This past Saturday morning, I headed over to my good friend Patty Huber Morrissey’s house for her annual Vision Board Party.
Instead of New Year’s resolutions, Patty makes a vision board every year, collaging images that inspire or motivate her in some way. Dedicated organizer that she is (Patty heads up Groupon’s non-profit wing, Groupon Grassroots), every January she invites over a dozen or so of her highly self-actualized, socially conscious friends for a vision-board-construction party.
Once the crowd got settled in her living room with coffee and mimosas, we made a round of introductions. There were at least three life coaches of different stripes at the party this year; you could practically improve yourself just by breathing the air.
Introductions made, we dove into the pile of magazines on the floor, clipping and ripping away. There’s no rule except to find the images that speak to you in some way.
Last year, I went a little nuts. I somehow clipped enough images to fill a nine-foot-long scroll with my high-octane visions. It was a very action-oriented vision board, filled with things I wanted to do in 2012:
Some of them (mountaineering, going to the opera, gardening) I did do in 2012. Others (rappelling down an ice cliff with a kayak) I didn’t get around to.
This year, I took a different approach to my vision board. I tried to leave my goals, plans, and desires out of it, and simply tune in to my reaction to the images. How does this picture vibrate deep down, below my grasping, wanting mind?
What I came up with surprised me. I flipped through a half-dozen magazines before I found an image with uncomplicated appeal. A black-and-white of a man in a fedora and overcoat strolling on a sidewalk (the composer Sergei Prokofiev on Michigan Avenue, it turns out, though that had nothing to do with my reaction).
I kept going, and the same sort of images keep vibrating: men alone or with other men, and other totems of dudeliness. A horse, a pirate’s map, a copy of Hemingway. Worried about the gender imbalance and needing to fill a corner, I did add a winsome brunette.
“I think it says this is the year you really become a man,” Patty told me as we looked at my finished board. Patty isn’t capable of negativity, and somehow this wasn’t insulting at all.
So there aren’t really any goals or resolutions on my vision board, just vibes. When you think about it, resolutions are a little like the whacky criminal sentences you sometimes hear about judges handing down: OVERWEIGHT MAN REMANDED TO PERSONAL TRAINER or AREA SMOKER SENTENCED TO NICOTINE PATCH. Except without enforcement teeth.
Vision boards do have a slightly whackadoo pedigree—the movement around the self-help book/movie “The Secret” advises using them to visualize and attract your future life of wealth, power, and success.
But that kind of mental grasping—making a board covered with stacks of money and luxury cars—seems like a great way to make yourself feel inadequate.
I have listened to my soul, and it wants open spaces, simple pleasures, and a fedora.
Looking forward to everything that 2013 brings my way.