create an empowering dream board

Whether you call it a dream board, vision board, or treasure map, the process of creating your own board is a powerful first step to achieving your goals. Your board serves as a visualization tool by providing a snapshot of your “desired future” … it helps you focus your goals and envision where you want to go, what you want to do, who you want to become, what you want to have … and with whom you want to enjoy it all!

5 things to consider before creating your kick-ass board 

1.     The #1 rule. dreams vision-board1 vision-board-poster

… actually, it’s the only rule:  Have fun with it! Think big. Think ideal. Think the moon. Think “What would I do if I knew I could not fail?” If an idea or goal does not excite, or even scare you a little, it’s not daring enough – and chances are it will drop off your radar as one more ho-hum thing to do.

2.     Your board must resonate with you on an emotional level.

Looking at your finished vision board MUST create an emotional charge that you feel in your body … you should feel a “yes!” in the belly that revs you, reminds you where you’re going, propels you to take action, fires you to succeed.

Visualization is meant to raise your level of vibration, so as you create your board, only include goals that challenge you, and images that spark real desire.

Don’t add images just because they’re pretty, or might be nice to have. Don’t include certain goals because you think you “should”.

And don’t include the dreams,  aspirations, and expectations that others project for you. This is your board … your life to create!

3.     Consider the type of board you prefer.

I’m using the term board, which implies a flat board that you’d pin to a wall, but you might prefer a folding board, like a large menu; or a portable three-ring binder, scrapbook, or ringed note cards. You might prefer a document or workbook on your computer or tablet. Or you might prefer a mindmapping software. Consider your lifestyle and work style, and do what works best for you. (I create a flat board to pin on the wall, then shoot it with Evernote camera, so it’s always with me on my smartphone and synced on my laptop.)

4.     Determine whether to create a single board or multiple boards.

career-vision-boardSome prefer to encompass all of their goals on one board. Others prefer separate boards for different purposes, or different roles and goals  e.g.,  family, money, health, marriage, career (like the one on the left).

Since I’m very visual and tend to take a global perspective on things, I typically prefer one global board that encompasses all aspects of my life.  It gives me the big picture view I need, and keeps all of my goals in front of me. However, when I work on a really intense project or longer-term assignment, like a book or film project, I might make an additional board dedicated to that specific project. It helps focus goals and visualization around that project, and prevents my global board from becoming cluttered.

5.     Your board is a visualization tool, not a panacea. Visualization works … when supported by action.

Without action, your board is merely a collage. You’ve heard the expression “Where focus goes, energy flows” – your daily actions and thoughts must support your goals. As a visualization tool your board should align with your overall written plan. (Assuming you have one, your written plan defines your objectives, goals, strategy, tactics, timelines, and deadlines, etc.).

Creating your board

Select pictures, words, photographs, quotes, textiles, and objects that inspire you.  They represent the experiences, accomplishments, and possessions you want to attract into your life and that are symbolic of the lifestyle you’re in the process of creating. For example, you might want to attract a new lover or marriage partner, a bigger home, a specific car, or new career. You might want to travel through Asia, learn French, take up Salsa dancing, master golf, or lose 50lbs.

Grouping your cutouts into content categories or similar groups – such as family, love, money, career – helps create flow to your story.  I also recommend leaving random space between images or content categories for the following reasons:

  • Too many images create distraction. Covering your whole board, leaving no empty spaces, makes your board look cluttered, even chaotic (and chaos is the last thing you want to attract!).
  • With some background space, the eye can scan your board more effectively, seeing the big picture and the small details.
  • Grouping images into role or goal categories makes it easier for the brain to organize the information, which strengthens visualization.

Positioning your board for best results

One of the most effective places to keep your vision board is by your bed. Aside from your honey, make it the last thing you see before you turn out the light at night, and the first thing you see in the morning. Spend some time looking at it … but it’s not enough to just see it … you must feel it.

  • Envision meeting your goals and internalize the experience.
  • What does that feel like? Do you feel excited, loved, awake, alive? Do you feel knowledgeable, energized, empowered, liberated?
  • Close your eyes; breathe into it. Draw on your senses … what surrounds you in your future life? Imagine smells, touches, tastes, sounds.
  • Feel grateful for what you already have, and for what’s coming. Welcome these things into your life. Embrace them.

Okay, okay … so the first few times you do that, you’ll probably feel a right tosser!  Even if you’re alone. Been there, done that.

But neuroscience shows that what we’re exposed to before we go to sleep works deep in our subconscious. It also shows show that when we visualize, our brain is activated to subconsciously start seeking what we’re looking for. Have you ever bought a rare foreign car that few people have seen, and suddenly you start noticing them everywhere without even looking for them? That’s your brain doing what it’s designed to do.

So get over yourself! Start visualizing morning and night, and any time in between when you have a few moments to yourself. You want this, right?

To share or not?

There’s always debate around whether or not you should share you dream board (and goals in general) with others.  My recommendation is this:

Unless you know with 100% certainty that someone will fully support your aspirations, keep your vision board and goals to yourself.

Many researchers believe that sharing goals leads us to “talk” about them more than “work” on them.

Also, when you share goals at large, you open yourself up to potential sabotage (intentional or otherwise) by the naysayers – by those who don’t understand what you’re aiming for, or who those who might feel threatened that you’re creating change or succeeding where they’re not.

I’ve never found it helpful to share goals with groups or acquaintances, and so I don’t. But I do share with my goal partner, and with trusted family members and friends. Finding the right sharing partner is critical … but that’s another post for another day. Meanwhile, choose your counsel wisely!

The little choices you made yesterday and today may seem inconsequential. But keep making them, and they will design your future – positively or negatively.

Good luck … and have fun creating your board! I’d love to hear about your experiences, successes, and challenges.

eternally grateful

Hey, Happy New Year to YOU!!!

Right now, I’m on my annual retreat where I revisit my goals, establish new goals, look at what I want more of, less of, and with whom!  And I want to begin by acknowledging someone who’s made a very significant and important difference in my life.

Twenty years ago I met Joyce Chapman at her book signing in San Diego. She does amazing work in the field of self-empowerment and human potential, and has a very playful style.  I immediately absorbed her work, and it helped change my world by creating a litany of new beginnings — i.e. new career, new US state, new life!

Much later (around 16 years later), I contacted Joyce when I found myself “stuck” and knew I needed help to climb through the mire and shake things up.  She became my personal coach and helped me move past the sudden death of my fiancé.

I’ve long been a huge proponent of Joyce’s techniques, including daily journaling, andLiveYourDream creating Dream or Vision Boards on a regular basis as a visual reminder of goals.

So, as I finish my 2015 vision board (my 8th or 9th in total), I think it’s fitting to share the work of someone that I think is very special.

Someone who has helped hundreds of thousands of dreamers realize their dream is possible.  Someone who epitomizes “living with passion and joy”.  Someone who has touched my life in more ways than she knows … and for that, I will be eternally grateful.

See Joyce’s blog and books at http://joycechapman.com/. If you have a question, drop her a line … I know she’d love it.  Or share YOUR 2015 goals and dreams here.

Dream big my friend!😉

P.S.  Next post will be on How to Create Your Empowering Vision Board.

Patricia Cornwell Interview: Part I

Yeah, live broadcasting is always interesting. You plan for things to go in a certain direction … and then they don’t!  You have to be quick on your feet, switch from first to fifth gear in a moment, follow up with this, scratch that, speed up, slow down, go with the flow, and turn things around on a dime. All while being precise and concise. Watching the clock ‘to the second’, observing signals from your producer, making sure that what you’re talking about – and makes perfect sense to you because you’ve read the book, seen the film, done your research – also makes sense to listeners and viewers who may know nothing of the subject you’re talking about.Vicki-on-air-1_June-2014-1

On top of that, you have to coexist with the nuances of the Live Air Studio’s state-of-the-art technology (which, trust me, can be just as temperamental as down-home tape-your-wires-together technology). Add to the mix human beings, human states, human events,  human’s changing schedules … and you get the picture. Be prepared for anything.

Last week, I was engrossed in conversation with author Patricia Cornwell and realized my next scheduled guest, literary journalist Gail Sheehy, was due on air in four minutes.

12:26:28 p.m  and counting down. I’m about to announce Patricia’s upcoming Seattle visit bringing the interview to a smooth close, when my producer burst in from the auxiliary booth, and thrust a piece of paper under my nose.

“GAIL SHEEHY HELD UP. URGENT ISSUE. RESCHEDULE. PATRICIA CONTINUE?”

I cut to break.

PatriciaCornwell“Um … Patricia, I know we didn’t plan for this but … I have a favor to ask. Is there any way you can stay with us a little longer?”

Since Cornwell’s in the heat of pre-launch madness for her latest book, I expected she’d have to jump on another call, leave for a meeting, get on the road.

But this is what she said:

“Hell, yes. I’m all yours darling, for as long as you need!”

Granted, on a different day this might not have worked out, but she still could have said no instead of “Hell, yes!”. And this is one of the factors that makes the difference between the wanna-be’s and the pros. Between those who talk about making things happen, and those who make things happen. Between those who want to write, and do write. Between those who give up when, who knows, maybe the next draft could be “the one”.  (Patricia shares her own experience around this, below.)

We talked for the whole hour and I could have continued for another. We laughed, got serious, and Patricia shared some great insights into life, writing, and success. I’d like to share a little of that interview with you today.


Vicki: My first guest today knows plenty about guts, resilience, and smarts. She has one of the most familiar names in contemporary fiction, as does her prime character, Dr. Kay Scarpetta. I’m talking of #1 New York Times bestselling author, Patricia Cornwell.

She’s celebrating her 25th year in publishing this year and is known as the leading pioneer in what was a little known genre that has now become a multi-million dollar industry. Today, Cornwell’s novels and characters are known the world over. More than 100 million copies of her books have been sold in 36 languages and 120 countries.

Beyond the Scarpetta series, Patricia Cornwell has authored a book on Jack the Ripper, a biography, and two more fiction series, among others. She’s often featured as a forensics expert on shows like CNN and Good Morning America. Patricia Cornwell, welcome to the show.PatriciaCornwellBook

Patricia: Thank you. It’s great to be with you today.

Vicki: I should say your new book, due for release November the 11th, is called Flesh and Blood. It is the 22nd in the Kay Scarpetta series.

Patricia: That’s exactly right. I think people are going to have a lot of fun in this book.

Vicki: There’s a nemesis that revisits.

Patricia: Well, it’s going to be a bit of a shock. The ending is without a doubt the most startling of any of the books I’ve done so far. It’s going to be interesting to see how people react.

Vicki: I still have that to come. I’m about four-fifths of the way through. I didn’t quite make it to the end yet.

Patricia: I won’t tell you.

Vicki: No, don’t. Do not do that. Let’s talk about the first novel you sold. It was Postmortem, published way back in 1990. I remember reading that and being thrilled I’d found a “new author” … can’t believe it’s almost 25 years since your first book came out. That book went on to win the Edgar, Creasy, Anthony, Macavity Awards, the French Prix, it was the first book ever to achieve all those distinctions in a single year. When I read that I thought, “Way to put yourself under pressure there!” Did you feel that?

Patricia: I’m so grateful I won them when I did. Postmortem really needed all those awards. I don’t think any book has done it since, either. It’s really kind of bizarre … and it started so humbly in that, Scribner’s (now Scribner), accepted Postmortem literally by a thread.

The message on my answering machine back in those days was, “Scribner’s might publish your book.”

This was my fourth novel. I’m on the cusp of having four rejected novels at that point. So, that “might” was supposed to be good news. At least it wasn’t a flat out “no” this time … eight other publishing houses had turned it down.

When Postmortem came out with the whopping big first printing of 6,000 books and a $6,000 advance with no publicity, no marketing, no nothing, it needed to win five awards for people to pay attention to it.

Back then nobody knew what to do with forensic labs or autopsies; or a woman who worked in that world. They weren’t sure the public was going to like it.

Vicki: Tell me where your fascination with forensics came from … you started out at the Charlotte Observer, helping to put TV Guide lists together. You then went on to become a police reporter and a volunteer cop. At what point did you become interested in forensics?

Patricia: I think it goes back to two very important facts about my own life. The first, when I was a kid … I had this pipe dream that I was going to be an archaeologist. I wanted to do archaeological excavations and I read everything about it that I possibly could. When you think about it, a forensic investigation is like an archaeological excavation where you are taking pieces and parts and flecks of paint, even human bones, human remains, and you’re trying to reconstruct death … the life that preceded it … and an entire civilization, to figure out who these people were and why they ended this way. That’s really what we do with a homicide scene. My mind kind of works that way anyway.

Then the second thing is my favorite holiday was Halloween. You put those two together and you end up with a monster like me.

Literally, when I was starting out as a police reporter at the Charlotte Observer, I remember my first homicide scene and the police would not let me go in. They were carrying the body out and taking it away and there was broken glass and blood everywhere. I was so frustrated because I wanted to know, where are they taking that body? What are they doing with it? This was 1979, 1980. Nobody really knew the answers to that back then. All you ever knew is that you’d run into a detective who carried with him the stench of the morgue because he had just been with the medical examiner. That was about as much as I could ever find out, the odor that went along with it.

People did not know back in those days what we know today. I became insatiably curious. The body, really, truly is the most important piece of evidence. What are they doing? What are these injuries? What did this person do to this individual? What can we tell from it? That led me to doing that sort of research later on in the mid-1980s when I decided I wanted to write crime novels.

Vicki: Since your prime character, Dr. Kay Scarpetta, performs these autopsies, one might think you have a fascination in being there yourself … but I read that you actually find it difficult to attend autopsies.

Patricia: I do. I’ve seen thousands of them. It never gets any easier. In fact, I think it gets harder.

When I used to work in the medical examiner’s office, and I was there six years, I could deal with anything after a while. I would go down there every morning and help in any way I could. The most horrible things … it’s not even so much what you see … smells are really hard for me. It’s horrible.

Let’s be honest, to subject yourself to that is not an easy thing to do. In order to write about this character I had to wear her shoes. I know what it feels like to pick up a brain and put it on a scale, to look at bloody clothing and try to figure out what it’s telling us in terms of the stab wounds or the cuts in the cloth, bullet holes, all these different things. None of it is necessarily pleasant.

To be my character when I’m writing these books, I have to get way beyond that. These things don’t phase her. They shouldn’t phase her.

I’m always mindful when I go to a medical examiner’s office, that these are real people who died. I might be doing research, but it’s a very harsh reality. It’s depressing. I’m usually in a horrible mood when I leave. I’m usually very fatigued and sometimes kind of down in the dumps, because even the energy in this place is tragic, awful, and I wouldn’t wish that anybody see a lot of this. I save people the pain of it and give them the pleasure of being curious when they read my books … but they don’t have to go through what I did to get there.

Vicki: Many have said the reason your books are so successful is because you are so dedicated to realism. For example, you have a character who is Dr. Scarpetta’s niece, Lucy. She flies a helicopter. You didn’t just go to a helicopter pilot and say, “Hey, tell me what it’s like to fly a helicopter.” You learned to fly the helicopter yourself.

PatriciaCornwellDanAckroydPatricia: Yes, I did. The funny thing is, I can say after a quarter of a century with Kay Scarpetta, I may have created these characters, but they turned around and created me. I’m a totally different person. I’m a helicopter pilot. I scuba dive. I learned how to ride motorcycles (with Dan Ackroyd, apparently). I know a lot about firearms and other kinds of weapons. There are so many things I have done because I need to feel what these characters feel when they’re doing it.

Sometimes I turn that the other way. For example, when I got the chance to go on a dinosaur dig a few years ago, I said, “Okay. I’ve got to do something with this because I know what this feels like now.” What’s Scarpetta going to do with this?

It’s not just about reading something. I want to give readers an experience. I want them to know what it feels like to have those instruments in their hands. The cyclic, the stick as they call it, the collective, flying the helicopter. I want them to know what it feels like when you’re 100 feet down on the bottom of the sea looking at a shipwreck. What is Scarpetta feeling? What is she thinking? What is she mindful of? How does she handle her equipment? Does she know what to do in this case or that case? What if there’s an emergency? … the writing experience would be so bleak for me if I could not be tactile and physical about it.

I think some of this goes back to being a journalist. Journalists go to the scene. If you’re going to write a great story about something you’ve got to show up. You don’t just ask somebody what it looked and felt like. If you can be there, you’re going to be there. That is the same thing I’ve always tried to do with my books. If I can be there, I’ve got to go.

Vicki: You mentioned you’d already written three novels that were rejected.

Patricia: I did. I wrote three crime novels and Scarpetta was a character in those first three. She wasn’t the main character, but she was a character. Postmortem was my fourth attempt. When that started being rejected, making the rounds in New York City – this was in 1988 – I started looking for jobs to go back into journalism.

I was thinking three strikes and you’re out. Four, you’re a joke. You’re really just laughable now! You need to go do something you can make a living at because clearly you’re not meant to write books. I was at the cusp … the very edge of hanging it up and quitting, when my book finally got accepted.  It went on to win those five awards … and things turned around after that.

Vicki: 100 million copies later… it’s definitely a testament to sticking in there if you really believe in something.

Patricia: I do believe. I say that to everybody. I always say … if acceptance and success is not a measure of who and what you are, then rejection is not a measure of you either.

If that were true I wouldn’t be sitting here today. I’ve had tons of failures in life. Many things I’ve tried didn’t work out so well, but I learned something from it. I think that’s very valuable. I think particularly in this day and age where everybody feels entitled to their 15 minutes of fame, you can be successful without really doing anything, because of reality TV for example. We are much more sensitive to thinking that rejection and failure are statements of who and what we are. We are not as resilient as we used to be.

Listen … don’t quit! If you believe in something, do not give it up. I always say if you really love something you should listen to that. It might just love you back.


Excerpted from transcript of live radio show, edited for length, clarity, readability.  Patricia Cornwell went on to discuss how to develop resilience and make it through tough times, the gutsiest things she done, the smartest thing she’s done, and more – November 2014.  Full transcript available from Conversations LIVE with Vicki St. Clair. 

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