So… if you are still here hopefully you have done your homework and have thought about the three main things that motivate you. I also hope you enjoyed imagining what your life will be like when you have finished your studies.
This leads us now to the next part…creating a vision board.
Some people love these, others hate them. I am sure by now almost everyone knows what a vision board is – basically you gather loads of images that appeal to you, stick them on a board and look at it. There are varying degrees of loveliness around these things…for example look at this:
While I find that whole scene exquisite it really doesn’t match my life. This is more my reality:
Sticking with my mantra of ‘Work with Reality and Do What Works‘ my vision board was simple, in fact, so simple it wasn’t even a board – it was just two small photos.
I had the photos stuck up in front of me and given the number of times I looked away from my typing, I must have looked at those two little pictures hundreds of thousands of times over the years.
Before I write more about the photos let me just give you a little bit of background or context as we would say in fancy-pants academic writing.
My first child was overdue. I really didn’t have any clue about babies before he came along and people still laugh when I tell them that I imagined he would look like the baby on my hospital record book (or possibly it was the Johnsons and Johnsons’ advert booklet who remembers…) anyway, this kid who made me a mother, gave me one-hellava introduction to motherhood.
He slept in 45 minute blocks and his favourite place to sleep until he was about 2 and a half was across my throat (don’t imagine it, it is not comfortable). After that he was happy to sleep nestled into my arm pit and I am one of those ‘baby-wearing’ mommas so the little guy and I were always together.
So you can imagine what a wrench it was to send him to daycare…BUT he had to go because I needed to study.
I have written elsewhere on here about how I started a law degree and couldn’t manage it before I decided to undertake the PhD. I did bits of my law units on the grass at the local swimming pool while listening to him screaming from inside the creche. I listened to recorded lectures while walking him around the neighbourhood and I also typed with him on my lap.
It was my choice because I did not like to be away from him and he didn’t like to be away from me – but alas- I couldn’t keep it up and do the things I needed and wanted to do…so one day I phoned a daycare and, to my horror at the speed of how quickly it happened, I had arranged a visit and it went from there. I really think in the daycare information pack they should give mothers some brochures on GUILT and MISERY.
The little boy (who was by now just over one) cried and yelled and sobbed and put his head on the floor at looked at me with such disgust and disappointment.
And what did I do?
I left him there.
I handed him over and walked away.
I am condensing this whole period of time and the story to get back to the vision board and I definitely plan to write more about guilt – but – I am not exaggerating when I say this was a traumatic time for me.
And in the perfect story I would recount how it all got better and he came to love it and would skip off ahead of me swinging his lovely, personalised school-bag waving hello to his friends.
Nope. This ain’t that type of story.
He hated it and continued to hate going despite me changing centres three times hoping he would find somewhere he liked.
You know those sweet photos and momentos they send you from daycare showing your beloved little one having so much EDUCATIONAL fun? Well, I never got those. Sure, I got the photos but the little face was a miserable one.
One thing my first-born child never does is put on any pretenses. It’s one of his most wonderful (but at times annoying) characteristics. What you see is what you get. He is a wonderful barometer of what is really happening in life. While sometimes as parents we try to sugar-coat things, he simply sees things for what they are. If I try to get him to do something indirectly by complimenting him or talking him up, he looks at me and says in a dead-pan voice:
I know what you are doing.
He’s just one of those kids with a really good Bull Detector.
From early on I knew that every day he was away at daycare so I could study needed to count. I needed to actually get done what needed to be done.
So what was on my vision board?
To motivate me and keep me on track I had a little photo that the daycare had sent home with him. In it he looked utterly miserable. It pained me most of the time to look at it. But seeing that face kept me going. I had a purpose and I needed to make my child- free-time count. If he was going to be in daycare, miserable, it was going to have to be worth it.
This is the photo:
It might not look so bad to an outsider but as his mother I can see his unhappiness.
Looking at that little face didn’t just motivate me to make the most of the time he was in daycare, but it motivated me to get qualified so I could be in a position to have choices about what type of life I wanted and how I wanted to structure my career to fit around my family. I realised early on that I would need to put myself in the financial position where I could make those choices. To me, MY education was the key.
Over time I added a second photo in which he was wearing a Santa hat that was too big for him. He looked so unhappy in that photo that one of the first things I did when I finished my thesis was to rip it up and throw it away in a symbolic gesture. I must have looked at that Santa photo with a heavy heart a million times over.
So… I can actually only show you one of the two pictures from my ‘vision board’. The other one is gone forever.
I encourage you to put some visual motivators up around your work-space. If you like the full vision board idea – go for it! Let your imagination run wild and fill it with images of all the things that appeal to you and will help you stay motivated. If you prefer something smaller and more low-key (perhaps you are working in a shared office-space) maybe just choose one or two little things that have meaning to you.
But what is a vision without action?