A clear, shared vision is important when managing your international careers. Afterall, without a clear idea of where you want to go, it is hard to understand the barriers you might meet, the places you can find support and, ultimately, it is difficult to move in the right direction. A vision board can be a useful tool.
What are vision boards?
Vision boards are a collection of images or objects arranged in a way to help you represent your goals. They can be used for just about anything you can envisage but in this case we are talking about your joint vision - envisioning what you want in life together and in your careers.
Vision boards are effective because they are a visual reminder of your intentions and shape your thoughts and actions. They give hope, give a visual aide when doing your 'pros and cons' and can help you to set a direction to move forward.
Whenever you need to make a decision in your life, your board is there to remind you of what matters most now and in the future.
What should a vision board include?
This is your chance to dream big, to experiment, to consider what could be possible for you and your loved ones if there were no constraints. It is important to start with no constraints in mind because, for sure, life can put some constraints around us. Let’s not put them around ourselves!
What to do - Exploration, Visualisation and Discussion
- Independently reflect on what is most important to you. There are exercises that help your reflection e.g. you could complete this free Wheel of Expat Life, Career and Transition and do an exercise to determine your values.
- Share the outcomes with each other and consider what your shared values are.
- Visualise what you would like for the future and play with the timelines (2 months, 1 year, 5 years)
- Talk about what you have discovered is important for you.
- Discuss what all this means for you together. Ask questions, explore what you each really mean, collaborate and determine your shared vision.
- Illustrate this vision on your board in a way that makes sense to you.
The key thing for me is that you not only illustrate your vision but also consider how you get there. On the example below you can see the words ‘community involvement’ and that is because our vision and value is to feel belonging in the community we live in and to do good for others. These words incorporate what we want and how we will achieve it.
When we do this, our minds become focussed on this as an important part of our future life together. So, you can call this a vision board, a dream board, an action board – whatever works for you – but ultimately you are recording your shared thoughts, dreams, desires, visions, values in a visual way so that you can move your vision into action and into reality.
How to make a vision board
Firstly, don’t overthink it and have fun!
Gather your materials (a board, photos, magazines, string, paper, pens, scissors, glue/tape, any other decorative items)
Work on your shared vision - explore, visualise and discuss
Consider your learning style – are you auditory, visual, tactile? Work with your learning styles while completing your board e.g. do you want to see words, have tactile materials, images? What colours are important to you? What words? What textures? What pictures evoke the feeling you want?
Arrange your materials to represent your vision
What makes this board truly representative of you? Use items that make you feel aligned with your vision and values.
My husband brought home a whiteboard and coloured pens and I've recorded it digitally in the image on the right.
It suited us and this exercise should be something you enjoyed together rather than a chore to do.
So, agree how you can do it in a way that suits both of you.
Put your board somewhere prominent and begin to consider how you get there. When a decision comes your way, look to the board to help you decide which way to go.
There has been some research and thinking around the potential negative impact of a vision board because they illustrate a vision and not action. We know as expats that we need to use our skills of taking initiative and advocating for ourselves, so take time to consider how to turn your vision into reality.
Revisit your board when you need to and refresh it from time to time. It is good to come back to your board to determine how you have moved towards your vision, how/if your vision has changed and what to do next.
I enjoy doing this work with clients and have found it useful in our own expat/repat decisions. If you would like coaching support, do get in touch at firstname.lastname@example.org