Guest blog by Laure Van Aken, research assistant at Make me Fly!
Around this time last year, Els asked me if I’d liked to follow the vision board workshop. I didn’t doubt it for one second: of course I wanted to come. Granted, her invitation came with perfect timing. That is, a year ago, I’d been unemployed for about 10 months. Although I do prefer the expression “in search of a job”. It fit my situation better at the time, considering I wrote and sent letter after letter, constantly hoping for a positive followup though being disappointed time and time again. All of that got to me fairly hard.
I should have earned my master’s degree in “gender and diversity” in 2016, but depression managed to annul said plan. I tried to persist, fully determined to finish my education, but when finals started in June, the straw that broke the camel’s back finally came around. I literally crashed. I wasn’t able to do anything, couldn’t eat, couldn’t get out of bed, and got stuck in spiral of negative thoughts and anxiety. Luckily, my loving friends got me the help that I needed and by the end of the summer I started feeling on the up-and-up again. The bruise that was left in my self-confidence, however, stuck with me for a very long time.
Applying for jobs didn’t help in alleviating the bruise – in fact, quite the opposite: with every job rejection, it felt like someone pressed the figurative bruise. Trust me when I say there were plenty of rejections: occasionally I got invited to participate in tests or interview, obviously making one’s hope grow. The answer I got, however, was the same every time: “You’re an excellent candidate, though you don’t have enough/any experience …” Experience that, unfortunately, I couldn’t magically make appear on my resume. A break to regain myself and refocus my priorities was exactly what I needed – and thus, so it happened. A few days later I was sat on a train from Gent to Leuven with a backpack full of magazines and … hope.
The first thing Els asked our group to do, was to decide whether we wanted to make a goal-oriented or a more general vision board. Since I didn’t really have any goals at the time, that was easily decided on: I was going to make a general board to focus on that which was really important to me. A stack of magazines later, I was surrounded by a huge pile of images. Then, she told us to sort them. “Go through them once again, and try to sort them into clusters; group the things that belong together.” Only one rule applied: all images had to fit on a single page. I.e., making choices …
My vision board started to take shape. Rather quickly, it became clear to me that words speak to me more than images do. Luckily, this was allowed: quotes of others can also give you vision. At the top of the board, I put a big quote by Wilhelm Schmid: “Who says you have to be happy all the time?”, a saying I try to remember on days I struggle. What I have mainly remember from all this, is that I am someone wanting to live an authentic life and wanting to live according to my values; a life that goes slow, wherein I have time to stand still and enjoy the little things. After the workshop, I took that gigantic piece of paper on the train home, where it still hangs in my living room – in plain sight.
Every morning I glance over at it and remember what’s really important. Oh, and by the way: the job followed quickly after. What good a vision board can do …
Excited to re-discover your passion and find your direction in life? You’re in luck!
We still have a few spots open in our vision board workshop next week!