#051 How to use vision boards to bring you closer to the life you want with Candy Motzek.

#051 How to use vision boards to bring you closer to the life you want with Candy Motzek.

You can listen to this podcast episode on iTunes or Spotify.

I’m not the artsy type. I’m not into scrapbooking. My first child’s baby book is an embarrassment and by the time I had my second child, I didn’t even bother. (Please don’t tell him!)

I am into being organized, efficient and using systems that effectively help me GSD (get s*^& done).

That’s why my interest was piqued when I started learning about the brain science behind using vision boards as a tool for achieving your goals and dreams.

It turns out that there is a very efficient but not very discerning system in the brain called the reticular activating system. In very layman’s terms, the reticular activating system puts the brain to work on whatever you indicate is important.

That’s why when you decide to buy a white car you start seeing white cars all over the place. Or why your brain will produce a name you were searching for hours ago. In the background, your brain is working for you.

The good news for us is that you can hack this brain function to help you achieve your vision of a good life for your son or daughter with an intellectual disability.

By creating a vision board and then keeping it front and center throughout your year, you remind your brain to look for opportunities.

The bad news for us is that if you hang out in negative places where folks are complaining all the time about how hard life is and how mean the world is then your brain will get lots of reminders to look for proof.

I’m choosing to hack my brain for good instead of misery.

This week on the podcast I interview Candy Motzek about vision boards. What they are, why they work and how you can use this lovely tool to actually effect positive change in your life!

Join us on the upcoming workshop by Candy on HOW to create a digital vision board to keep your brain working on your vision all year long.

I may not be artsy, but I’m ALL IN on tools that keep my brain working on my positive vision for my son, my family and myself.

Transcript

Genia:
Candy Motzek, welcome to the Good Things in Life Podcast. I’m so excited that you are here today and so grateful that you are willing to come on this show and talk to us about creating vision boards as we move into this new year. It’s such a great time for us to be taking stock of where we are in our life as parents, where our kids’ lives are, and to be thinking about how we can really move the needle in a positive direction in this upcoming year. And I know that you just have a ton to offer in helping people think that through. So thank you so much for being here.

Candy:
Oh, thanks so much for having me. I’m really excited to be on your podcast and I’m just really honored to be contributing to your audience as well.

Genia:
Thanks, Candy. So I wonder if you could just as a, just brief overview or introduction, Candy. Introduce yourself and talk about what you do. Cause certainly what you’re going to be talking about today isn’t all of what you offer. So I wonder if you could just introduce yourself.

Candy:
Okay. So I think I’ve had the longest career path of anybody else that I know. I started out many years ago as an engineer and a scientist. And then I moved into the corporate world, spent a lot of years managing corporate real estate and large teams and large projects. And I just found that that was not the life for me. I needed a life that was more about people and helping them create a life that was more fulfilling, a place where they could just feel so much better in their life. And so I just flipped it on its head. I did a complete career change and I am now a coach. I do life coaching, which means that I talk to people and I listen to people and I help them feel better about what’s going on in their life. And I help them change how they think about their life so that they can have a much better life. That’s it.

Genia:
Great. And one of the tools that you teach is using a vision boards. And I wonder if you could just talk about what is a vision board.

Candy:
Yeah. So a vision board, it’s super exciting. A lot of people think that it’s a real woo woo thing, but I don’t agree. I think that it is actually one of the most practical things that you can do. It’s a way of making a picture of the quality of life that you want so that you know where you’re headed. You know that you’ve got something to shoot for, something to focus on, so that you can create that so much better life that you dream of.

Genia:
So isn’t that something that the people are generally doing anyway without having to think about it or sit down and create a board?

Candy:
I don’t think so. Our brains are programmed to be problem solvers, so our brain loves to solve problems. That means it also loves to look for problems. But a vision board takes you to the other side of the equation. It takes you to the place where you’re thinking about what you want instead of what’s going wrong. And so focusing on your vision board moves your brain over to that other side of the equation. So, yeah, we all say that we want a better life. But then we’d go back and we think about the problems that we’re having here, the problems that we’re having there, what’s not working. But when you’ve got a vision board, you’ve got that reminder and to retrain your brain that this is the thing that’s good. This is how I want to feel. This is the kind of life that I want to create. And so just retrain your brain entirely at what it’s looking for.

Genia:
So is this just a sort of like a notification reminder on our phone? Like, is it a reminder? Like you’re talking about retraining the brain that sounds different than a reminder. Can you talk about like how, how does this work? What’s the science behind this?

Candy:
Yeah, so I don’t know all the detailed science behind it, but I do know that our brain thinks in metaphors. So it loves pictures. It loves stories. It loves that feeling that it’s after. And a vision board is a way to anchor that in your life. Is it like a notification on your phone? Yeah, it can be. I know people that put notifications on their phone to remind themselves to look at their vision board and get connected again with that vision. But it’s not like another to do list, if that’s what you mean.

Genia:
Yeah. And in some of the blog articles that you’ve written, you talk about the reticular activating system in our brain. Can you talk about that a little bit and explain that?

Candy:
Sure. So that’s a part of your brain that allows you to filter. It wants to reduce the amount of information coming into your head. So if you are just sitting here, as you’re listening to this podcast, you’re listening with your ears. There’s other things going on in your home or in your car. Maybe you’re watching the traffic, you’re looking for pedestrians, you’re looking for the red or green light as you’re driving along. Maybe there’s somebody walking a dog on the other side of the street and there’s also activity happening inside your car. So your brain is taking all of that in at one time. But your reticular activator says, “Here’s what’s important. Let’s focus on this.” So a perfect example is when you decide you want to buy a new car.

Candy:
Maybe you have this dream of a gorgeous red, some kind of car. And you’ve been to the car lot and you’ve been looking at them and you’re saving up your money and deciding whether or not you can afford it or not. And all of a sudden everywhere you go, everybody else has red cars. And so that’s your reticular activator at work. It says, “Hey, you told us red cars were important. You told us red cars was something that you wanted to know more about and then it’s important to you. So here it is. Look at all the red cars that are around you.” Now, it’s actually no different than it ever was. There’s still white cars and blue cars and gray cars and silver cars. But because you told your brain that red cars were important, it looks for them for you. So it looks to help you. It’s like a filter.

Genia:
And you know, for parents of kids with disabilities, I would say that what gets put into our brains about what is important is very often things like assessing deficits, treatment and therapy plans. And you know with school again, school sort of individualized plans and those kinds of things that tend to be around some sort of competency development, health related issue. And those are our, those are important things. But if what we want is for our kids to have access to the good things in life, things like friendships and opportunities and you know, meaningful contribution in the world, then at some point we need to tell our brains to figure out how to make that happen too.

Genia:
Otherwise, what our brain is focused on is what we’ve told it to focus on or what other people have told us that we should be focused on. So I imagine that, not, not just around parenting kids with disabilities, but in general, this would be even more important if the messages that you are receiving from the people or the environment around you is telling you to focus on things that are not necessarily consistent with your own vision of what you want your life to be like.

Candy:
Yeah. And then the other part of this is what you described is problem-based, often. You know, here’s what we can do to correct something or work towards improving something which is important for sure. But then what about, like you said, the fun things. What about the good relationships? What about just the fun activities? How do you get that in the forefront of your mind? And that’s what you can use a vision board for, for sure.

Genia:
So some of the other material that I read talks about, talks about how, essentially how, what we put in our minds and our, like how our thoughts and beliefs affect our reality. And how that connects to creating a vision board.

Candy:
Right. Okay. So let’s just talk about how the world works. This is not my material. This is just a common truth that our thoughts dictate how we feel and how we feel fuels our action. And then what we do creates the results in our life. And so what that means is that our thoughts actually create the results. So let me just talk a little bit more about that. Lots of people have heard of this and every time I hear it, I hear it in a different way as well. And then other people have never heard of this concept, but our thoughts are actually optional. We get to choose some of the thoughts that we hold in our head and our thoughts are just sentences. They’re just the words that are in our mind. When we choose our thoughts, we can shift our feelings, we can shift our emotions. And this is what a vision board is really great for is because it reminds you how you want to feel.

Candy:
So you want to feel the way you feel when the good things in life are happening. You want to feel content and you want to feel empowered and you want to feel pride and you want to feel happy and you want to feel refreshed and excited and all of those things. So how do you create those things? Well you start with the vision board and then you start to think the thoughts that promote that. And the thought might be something like, “Hey, it’s possible that we could go on a great family trip together.” And then you can start to get excited about it. When that happens, now you start to think about, “Well where might we go? What might we do?” And so the action that you take could be planning the trip, could be saving money for the trip, could be getting the whole family involved in wherever you might want to go, what you might want to do.

Candy:
And then the result is the trip that you take as a family. So your vision board captures that feeling that you want, captures that emotion, that you think the experience is going to give you. And it allows you to use that power of your thoughts to create the life in the way you want to. And it sounds simple and it actually is simple, but that doesn’t mean it’s easy. And that’s why I love vision boards because they bring you back to that place that says, “Yes, I remember I wanted to have that great trip this summer with my family. We’re looking forward to it. What could I do this week that’s going to get me closer to them?”

Genia:
And I think that’s a great example, a really nice clear example. Because if you invert that original thought from “It’s possible that we could take a really great family trip” and you, you change that to “It’s not possible that we could ever a really good family trip because things are too complicated or whatever.” And you then think, how does that, so that’s the thought. And then what does that thought make you feel? That feeling, whatever it is, whether it’s sad or hopeless or defeated or apathetic does not lead to an action that will ever get you on a really nice family trip. Like there’s definitely no family trip at the end of that thought.

Candy:
Exactly.

Genia:
That’s a really great, that’s a really great illustration of how our thoughts relate to our ultimate outcomes.

Candy:
Exactly. And what you’ve pointed out is it’s the same, you’re, you’re thinking about the same topic and all you did was change a couple of words. The way that I like to, I like to start the sentences with, “It’s possible for me to”, or “It’s possible for us to”, is a great starter for. But when you say, “That’s not in the cards for us”, “That’s too complicated for us”, you just close down the option. Now when it’s possible, you can start to get curious and you can start to say, “Well, if it is possible, how might I do this?”, “What about that could we do?” It opens up the, you know, instead of it being closing everything down for you, it opens up that possibility and as soon as you start to feel that possibility, you start to feel better.

Candy:
And even though this example is about a family trip, the more that you can feel better in your day, the ripple effect will be massive. So when you’re feeling better and you get out of your car to go to Starbucks and grab a coffee, you might smile at the person in line next to you instead of, you know, with your head down and you know you’re messy bun and you know you’re, you’re not even looking, you’re looking down at your phone. You’re not even looking up at the world. So just that it is possible feeling just opens up every other interaction for you. You might smile at your kid instead of feeling grumpy. You might not get upset about the dirty laundry laying in the corner because you’re thinking about, “Ooh, I wonder if this is possible for us.” It changes the tenor of your entire day. And that is the power of the vision board.

Genia:
I really love that you’re using moderators in your sentences too. Like ‘could’, ‘might’, because I think it’s too far sometimes to expect somebody just to go from their, their current experience, which may be that they’ve never experienced anything that would give them any evidence that it would be possible to go on a great family trip for example. It’s a big jump to go to “It is possible for us to do this.” It’s a huge jump. You’ve got no evidence of it. You’ve got lots of barriers or challenges to making that happen. So I love the, the idea of not trying to pretend that we can necessarily just choose and truly believe thoughts that are, you know, dramatically different from what we have any evidence for.

Genia:
But we can start to use moderators to create a mindset of curiosity and openness, like you said, which then can build on itself, right? Because then, you know, the next thought might be, “I wonder if a family like ours, like any other family like ours has ever gone, has ever traveled like this.” And just by asking that, then that question, “Is it possible? Could it be possible? Might’ve been possible.” Then you might ask another question that then brings you just one micro step closer. And that’s certainly I think all of our, anybody who’s gone from, from one place in their life to a very dramatically different place in their life has done it in micro steps, not in believing at stage zero that they were going to ever reach the end of the, that journey, you know?

Candy:
Oh, totally. And that’s one of the reasons that affirmations often don’t work is because we go, that jump is too far. It’s not believable. We’re only going to feel better when we believe that what we’re thinking has the possibility of being true. And so yeah, the modifiers are really consciously chosen to move the gauge of your belief to the next step. So, you know, it’s kind of you know, belief is sort of like a staircase. You’re not going to go from the main floor to the second floor in one big leap. Some people can, you know, take two or three steps at a time, not me, but you take it one step at a time. And sometimes you’re hanging onto the handrail because you got a bunch of grocery bags hanging on your arm too.

Candy:
And sometimes you might need to rest part way up the stairs. And that’s okay. It’s still forward movement. And even though we’re talking about vision boards, the ultimate thing here is to feel better, to have the good things in life so you can feel better, right? So even though, you know, the example is about family vacation, if that family vacation doesn’t happen for five years. Well, if you could feel a little bit better throughout your day, all through the next five years, you’ve already won, right? Like you’ve already created a much more fulfilling life. So the key here is believability. Like you said, using, you know, ‘could’, ‘it’s possible’, ‘what might happen’, these kinds of words get you moving to the next step on this staircase.

Genia:
Right. So making unbelievable statements or creating unbelievable thoughts in our minds, that would be one pitfall in applying this strategy. Are there other pitfalls?

Candy:
Yeah, doing too much too soon. Creating too grandiose of a vision, something that your mind will never believe. I think you also need to take your own life in context. You know, what is the vision for you? Not what’s the vision for that family that lives down the road that you know, you kind of envy as you drive out your driveway and you’ll look at them, you go, “Oh, if only they, if only I could be her.” You know, that other mom, that’s not where it’s at. It’s appreciating your life and what’s the next step for you. So that’s another big pitfall. And consistent, so the reverse of the pitfall is that consistent action, consistent feeling, consistent focus is the way to really make it work. It’s not an all or nothing game. It’s a day to day game.

Genia:
Great. Thanks. So what are the steps in this sort of process or road map?

Candy:
So to create a vision board, I’ve got a five step process. First I talk about consider. So that’s, let’s talk about, consider where you’re at right now. What’s your life like? Not to say it’s terrible, but to also look for the good. Like what’s already good that’s happening in your life. Like I said earlier, we’re so focused on the problem. We’re so focused on like what’s going wrong. And lots of times when you actually stop and consider your life right now, you realize that where you are right now was actually a dream that you had, a goal that you were shooting for a couple of years ago. And it’s so easy for us to forget that our life right now is the life that we were dreaming of years ago. And so consider where you are, right now. The good, the not so good, but putting that sort of pin in the map as it were. The next step is the dream. What would you love? What would be absolutely wonderful?

Candy:
Then desire because all goals, all visions are fueled by desire. What do you want? Then you have to choose. You have to choose. What is that one thing, that one area that I really want to make a difference? What do I really want to do? That feeling of desire is the fuel for the action. So again, that’s back to the, your thoughts dictate your feelings, your feelings fuel your action. So this place of desire and what, what do you want and why do you want it? That’s going to be your motivation. Then you decide and then you do it. You create the vision board and then once you’ve created the vision board, that’s kind of like we talk about a vision board as if it’s the end result, but that’s not the unresolved. The unresolved as something that I call amplify and that means look at it every day.

Candy:
Reconnect with that desire every day. Fuel that emotion that you want every day, even just a little bit. And in that amplifying and fueling that emotion, that’s when your brain opens up to ideas, to possibilities, to chance encounters that you wouldn’t have expected. Because you’re feeling better and you’re standing in the line at Starbucks, all of a sudden you realize that somebody you haven’t seen for a while is just over there. Maybe you say hi and you have a conversation. When your thinking and your reticular activator is working, all of a sudden those opportunities come much more easily. And the whole thing is just so much more fun. And when you’re having fun and you’re feeling better, that’s when you’re so much closer to getting that, making that vision come true.

Genia:
Yeah, I love the idea of creating a vision board around, I mean, I can imagine creating a number of vision boards really, you know, around me personally, but also a vision board for my son’s life and attaching an intention around that process and the amplification process of coming back to it over and over again through the year. Making sure that fun is really embedded in that would be really, really powerful. Because again, so often the messages that we are getting from our environment and the people around us, around our kids with disabilities is not, like they’ve taken fun out of the parenting picture. And honestly, you know, the more we can, the more fun and lightheartedness and you know, pursuit of just a good, like a generally good family experience through the early years, generally is the foundation of building a pretty good life. And it’s so much easier to be resilient when you are really maximizing your experience of the fun moments instead of really focusing and maximizing the experience of the not so fun moments.

Candy:
Yeah. Agreed. And so maybe we can just talk a little bit about a couple of types of vision boards.

Genia:
Yeah, great.

Candy:
So when people think about vision boards, they often think of these big poster boards with a whole bunch of photos cut out of magazines and glued on the magazines and then you’ve got to put it up somewhere. Some people put it in their closet, some people put it in their bathroom. Those kinds of vision boards are great, but they’re not the only kind of vision board. So the key is to have it so that you have fun creating it in the creation and that you see it and you engage with it. So there’s digital vision boards. Those are super fun to do. I have one that is on the desktop of my computer. I’ve also got one that is the wallpaper on my phone. So every time I grabbed my phone, which is often, I see that little vision board and that’s my reminder to come back and amplify.

Candy:
That’s what the amplify process is, is to revisit it, remember that great feeling and then be open to whatever the inspired action is or just to feel better in your day to day life. So the other way that I see vision boards is people have the wall in their family room and instead of having necessarily a bunch of official artwork or prints, they have photos of the things that draw them as a family. I have gone to Ikea and bought, you know, a stack of those inexpensive frames and then framed those photos that are enticing where make me feel good. So every time I walk by the family room, guess what? I see those photos.

Candy:
The other thing is you can use your fridge anytime, like say in the idea of travel. Maybe there’s all kinds of great travel ideas that you see and you’ve got brochures that come in, you’ve got family photos of when you had a great time doing something, put those all up on your fridge. And that’s another great kind of really reminding physical vision board. Every time you open that door, guess what? There it is in front you. So lots of different ways. There’s no one perfect way to do it. There’s the way that works for the individual. What’s easy, what’s fun, what resonates with them and where are you going to see it? You know, those are the ways that I would choose how to do it.

Genia:
I imagine too, if you’re creating a vision board for and hopefully with your child, depending on how old your child is, then finding ways of printing that out or having it in places where the other people in your child’s life will also see it frequently would be, would be a really great thing to do. Particularly if you’ve explained it to people, you know. So the, the front of your kids communication book that goes back and forth to school or you know, slipped into their laminated and slipped into their lunch bag. You know, that type of thing. So that really all of the people in your, your child’s life have this shared idea of what you’re striving towards and can use that as a reminder of why they’re doing the work that they’re doing. You know, what’s the point?

Candy:
Yeah. And, and it’s also, it’s a great conversation piece too. Right? You know, great conversation piece for the parents with the children kids with other kids. It might be even a great connection point, you know, “Tell me about what’s this, about, what is this thing that you’ve got here?”

Genia:
So I know Candy that when you teach the vision boarding in your workshops, you go into a lot more detail in depth with a lot more you know, questions and prompts to help people really dig deep. And it just feels like now’s a good time to let people know that we will be offering a vision board workshop for inclusion Academy members and others who would like to register.

Genia:
You can find out more information about the workshop with Candy Motzek by going to goodthingsinlife.org/visionboard. The workshop will be held on January 22nd and there are some additional bonuses as well. Again, you can find out more at goodthingsinlife.org/visionboard.

Genia:
I’m really, really looking forward to it. I think that it’s a good time of year. It’s a good time of year to be taking stock and to be thinking about what’s gone really well and where are, you know, what we’ve achieved, but also where things could really kind of use some work. And so I’m really looking forward to that for my own life and my son’s life and, and also for people who would like to join us. So thank you for your willingness to do that and to offer that for us. And thank you for joining us today. I wonder if you do you have any sort of final words or any advice or things that we haven’t covered that you think are really important?

Candy:
I love that question. So first I’m really excited to be doing this workshop. And I know that it is that right time of the year where we’re starting to evaluate what do we want the year to look like? But you can use creating a vision board at any time of the year. Maybe it’s the start of the school year. What do you want that school year to look like? You could also use it as summer rolls around. What do you want the summer experience with your child to be like? So it’s great for the new year, but it’s also great for many other times of the year. Do I have any other thoughts? At this point, no. I think that it is, the vision board is a reminder of how you want to feel and what you know to be possible in your family’s life and in your child’s life. And as a parent, this is the place where you also get to demonstrate to the community, to your family, and to your child what you think will be a good life for them. And so it just is a great place for you to reflect on what you think is a great life for your child. And then to have that conversation with them as well, like what do they want? And use it as a another place for really respectful dialogue within the family to really shift that, shift that view of what your life might be like as a family, what you might experience as a parent, and what your child will ultimately experience as they live their day to day.

Genia:
That’s wonderful, Candy. Thank you. And we will dig deeper into all of this in the upcoming workshop.

Candy:
Sounds good. I’m looking forward to it.

Genia:
Wonderful. Thanks so much.

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