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There are some days when your plans and goals could never be clearer. I know that I want to be a writer, so I am sure to allow time each day to hone my craft. I know that I want to be a healthier person, so I set health goals every few weeks or months and try to eat a balanced diet and stay active in between. Seems simple, right? But then there are those days when you’re sitting in front of the TV thinking, “what the hell am I doing with my life?”

After graduating from college nearly three years ago, I have been working as a freelance writer/editor/proofreader and filling in the proverbial gaps with retail work and other odd jobs. Each year that goes by, I feel as though I am moving farther and farther away from my goal of becoming a successful writer and editor. Finally, after two and a half years of working part-time at a (wonderful, tasty) chocolate shop in Baltimore City, I decided I needed to call it quits. I had an imminent job offer after two successful interviews with an education company, so I put in my notice at the chocolate shop, and then I heard (after I was officially unemployed) that the editing position I had nearly signed on to take had been absorbed back into the company.

So here I sit, a veritably unemployed lady, typing away at my computer. I could have let this unfortunate situation get to me, but instead, I used it as an opportunity to look inward and examine my current situation and goals. I realized that while I am bringing in less than half of the money I had been before, I am much happier. I also realized that this temporary lapse in employment has given me the opportunity to reevaluate my options and begin to align my career more toward my intended path. I looked online for a few weeks and put out some feelers to see if there were any potential full-time editing gigs in my area—turns out, as I already suspected, there aren’t many. I applied to those few on my own, and wasn’t having any luck.

I happened upon a local temporary agency by sheer accident while searching for full time jobs. I clicked a link advertising an editorial assistant position, and it lead me straight to the temporary agency website. I decided to give it a go and filled out all the online applications and quizzes, and guess what? One of those very companies with which I had previously left my application had decided to go through the temp agency instead of hiring an individual, scoring this happy girl an interview that would not otherwise have happened.

I love to celebrate happy accidents, and I love it when my desires slowly start to manifest, so in acknowledgment of this strange place in my life I decided to begin work on a vision board. In case you didn’t know a vision board is basically just a collage of words and images meant to display your dreams and desires, but it can also serve as an inner roadmap to navigate your current disposition. I decided to use a sketchbook so that I could do a series of smaller vision boards, or a vision book. That way I can repeat the process often and track my progress, see how I am changing and growing, and notice easily which areas I should improve.

My first step was to go through some old magazines and cut out any images or words that moved me in some way. Naturally that meant a good deal of foreign destination pictures, really amazing shoes, yummy looking foods, and varying sizes and colors of different cut-out words. I tried not to think too much about this process so that I wouldn’t know exactly what was going to happen on my board—I wanted it to be a very organic, self-actualizing experience. Once I had procured about a thousand or so scraps of paper that I felt very strongly about, I went through them and organized them into groups that went something like this in my mind: things that apply to me in this very moment, travel and exploration, fashion, health and exercise, reading and writing, and home life. After I sorted my cut-outs into these six groups (which they naturally fell into without any planning), I discarded anything that I no longer felt related to myself or my vision board.

I decided that I wanted to make my first board one that could encapsulate who I am at this very moment. I wanted to be able to glue words and images to the page, step back and say, “yes, this is exactly what’s going on inside me right now.” The cut-outs represent my likes and dislikes, my fears, things that I already possess, goals that I have just set for myself, and a few odds and ends. I was stunned as it started to come together. I placed a picture on each of the two blank pages facing one another in the notebook, one of the Baltimore skyline along the harbor (which is my favorite view of the city in which I live) and one of Marie Claire plus size fashionista Nicolette Mason which says “Big Girl in a skinny world.” I felt that these two most closely represented the physical and psychological place in which I find myself right now. I worked my way around those pictures on the page, finding that the most pervasive words on my vision board were “crazy,” “control,” “damage,” “what’s next,” “writing,” “power,” “less stress,” “explore,” “obsessed,” “sensitive,” and “out of line.”

As I finished gluing the last few words onto the paper, I began to see the vision board coming together as a cohesive statement: I am an overweight twenty-something girl living in Baltimore, stressing about finding a job and moving forward. Sometimes I feel like I am losing control of my life, like I’m crazy or damaged. I am loud and obsessive and sensitive. I enjoy my dog, Sunday brunch, coffee, tea, travel, and cupcakes. I am concerned with becoming healthier and more generous. I am a writer, a blogger, a Sagittarius, and a shoe fanatic. I have dealt with loss and death. But when I look at the words that surround all of the negative ones, like “power” and “unstoppable” and “self development,” I see that I am more than just my feelings of damage and loss. I am a happy, hopeful person. I am a person who is going to make vision boards like it’s my job.

I would recommend this experience to anyone. If you are even thinking about making a vision board, do it! Start small. Get a piece of 8.5×11″ paper and a magazine or two, and see what you come up with. Pretend that you are a child in art class, like you are coloring or doing something else that doesn’t require much brain power. Let yourself feel relaxed, and see what you come up with. This is one of the easiest and most rewarding experiences I’ve had in an hour.

Check mine out below, and please share yours!

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