Here's How To Take Your Vision Board To The Next Level
First and foremost, I'm not sure who needs to read this but this past year should not be the reason why you've decided to lower your goals or not set any at all for the one that's coming. Now more than ever, we realize how nothing should be taken for granted, how unpredictable life is, let alone how little control we have over it. All of which can be scary.
Yet, looking at the bright side of the current situation we live in, I believe that this year can also be seen as evidence that anything, literally anything, can happen.
Everything is possible and that, my dear, if you put the right strategy in place, includes fulfilling your goals and dreams—regardless of the circumstances. Speaking of strategy, among other things, mine includes creating a vision board. Not the usual type of vision board, though. An upgraded version—more effective.
The Original Vision Board: What Is It & How To Make One
In case you're being introduced to the concept for the first time through this article, a vision board is a collage of words and images—and anything else you'd like to add to it—that mirror one's aspirations and desires: a flat stomach, a new car, a career in acting, building a home and family... It's a law of attraction technique commonly used at the beginning of a new year destined to help you achieve any of your goals through inspiration, motivation, and most importantly, visualization. Vision boards have proven to be extremely powerful; numerous success stories can be found on YouTube.
Back in the day, creating a vision board was simple. All it required was a few supplies—a pair of scissors, a stick of glue or double tape, some pens and sharpies, several of your favorite magazines from which you'd crop words and images, and finally, a blank canvas to decorate with those. Add to that two to three hours of your time, and you've got yourself a vision board.
But as the concept started gaining more popularity, people began adding their own twists to the creation process, like using different physical mediums, printing their own images...even adding more rules to follow to make sure manifestation occurs, which requires much more intentional work.
With that being said, not enough work for me. At least not anymore.
Let me explain.
How To Take Your Vision Board To The Next Level
Writer Savannah Taïder for xoNecole
I've been making this kind of collage for five years now, diligently applying every tip and trick that I'd come across over time.
I was able to witness a lot of my goals manifest, but I deeply believe more of my dreams could've come to life if it wasn't because of this one flaw vision boards have.
Indeed, I've noticed that once our vision boards are completed, all we can do is think back on them and reflect. In the very beginning of the year, it's something that we do every day. Yet after a while, even if we make sure to display them in a strategic place in our homes, eventually we don't see them anymore; and if we ever take a look in their direction, it's rarely on purpose.
If that doesn't f*ck up the entire manifestation process in itself, it certainly slows it down a whole lot because how are we supposed to manifest the things that don't even hold our attention?
Recently, as I was scrolling down my Twitter timeline, I found myself very inspired by one of my friends' goal-crushing tips. In her tweet, she was briefly breaking down the strategy that she's going to use to achieve her goals in 2021. The latter turns out to be super simple: create a to-do list for every goal pictured on her vision board. Talk about a brilliant idea.
If you want to ensure that your vision board works its magic all year long and beyond, take it to the next level by following this step-by-step guide:
Step 1: Define Your Vision
I've been debating whether I should make this part the first or second step for a good minute until I finally opted for the former. Indeed, as mentioned earlier, vision boards shouldn't just be random artistic collages. In order to work, they must be created with a lot of intention. Therefore, I believe that before partaking in such an activity, we must have a clear, well-defined vision of our desires.
For some reason, this step is the longest and most complicated part of the process. As easy as daydreaming about the life we long for can be, when it comes to taking our fantasies seriously and believing that we can, it can get a bit intimidating. Some people can barely tell what they want in life. If this is your case, here's a short list of questions that should help you figure it out:
- What are the things you enjoy? What are your passions?
- What makes you feel alive?
- What would you like to try that you've never tried before?
- If you had no limits, what would you like to achieve?
- What's the meaning behind the things that you want to manifest? Do they have meaning to you or someone else?
- What truly brings you a sense of purpose?
- What are the things that you need?
- How hard are you willing to work to fulfill your dreams?
- What are the dreams you doubt your ability to fulfill but are willing to let God or the Universe help you with?
- What would your six-year old self want to see you do? Who would she want you to be?
If I can give you one piece of advice, when defining your vision, "never downgrade it to fit your reality." As Stuart Scott once said, "Upgrade your convictions to match your destiny."
Step 2: Gather Your Supplies
Writer Savannah Taïder for xoNecole
The list of materials you'll need is pretty much what you would need for the original vision board. Except, for this upgraded version, you will also look for images in places other than magazines—that is to say the Internet, so you can add a printer to the list—and we will trade the board for a refillable journal or a planner binder. The decision for dimensions (A4, A5...) is yours to make. The purpose of using such kind of medium is to make you able to 1) carry your vision board everywhere with you and 2) move or add pages when necessary.
As far as images, because precision is key when manifesting, you don't want to limit your possibilities to find exact representations of your vision by searching magazines only. If the intention is to manifest a trip to the Giraffe Manor in Kenya, characterizing this goal by the portrait of a woman boarding a plane because that's the most accurate image you were able to find inside of a magazine isn't the way to do it. Search Google or your favorite social media platforms. Most of the time, they will provide you with the exact pictures that you need. Moreover, if you happen to be Photoshop- or Canva-savvy, do not hesitate to create your own images and add yourself to them—just like you should put a photo of yourself at the center of your vision board as well.
Step 3: Set Up Your Journal
The latter will be divided into two main sections. This is not a requirement but I suggest using dividers for better organization. The first section will serve as an introduction and an overview of your vision as a whole. Following the same order, it should contain:
- An overall vision board: Use two facing pages or more to glue all the visual materials that you've collected.
- A list of all your goals: Although images speak louder than words, they might not always say the right things. Writing down a list of your goals will help maintain your focus on what the real intention is as well as keep track of the things that you've accomplished.
- An About Me page: Your About Me page is a journal prompt that should be taken very seriously. This self-introduction must be written as though you're already living your best life, using the present tense and positive words only. Who are you becoming as you're fulfilling all your dreams? What state of mind are you in? What opportunities are coming your way? What are you letting go of? This technique is called scripting, manifesting through written affirmations.
Writer Savannah Taïder for xoNecole
The second section is meant for you to concentrate on each one of your goals individually and hold you accountable. This is where the vision board that was initially just a piece of art on the wall becomes a real (daily or almost) manifestation exercise. Again, it's best to use dividers for clarity purposes. For example, you can divide this section to suit every area of life you've set yourself goals for: love and relationships, health, career, passions, etc. Then for each goal, you must:
- Create a more specific vision board: The first vision board that you made was an overall one. It was a general representation of your vision. Now, you must create individual vision boards specific to each goal to narrow down your vision and make it even more accurate. For example, let's say that you put a house on your overall vision board because your desire is to acquire your first property. This means that the vision board related to this goal should contain pictures of the furniture that you want, kitchen or bathroom designs, bedroom arrangements, etc.
- Write down your why: Speaking from experience, I can tell you that whenever you feel like giving up, your why is the only thing that will keep you going. Write it down on a page corner close to your goals as a motivational reminder.
- Develop your game plan: How do you plan to accomplish your goals? What actions do you need to take? Did you set yourself a deadline? This is where a to-do list and a schedule come in handy. Both will hold you accountable and make your life easier. The best way to accomplish a huge task is by breaking it down into smaller ones. The best way to prevent procrastination is to establish a calendar.
- Be mindful of your struggles and fears: Along the way, you'll experience some struggles and sometimes be pushed to the edge of fear. You'll see that the journey to achieving a goal rarely is a peaceful one. It comes with tons of setbacks and bumps in the road. When this happens, it's tempting to want to back out. Don't. Instead, try to be mindful of what your fears and struggles are; list them down in your journal, study them until you get a grip on them. Once it's done, create another list this time made of affirmations and solutions to overcome your hardships. Refer to those whenever you feel stuck.
- Journal your journey: This one is a bonus in case you enjoy writing and find documenting your life exciting. Who knows, maybe someday you can turn it into a novel or a memoir. Or use it on your lowest days to remind yourself of how powerful you are.
I believe it's important to wrap up this step-by-step guide to creating a vision board by telling you this: It's possible that your vision doesn't manifest exactly as you want it to or take more time than initially planned to do so.
While the achievement of your goals mostly depends on you, I also think that God and the Universe have their say—if not the final say, period. With that being said, it's crucial to remain positive about your goals at all times. Learn the lessons they're supposed to teach you and trust that everything happens when it needs to happen and the way it needs to happen.
Furthermore, if your goals don't manifest within the different timeframes that you've set for each, it's not necessarily a sign that your vision board is dysfunctional. Some of my goals that I displayed on my 2017 vision board manifested no later than 2019. Sometimes the seeds that you plant require more time than you think to break the ground. Keep watering them anyway.
My last piece of advice would be to keep all the vision boards and journals that you've worked on in a safe place. You never really know when your dreams will become reality. But when they do, it feels magical to be able to look back and say "I finally made it."
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Featured image by Shutterstock
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The most Gemini woman you'll ever meet. Communications & community enthusiast, I run a media platform centered around spirituality, and I'm always looking to connect with fellow creatives. Follow me on Instagram & Twitter @savannahtaider
Amber Riley Is In Her Element
Amber Riley has the type of laugh that sticks with you long after the raspy, rhythmic sounds have ceased. It punctuates her sentences sometimes, whether she’s giving a chuckle to denote the serious nature of something she just said or throwing her head back in rip-roarious laughter after a joke. She laughs as if she understands the fragility of each minute. She chooses laughter often with the understanding that future joy is not guaranteed.
Credit: Ally Green
The sound of her laughter is rivaled only by her singing voice, an emblem of the past and the future resilience of Black women stretched over a few octaves. On Fox’s Glee, her character Mercedes Jones was portrayed, perhaps unfairly, as the vocal duel to Rachel Berry (Lea Michele), offering rough, full-throated belts behind her co-star’s smooth, pristine vocals. Riley’s always been more than the singer who could deliver a finishing note, though.
Portraying Effie White, she displayed the dynamic emotions of a song such as “And I'm Telling You I'm Not Going” in Dreamgirls on London’s West End without buckling under the historic weight of her predecessors. With her instrument, John Mayer’s “Gravity” became a religious experience, a belted hymnal full of growls and churchy riffs. In her voice, Nicole Scherzinger once said she heard “the power of God.”
Credit: Ally Green
Riley’s voice has been a staple throughout pop culture for nearly 15 years now. Her tone has become so distinguishable that most viewers of Fox’s The Masked Singer recognized the multihyphenate even before it was revealed that she was Harp, the competition-winning, gold-masked figure with an actual harp strapped to her back.
Still, it wasn’t until recently that Riley began to feel like she’d found her voice. This sounds unbelievable. But she’s not referring to the one she uses on stage. She’s referencing the voice that speaks to who she is at her core. “Therapy kind of gave me the training to speak my mind,” the 37-year-old says. “It’s not something we’re taught, especially as Black women. I got so comfortable in [doing so], and I really want other people, especially Black women, to get more comfortable in that space.”
“Therapy kind of gave me the training to speak my mind. It’s not something we’re taught, especially as Black women."
If you ask Riley’s manager, Myisha Brooks, she’ll tell you the foundation of who the multihyphenate is hasn’t changed much since she was a kid growing up in Compton. “She is who she is from when I met her back when she was singing in the front of the church to back when she landed major roles in film and TV,” Brooks says. Time has allowed Riley to grow more comfortable, giving fans a more intimate glimpse into her life, including her mental health journey and the ins and outs of show business.
The actress/singer has been in therapy since 2019, although she suffered from depression and anxiety way before that. In a recent interview with Jason Lee, she recalls having suicidal ideation as a kid. By the time she started seeing a psychologist and taking antidepressants in her thirties, her body had become jittery, a physical reminder of the trauma stacked high inside her. “I was shaking in [my therapist’s] office,” she tells xoNecole. “My fight or flight was on such a high level. I was constantly in survival mode. My heart was beating fast all the time. All I did was sweat.”
There wasn’t just childhood trauma to account for. After auditioning for American Idol and being turned away by producers, Riley began working for Ikea and nearly missed her Glee audition because her car broke down on the highway while en route. Thankfully, Riley had been cast to play Mercedes Jones. American Idol had temporarily convinced her she wasn’t cut out for the entertainment industry, but this was validation that she was right where she belonged. Glee launched in 2009 with the promise of becoming Riley’s big break.
In some ways, it was. The show introduced Riley to millions of fans and catapulted her into major Hollywood circles. But in other ways, it became a reminder of the types of roles Black women, especially those who are plus-sized, are relegated to. Behind the scenes, Riley says she fought for her character "to have a voice" but eventually realized her efforts were useless. "It finally got to a point where I was like, this is not my moment. I'm not who they're choosing, and this is just going to have to be a job for me for now," she says. "And, that's okay because it pays my bills, I still get to be on television, I'm doing more than any other Black plus-sized women that I'm seeing right now on screen."
The actress can recognize now that she was navigating issues associated with trauma and low self-esteem at the time. She now knows that she's long had anxiety and depression and can recognize the ways in which she was triggered by how the cult-like following of the show conflicted with her individual, isolated experiences behind the scenes. But she was in her early '20s back then. She didn't yet have the language or the tools to process how she was feeling.
Riley says she eventually sought out medical intervention. "When you're in Hollywood, and you go to a doctor, they give you pills," she says, sharing a part of her story that she'd never revealed publicly before now. "[I was] on medication and developing a habit of medicating to numb, not understanding I was developing an addiction to something that's not fixing my problem. If anything, it's making it worse."
“[I was] on medication and developing a habit of medicating to numb, not understanding I was developing an addiction to something that’s not fixing my problem. If anything it’s making it worse.”
Credit: Ally Green
At one point, while in her dressing room on set, she rested her arm on a curling iron without realizing it. It wasn't until her makeup artist alerted her that she even realized her skin was burning. Once she noticed, she says she was "so zonked out on pills" that she barely reacted. Speaking today, she holds up her arm and motions towards a scar that remains from the incident. She sought help for her reliance on the pills, but it would still be years before she finally attended therapy.
This stress was only compounded by the trauma of growing up in poverty and the realities of being a "contract worker." "Imagine going from literally one week having to borrow a car to get to set to the next week being on a private jet to New York City," she says. After Glee ended, so did the rides on private planes. The fury of opportunities she expected to follow her appearance on the show failed to materialize. She wasn't even 30 yet, and she was already forced to consider if she'd hit her career peak.
. . .
We’re only four minutes into our Zoom call before Riley delivers her new adage to me. “My new mantra is ‘humility does not serve me.’ Humility does not serve Black women. The world works so hard to humble us anyway,” she says.
On this Thursday afternoon in April, the LA-based entertainer is seated inside her closet/dressing room wearing a cerulean blue tank top with matching shorts and eating hot wings. This current phase of healing hinges on balance. It’s about having discipline and consistency, but not at the risk of inflexibility. She was planning to head to the gym, for instance, but she’s still tired from the “exhausting” day before. Instead, she’s spent her day receiving a massage, eating some chicken wings, and planning to spend quality time with friends. “I’m not going to beat myself up for it. I’m not going to talk down to myself. I’m going to eat my chicken wings, and then tomorrow I’m [back] in the gym,” she says.
“My new mantra is ‘humility does not serve me.’ Humility does not serve Black women. The world works so hard to humble us anyway."
This is the balance with which she's been approaching much of her life these days. It's why she's worried less about whether or not people see her as someone who is humble. She'd rather be respected. "I think you should be a person that's easy to work with, but in the moments where I have to ruffle feathers and make waves, I'm not shying away from that anymore. You can do it in love, you don't have to be nasty about it, but I had to finally be comfortable with the fact that setting boundaries around my life – in whatever aspect, whether that's personal or business – people are not going to like it. Some people are not going to have nice things to say about you, and you gotta be okay with it," she says.
When Amber talks about the constant humbling of Black women in Hollywood, I think of the entertainers before her who have suffered from this. The brilliant, consistent, overqualified Black women who have spoken of having to fight for opportunities and fair pay. Aretha Franklin. Viola Davis. Tracee Ellis Ross. There's a long list of stars whose success hasn't mirrored their experiences behind the scenes.
Credit: Ally Green
If Black women outside of Hollywood are struggling to decrease the pay gap, so, too, are their wealthier, more famous peers.
Riley says there’s been progress in recent years, but only in small ways and for a limited group of people. “This business is exhausting. The goalpost is constantly moving, and sometimes it’s unfair,” she says. But, I have to say it’s the love that keeps you going.”
“There’s no way you can continue to be in this business and not love it, especially being a plus-sized Black woman,” she continues. “We’re still niche. We’re still not main characters.”
"There’s no way you can continue to be in this business and not love it, especially being a plus-sized Black woman. We’re still niche. We’re still not main characters.”
Last year, Riley starred alongside Raven Goodwin in the Lifetime thriller Single Black Female (a modern, diversified take on 1992’s Single White Female). It was more than a leading role for the actress, it also served as proof that someone who looks like her can front a successful project without it hinging on her identity. It showcased that the characters she portrays don’t “have to be about being a big girl. It can just be a regular story.”
Riley sees her work in music as an extension of her efforts to push past the rigid stereotypes in entertainment. Take her appearance on The Masked Singer, for instance. Riley said she decided to perform Mayer’s “Gravity” after being told she couldn’t sing it years earlier. “I wanted to do ‘Gravity’ on Glee. [I] was told no, because that’s not a song that Mercedes would do,” she says. “That was a full circle moment for me, doing that on that show and to hear what it is they had to say.”
As Scherzinger praised the “anointed” performance, a masked Riley began to cry, her chest heaving as she stood on stage, her eyes shielded from view. “You have to understand, I have really big names – casting directors, producers, show creators – that constantly tell me ‘I’m such a big fan. Your talent is unmatched.’ Hire me, then,” she says, reflecting on the moment.
Recently, she’s been in the studio working on original music, the follow-up to her independently-released debut EP, 2020’s Riley. The sequel to songs such as the anthemic “Big Girl Energy” and the reflective ballad “A Moment” on Riley, this new project hones in on the singer’s R&B roots with sensual grooves such as the tentatively titled “All Night.” “You said I wasn’t shit, turns out that I’m the shit. Then you called me a bitch, turns out that I’m that bitch. You said no one would want me, well you should call your homies,” she sings on the tentatively titled “Lately,” a cut about reflecting on a past relationship. From the forthcoming project, xoNecole received five potential tracks. Fans likely already know the strengths and contours of Riley’s vocals, but these new songs are her strongest, most confident offerings as an artist.
“I am so much more comfortable as a writer, and I know who I am as an artist now. I’m evolving as a human being, in general, so I’m way more vulnerable in my music. I’m way more willing to talk about whatever is on my mind. I don’t stop myself from saying what it is I want to say,” she says.
Credit: Ally Green
“Every era and alliteration of Amber, the baseline is ‘Big Girl Energy.’ That’s the name of her company,” her manager Brooks says, referencing the imprint through which Riley releases her music after getting out of a label deal several years ago. “It’s just what she stands for. She’s not just talking about size, it’s in all things. Whether it’s putting your big girl pants on and having to face a boardroom full of executives or sell yourself in front of a casting agent. It’s her trying to achieve the things she wants to do in life.”
Riley says she has big dreams beyond releasing this new music, too. She’d love to star in a rom-com with Winston Duke. She hasn't starred in a biopic yet, but she’d revel in the opportunity to portray Rosetta Tharpe on screen. She’s determined that her previous setbacks won’t stop her from dreaming big.
“I think one of my superpowers is resilience because, at the end of the day, I’m going to kick, scream, cry, cuss, be mad and disappointed, but I’m going to get up and risk having to deal with it all again. It’s worth it for the happy moments,” she says.
If Riley seems more comfortable and confident professionally, it’s because of the work she’s been doing in her personal life.
She’d previously spoken to xoNecole about becoming engaged to a man she discovered in a post on the site, but she called things off last year. For Valentine’s Day, she revealed her new boyfriend publicly. “I decided to post him on Valentine’s Day, partially because I was in the dog house. I got in trouble with him,” she says, half-joking before turning serious. “The breakup was never going to stop me from finding love. Or at least trying. I don’t owe anybody a happily ever after. People break up. It happens. When it was good, it was good. When it was bad, it was terrible, hunny. I had to get the fuck up out of there. You find happiness, and you enjoy it and work through it.”
Credit: Ally Green
"I don’t owe anybody a happily ever after. People break up. It happens. When it was good, it was good. When it was bad, it was terrible, hunny. I had to get the fuck up out of there. You find happiness and you enjoy it and work through it.”
With her ex, Riley was pretty outspoken about her relationship, even appearing in content for Netflix with him. This time around is different. She’s not hiding her boyfriend of eight months, but she’s more protective of him, especially because he’s a father and isn’t interested in becoming a public figure.
She’s traveling more, too. It’s a deliberate effort on her part to enjoy her money and reject the trauma she’s developed after experiencing poverty in her childhood. “I live in constant fear of being broke. I don’t think you ever don’t remember that trauma or move past that. Now I travel and I’m like, listen, if it goes, it goes. I’m not saying [to] be reckless, but I deserve to enjoy my hard work.”
After everything she’s been through, she certainly deserves to finally let loose a bit. “I have to have a life to live,” she says. “I’ve got to have a life worth fighting for.”
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Janelle Monáe's Reveals The Real Reason Why She Stopped Wearing Her Signature Tuxedos
Singer and actress Janelle Monáe exemplifies how change can be a powerful catalyst for growth and transformation.
Monáe, who rose to fame in 2010 following the release of her debut album, The ArchAndroid, captivated fans' hearts with her powerful vocals, catchy tunes, and style. Around that time period, when various female artists were known to wear provocative ensembles on stage, the "Tightrope" songstress set herself apart by wearing her signature black and white suits and continued to do so for almost a decade.
In the later years of her career, after the release of her studio albums The Electric Lady in 2013 and 2018's Dirty Computer, many began to notice the shift in Monáe's artistry and fashion, which some widely praised.
Although the now 37-year-old rarely addressed the reason behind the transformation over the years, that would all change when Monáe sat down with radio personality Angie Martinez on her IRL podcast earlier this month.
During the interview, Monáe --who was promoting her latest album, "The Age of Pleasure"-- opened up about her mental health struggles, how she would cope, and why she chose to live in freedom.
Janelle On Why She Stopped Wearing Her Signature Suits All the Time
Photo by Frederick M. Brown/Getty Images
In the May discussion, the "I Like That" vocalist revealed she suffers from anxiety, which she claimed would occur around "winter to spring."
Monáe added that when she has her bouts with anxiety, she tends to turn to food as a coping mechanism. Further in the interview, the "Lipstick Lover" singer disclosed that her emotional eating habits caused a weight fluctuation and that she could no longer fit into the suits she once wore earlier in her career.
Monáe explained that even though she tried to diet and exercise to return to her smaller figure, she ultimately stopped and made peace with herself with the help of therapy because she acknowledged that she isn't the same person she was nearly a decade ago and shouldn't try to be even if it was a highly "celebrated" version.
"I'm petite, but it can get thick... When I couldn't fit them suits anymore, and I was like, 'Oh my God, what is going on?' I would be dieting, running, or exercising, trying to fit into [it]. I'm just like, 'No. No, we're here. This is where we are.' We [are] not about to be utilizing life trying to be an old version of ourselves. No matter how celebrated that version of me was. I'm here. I'm here," she said.
Janelle On Freedom
As the topic shifted to freedom and what that meant to Monáe, the "Primetime" vocalist shared that in this new era of her life, she enjoys it because she can boldly express herself however she wants and honor who she is as a person right now.
Monáe also revealed that she had found ways to become a better artist and the best version of herself because of her freedom.
"What is the new version of freedom? What does that feel like? That's usually when I feel the most free is when artistically, I can honor exactly who I am right now," she stated. "I feel most free as a human when I can honor exactly who I am right now."
Monáe's fourth studio album, The Age of Pleasure, is set to be released on June 9.
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