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Ep 135 Vision Boarding Effectively with Cynthia Shockley

Enjoy some guided meditation, guided imagery, writing prompts and vision board strategy to support crafting an effective vision board.

Cynthia Shockley, M.A., NBC-HWC, graduated from University of Minnesota’s Integrative Health & Wellbeing Coaching Master of Arts program in 2020. Prior to her graduate studies, she obtained her Psychobiology B.S. from UCLA, her yoga teaching certificate through YogaWorks, and studied mindfulness at the UCLA Mindful Awareness Research Center (MARC). Cynthia is the Director of Community Engagement and Podcast Host of Well Connected Twin Cities, an integrative health advocacy and education organization bringing local wellness practitioners together through authentic networking and educating the public on their local integrative health options. Cynthia is also a faculty member for University of Houston’s new Integrative Health Coaching program and Owner & Founder of Mighty Mama Wellness, a collaborative community empowering women to and through motherhood through intentional gatherings and retreats. Cynthia loves hosting thoughtful gatherings in her home, dancing, adventuring with her husband, and cuddling with her dog and 2 cats.

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Cynthia Shockley Podcast Vision Boarding Effectively



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Ep 135 2023 Vision Boarding Effectively with Cynthia Shockley

  You are listening to the Well Connected Twin Cities podcast. I’m your host, Cynthia Shockley, and I’m here to learn alongside you through meaningful conversations with health and wellness practitioners. This is your time to experience some mindset shifts, learn practical tips, and get excited about what is possible.

We want you to own the power of choice in your personal well being journey. Let’s discover what’s possible right here in our Twin Cities community.

Hello and welcome to the Well Connected Twin Cities podcast. I’m your host Cynthia Shockley and today I am having an episode with myself because I really wanted to share the process of vision boarding effectively. So today you can follow along or you can listen through and apply it at your own pace at another time.

But I’ll be guiding you through a short meditation and a guided imagery to really tap into your creative space and your authentic voice and vision for what you want out of your next year. And once you’ve got clarity on that,

I’ll have a couple of journaling prompts that you can utilize to dig a little deeper in your own time and kind of share that process of, Now that you know what to do, how do you turn that into a vision board?

So we’ll be taking it step by step and I really hope that you find this useful to have a really aligned and intentional 2024.


So we’ll start with just a two minute meditation to really anchor into the breath. If you have the opportunity, please feel free to close your eyes or find a soft spot to gaze and then just start to notice the breath. Maybe noticing the sensation at your nasal passage, maybe noticing the air moving up and down the throat.

Maybe you feel it at your chest as it rises and falls, maybe at the belly. As it fills and relaxes and just use this breath for a moment as an anchor to the present moment. During even our guided imagery, which we’ll do next. Because our mind is designed to wander, explore, but for the slice of time, every time the mind wanders, just notice and then come back.

Use that breath as a conduit back to the present moment.

All those other thoughts, tasks, memories, whatever your brain jumps to, see if you can guide it back to the present.

Take a few more moments to just feel that tethering, connecting. Knowing the breath will always be there for you throughout this guided imagery that we’ll start to transition into. And as we do this guided imagery, I encourage you to really focus on not, is this real, but the question of, is this useful?

Don’t get stuck analyzing if this is just made up or trying to force something to happen. Just allow whatever happens to unfold. Not resisting any visuals that come up, this is just about exploring, making it useful, being present with the experience, so directing some of that mind exploration. You can either stay seated or feel free to lie down if you are feeling comfortable, if you’re in the right space,

and then just bring attention to your feet. Notice maybe where your feet end and where the air begins or the floor beneath you, where’s that line between? Then bring your mind’s eye to observe visually your feet, even though your eyes are closed, right? Even though you can’t see your feet, try to imagine without moving your body that you’re looking at your feet,

are they barefoot? Are they Um, in a certain pair of shoes and then start to notice again, just freely without expectation, as you just imagine your feet, start to notice what it’s standing on, is it standing on grass, pavement? Dirt . We’re gonna start getting creative let go of expectations Come back to that anchor of the breath if the mind wanders away from the visuals and then start to imagine Walking look at your feet in your mind’s eye and begin walking maybe even Noticing that you feel a bit of that sensation at the soles of your feet as you go from heel to toe and then start to bring awareness to the other senses.

Maybe starting to lift your gaze notice what’s around you. Are there trees? Are there houses? Is it something unexpected? Something familiar?

Just let whatever wants to come to mind, come to mind, and imagine walking through this space. Maybe even feeling the air as it passes your skin. Is there a smell in the air? Is it warm? Is it cool? Is the sun shining down? What is the weather like? And you’re gonna just keep walking, exploring with curiosity. Until you notice someone off in the distance a blur almost of a body But as you walk and get closer, this person is also walking closer towards you and you realize It’s you one year from now at the end of the next year. So it’s future you and future you is smiling at you, blocking eyes with you.

You approach this person, and just start to notice, how does this person make you feel? What’s their energy? Are you feeling relaxed? And something about this person, their energy, just feels so inviting. And you’re going to ask this person three questions.

First question, ask future you, What brought you more joy this year? What brought you more joy this year? See what answers come up. What


And then second question, What brought you more peace this year? What brought you more peace this year? See what this person says back to you.

What brought future you more peace?

And then you can ask the final question. What are you proud of accomplishing this year? What are you proud of accomplishing this year? What was that big win?

And just listen.


Allow yourself to be surprised by the answer.

So after having asked what brought you joy, what brought you peace and what are you proud of accomplishing? You can think future you say goodbye, maybe exchange a handshake, a hug, whatever feels right. And notice in your goodbye. A future you hands you a gift. Don’t question what it is. Just accept it graciously. Hold it in your hand. Notice what it is. If it’s in a box, if it’s wrapped, feel free to unravel. What is that gift that you have received?

You can start to walk away.

I’m going to start to come back to this present moment, noticing in your body, how do you feel? Take a nice deep breath.

And then we’ll transition into some journal prompts.

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So now for the journal prompts, and these questions are not anything radical, but now that you’ve had that time to visualize and process, it’s nice to do a deeper dive by writing things down. So first question is just to reflect on what did Did that future you say that brought you more joy? So write down whatever they said.

Feel free to pause the podcast as you go to really reflect because the second question is then what did future you, say brought you more peace? What is it that brought you more peace? And then also third, what is that person proud of accomplishing in 2024? And if you’re listening to this in another year, just apply that next year.

But you know, what is it that future you was proud of accomplishing in the future year? And then the fourth question is What was the gift that you were given as you left? And now this is where you can get a little abstract, you can start to use some symbolism, some of your own interpretation, but what is What is that gift?

What did it mean to you? You why did future you give you that gift? What’s the significance? And so now that you’ve had time to write, hopefully you were able to take some of that time and write out your answers. It’s just so nice to get your thoughts down onto a page where you can review it, get that clarity.

And so now another way that we can get clarity is doing something called a splash sheet. So this is a lot of fun, maybe a little challenging, but I, I challenge you to create a splash sheet. So what you’re going to do is take a piece of paper and you want it to be blank, a blank piece of paper, maybe it’s printer paper or a journal page that you rip out.

But you want that blank piece of paper. And in the middle, So, you’re going to write down my 2024. in the center. And you can keep it small, my 2024, just draw a circle around it so that you know that’s contained. And now you’re going to give yourself two minutes to just word vomit, whatever comes to mind when you think about Your most joyful, peaceful, and successful 2024.

Give yourself those two minutes again, feel free to pause and move forward from there after you’ve timed yourself. And once you have that splash sheet of. So every word, phrase, whatever comes to mind when you think about your most joyful, peaceful, and successful 2024, you might notice there are categories that arise.

There are themes, certain words or concepts that actually fit together. And so what you’re going to do is start to categorize all the words on your sheet. And so. So maybe, you know, let’s say it is a bunch of self care items, then maybe self care is that umbrella, that theme. If you have a bunch of words around social interactions with different people in your life, maybe it’s quality times with loved ones.

That’s your theme. That’s that umbrella category. Right? So start to think of those categories, write down the categories that are most relevant, that show up most often or most powerfully, that just feel like they’re calling to you. And then what you’re going to do is focus on just the top three. Of your top priorities for 2024, maybe up to five, if you want to go nuts, but you want about three to five of those top priorities that you really want to focus on those themes, those umbrellas, and you know, if a priority doesn’t even have a theme or an umbrella concept, feel free to just focus on that one thing, right?

If it’s that important to you, it’s, It’s really about what’s valuable and important to you. It’s not about what’s right or what’s wrong. It’s what’s right for you and you’re the only person here who can determine that, which is amazing and also terrifying, uh, but I really encourage you to take time, process what are these top three to five things that you want to really focus on for the next year.

Because now what we’re going to do is create SMART goals for each of these top priorities. And if you’re unfamiliar, a SMART goal, SMART is an acronym for Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Timely. So specific, you want a goal that has the details, who, what, when, where, why, get really specific about the details of this goal.

Number two is measurable, so make sure it’s a goal that you can measure success with. It’s something you can check off of a list. very clearly and say, boom, I accomplished it. I hit that mark. So instead of a goal, like, Hmm, I want to exercise more. We want to go like, I am intentionally moving my body at least 30 minutes, four days a week.

Right? Something very specific that you can actually measure and track. The third thing you want to make sure about your goal is that it’s attainable. You want to create a goal that’s realistic, that can be achieved, it doesn’t serve anyone if you set goals that are impossible. So think about your actual capacity, the time, the energy, the resources you have in the upcoming year.

And what is a realistic goal that with effort, with intention can be achieved. And then you also want to think about the are relevant, make sure that this goal is relevant to your priorities, sometimes we get distracted. Uh, I don’t know, at least I do, but we want our goals to be really relevant to these priorities.

So that’s why it’s important to really know what those priorities are, those top three to five. And. Make sure your goals aligned with those priorities. And then T is for timely. So there’s a lot of data that shows when you do have some kind of a timestamp for when you want to achieve your goal, it’s more likely to actually be achieved.

So you want to set a timeline, even if it’s a timeline that ends up shifting in the end. To at least have that timeline and to reassess as you go is really helpful to make sure this really is an attainable goal. Maybe you set that goal of moving intentionally for 30 minutes, four days a week, and you’re like, Oh, I can totally do that by the end of January.

The third week of January comes around and you’re like, wow, I’m actually only intentionally moving my body 30 minutes once a week. So that’s a really great way to measure out. Maybe I need an additional three months at least to slowly grow and progress from here. So use that as a measuring tool,

being able to say where you started, where you’re going, where that timeline is, and being able to set that. as a way to have that self accountability.

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All right, so now after all of this work around actually envisioning that peaceful, joyful, successful future year, now we get to the actual vision boarding. So that physical manifestation of everything that you’ve worked to cultivate in your mind’s eye. And so the power of seeing images That actually resonate with that future that you see it’s really important because our brains are So amazing and how they filter information so we actually have something called the reticular activating system in our brain and the way that it works is Well, it filters right because we can’t possibly Consume and understand and actually process every single thing that comes our way, all the stimulation, all the details of what is in our world.

And so our brain actually filters using the reticular activating system and determines what is actually important, what is information that could be useful. for our future, for our benefit. And we can actually hijack that system by using things like mantras, repeating phrases to ourselves, um, looking at images that actually resonate with us and remind us of that deep why, that thing that we are pursuing.

And so we can use this to our knowledge of how our brain functions by creating a vision board. And so what you want to do is find your images that can either be personal images, photos that you have, or they can be stock images online. Some great websites that you can use are Unsplash, Pexels, Pinterest, or just Google, the almighty Google, right?

And another tip that another client of mine once said was to Photoshop yourself into the image for a little bit of that extra oomph, so, if there is a picture of a family on vacation, In Puerto Rico, and that’s a vision of yours. See if you can find a picture of a family and that you can actually Photoshop some images on there of your face, your family members faces.

So that’s a little next level, but if that works for you, awesome, go for it. Also with your images, try to be as specific as possible. Again, our brain is filtering for things that it finds is relevant. So the more you’re looking at pictures of a specific site in Puerto Rico that you want to see, then the more likely it is that your brain will start to seek that information out.

So when you over here, maybe, the couple at that party you’re at talking about Puerto Rico, boom, your brain can just tune into that. Know that it’s important. You might interrupt and say, Hey, I just heard you were in Puerto Rico. Tell me about your favorite place that you went to. You know, it just starts to make those possibilities more likely and accessible to you. So be specific with your images, so for example, I had. vision of being in Greece in a bungalow suite so I actually found an image, and I put it on my vision board so that when the time came for me to eventually start researching hotels, when I saw the image on this Hotel site it just clicked for me and I didn’t even realize it was the image on my vision board But it’s an image my brain became accustomed to it’s something it started seeking out So when it saw it boom Made it happen,

so it’s amazing. So find those pictures, be specific, and make sure that these images evoke emotions, right? When you know, you know. Just follow that intuition. If there’s an image that really makes you feel something, gets you excited, use that image. So now it might take some time. So this is quite a process to find the right image, make sure it resonates, but I promise you it’ll be worth it because this is something you’ll be seeing hopefully on a consistent basis.

And so now it’s time to make your vision board once you have the images. So for me, what I do is I create a folder on my desktop and I drag all the images there for me to then filter through on my own time, make sure that these are the ones I want to use. And once I have them ready, you can either print them at a CVS, a Walgreens, Costco, Kinko’s, wherever.

Um, you can print them on a printer if you have at home. I sometimes use photo. paper and can print it at home, and you can get a poster board, so for me, I originally started with foam boards because they’re sturdy.

So find a size that’s right for you and you can then Start to organize your images on the board. So make sure that there’s a flow. Make sure it’s aesthetically pleasing. Something that you want to look at every day. So just make sure it’s something that you want to look at. It’s something that makes sense to you.

I, one year I actually got organized with, you know, on one side, this is what is pertaining to my career. On the other side, it’s pertaining to my social life. Another section is pertaining to my personal growth, right? So you can get really specific, you know, those original categories that you created.

Maybe you want to have those categories show up in your vision board in some way, just to get organized. Or you can just follow your gut, paste things where things look pretty or make sense to you in the moment, this is your process. These are all suggestions. And another great thing you can do with a physical board is if there are gaps, because not everything’s going to fit just right, if there are gaps, use those gaps to write in quotes, affirmations, mantras, again, those phrases that you see on a daily basis are going to infiltrate that reticular activating system to make that more likely something that your brain Finds in nature, finds in the world.

It’s something that your brain will attune to. So when you see an affirmation or a mantra like, I am creative, I am brilliant, I bring my loved ones together, I make this world a better place, whatever it is, when things that are like that happen in the world, your brain will remember that more easily.

It’ll notice it, and it’ll start to integrate into your sense of self, your sense of who you are in the world. So it just, it makes a difference, I promise you. So use the empty spaces, don’t let it just hang there. Fill it with words, fill it with quotes, whatever is going to really inspire you and strategically cultivate that filtering system in your brain.

And if you would like. If a vision board doesn’t sound appealing, there are options, right? So I’ve been facilitating vision board processing for a couple of years now and other people just bring ideas to the table. And so I’m going to share some of these great ideas with you so that you have them available.

So another thing you can do is a cork board. So being able to have a cork board where you can kind of just pin in those pictures and pin in quotes. And the great thing about a cork board then is instead of everything being glued onto a poster board, is that you can remove pictures as you complete them and you can add new pictures up.

I had one person share that she actually would take the pictures off when she completed that goal, that SMART goal. And then on the back of it, she would write down exactly what she did, the date, how she did it, how she felt. And it was just that extra layer of Celebrating what was accomplished and then she kept all her pictures in a box so that she can always go back and remind herself of all the things that she’s accomplished.

So I’ve actually adopted that into my vision boarding practice along with this really interesting way, so instead of a cork board, because I’m a perfectionist in many ways, recovering perfectionist, let’s say, figuring it out, always a work in progress. But I. I started using this macrame like string thing that you can actually hang pictures on with little clippies so, um, you can actually put all your pictures up and just like a cork Word as you finish them, you can remove them.

I’ve been writing my little notes on the back of the pictures to remind myself when this happened, who it happened with, how it felt, uh, the details of the experience and collecting the information. And then that way I can also add more pictures as I go. And you know, I might actually add a link to the purchase that I did make.

Um, it’s, it’s just. It’s really a beautiful way to display pictures and you can just clip things up as you go and remove them as you go. I find it very convenient and aesthetically pleasing, something I want to look at in my office. Another idea that recently came up was to make a digital vision board.

So going into something like Canva and actually putting all of your images onto a Document in Canva, and again, you can type in words in the gaps, you can layer things, you can do whatever you like, you can add images and graphics and colors, right, so you can get creative on Canva if you’d like, or even on a Word doc, putting those pictures together, a little harder to navigate on a Word doc, uh, just because there’s extra spaces involved, but You can make this whatever you want it to be.

So if you do it digitally, you can also make it your desktop background. You can make it your phone background. If you have a physical vision board, you can take a picture of it and still make it your desktop or your phone background. Something that you see consistently, because this is key. This is the final.

piece of advice with your vision boards. You want to make sure it’s something that you see on a consistent basis. Something, even if you don’t see it actively all the time. It’s something that’s even passively in your vision every day. So I have my vision board on my work desktop. I also have it physically in front of me at my workstation.

And I also have. One of the images that I really want to focus on particularly as my phone background. Uh, so it’s one image out of many, but it’s one that I really want to focus on as my phone background. And again, there’s that power of being able to hijack and strategically cultivate that reticular activating system so that your brain is primed to capitalize on those opportunities to validate itself, to say, yeah, I am this kind of person.

I am making this happen in my life. Your brain is sometimes your worst enemy, but it can be your best friend if you know how to use it. So, there it is. The whole vision boarding process. How to vision board effectively. It is a journey. It is not something to whip together. Gosh, the first vision boards I made were just go into a magazine and cut out pictures and paste them on a Poster board and it wasn’t really effective,

it wasn’t really effective. It looks pretty, it looks nice, it’s motivating, but all of these tips, adding the meditation to anchor into the present moment, using guided imagery to really explore this future version of self, making this person feel more real, having a conversation with this person to understand what brings you more joy, what brings you more peace, What are you most proud of accomplishing in the next year?

Being able to get that clarity and then strategically create that smart goal again and again, new smart goal, new smart goal that aligns with these elements of your vision and then, and then going into the images, it’s not image first, it’s intention first. What’s driving you and how do these images that you find then emulate that for you so that you are reminded of that deeper work that you have put in to explore what you need in the next year, what you want to prioritize in the next year to be your absolute best self.

Happy New Year everyone. I hope you have a really intentional, beautiful, messy, amazing year. I wish you absolutely the best and I hope that this was helpful.

Th ank you so much for listening to the Well Connected Twin Cities podcast. Did you learn something new? Did you feel that spark of hope and excitement for what is possible? Because so much is possible. Tell us about it in a review on Apple podcast. Not only would we absolutely love hearing from you, but these reviews help our ratings and help other curious minds like you find this resource.

We are always better together. Thank you again and see you next time.

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