Inspiring Health & Wellbeing in the New Year: Vision Boards
Inspiring Health & Welling Being in the New Year: Vision Boards
At the end of every year, it's a powerful practice to get clear on your goals for the new year so you can bring them to fruition! If you've struggled to keep new year's resolutions in the past, it may be time to approach them in a different way. Understanding how the brain reacts to rewards and motivations could make the difference between forming new habits that actually stick and “throwing in the towel” on your nutrition and exercise plan after just a few weeks!
Step 1: Visualize your goals! When you make a change to your normal habits (e.g., waking up to hit the gym vs. sleeping in), your brain will see this change as a threat, increasing cortisol “stress hormones” and switching into “survival mode.” In this survival state, blood is drawn away from your brain’s prefrontal cortex which plays a role in regulating emotions, creativity and communication (all things we need in order to achieve our goals!), but visualization can help override this response! So how do you do it? By imagining and painting a clear picture in your mind of what it would look/feel/smell/taste like to reach a desired outcome. By doing this, you create an environment where the new scenario (e.g., exercising first thing in the morning) seems familiar to the brain. In turn, the brain is less likely to react to this new thing as a threat. Research has even found that creating a visual image in your mind (or on paper), can have a longer term impact than writing a list because images follow different neural pathways!
Step 2: Get clear and specific on your visions and goals and start by writing them down. Think about what hasn’t worked when it comes to achieving your resolutions in previous years. Were they too general? Were they unrealistic? Did you have built in ways to measure success? What action steps did you have in place to reach these goals? What forms of accountability were you using? Did you have a strong enough “why?” All of these things matter. Here’s an example of a resolution that is setting you up to fail: “I want to increase my exercise from once to six times per week.” Let’s explore further why a goal like this almost always never works:
#1: The goal is not realistic. Going from one to six workouts in a week is hard to achieve and will likely lead to burnout after a short period of time (hence the packed gyms in January that clear out by mid February!). Starting small and gradually increasing the number and intensity of workouts will be a much more sustainable and realistic way to reach your goals!
#2: It is not specific enough. What form of exercise would you like to partake in? Running? Walking? Weight training? Group fitness? Yoga? Without visualizing the type of exercise you want to do, it will be much more challenging to make and stick to a plan come the new year. It’s also important to choose exercise you will enjoy so you are more likely to show up for it. If you hate waking up early and cardio is your least favorite form of exercise, setting your alarm for a 5am bootcamp is not the best move.
#3: There isn’t a strong “why” attached. Why do you want to exercise six times per week? What outcome would this have (better energy, weight loss, improved mood, etc)? If you don’t have a clear understanding of why you’re working towards a goal, it will be much more difficult to achieve it. If thinking about exercising that much exhausts you, then the chances that you will be excited to get up and actually do it are slim to none!
#4. There are no action steps or forms of accountability. You’ll want to always include specific and detailed steps you will take to achieve your goal. For example, “I will sign up for cardio dance classes on Monday, Wednesday and Friday with my best friend who loves to workout so that I have the accountability and support to get there.” Get more specific from there and actually schedule the classes into your calendar with reminders that go off the day before. Text your friend the night before to confirm that you’ll be seeing them in class!
Take a moment to answer the following questions:
- What is my (realistic) goal? Get specific. What exactly do I want to accomplish?
- Why is achieving this goal important to me? What would it look and feel like to achieve it? How is my life going to change when I’ve received my desired outcome?
- What is one action step I can take this week to set myself up for success?
- How will I hold myself accountable to this goal (externally and internally)? What do I need in order to be successful at accomplishing it?
Step 3: Create a Vision Board. Visualizing how you will look, feel and show up will allow you to become clearer on what it is you are aiming for. When you paint a picture that brings to life these images and visions for yourself, it becomes so magnetic that it draws you towards - making taking action easier! Imagine yourself as an interior decorator who puts together a design board to present to a client. Sell your vision to yourself and make it so enticing that you will do whatever it takes (in a realistic and measurable way), to get to the destination!
Spend some time collecting supplies for your vision board, book, or cards! Think magazines, poster boards, printed words, photos, markers, crayons, scissors, glitter, glue… whatever will best bring your visions to life!
- Schedule time on your calendar to CREATE your vision. Trying to squeeze it in between meetings won’t give you the time and space you need so allow an entire afternoon or evening to invest in your future self! Set a vibe that attracts positivity and abundance (music, great lighting, healthy snacks, etc).
- Start cutting out the images, words, phrases, designs, etc that represent your visions and goals. And know that it’s OK to dream big as long as you have the plan and the support to bring it into fruition!
- Organize your images and words into groups that relate to your specific goals and before you attach them to paper, make sure they pull you towards them like a magnet. Be sure these goals are realistic for the time frame that you’ve set and then remove anything that doesn’t align or get you excited at the thought of making change.
- Get your vision on paper! Lay the images down in their places and once you’re happy with the look and feel, start taping, gluing, decorating etc!
- Lock it all in! Place your vision board/book/cards somewhere you will be able to see every day. Take a photo of it and save it as a screensaver or simply a place you can refer back to often. Keep the list of your goals and the answers to the questions above so you can revisit your plan of action whenever challenges arise (spoiler alert: they will!).
Now that you have your vision board completed, you can continue goal setting by keeping your goals in a journal or the notes section of your phone! Each week, commit to revisiting your goals and put into place a new action step and form of accountability to make sure you’re constantly chipping away and making progress. The combination of visualizing, writing down and then creating your goals will allow you to be far more successful in actually achieving them!
Want more support? Reach out to Metabolic Research Center and book a free consultation with one of our health coaches who will not only help keep you accountable but will also support you in creating small but achievable action steps forward. We would love to see your health and wellness vision board and brainstorm ways you can turn those visions and dreams into reality!
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