Every December, I purchase a variety of poster boards, collect magazines, head to our local art store for scrapbooking materials and send out a calendar invite to the members of my family.
The agenda: Visualizing our New Year goals together, one board at a time.
I did not create the concept of the vision board, a powerful tool which Olympic athletes have been using for decades to improve performance. What I did is to take this performance tool and turn it into a family activity to encourage communication, introspection, the sharing of ideas, feelings and goals to my family of boys.
Four boys to be exact, ages 4 to 18. Five if you include my husband. Ever try to discuss feelings with boys? In general, having long deep meaningful conversations can be a rare occurrence.
Here’s how vision boards can be beneficial, entertaining and a great communication tool.
Benefit #1: A Vision Board Promotes Language-Building Skills and Family Conversation.
As a clinical speech and language therapist and founder of Great Speech, an online speech therapy company, I am constantly searching for different activities to promote communication and goal setting for our therapists to initiate with clients as well as ways to promote language skills and conversation in my own family.
After creating a vision board for myself in 2015 and then with my husband in 2016, I confidently decided creating vision boards as part of a New Year’s resolution with the members of my family would be an amazing interactive, goal-setting, language-building activity for us to do together.
It was an epic failure.
The kids, then ages 7, 11 and 14 resisted. My husband and I persisted and created individual boards, chatting and encouraging each other as we worked. Proudly, we displayed our boards in our bedroom closet wall for easy access and constant reflection.
As time passed, our kids began to comment about our artistic talents, our goals and progress. There was a lot of eye rolling and some teasing, with occasional words of encouragement.
The conversation had started.
Benefit #2: Vision Boards Promote Introspection and Goal Setting.
The following year, we decided to give it another try, tweaking the process to make it more kid-friendly. We increased the magazine selection, decreased the activity time, added a dinner in their favorite restaurant and let the kids pick the art supplies.
I wouldn’t call it a success but there were three boards (our youngest just colored).
Last year was a success. Our oldest son created a very detailed, introspective and intentional vision board of whom he wanted to meet and what he wanted to accomplish during the course of the year. His goals were conceptualized in a crystal-clear fashion. He even gave his board a title, 2019 will be the GOAT (Greatest of all Time). As the oldest, he set the tone for the others and in true male fashion, the project turned competitive.
Here is the true sign of success: one of our sons recently asked about the date for this year. Another requested to go with his brothers to the art store to pick out the supplies. And the third created a playlist, without being asked.
It’s official. We have an annual tradition and way of visually sharing our goals as a family unit.
Benefit #3: Visualization is One of the Most Effective Mind Workouts.
A word of caution: Avoid defining success by your first attempt. Personalize the activity to meet the needs of your family. If there is any conversation, positive or negative, give yourself a pat on the back.
Teaching kids, whether in your family, classroom or clinic, to be introspective and intentional is a lifetime skill which grows in importance as we get older.
And definitely don’t give up. Visualization is one of the most effective mind workouts you can share with your kids, students or patients. Keep in mind this type of activity can be adapted to other times of the year, like the beginning of the school year or before starting a new job.
For tips on how to effectively integrate this activity into your family, practice or classroom, download my eBook. Then share your vision boards with me.