When it comes to monthly challenges, it isn’t too difficult to come up with ideas that immediately spark my interest. However, there is a certain gut feeling that has to hit me before I make the month long commitment.
With challenges looking to develop or remove habits from my life, I hope to make a commitment that goes beyond the 30 days I document my experience. When it comes to education challenges, I hope to shine a light on topics that will enrich everyone’s lives and help initiate a positive shift in the lenses through which they view the world. And, overall, any challenge in which I partake should allow for continuous growth and development long after the challenge has concluded.
Such an idea has never been more relevant than the one I’ve decided to take on in September. It’s also an interesting development because if you would have asked me to do it just two years ago, I would’ve laughed it off without a second thought. But, as always, life enjoys throwing things back my way for second consideration, and this time around, I’m giving it my full attention.
During September, I’m going to create a vision board. Through and through, this is an activity I have to be all-in on. Otherwise, it’ll seem like a frivolous arts and crafts activity that lacks significance. Vision boards can either contain a level of meaning beyond interpretation to any eyes but mine or they can look like meaningless collages destined for the garbage after a few days or weeks. It’s an activity I have to put some blind faith into, which is absolutely not my strong suit, but I have come at a crossroads in life that is welcoming a new step into the unknown.
On the surface, vision boards can seem like nothing more than a dreamscape thrown up on a bulletin board. Just fantastical dreams unobtainable by us average folk and only worth indulging during the latest hour as we run the gauntlet of our REM cycles.
There are even plausible arguments as to why a vision board will only add to our perpetual inaction toward our dreams. How foolish it is to think we can aggressively imagine our future selves in a utopian life far removed from where we stand today, and magically end up there five, ten, 20 years down the road. I wholeheartedly agree. This is a foolish proposition. If all we did was sit inside our homes, dancing around from vision to vision, hoping really hard they would all become our reality someday, nothing would happen.
This is not what vision boards are meant for. They are meant to expose are deepest rooted passions and interests, creating a constellation of dreams we want to feverishly strive towards. The images and symbols fit into the larger scope of what and how we want our lives to be, so the actions we’re already taking, or motivated to take, will be more focused and intentional. By placing our dreams and goals in plain sight on a daily basis, we provide ourselves the opportunity to see what our future could be in an awakened and conscious state.
So, how did vision boards become so popular? The idea grew wildly popular after a film called The Secret and an endorsement from her eminence, Oprah Winfrey, presented vision boards to the masses. Born via the application of The Law of Attraction—an abstract belief that positive thoughts bring upon positive events (and vice versa for the negative)—vision boards are grounded in the idea that optimism is the fuel for a real life happy ending.
In all honesty, this is a large reason as to why I laughed away such an idea in the past. I have always been more naturally attuned to a mindset that blurred the lines between pessimism and realism. And more generally, I’m usually cautious around things that become mainstream, since they so commonly become irrelevant once the next “big thing” comes around—showing how the previous “thing” never held much weight in the first place. Yet, here I am, taking on a challenge that was very mainstream and, as expected, quickly faded.
I want and need to build a more positive mindset and relieve myself from the unnecessary stress and anxiety that is catalyzed by my negative thoughts. As such, I must start where any mindset reconstruction begins—selfishly focused on myself. It is impossible, at least for me, to reorient myself while placing half my mental energy in the chaotic world around me, and the other half fighting my internal battles.
This isn’t my first rodeo either. I’ve mentally taken myself away from external events before in order to get my head right, and the results were quite profound. The key in all of this is to recognize when my mind is in a good place, so that I can once again produce positive change in my life and the lives of my fellow community members. For me the old adage is true, “you can’t help anyone if you can’t help yourself.” And with that, let the challenge begin.