all. It was a fun night and I was glad I came instead of staying home to tweet during the premiere of the Flowers in the Attic movie on Lifetime, which yes, I seriously considered doing. I ultimately decided it was better to go and hang out with real people than to stay at home and hang with virtual people (no offense to the virtual people reading this). I’m really glad I did.

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Natalie • January 19, 2014 at 5:26 pm

That sounds fun, and really brave of you to go out and meet new people. That can be really hard.

I don’t understand putting it away where you can’t see it though – I thought the idea was to motivate you daily and remind you to work towards those things. Putting it away turns it into a time capsule.

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Jen • January 19, 2014 at 8:59 pm

I try to do one of these every year. I realized this year that travel images were what I was most attracted to, so I started putting a certain amount of money aside each week toward that goal. I still haven’t figured out my work goals, which was what I was really hoping to do.

I agree with you on the law of attraction vs. deciding what you really want and prioritizing it. Using images helps to bypass the critical part of me that says, “you’re silly to want that!”

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Shirley @ gfe & All Gluten-Free Desserts • January 19, 2014 at 9:25 pm

Kudos to you for going to the vision board party and creating a vision board, Jennette! I’ve been doing them for 7 years now. I wrote about them recently on my blog on my blog As I shared there, the first year I was pretty skeptical and kind of clueless, so I only pasted one single thing on my huge board (one of those tri-fold display boards). It was the logo for the local Women’s Forum because I wanted to start speaking at the forum on living gluten free. The next year I was asked to speak! And I’ll be speaking again for the 6th time this year. :-) Vision boards work for the reasons you mentioned. So as Natalie said putting it away does not make sense. Ideally you’re supposed to look at it daily and that way you continue to focus on what you want in your life and consciously and subconsciously “work” to do just that.

Shirley

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cc • January 20, 2014 at 6:28 am

thanks for the reminder that I meant to do a vision board this year. Dont have the guts to find/host a party to do it though. I think mine will stay out and visible, except maybe when we have visitors. I too fear the ‘you made a WHAT?!’ reaction.

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Shauna • January 20, 2014 at 9:32 am

Cracking post again! Such a cool idea for a party. Keeps the hands busy and the kind of subject matter that prompts good chat! Your board looks excellent too.

I would have to whack it up on a wall! My problem is always forgetting what my vision is. E.g. eating a cake then remembering OH YEAH, i didn’t want to do that so often, remember? Hehehe :)

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Jessica B.G. • January 20, 2014 at 1:23 pm

Always love it when you blog. This makes me want to have a vision board party.

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JenFul • January 20, 2014 at 3:05 pm

@Jessica B.G. – Aw, thanks! I love it when you blog too. And the vision board party was a lot of fun! If you’ve got the space and the friends interested in it, I’d definitely recommend it.

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Rebecca in SoCal • January 20, 2014 at 5:16 pm

Enjoyed the post, too! You obviously do not need to work on your sense of humor. I have been using Pinterest; now I want to distill that into a vision board.

I’m with you on the “law of attraction,” (in the “wishing doesn’t make it so” camp), but when my husband scoffed at a “visualize world peace” bumper sticker, saying “well that will help,” I took him to task, reminding him that you have to visualize I to work toward it.

Perhaps I should visualize precise writing.

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Donna • January 20, 2014 at 7:05 pm

Glad to be reading your posts again!

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Meg • January 23, 2014 at 4:49 pm

I didn’t know vision board parties were a thing! That’s awesome!

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Deb • January 25, 2014 at 9:10 am

Great idea and great post! Thanks.

I love your sense of humor and your self-awareness, traits I like to think we share, even though I am nearly twice your age.

Glue stick, here I come!

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Vickie • January 30, 2014 at 6:45 pm

Sent link to this post to my middle who is an RA in college. She knew about Vision Boards, but concept of Vision Board Party was new to her. She is planning to do this as a floor activity in her dorm. I went dumpster diving at the recycling center today. Huge variety of magazines, clean bin, just have to dig through phone books and catalogues to find them. Is it okay if she uses a color copy of your board on her announcement signs? She wants to wait to make hers until that night.

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JenFul • January 30, 2014 at 8:08 pm

@Vickie – Aw, that’s cool! And I’m happy to let her use my vision board in her posters. I’ll email you a link to a hi-res version in a sec.

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Chocolate & Vicodin: My Quest for Relief from the Headache that Wouldn't Go Away Half-Assed: A Weight-Loss Memoir

Jennette Fulda tells stories to the Internet about her life as a smartass, writer, chronic headache sufferer, (former?) weight-loss inspiration, and overall nice person (who is silently judging you). She was formerly known as PastaQueen. You can contact her if you promise to be nice.

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