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How to Make 2014 Your Best Year Yet

02/01/2014 11:30 GMT | Updated 03/03/2014 10:59 GMT

The New Year offers us an opportunity to make a fresh start and create a vision of what we truly want to be, do, have and create during the year ahead.

A vision board can help you harness the energy of renewed possibility and potential that the start of January brings with it.

An increasing number of Hollywood celebrities, Olympic athletes, television personalities and top motivational speakers have started to share how vision boards help sustain their success. They are fast being recognized as more than just a bit of creative fun, and credited by leaders of our time a powerful tool for transformation.

Former Olympian Rueben Gonzalez, actor Jim Carey, Oprah Winfrey and Arnold Schwarzenegger frequently reference the important role that creative visioning has played in the realization of their dreams.

"When I was very young I visualized myself being and having what it was I wanted. Mentally I never had any doubts about it. The mind is really so incredible. Before I won my first Mr. Universe title, I walked around the tournament like I owned it. The title was already mine. I had won it so many times in my mind that there was no doubt I would win it. Then when I moved on to the movies, the same thing. I visualized myself being a famous actor and earning big money. I could feel and taste success. I just knew it would all happen." Arnold Schwarzenegger

Vision boards are a modern manifestation method combining concepts taken from creative hobbies like scrapbooking with motivational mind-mapping and brand development techniques used by marketeers.

A vision board is quite literally a collage of pictures, phrases, poems and quotes visually represent what you would like to experience more of in your life. The reason they can be extremely effective is that, when used regularly, they help to strengthen higher order psychological constructs of psychological capital. Psychological capital is defined as the 'positive and developmental state of an individual as characterized by high self-efficacy, optimism, hope and resiliency' (Luthans and Youssef, 2004).

Studies conducted by leading professors at the W.P. Carey School of Business School in Arizona, show that when psychological capital is nurtured, individual employee performance is increased. They also suggest that strengthening these characteristics in top executives has a team-level impact on organizational performance.

When created in alignment with ones true values, positive beliefs, inspired goals, positive intentions, heartfelt aspirations and an attitude of gratitude; vision boards support not just positive thinking, but crucially also support the development of inspired strategies and goal setting, providing a plan for the positive action taking required to bring about desired results.

7 Simple Steps to Create a Vision Board

1. Board Basics - Choose a large piece of card, poster board, corkboard or canvas about the size of a large newspaper opened out.

Gather approximately 10-20 assorted magazines. Use a variety of genres, e.g. eg: House & Home, Woman's Glossies, Spiritual, Men's Magazines, Health & Fitness and Hobbies. Include a few travel magazines into the mix, these are great for images of animals, which can often represent qualities you would like to embrace more of, and scenes of places that uplift and inspire, energise or relax you.

You will also need pens, scissors, glue or pins, sticky tape and a current photograph of yourself.

Many people find that there is something incredibly cathartic about creating a board using their hands. However, some people prefer to create their board using a computer. Both methods work well.

2. Prepare a Space - Find somewhere quiet where you can be undisturbed and completely relaxed. Prepare a special space to work on your board. Gather all the materials you need together so that they are within easy reach. Do whatever it takes to make the space feel as comfortable and special as possible. Play some uplifting music without lyrics. Place a vase of fresh flowers in the area. Light a candle. Wear clothes that you feel good in. Open a window and allow fresh air circulate through your space to shift any stagnant energy.

3. Mindset Magic - Let go of anything you feel you 'should, ought to or must' aspire towards. Give yourself permission to explore the things that you really want to welcome more of in your life.

As Walt Disney once said "If you can dream it, you can do it". Believe in the possibility of your dreams becoming reality for you. Believe that you are entitled to them. Fill your board with the energy of those dreams and the excitement and anticipation that they bring you.

4. Flick, Snip and Stick - Have fun flicking through magazines (or searching online) for images and words that inspire you. Tear or cut out anything that jumps out at you and make a pile of clippings. When you feel you have enough images for begin your board, put the magazines to one side and sit for a few minutes sorting through your images.

You do not need to know what the image represents for you at this stage. Simply focus on keeping all the images you love looking at and trust your intuition on any pictures that do not feel right. Sift through the pile so that only the images and words that really inspire you remain.

5. Arrange - experiment by positioning the images, words and phrases your board in whatever way feels good. Once you are happy with the positioning of your various images it is useful to take a snap shot of your board using a digital camera. Images can easily move when you start sticking, so having this photo will help you remember where they each go as you start to glue or tape them down.

There is no right or wrong way to secure your images. Some people like them to be easily changeable - fixed with scotch tape or drawing pins. Others like them to be pasted down with glue and varnished for a professional looking finish. Trust your gut feeling.

The important thing is to arrange your images with plenty of space in between, symbolizing your intention to stay open to receiving more!

When you have finished your board place your purpose statement accompanied by a current photo of yourself at the center of your board to symbolize you being the creator of your experience.

In addition to having a photo of yourself in the middle of the board, you can also add photos of yourself to some of your chosen images e.g. at the steering wheel of your racing car picture or in the middle of the image of a safari scene. This can add extra power to your board, because it visually helps you put yourself in the board.

6. Position with Pride - Proudly display your board somewhere in your home or office where you are most active during the day and will see it regularly (even if this is from your peripheral vision). Ideally position it at eye level in a space that is in alignment with your vision - i.e. not above your toilet or inside a cupboard! An alternative to hanging it on a wall is to take a photograph of it and use it as a screensaver on your computer, laptop or smartphone.

The more time you spend with your board the more movement you will make toward your goals and the faster they will manifest into reality.

Ensure the space around your board supports your vision, clear away any clutter or things that don't reflect the words and images on your board.

7. Activate Your Board - Once you have completed your board take some time to sit with it and connect with the images, words and phrases positioned on it. Visualise yourself being, doing, having and experiencing all the things on your board as if they are already part of your life.

Anytime when you feel like you need a break you can use your board to help you take a mini mind holiday. Simply settle yourself somewhere comfy and allow yourself to take an imaginary journey into one of the images on the board. For example:

- Explore what it feels like to be the dolphin in the picture you cut out or how it feels to stand at the at the top of the mountain in your health section.

- Visualise yourself having dinner with the man of your dreams.

- Experiment with what it feels like to live in that house you would love.

- Play with the sensation of sparkling and shining like the diamond in your wealth section.

Allow your vision board to be a continuously moving creation with room to add more images as your ideas develop and change. Whenever you bring something on your board into being celebrate and express gratitude for this success.

You may like to keep a gratitude journal to acknowledge positive things as they come into your life, or alternatively pop a little smiley face or tick mark next to the corresponding image, word or phrase whenever you notice it has manifest itself.

It also helps to share your board with those who are supportive of you. Sharing your board helps you declare your desires externally, the process of which makes them feel more real and therefore more attainable.

People who experience the most success with their vision boards practice visualizing already having all the things they want to be, do, have and create in their lives regularly - every day. Spend time with your board as part of your daily routine.