A couple months ago I listened to an episode of After The Jump about living the life you want to live. If you’ve read this blog for any time at all, you’ll know that I really love these kinds of topics. I love learning more about living intentionally, designing your life, being proactive rather than passive and making the most of each moment.
I once dated a guy who lived in a very sparse apartment and always talked about how that time in his life didn’t really “count”, but that he was going to be really happy one day when he was richer/working his dream job/fill in the blank. If you’re like me, that kind of thinking makes you queasy. I haven’t spoken to him in years, but I hope he’s figured out by now that this is it. If you don’t learn how to be happy in this imperfect moment, you definitely won’t know how to be happy when you get to that “promised land” moment you’ve been waiting for.
That said, I don’t think there’s anything wrong with collecting inspiration and actively shaping your present and future into the life you want to have. As long as you’re not always waiting for some unspecified tomorrow, I think it’s awesome to take stock of how you want your future life to look and then work towards it starting from today.
On the episode I mentioned, they discussed the power of vision boards. The thought of a vision board, as cheesy as it might sound to some, immediately lit me up. The hosts were encouraging people to use magazines and just rip out anything that called to you without thinking too much about it. The key was to not place judgements on anything that attracted you for whatever reason.
I didn’t have magazines, but I did have Pinterest. So six weeks ago, I created a board and started adding photos to it that inspired me, made me feel happy, or evoked the kinds of feelings I wanted from my life. In order to let myself just go with it without judgement or holding myself back, I made the board secret. This helped because 1. I didn’t have to worry about other people’s judgements of what I was picking, and 2. when you pin to a secret board, it doesn’t come up on your own feed, so I would quickly forget what I’d chosen. I almost wanted to keep it a secret from myself, so that I wouldn’t be influenced by anything other than my immediate reactions to different pictures.
I looked at it this morning for the first time and basically just felt like saying “yep, exactly”. I’d forgotten most of the individual pictures, but collectively it all made complete sense to me. There are really no surprises, but it all adds up to what I personally would consider a good life. Here’s what my vision board says to me:
I want to eat good food. Freshly baked bread, soft serve ice cream, homemade chocolate chip cookies. I want to bake cakes for the people I love. I want a weekly pizza night.
I want to eat outside, al fresco, all the time. Food just tastes better that way.
I want to throw dinner parties outside that involve lots of fairy lights.
I want to watch a lot of sunsets. I want lots of happy hours.
I want to keep travelling the world and seeing beautiful places. I want road trips and boat rides and lots of laying on the beach reading books in exotic locales. I want to go to cottages on the lake and I want to learn how to surf in the ocean.
I want to live in a beautiful home. I don’t care that much about clothes – simple and classic will do, but it’s really not a priority. I want to be surrounded by colour and flowers and books.
I want simple traditions like pancakes on Sunday mornings and running around like crazy people in the backyard with a dog. I want a dog or two. Maybe a cat as well.
I want a partner, of course, and some babies. Not now, no way, but eventually. I want to be surrounded by friends and the people I love.
I want to live near the water and be in it as much as possible.
Like I said, nothing too surprising and nothing too original. I think a lot of people would be attracted to these same images and want some of the same things for their own lives. It’s kind of cool though what doesn’t show up here: expensive cars, jewelry or clothes, dinners at posh restaurants, dressing up for fancy parties, high heels of any kind. In a way it’s almost surprising to me how simple the life I want seems to be. It’s obtainable. It won’t cost me a lot of money. I can get there.
Of course, there also isn’t a lot in there about my career or creativity (there’s basically only a picture of a girl on a couch on her laptop, which sounds about right to me!). Maybe that’s because I don’t know yet what I want to do, or maybe it’s because I feel like my career isn’t the most important part of having a good life. It’s probably a little of both.
In any case, it was a good exercise. It’s a visual example of what my priorities are for living well and happily! Of course my life will never be as picture-perfect as this Pinterest board, but that’s not the point. It’s just a good reminder that there’s a lot that I can focus on incorporating more of in my life and continue to work towards every day.
Even if vision boards sound a little new-agey to you, I think that they can be a really helpful tool for determing what your own personal version of a good life looks like. Give it a try and see what comes up!
If you’re interested, you can see my whole vision board here.