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Essay

A Vision (Board) For The Future

by Grace Bonney

When I first learned about vision/inspiration boards years ago, I was a major skeptic. I didn’t see how cutting images out of a magazine could actually lead to any sort of substantive clarity — until it did. The simple act of letting your mind and heart react to things and collect them without judgement or a clear goal ended up leading me to important ideas and decisions I hadn’t realized would be so important to me. Sometimes these boards have been the reminder that I was ready to dig into a new work project; sometimes they’ve been a loud and clear voice that says, “You want to spend more time away from working.” Every person is different, every stage of life is different, and so every board is different. But the best part of making these little projects is that there is no “wrong” way to make one. I find they not only connect me to myself, but they help me connect with my friends and family when I share them, too.

Several of you reached out to me on social media to ask if I would make one last (during my time at Design*Sponge) vision board and share it here today. It sounded like a fun idea, and a nice way for me to mark and memorialize this chapter ending — so this weekend I dove right in! I have no idea what I am going to do after we close this month, but working on this board really helped me clarify what my heart had already been whispering to me: I want to spend more time in nature, with animals, focusing on quality (not quantity) of life and seeing how I can help others do the same. Want to join in? Here’s the (very easy!) way to make your own vision board:

*First: I find it most helpful to go into a vision board with no clear goal. When I’ve done that before, it felt forced. Try to let go of expectations, goals, and ideas of what you think your board should be or how it should look.

  1. Collect a small pile of magazines, newspapers, and any other printed or visual material you find inspiring.
  2. Clip out anything from these materials that grabs or tugs at your heart and mind. DO NOT OVERTHINK IT! There is no “wrong” answer and what may not make sense when you first clip it will have a funny way of making itself understood by the time you go to place things.
  3. Get yourself a large board you can attach things to — I like to use a glue stick on foam core, but you can always use a cork surface and push pins if you want things to be more flexible.
  4. Start grouping and attaching things! I find sometimes I end up creating sections I didn’t predict and then the words or phrases I clip out start feeling right next to certain images. I love when I clip two words or sentences that weren’t together that end up becoming an entire new sentence (with new meaning) when combined.
  5. Feel free to add other pieces that make you happy — like a flower clipping, feather, or a bit of patterned paper. But don’t feel pressured to decorate your board, make it prettier, or neaten it up. This isn’t about creating something for anyone else — it’s about helping you get in touch with what your subconscious is trying to tell you.
  6. Once it’s done, sit back and spend some time with it. Do you notice any themes? Any feelings? Any clear ideas? Again, there’s no right and wrong, just take note. Some parts will reveal themselves to you or make more sense as you spend more time with them. I sometimes share mine with friends and loved ones who notice things I didn’t!
  7. Place your board in a spot where you’ll see it frequently — this will help you stay in touch and stay inspired by the images, words, and feelings you felt drawn to when imagining your future.


This was my first shot at arranging things. It was a mess, but this feels truest to how the images and text all wanted to fit together in my mind…


Then I started gluing and placing items down. Not everything fit, so I had to smoosh or edit or cut some things down a bit.


The finished piece hanging above my dresser. I cleared everything else off the wall to make room. I’d had old vision boards up and realized I needed to make room for a new chapter by letting go of the old. I keep all my old vision boards in the office Julia and I share — I don’t want to forget them, but I think I needed this clearing out to make room for new doors to open.

What I see: A whole lot of nature. A desire to find a calling. Some travel. A desire to feel things, learn things, ask questions and be brave and curious. Now, let’s see where this leads me… xo, Grace

 

 

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Comments

  • Grace, all of these finale posts have been wonderful. I started reading Design Sponge when I graduated college in 2010. I was a little depressed and had a desk job where my office was literally a converted cleaning supply closet. After discovering DS, I surreptitiously clicked over and hit refresh on the site—on the hour, every hour—to see each new post the minute it showed up. It seems a little silly to say this about a website, but DS made my life so much happier and gave me something to look forward to each morning. Thank you for bringing this community into the world, and all the best wishes in your next adventures.

  • I also love these final posts! At the end of this month I will wrap up a job that has caused a great deal of anxiety for me over the last couple of years. I am not sure what is next, but I am truly relieved. Though I know it’s a different circumstance, reading about the closing of DS has provided a lot of inspiration and ideas to reflect upon during this time in my life. Thank you for being such a wonderful example of growth, honesty, and integrity.

  • I recently have been going through some health-related stuff that’s been hard emotionally. In the process, I’ve been slowly recovering and needed to take some things from storage. One of the first things I pulled for was my copy of the DS book. Not sure why but it lightened the burden I was feeling and a I felt a connection resurge. I’ve followed DS for the 10+ years, never unsubscribing, always feeling intimidated and in awe by all the creativity, passion, and commitment of the design community. It will be weird not getting daily emails but I’m happy to have been exposed to all renovations, colors, projects, ideas, and endless, endless inspiration. Wishing you and DS staff all the best. Thank you!

  • I believe one of the most important things we can learn about ourselves as adults is that we are always changing, morphing, developing as humans. The person we are at twenty is not the person we are at forty. There are always elements of ourselves, but our priorities change, our family structure changes and sometimes our geographic locations change so it stands to reason that our desires and needs change. I wish you and everyone at DS all the best. And while I will miss Design Sponge terribly, I also will carry with me the ideas, recipes, web links (!) and inspiration y’all have brought to me. Thank all of you over and over again.

  • Hi Grace,

    I just want to say how much I am going to miss Design Sponge. It has become a part of my daily routine this year and I love the HEART that goes into it. Like fashion, I think interior design sometimes gets a bad rap for being superficial and resource-wasting, but the Design Sponge approach is all about creativity, inclusivity, and how we can create homes that reflect us creatively and practically.

    I was also struck by your commitment to not selling Design Sponge to an entity that would almost inevitably changed the heart of Design Sponge. Your integrity and sense of the worth of things money cannot buy is laudable.

    I will savor these last days of Design Sponge and hope the site stays up for a very long time once you have moved on to the next phase of your life. All the best to you and the Design Sponge family!

    Merry

  • Hello Grace,

    I have been in denial that DS is closing. I guess its time for my to accept the fact that you won’t be a part of my daily life. To tell you the whole story of how I came about your blog is too long. But know this, I am a expat, and at a time when I was lost in my new surroundings, I couldn’t find what I was looking for to inspire me, to give me resources, ideas, courage to do what I wanted to do and to simply brighten my day. I didn’t even know that is what I was looking for until I found you and your lovely blog.
    I have been an avid reader of your work and your teams. I have enjoyed the evolution of your blog (I’ve been reading you for good 10 years – yes, daily!) and while sometimes I didn’t quite agree with your anger (now I understand after reading your letter to yourself) I always came back. So I ask this of you, if you don’t mind.
    Be happy Grace, your future is nothing but bright and what you have done for your readers is nothing but wonderful. You personally gave me so so much and I thank you for that. I’m truly sad you won’t be here anymore, and I can’t stop but feeling that when my inspiration resource #1 is gone I will be a tad lost too. Is there any chance you would recommend us some good blogs we can turn to? I would appreciate that very much.

    Thank you Grace for your time, your vision, your sensibility.
    You will be missed.

    Susana

  • As you may know, I have been following you for years, so I’m a little sad to say goodbye and see you go, but I’m also thrilled for your new adventures, and totally get the need to reinvent.

    Thanks, Grace, for your vision, your impeccable aesthetics, and all your hard work!

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