Rita Wanted a Vision Board
It started over a latte at Coffee Please in Madeira. I was with two other women catching up on life – work, loved ones, real estate, local happenings…the usual. As the discussion shifted over to the Cincinnati Chamber’s WE Lead program, of which one of the women is a current class member, Rita chimed in:
“I would love to go through that program. I’ve heard about the Vision Boards they create, and I’ve always wanted to make one for myself.”
I shared that I created a Vision Board about seven years ago through a leadership program. I enjoyed the experience and kept it visible at my desk for years. Mine was definitely in need of a refresh though.
“Would you do one with me?” Rita asked. “The thought of siting alone with magazines, scissors and glue sticks is very uninspiring.”
I enthusiastically responded with, “Yes, absolutely!”
Later on that day, I received an email from Rita that kicked-off the planning process. The date, time and approach were all confirmed. We had decided to each invite an eclectic and “not-previously-connected” group to what had now become a Vision Board Party.
Fast-forward 1 month. I am sitting amongst 8 other women, most of whom don’t know each other, in Rita’s family room on a Saturday morning sharing coffee, mimosas, bagels and aspirations.
Rita wanted a Vision Board, so Rita threw a Vision Board Party.
Beyond the Vision Board: Lessons Learned
As I reflect on not only that morning at Rita’s home, but the entire chain of events leading up to it, I can’t help but glean some key take-aways from the experience as a whole:
1. Be intentional – You create the life you live.
Rita went from thinking about something she’s always wanted to do, to sharing that thought with others, to turning those thoughts into action. Isn’t it amazing how we can set our own course in life and create our own outcomes?
To add parody to the situation, this aim to be more intentional is also exactly what all of us sat down to do that morning. We considered our answers to questions such as:
- What do you want to be known for? What mark do you want to leave on the world when you’re no longer here?
- Why type of person do you want to be?
- Who do you admire and why?
- What are your passions? Do you fill them through work? Play?
I had an experience the same exact week that played out completely differently. I facilitated a Critical Thinking workshop for one of my clients in West Virginia. During the workshop, I was working with a breakout of four Case Managers and trying to get them to think more critically about some of the problems they face at work.
One of them told me that this exercise wasn’t applicable to her because everything she does is dictated by policy. I poked a bit and unveiled that one of her issues is when clients don’t meet state-regulated deadlines. She said, “There’s nothing I can do. It’s mandated by the state,” with her arms fairly tightly crossed and a rather unpleasant look on her face. I asked how clients are educated about those standards. She said they are told several times during their meetings. I kept pushing though…to get her to think more creatively, to uncover the root of the problem, and identify action steps she can take to change the outcomes of this situation.
Reading over the workshop evaluations, I came across two very contrasting and interesting comments:
- “Critical thinking is good, but when in a case manager’s position, it doesn’t really make a difference because we go by policy.”
- “Critical thinking is a big part of being a case manager.”
Are you approaching life with the mindset of being intentional about setting your own course, or with the mindset of having to work with what life has “handed” you? I’m thinking Rita would probably get along well with the person in West Virginia who wrote the second comment.
2. When you’re stuck, reach out for help.
Rita had been working her way through the book My Life Map by Kate and David Marshall. Several of the questions I listed above came from this book, so definitely check it out if any of those strike a chord with you. She reached the point in the book where she needed to map out her future, and she found it very difficult. She’s always had a hard time thinking about what she wants her future to look like, and determining how to get there.
This process was made easier for her by reaching out and involving others. She vulnerably exposed a personal challenge to those around her. When you find yourself in a rut or stuck on something, don’t quit. Just reach out for help.
3. Take a chance and don’t be afraid of what others might think.
I certainly thought to myself (and I’m sure Rita did too), “Are people going to think I’m nuts inviting them to a Vison Board Party on a Saturday morning? I’m sure they’d all much rather spend their time in other ways.” OH WELL, we had to quickly kick that thought out of our heads. If people thought we were crazy or just weren’t interested, there was certainly no obligation to come. So happy we didn’t stop there.
4. Your energy and commitment are contagious.
At the end of the day, Rita was not the only one being intentional about her future. Though not originally what she set out to do, eight other women were involved in the process. I, for one, am grateful that her commitment to this goal spread into my world. Know that your energy and commitments – both positive and unfortunately also negative – spread like wildfire to those around you.
We grossly underestimated the time a Vision Board would take to complete. After about 3 hours, we realized that we had only gotten so far as cutting out our clippings, and we unfortunately had to move on to other Saturday activities.
But as with all good things in life, they typically don’t come easy. It takes hard work…and persistence. I happened to finish mine later that evening next to a crackling fire with beer in hand, but it was now up to each one of us to continue to work on what we had started. And most importantly, to turn our visions into reality!
Thank you Rita – for your vision and persistence, and that coffee date in Madeira…