Setting Goals During a Pandemic: How to Create a Vision Board Despite an Uncertain Future
It has been a year. You felt it, I felt it, we all felt it. No one will escape this year unaffected.
The ground gave way beneath our feet. Things we took for granted like driving into the office or sitting in a classroom of peers or even hugging your grandma vanished. Of all things, toilet paper disappeared off the shelves?!
Interactions became digital and pixelated instead of face to face. Difficult and previously suppressed conversations on the topics of race and equity came to the surface in the media we interact with on a daily basis. Any and all things that had laid dormant for years bubbled over. I am forever nicknaming 2020 our volcano year. The world erupted.
But of course, that is just one side of the story. The term “growth through discomfort” comes to mind when I think of these past 10 months. There was an ironic amount of foreshadowing in my post from the beginning of this year on my 2019 lessons... I think 2020 serves as an important and inspiring reminder of the adaptability of the human race. Looking back at everything that has happened this year, you have to admit we have an impressive knack to take difficult circumstances head-on. We were made to evolve. From zoom university to masking up in grocery stores, as a collective “we” there have been many lessons learned this year.
And you might not have set out on the exact path you thought 2020 would take you on... but there is so much value in that. At a recent family gathering, my grandpa asked everyone to share something they accomplished this year. Every family member had something they were proud of accomplishing in 2020. Growth through discomfort. Perhaps it is as simple as passing your classes last semester. Or putting on a smile for your peers, your coworkers, your kids. This year was tough, but you showed up. Every one of you has accomplished something great during this strange strange season.
With so much unknown, it is hard to know where to begin when setting goals for the future. The future is a really scary thing right now. The dust is far from settled, where do we go from here? How does someone set goals during a global pandemic?
Luckily for you, my 2019 was a hot mess long before COVID came along! If you have read my post about deciding not to apply to medical school, you will understand when I say I was feeling particularly lost during the summer before my senior year of college. When I intentionally erased all of my plans for myself in my post-grad career, I suddenly felt lost. Really lost. No purpose and I might never achieve anything in this big big world lost.
I have always been goal-oriented. Working towards a larger goal is what motivates me to complete daily tasks. During the summer before my senior year of college, I may not have had any idea where I was headed or what my big picture goals were. But I realized I had some smaller milestones I hoped to reach during the coming year. This helped focus me during a very uncertain time and translates quite well to the present situation.
And no, it doesn’t have to be January 1st for you to set new goals. I think today is the perfect place to start. Here are some of my tips for setting goals for yourself even when life is particularly uncertain and unclear...
How to Set Goals During a Pandemic
Focus on the type of life you want to live.
How do you want to feel in your everyday life? Write down some words you plan to embody in the coming year. Fearless. Joyful. Adventurous. Exploratory. What words do you hope to manifest?
Set smaller goals you can work towards.
Saving money for a dog and an apartment was truthfully one of my only clearly defined goals for myself during my senior year. An apartment. A dog. Those things motivated me to work hard and save as much money as I could. Depositing paychecks into my savings account was tangible. I felt like I was accomplishing something even if it wasn't some big overarching “the world will remember me for this” goal.
Steer away from career title goals.
If you are like me and you don’t have a perfect path to “what you want to be when you grow up”, it can be overwhelming to set career goals. Instead of a specific title or role, frame your goals as “I want to have autonomy” or “I want to work in a creative role”. Leave your career wide open for yourself but give some general direction to the qualities you would like to work towards.
Set goals for how you want to treat others.
Think of traits you can control about yourself. Do you want to be kinder to strangers, a better cheerleader for your friends and loved ones, less envious of others, a stronger advocate in your community? How can you be better for those around you?
Give yourself things you can control and work towards no matter your environment. Set small goals that help you feel like you’re moving forward.
How to Bring it All Together in A Vision Board
Creating a vision board was one of the most creatively inspiring and motivational things I did before I started my senior year of college. I took to Pinterest to find photos that represented my goals and then I printed them out, cut them to size, and taped them together into my vision board for the year. There is something so centering about creating a visual representation of your goals. As I said, my path was no longer perfect and clear-cut but I had an idea of how my values could guide me and what milestones I wanted to reach.
Recently, I glanced up at my vision board and proudly realized I had accomplished many of my goals this past year.
I became financially independent. I bought a puppy. I moved into a new apartment with my boyfriend. I went after opportunities that I thought I was maybe unqualified for. I listened to my gut and sought out new experiences.
I knew it was time to create a new vision board so I thought I would bring you guys along for the process.
- Shadow box or poster board
- 15-20 pictures
- Paper trimmer or scissors
1. Write down goals, milestones, words you want to represent your life in the coming year.
2. Find pictures in your camera roll or on Pinterest that you think represent these goals.
Here is a link to my Pinterest. I used a lot of my saved pins for my vision board. You can also type keywords into the search bar on Pinterest. For example, I typed in “white car” to find a picture that represented me buying my first car. Open the picture full size in Pinterest and then just drag it off onto your desktop.
3. Print images.
I use Walgreens Photo for photo prints, they usually have really good coupons. Now until October 30th, they have 50% off all prints! For sizing I recommend doing 4x4 or 4x5.3, this gives you the right size for putting multiple pictures on a board/in a frame. Quick tip, if the resolution of a Pinterest photo is too low for printing, drag the image into the google search bar to find alternative sources of the image with better resolution.
4. Cut images to the desired size.
I use a paper trimmer like the one linked here. It helps get a really clean, straight cut. You can also just use scissors. Trim down the excess background space in the photos. This helps you fit more pictures into your vision board. After they are cropped, I like to write what the image represents on the back of it. It is nice to put goals into writing. Also, in case you forget a year from now what a picture was supposed to mean, the writing on the back is a nice reminder.
5. Put pictures on a board or in a shadow box.
I got my shadow box from HomeGoods and I love it! Here is one from Target, one at Michaels, and another at Joann Fabrics. If you are looking for a more cost-effective project, a thick poster board would also be a great option.
6. Test out different photo arrangements.
You can watch my IGTV video to see how many times I moved my photos around to find an arrangement I liked. This is a tedious process. The key to making a good photo collage is an eye for balance. Spread out photos with similar colors, photos with people, and photos that have quotes. You might need to re-trim photos to get the fit and proportions just right.
7. Take a picture of the final layout.
Once you are happy with the layout, take a picture of the final arrangement. You can reference the picture you took when you begin to tape down the photos.
8. Tape down photos.
Move images to see which ones are layered on the bottom versus the top. Tape down the bottom layer images first, then the others. I prefer taping photos down instead of using pins, but pins would work well too. If you use tape, make sure to stick it in all four corners and in the center of the picture so the photo doesn’t fall down.
9. Hang up the board where you can see it every day.
I keep mine above my desk. When I look at it during the day, I am reminded of my goals and feel inspired to keep working hard and moving forward.
If you have any questions, feel free to reach out. I would love to see what your vision boards look like if you make one :’) These are uncertain times, which gives even more reason to create goals and structure for yourself. Before you take some time to look towards the future, I encourage you to take some time to reflect on 2020. Think about all of the things you have accomplished so far. We all have so much to be proud of. At the least, this season has been filled with growth. Keep growing, keep learning, keep achieving my friends.
If you think this post would be helpful to someone, it would mean the world to me if you would share it with them! This post can be shared on Facebook and Pinterest by clicking the social icons at the bottom of this post. Thank you for reading. Love you all!