On a Tuesday afternoon about four years ago, I was sitting in a windowless meeting room in trendy, warehouse-style offices, trying to not show my scepticism at the task I’d just been given.
The ‘Executive Coach’ who’d been assigned to me by Human Resources had just asked me to spend some time over the next week tearing out photos from magazines and newspapers to make my own Vision Board – a montage of images that, together, would represent my ideal life.
But I didn’t need an overpaid suit to help me figure out what my ideal life looked like, because I already knew: it was at home, caring for my 18-month-old baby.”
At that stage in my life, however, that simply wasn’t an option. Instead, I was working long hours in the marketing department of a fizzy drinks company.
So over a glass or two of wine that weekend, I dutifully started searching through my back-copies of Vogue and Maire Claire, cutting out images that ‘spoke’ to me. And it was actually a lot of fun. Getting caught up in the possibilities, I went to town, tearing out all kinds of pics: couples strolling the streets of Paris, besties sharing a cheeky giggle, intimate moments between a parent and a child. I also clipped images that in some way represented a kind of undefined, dream job: where I’d get to create something that made bucketloads of fun out of the day-to-day; where I’d be free to be silly while making people smile; where I’d start each day with a big grin on my face; and where I’d be near my family. I cut out words and pictures that made me close my eyes, lean back, exhale, and that inspired me to dream.
After grouping the clippings and sticking them onto my Vision Board, I dutifully carried my fumbled-together fantasy to the next meeting with my ‘Coach’. I was genuinely excited to show her the images of my dream future – it all looked pretty fab. But in my heart I really didn’t believe that a change in career, let alone a trip to Paris, were likely parts of my future.
After that hopeful meeting, I slid my Vision Board into a gap between the wall and my desk, where it stayed for the next 5 months. But happily, I didn’t forget to take it home with me when I was packing to go on maternity leave once more.
Then just the other day, while I was doing yet another room re-arrangement, I found that Vision Board again. It was tucked away in the room that passes for my home office. Somehow over the last four years, it’s survived two household moves. It’s curled at the edges, and bits of the paper are hanging off. The images are slightly faded, and it’s already yellow with age.
Yet, as I run my hand over the collection of clippings, I marvel at how many of these ‘fantasy’ images actually represent my life today.”
Because I never did return to that windowless meeting room. I am spending my days with my children. And I have had a complete change of career.
And the job I’m doing now, for me, is epitomised by this particular part of that Vision Board:
Fox in Flats, to me, is a job. I sit at my little desk tap tap tapping away while the kids are playing/napping/squabbling, or when they’re fast asleep at night, to produce content every week. Since Fox in Flats went live 18 months ago, it’s largely been a labour of love – one where I’ve been paid richly with lovely emails, tweets, letters, cards, and friendship. And shoes. Yup, sometimes, people give me shoes 😉
To me, this new job is filled with happiness, silliness, positivity and fun – a layer of thick pink icing with rainbow sprinkles over a period of life where the day-to-day can sometimes be pretty mundane. In so many ways, Fox in Flats is exactly the kind of job I’d pieced together all those years before using torn-out pictures from magazines and a glue stick.
With this job I’m less likely to be heading back to a windowless meeting room any time soon.
So with that, I’m off to the supermarket in my favourite jeans, some comfy flats, and my brightest, reddest lipstick, ready to do some kooky stuff with a shopping basket – like the girl in my Vision Board above. It may not be everyone’s version of ‘living the dream’, but it’s definitely part of mine.
Given the chance to dream, what would YOUR ideal life look like?
And have you ever done a Vision Board like mine, or do you have other ways of expressing your hopes, dreams and aspirations?