The idea to do a vision board with my kids came from two places: 1) I wanted to do one for myself for the first time ever and 2) I wanted my kids to experience what it felt like to set some goals for themselves. I felt like their likes and dislikes were becoming contained to a screen and I wanted them to think outside of that.
So we went to Hobby Lobby (the best place on Earth) and each of the kids got to pick out some crafting items: stickers, paper and, of course, decorative tape.
It was important to me that this was more than just a Sunday afternoon art project. I wanted them to think internally, but what I didn’t realize was how much it would teach me.
My husband and I both got involved as well so that the kids could see not only what it felt like to set goals within themselves, but could look at their parents and realize that they had hopes and dreams too.
Though the kids were excited to start the crafting part and a little irritated that we didn’t dive right in, we began with the vision boards by having a conversation.
Everyone had a piece of notebook paper to write down their thoughts and we dove in headfirst planning for the year.
We started out by choosing a word that would shape our year. This was probably the hardest concept for my kids to wrap their head around. A word that represented where you wanted to go and who you wanted to become was a fairly high-level idea for an eight and a 10-year-old. So the way we worked through it was by talking about what we struggled with the year before and what we thought we could do to improve.
From there we discussed what words would help guide us in the right direction.
For my son who has always struggled in school, he very intuitively talked about how he had a hard time paying attention in class and listening to his teacher. I was careful not to leave him there because I didn’t want this to be an exercise about failures but rather an exercise about getting to know yourself. And he did more amazingly than I could’ve expected. And so when we talked about having a hard time in class we also talked about the really good things he was doing at hockey and how focus was the difference. So FOCUS became his word.
For my daughter who is always been very academically strong this sort of woo woo way of thinking did not come so easily. She focused at first on tasks that were hard like fractions rather than seeing an overall vision of her self. But when we got down to it we realized that she sometimes has a hard time expressing her real feelings. She is by nature, like so many young girls, a people pleaser. So we chose the word social for her not because she needs to talk more (because Lord knows an 11-year-old does plenty of that), but we chose social so that she would seek out connection more. So that she would deepen relationships with friends and her family in a way that a preteen needed over a child.
My husband and I then shared our words with the kids and explain to them what they meant. What they meant to us and what they meant to our goals.
From there the conversation was guided by more simple instructions:
- set a reading goal
- decide on a physical achievement
- name something you want to learn
- aim to do something epic
Again we saw surprising things come out of our kids. Our son who usually waits for his sister’s queue to answer questions was leading the charge with all kinds of answers around who he wanted to be what he wanted to try and what he thought would be cool to accomplish. My daughter the straight A student struggled a little bit more to find her path. Trying to opt for he easy, achievable win over pie-in-the-sky-dream chasing (a trait I am VERY familiar with: Excelling in the middle mans never facing failure.)
Both of these outcomes were so unexpected and this is the reason why I will be doing vision boards every year. Not only do they give our children a chance to get to know themselves and their parents better, but it also led to some discoveries for us. We realized that for our son his interest in physical activity has quadrupled. And for our daughter the looming teenage years has been a little stifling for her personality.
And it wasn’t just in my children that I found surprise.
I feel like my husband and I are great communicators and very clear with each other on our goals. But as I watched my husband name some of his interests I was surprised to find what he wanted to achieve as well. I found that his interests were at times outside the scope of our every day conversation.
The Joy of Family Crafting
Now with all of our goals laid out on the table we sat to crafting. An activity my children were inescapably overjoyed by. Sure I set up paints for them sometimes or pull out the Playdoh or dad will come up with a fun little holiday recipe to make, but I’m not sure we’ve ever all sat down as a family and done a project.
My son who is usually over any sort of assignment within 30 minutes sat for three hours perfecting his vision board.
Even my two-year-old stayed engaged for nearly an hour sticking dozens of stickers to a piece of paper and circling the table to see what everybody else was doing too.
Using the Vision Boards Through the Year
As the year progresses I intend to keep the vision boards front and center. When my kids inevitably decide they are bored we will point to their poster boards and ask “what can you work on?”
For my husband and I we will be holding each other more accountable to goals. Purchasing gifts around these ideas, helping create time and space for one another to pursue better versions of themselves, and what amazing conversation for date nights. It also gave us a chance to see what we needed. No shocker The number one thing we needed was time. But now we were talking about getting that time together and finding solutions by using our support system.
We will be celebrating accomplishments as we check them off of our list. Our kids will not only get to feel the great reward of setting and achieving goals, but they will also get to see what happens when their parents commit to becoming more than just mom and dad. I hope that at the end of this year we can look back and see real progress and really exciting change for everyone in our family and that it becomes a tradition we can repeat and it becomes a moment to pause where we not only get to know ourselves better but each other.