- A photo of a strong athlete captured just as she starts a sprint.
- A candid stock photo of a family gathered around a Christmas tree.
- A woman in a suit presenting on a stage surrounded by people eagerly listening, smiling, mid nod, or writing vigorously. She is confident, yet comfortable to share.
- A gathering of diverse friends and family enjoying each other in a well decorated house –large enough to entertain but small enough to feel like a home.
- An image of cabana on a Greek Island, a cocktail and a book, while the sun begins to set.
- Another image of Cobble stone streets from another world with narrow alleys and medieval architecture.
- An image of young women seated among each other sharing professional stories and advice. Learning. Suited and Savvy.
What do these images have in common? They are some of the main components of my vision board. I know, I know! Everyone talks about creating vision boards and how it is the new “it” thing to do. I used to write this off as merely an arts and crafts project. And while I do love arts and crafts, I didn’t understand the value of visualization. Until now.
We’ve been having a lot of conversations at Suited and Savvy about career paths and finding “what’s next.” It’s a very daunting thing to think about, right? Will my next career decision help me or harm me? Should I stay where I am or should I pursue something different? We get so afraid of making the wrong step, that we don’t take any steps at all. This leads to a feeling of being stuck.
I came across an article on The Muse about the 7 reasons why people might feel stuck in their jobs. Check it out for the full article, but one of the 7 reasons was that we feel stuck because we have gotten out of touch with our values and drivers. It’s so easy to get into a routine. Go to work. Get a paycheck. Take few risks. And the next thing you know, time has flown by and it feels like the world is progressing along without you. But what if the first step in becoming unstuck is assessing what you want, what drives you, and being very clear about what brings you joy? While there are a lot of philosophy’s around quitting your job to “find yourself”, that is not a practical option for most people (I tend to reject this notion because I like to eat, travel, and I enjoy the roof over my head that I have the ability to finance. But that’s just me!) However, what is practical to just about everyone is the practice of visualization.
You might be thinking, “Are you saying that all I have to do to get unstuck is visualize what I want in life?” Yes! And also no. I am saying that the feeling of “stuck” can come from losing sight of what it is that we really want. Becoming more connected with what propels us, changes our mindset and creates this insane drive to get to the place we desire to be. There is immense value in having a strategic, visual focus. From it comes action plans. From action plans, comes execution. From execution comes results.
So how do you get unstuck?
No, it doesn’t require the jaws of life or tons of money for coaching and soul searching. There are a number of exercises that you can do that reveal what it is that is important to you. I worked with one of my mentees this month to do an Ikigai exercise to reveal what it is that she really wanted out of life. This exercise helps to reveal the things that bring purpose, happiness, and satisfaction. These are the things that make you excited to get out of bed in the morning. I was blown away when I saw her results because there was a shift in what I had heard her tell me previously. The things she thought were most important were actually not at the top of her list anymore. Now, this might have created even more confusion for her, but it is a start to discovering what she needs out of life and a career. Now she has other things to explore and I have no doubt that she will get there.
Once we are able to determine what you want to focus on …what drives us...we then can do an exercise like a vision board that puts those things into tangible focus and allow us to make strategic plans on how to get there. For example, if I want to be on that Greek Island with the ability to relax and recover whenever I want to, or traveling to distant places at the drop of a hat, I have to get rid of this student loan. With travel in focus as something I want, I am finding ways to pay off my education faster than I thought that I could. It’s not a magic trick, it’s visualization. And psychologically speaking, it’s the brain’s secret weapon.
Can we talk science for a second? Research shows that mental practices are almost as effective as true physical practices. Thoughts produce similar mental instructions as do actions. This suggests that mental imagery impacts many cognitive processes in the brain. It’s why a lot of bodybuilders work out in front of mirrors. Yes, they’re probably also admiring their physiques, but there’s evidence that forming mental connections alongside physical ones can make lifting weights more effective. It's a Mind – Muscle connection. Visualizing what you want is no different! Practicing visualization allows us to get a mental image so strong in our minds that everything we do is propels us toward our goals.
So think about it. What does success look like to you? What do you actually want? If we are able to identify this and picture it so deeply, we act and mentally draw near to those things we want and ward off feeling stuck.
I know it sounds like I’m saying that you just have to believe it and you’ll be it. And I kind of am! Think about it…how much of our life is focused on the past and the present without focusing on the future? Get so clear on what inspires you and motivates you that everything you do feeds that thing. And if you don’t know what inspires or motivates you, invest the time to figure it out! You're worth it! I am still learning about what I want and need and it's a beautiful process. I assure you that I’m not preaching witchcraft or sorcery over here. I just want to motivate everyone to make an effort of figuring out what success looks like to you. And when you find it, hold on to it with all of your heart...and mind..so that you can chase it relentlessly while simultaneously enjoying the ride!