Sunday, October 19, 2014

Tips for Creating a Great Vision Board

Picture #1 of My Vision Board (See Below)
Since I am an extremely visual person, I love vision boards.  Some people are more wired to journal because words have more meanings but for me, it's all about the visual (although I do journal periodically).

As I have been consistent in having a Vision Board that inspires me to be my best I thought it would be helpful to share some of the best tips (and ooopsies) of what I have learned over the years.

Tried and True Tips For Creating Vision Boards:
Keep it simple:  I once had a really big office so I thought it made since to have two vision boards side by side...wrong!  Your vision board is meant to be a high level/highlight of what inspires and motivates you...not a laundry list of everything you think is inspiring.  And it is even better when you keep it simple and nailed down to the things that most directly connect to your goals or upcoming important events.  Those two boards were cluttered with things that were all over the place and so I rarely referred to it instead of making it a point of constant inspiration.

Also in keeping it simple, make a separate vision board that's intended for you personally and one that's intended to be for your family, book club, nonprofit team, etc.

Make it an evolving place and expect changes:  I always thought that a vision board was strictly for goals only and that once I achieved the goal, I could take down the item.  While you will have items on your vision board related to a goal (as noted above), not everything on there needs to be some systematic, check list event or thing.  Think of it as something that evolves as you find out more information, as your goals change, as what inspires you change, etc.  It's for you so make it reflect where you are.

No new years resolutions:  I used to only work on my vision board when it was the new year and it was time to make resolutions. I still laugh about most people, goals and inspirations only determined when it is a new year tend to be short winded and not well thought out.  It's okay if it's important to you to add something that is a new year's resolution but put it on a sticky note or connect it to a long term goal that's important to you...just don't make your whole vision board about new years resolutions only.

Keep it someplace where you have to see it frequently:  This by far is something that I wish someone would have told me when I made my first vision board.  My first one was on an 8 1/2 x 12 glass frame and a couple weeks after making it I put it on a bookshelf that was in a corner.  I wouldn't see it again for weeks at a time!  If you spend as much self-love, thought and genuine time creating your vision board, then it's obviously filled with things you care about...make sure you see it daily or weekly!

Picture #2 of My Vision Board (See Below)
I have found that what people end up putting on Vision Boards falls into a few categories:

  • Aspirational: some thing they aspire to get, some event they aspire to attend or someone they aspire to be (characteristics)
  • Inspirational: a celebrity, family member, friend or other key figure that inspires them to want to be a better person in what they say, do, don't do, activities they are involved in, etc.
  • Motivational: someone or something that has been especially motivating to them; it can be a poem (such as the "Our Deepest Fear" poem put in video), a concert ticket, a motivational guru such as Les Brown, Wayne Dyer or Tony Robbins
  • Key Phrases, Words or Quotes: words are very powerful and so if there is word, quote or phrase that you know will be a constant source or reminder to be great, then type it up, write it out or clip it from a magazine! 
  • Visual Reminders: this can be anything that, when you look at it, brings you to a place of hope, courage or just makes you happy.  Color does that for me so whenever I see a pretty ribbon, tie, cord or ornament that makes me smile, I add that to my vision board
  • Visual "Candy":  this can be anything that visually emotes a positive reaction in you.  I know people who will put something from a memorable vacation, an event or anything that causes them to know what is possible in life and to live to the fullest.
  • Goals/Mission Statements: I only put (and would suggest putting) a summarized version of your goals and notes from your Mission Statement.  Depending on how big your vision board is, space is of the essence so use it wisely. Sometimes I will only put short term goals on post-it notes with the longer term goals captured in another way as mentioned above.
  • Reminders of Promises to Yourself:  I especially recommend this when you are someone who needs a reminder or reason why you are saying "no" to an obligation or commitment.  I only started putting this on my vision board as I got older and boy does it work!  For example, if you have a picture of the Eiffel Tower (like I do) on your vision board as a reminder that you are saving up for a five-star Paris experience with our besties, then constantly seeing that picture on your vision board will help you say "no" to invites where you know will require you to spend over your budget.

So what's on my vision board?
I purchased my all black vision board a while back from The Container Store and I love it because you can use tacs to put up photos, clippings, etc.  I found a similar one here.

Picture #3 of My Vision Board (See Below)
Picture #1: the meeting agenda from my life changing White House Business Council visit, a satin bold pink ribbon that I think is gorgeous, a picture of the Eiffel Tower because it is on my bucket list, pictures of two people that I think are elegant and beautiful (my mother and Aerin Lauder), and the fabric ribbon used at Carolina Herrera's CH store that inspires me to strive for quality over quantity.

Picture #2: Two butterflies that remind me to be free and do what honors who I am, a magazine clipping of "New Year, New You" that inspired this blog post, another magazine clipping from the Hermes advertisement that says "Sporting Life" that reminds me to workout!

Picture #3:  The Post Office commemorative gold stamp and holder of Madame CJ Walker, America's first female self-made millionaire that reminds me that there are no limits to what you can do!

So what inspires you and what will your vision board look like after reading these tips?


Ebola, ISIS and Dealing with Uncertainty

I have noticed the amount of additional social media postings related to world events that often deal with uncertain events that none of us could have guessed.  This is especially true for me because I live in Texas where the first United States case of Ebola has originated.  And before this event, there was/is talks about what to do with the ongoing threat of ISIS.  And before that, you can name a number of things that fought for your attention on the news, social media and gossip from your neighbors.
This made me wonder how best to keep my mind positive and engaged with what I could control and let go of the worries and fears that are sure to come when you don't know how to react to uncertain events.  It's not that we should place our head in the sand and ignore that ebola, etc isn't a real threat.  They are.  But I also know that you can't halt your life for every tragedy, news of disease, terrorist threat, etc.

Below are some tips that I personally use to stay positively motivated no matter what is going on:

Accept That Our Times Are Always Going to Be Uncertain
The brilliance that I learned in Nassim Taleb's book "The Black Swan: The Impact of the Highly Improbable" was that Black Swans (defined as those positive or negative things that lie outside the realm of regular expectations, carry a potentially extreme impact and that is hard to predict) should be our new normal. We live in a complex, crowded and fast paced information age.  Instead of us reacting to uncertainty as if it's an outlier, we should react to uncertainty knowing that these are the times we live in.

And that's okay!

Develop a Way to Stop Worrying
In the classic life changing book "How to Stop Worrying and Start Living" by Dale Carnegie, he provides some practical and useful tips to stop worrying:

  • Fundamental Tips
    • If you want to avoid worry, live in "day-tight compartments".  Don't stew about the future.  Just live each day (fully) until bedtime.
    • The next time Trouble backs you up in a corner, try the formula: 1. Ask yourself, "What is the worst that can possibly happen if I can't solve my problems?"; 2. Prepare yourself mentally to accept the worst--if necessary.; 3. Then calmly try to improve upon the worst--which you have already mentally agreed to accept.
    • Remind yourself of the exorbitant price you can pay for worry in terms of your health.  
  • Basic Techniques in Analyzing Worry
    • Get the facts: "...half the worry in the world is caused by people trying to make decisions before they have sufficient knowledge on which to base a decision." (Like news outlets!)
    • After carefully weighing all the facts, come to a decision.
    • Once a decision is carefully reached, ACT! Get busy carrying out your decision--and dismiss all anxiety about the outcome.
    • When you are tempted to worry about a problem, write out and answer the following questions: What is the problem?  What is the cause of the problem?  What are all possible solutions?  What is the best solution?
Be Mindful of Your Triggers
It depends on what you fear but be mindful that we all have triggers that can catapult us into a state of panic that bleeds over into other parts of our lives.  For example, I fear calls out the blue telling me unexpected bad news since that is the way I found out my mother had passed in 2007. So, today, I rely on my voicemail more and I've stopped watching local news (full of bad news) and horror movies since those two things create thoughts of bad things.  It's my way of controlling one of my "triggers".

Focus on What Makes You Happy/Grateful
Making gratitude a daily life practice is one of the best ways to overcome fear and uncertainty.  Practicing gratitude forces you to focus on the good things, people and events that create a sense of peace, courage, hope, joy and happiness in your life.  No matter what local or world event that is going on, always make a practice of gratitude by calling a friend you haven't spoken with in ages and talking about that fun party, celebrating the small things with your children/family, constantly updating your vision board with things that you know make you  hopeful and forward looking.

One of the things I do that makes me happy is watch slap-stick comedy that doesn't require me to have to think!  My favorite is "Dumb and Dumber" (don't judge this choice, lol!)! I will also watch a Beyonce' concert!  Going to church or walking at the lake are also other things I do.

Keep a Positive Attitude
Whether there is uncertainty in the world or not, your perception of the world will always be impacted by your attitude.  I have seen people in the most blessed environments perceive it to be filled with problems or headaches because they approach it with a bad attitude.  Your attitude directly impacts your ability to have the faith and hope it takes to overcome any situation, filter information from any event and focus your energies on the best potential outcomes of any challenge.

I hope you find these tips helpful and they are ones that I practice repeatedly on a personal level so that I can be a blessing without internalizing all the bad things that are sure to come no matter what...I stay updated on what's going on in the world but I also choose to live the most positive life I can while recognizing how valuable it is to live in peace, love and with joy.

I pray for all the people who are directly impacted by any of the current crisis.


Friday, October 17, 2014

My Road to a Comeback

I felt compelled to write this post because I just don't see more information out there of people who are on a journey of a comeback.  I normally read about either extreme: someone who is at their bottom fighting off depression, sickness or other tragedy OR I read about people who are at their epitome...winning in everything they do.

Well, what about the folks like me who are in the midst of a comeback?

Quick Recap
I texted a friend this morning because after a three year hiatus, I am starting to accept invitations to  events again.  Starting at the age of 29, I was always about town, going to fabulous dinner parties, sitting on great boards/committees for the Dallas Opera, etc, etc.
Me (Left) and My Beloved Mother (Right)

And then my world started crashing all around me...

I don't technically recall when it started but in the five year time span between 31-36 years of age, I kept having loss after loss after loss.  Some of those losses included the death of both my biological parents (within two years of each other), loss of possessions, loss of friends, loss of my wholehearted innocence (a truly hard loss), loss of a friendship to a man that I thought I was destined to be married to...and I was doing my best to balance this all while being responsible for a $2MM compliance budget for the company I worked for that went through six mergers/acquisitions within this same five year time frame. I knew that the SEC and company shareholders would not understand it if I told them I needed a break from the 12 hour days because I was hurting and needed a break...the day I was driving home from work at midnight and almost crashed my car because I fell asleep at the wheel was my breaking my point.

My Bold Choice
And so then at 36 years old, I did a 360 and told the world "No".  The company I worked at was shocked at my resignation, I stopped accepting any and all invitations...I said "No" more times in a month (back then) than I recall ever saying in my entire life time up until that point...literally everyone was shocked.
  • I said no to bad friends.
  • I said no to one-sided relationships.
  • I said no to commitments.
  • I said no, no, no.
The hardest thing about this bold choice is that I lived off my frugal ways of saving all those years but the money was running out fast.

In a panic, I started reaching out to some folks to get connections for work, etc and to my utter amazement, people who I had helped stopped answering my calls, returning emails, etc.

My Comeback
You would think that after all of this I'd be some bitter, cynical, hard heart person today...actually, that couldn't be more from the truth.

During the period of my panic towards trying to recover, some pretty awesome things have occurred that helped me know that my faith was real:
Me at the White House Business Council Meeting
  • I chaired the 26,000 strong alumni association of INROADS.
  • I went to the White House as apart of their Business Council meeting.
  • I have a stronger bond with my family and friends who are left...I won't ever forget what they have done for me.  Sometimes it was as simple as feeding me for Sunday family dinners!
  • I was able to grieve and let go of all those losses I experienced in such a short period of time.
  • I am solid and at peace with who I am and what I can do. No more expending effort on people who will never get me or be a genuine friend.
  • I still wholeheartedly believe in people but the difference is that I accept people for who they are...I'm not trying to change no one.  I have my hands full being myself!
I could go on and on but you get the idea.

The Truth Speaks
What's interesting is that more recently, invitations have started pouring in again.  The invitations don't determine my worth, I just think it's very interesting that when I have decided it's time to move boldly forward with where my life is now (CEO of my strategic advisory firm and creator of this great blog), the truth is speaking and confirming.

The only difference between the invitations and my life now versus then is I'm no longer the innocent, believe anyone, put others first before myself woman.  I am now the firm, bold, secure, put myself first, hopeful, don't care how many likes I get on social media and wise woman that I know my mother always knew I'd be. I'm a force and I know it.

I hope you find inspiration and know that whether you are in the midst of a challenging time or orchestrating your own comeback, you will always find an honest commentary from me and our other Curva-Lish Ambassadors here.  That's the only way I know to truly live an authentic life of style, grace and purpose...