I’ll never forget the meeting I had in 2015 that changed my life.

It was the heat of advertising production season, and amidst all the craziness with getting an ad spot out the door in time before the holidays, my old boss decided to have an additional mandatory team meeting. I walked into her room, only to find the area scattered with a plethora of magazines, colored paper, crafts and scissors. My colleague and I immediately started laughing, it looked like Pinterest exploded in there. 

My boss began the meeting saying, “Team, today, we are going to be spending our time together creating vision boards.”

She went on to share the importance of writing down your goals, visualizing your dreams and making them a reality. We dove right in, starting to browse through various magazines, scrappily cutting out words and images and securing them on our boards with glue. It took about a week to finish, and it was when we proudly shared our personal and professional goals that the magic started to happen.  

Little did we know that the simple act of writing our goals down would focus us and lead us to achieving almost all our goals later that year. 

While I’m no vision board expert, I’ve taken some time to reflect and research this phenomenon, and I’ve put together a list of tips to create, make and fulfill your personal and professional goals for 2018. So whether you’re in a state of hyper self-improvement and growth, or looking to achieve one single goal, I’ve got you! 

Let’s get started! 

1. Reflect on the past year  

My friends and I started our New Years Eve Dinner party with retrospective thought-starters, and the prompts led to stories shared, making us laugh, tear up, cheer and feel proud about everything we did in 2017. I spent the next few days writing out my year in review, and that exercise alone helped provide perspective into all the change that happened in 365 days. Whether it was an awesome trip you took, a bold decision, a challenge you overcame, a favorite meal or a proud moment at work, get it all out there!

Here are some thought starters:

  • What were the highlights of your year?
  • What were your happiest moments?
  • What were your favorite trips?
  • Which people/activities brought you the most joy?
  • What things do you wish you could have done better?
  • What made you most proud?
  • What did you learn?
  • When did you laugh the hardest?
  • What was your best meal of 2018?

2. State your Intentions - Write It Down, Make It Happen

I just finished reading a book recommended to me by a friend called Write It Down, Make it Happen, about how the act of simply writing your goals is the first step in achieving them. Furthermore, the writing process helps you clarify what you want and why, so your intention in the universe is clear. 

If you’re not convinced, here’s some research behind the theory. Studies show you become 42% more likely to achieve your goals and dreams simply by writing them down on a regular basis. 

I use Dropbox Paper as a brainstorming space for all my early ideas and random streams of consciousness. Whether I’m jotting down ideas throughout the day on my phone, embedding inspirational TED Talks, adding to my book list, formatting pictures or throwing in my mood boards from Pinterest, this is the place to get all your ideas in one place. 

3. Create a Vision Board 

There’s a term called the law of attraction, which is a fancy way of saying you get what you put out into the universe. The exercise of putting together a vision board embodies this theory, which has the ability to attract whatever we are focusing on.  This is how your thoughts can crystallize into clear goals, and then into reality. 

I’m all about making vision boards a fun activity (or as I call it, funtivity). You can host a session with teammates in your office or invite friends over for some wine and cheese (BYOM - Bring Your Own Magazines!). Start the evening with some thought starter questions, such as:

  • What do I want to be known for personally? Professionally?
  • What can I work on? 
  • What can I be more patient with?
  • How will I improve my health this year?
  • What activities will bring me happiness?
  • What am I scared of? 
  • What actions will break me through my fear?

Once you’ve clarified, your goals for 2018, it’s time to make your vision board! There are a number of ways you can create a vision board, I have two methods that work best:

Magazine Vision Board

You can use construction paper, cork boards or other for your vision board “base”, and you can find this at any office or paper store. Sift through your magazines, finding words and images that visually represent what you want to accomplish.   

Digital Vision Board 

There are lots of “blank canvases” for vision boarding online. My go-to’s are Pinterest and Dropbox Showcase. I take lots of photos throughout the day on my phone, and you can easily snap and upload these to your Dropbox app. With Dropbox Showcase, you can easily pull photos and files saved on your Dropbox, and then personally packaged them up into a beautifully curated story. 

The biggest benefits of a digital board include being able to access and refresh yourself on your vision board goals from anywhere, and also create accountability by easily sharing your vision goals with your friends, mentors, managers and cheerleaders along the way. They can comment on your board and progress, and keep you going!  

4. Set Mini-Goals Each Month to Make It Happen 

We all know the hardest part of achieving a goal is making it happen, and there are lots of helpful tips to ensure you keep yourself on track for the new year. 

My manager recently shared with us the Japanese concept called Kaizen, which is the art of aiming for small changes and actions you can start today, continuously improving by getting 1% better every day. 

These mini changes make your massively bold goals seem do-able. Let’s say you want to join a local swim group mid-year, and you’d like to be able to swim a 2K before trying out. Take that scary 2,000 meters and break it up into weekly goals. Doing another 200 meters each week will get you to your goal in no time! And let’s be honest, who doesn’t love a completed goal ticked off?

5. Read Books That Help You Get There

Do you want to live a more minimalist life? Find some books and documentaries that share the lives of those that have made decisions to simplify their life. You can find a book for your Kindle, order books online, visit your local bookstore and even visit your local library! There are tons of online forums and communities you can join or create yourself. 

Looking to write a book? Join a local writer’s meetup. Wanting to meet new like-minded people? Start a small book club and rotate hosts each month. Don’t wait for your perfect activity to magically appear, if it doesn’t exist make it happen!

6. Get Accountability through Friends, Family and Mentors 

It takes a village. It’s important to always be surrounding yourself with a “personal board of directors”, which is a silly way of naming a group of people you keep as your close support network. These are people who’s advice you value and morals you respect. These people can be living your personal or professional paths you’d like to embody.  

They can be friends to keep you accountable, family members to support you and mentors that can help provide you with a fresh perspective.  

It’s never too late to find yourself a mentor, and you can start by reaching out for coffee chats through your peers, LinkedIn connections or attending events within your dream profession. You’d be surprised how many people will be willing to help you as long as you lead with a learning mindset.

I found my mentor Stuart after watching him speak on a panel at a LinkedIn conference a few years back. I loved his thoughtful approach to marketing and I wanted to learn how to be a better public speaker, so I walked up to him after his session and asked if I could meet him for coffee. Weeks later we met up, and we have continued to meet every other month for the last 2 years! He’s taught me everything from career goal setting to panel speaking and interview preparations. He has been my professional rock here in Sydney, and being halfway across the world from my original network, he’s helped immerse me into the professional world here in Australia. 

I am forever grateful for somehow having that bold moment of courage to walk up to him after that event, and yes I’ll be sharing my 2018 vision board with him over the next month.  

7. Reflect each Month

I kept my vision board next to where I store my work bag, and I have to make eye contact with it every morning before I started my day. Each glance is a quick reminder to ground me in the question: 

Is what I’m doing today getting me to where I want to go?

8. Celebrate your achievements through gratefulness 

Go YOU! Look back and celebrate how much you’ve grown and changed! 

Show gratefulness for the people who have gotten you to this point, you haven’t gotten here alone

Bring it on 2018! 

Images supplied by Bree Bunzel.