You've heard the advise: "write down your goals" "visualize the life you want" "read your goals, daily". All sound and popular advice because they work to get you ready to tackle big goals and projects, and practicing consistent visualization that can help you stay on track with your goals.
But goal setting and visualization exercises aren't one and the same. Visualization is more about finding clarity on the big picture: how you'd like your life to look, the kind of person you hope to grow to be, and putting a picture to your ideal results of your intended direction.
Studies have shown that mental imagery "produce the same mental instructions as actions". So, when you practice visualization, you're training your brain to perform the action you're picturing.
Here are 3 vision planning exercises for you to explore and put your big dreams in focus:
Vision boards are a very popular method of bringing what you want your life to be from the intangible to the physical realm. Creating a collage of the places, actions, and feelings you want to enter your reality is an opportunity to tap into your creativity, take a step back, and allow yourself to dream audaciously.
A vision board can focus on one area of your life, like career, spirituality or even your living arrangements; or they can be broad an all encompassing to how you'll approach your life over a certain period, most commonly yearly. Think about what you want to do, become, and receive. Be bold and specific!
The process of creating your board itself can be very therapeutic. You can make it an event, solo or with loved ones, and set an atmosphere that's relaxing and puts you in a good mood. Gather your favourite snacks or soothing tea, light a scented candle, or put on your favourite playlist and tackle your vision board like an inspiring art project.
Most people create their vision boards on cork board or poster board, and more recently (as we buy less magazines) folks create their boards digitally and print it and hang them. Increased access to photos via search engines and stock photo sites allows you to search for exactly what you're visualizing so your board can be really specific.
If you're a shutter-bug or have photos from past adventures that you want to revisit, you may also be able to use some of your own photos. Access our free digital vision board templates to put your vision board together in Canva.
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Hang your vision board on a wall in your home office, make it the lock screen on your phone or screensaver on your computer. Keep it somewhere that you frequent daily.
Consult it often to guide you in setting goals and forming habits that bring you closer to realizing your vision. Take monthly or quarterly progress
For those who love the written word. If you're already a practiced journal keeper, your vision planning may work better for you in the written format. Apply all the same principles that you would to a vision board. Write about the big picture, a change of course, and your ideal lifestyle. Set clear and specific intentions for the areas of your life in which you seek growth.
Journaling offers you more latitude that creating a vision board since you likely aren't restricted by space. You can use as many pages as you like and get really descriptive and specific with your vision. Use the added freedom to start your vision planning off with what you're thankful for - gratitude journaling gets you into a positive and open mindset before you turn your attention to the future.
Write your visions and goals down as if you've already achieved them. Use positive affirming language and write in the present tense. For example, instead of saying "I want to stop using junk food to soothe during hard times" write "I am developing new and healthy coping mechanisms when I'm confronted by triggers".
The top of the year is also a great time to explore different methods of journaling and choosing the one (or more!) that works for you.
If you're new to keeping a journal, ritualize your visualization by writing reflections, inspirations, affirmations and actionable goals in your journal weekly, then daily as a part of your morning routine.
The Prosperity Game
The Prosperity Game by Abraham Hicks is a less conventional, wealth-focus, and mind-expanding way to approach vision planning. According to Hicks, the results from this exercise include "reaching for new ideas" and "creating new vibrational set points from which to attract matching experiences and manifestations."
Here's how to play:
- On the first day, imagine that you are receiving $1,000 from the Universe to spend on yourself (no bills, obligations, debt, or things for others). You must spend it all, each day.
- On the next day, imagine receiving double, $2,000. Spend all of it again.
- On the following day, you receive $4,000, and so on.
- Try it our for 30 days, or longer if you'd like.
Although the Prosperity Game is highlights money at the forefront, wha you spend your money on can reveal things about your values, genuine desires, and intentions. Take note of the ideas and thoughts that come up. Jot them down and dive deeper, using them as journal prompts.
Visualization takes many forms and are called different things depending on the context, sometimes we call it prayer, manifestation, and meditation. No matter how you frame the practice, the goal is still the same: opening your mind to the vastness of possibilities available to you so you can design a path that leads you to fulfillment.
If you're experiencing any blockers while working through any of these methods, take a step back to observe and inspect them. Make a note of the thoughts you've identified that come up during your vision planning & review them with your counsellor in your next therapy appointment.