My husband and I started a project one year ago, just as we moved into lockdown during the COVID pandemic. 

We were still allowed to go outside, hike, breathe in fresh air, and exercise. I can’t imagine life without it. 

We have a state park a mile from our house. It’s an easy walk, and we often spend a half-day walking there, taking in the beauty of the forest, before turning around and coming home. 

As we entered lockdown, we roamed through the woods, feeling the wind on our faces, listening to the babbling brook as it flowed nearby. We stopped in a grove of trees. I pulled out my phone, and together we recorded a video of our thoughts and feelings. In three minutes, we spoke of our experiences, what was happening in the world, and what we hoped for our future. 

Boy, were we optimistic! We assumed in just a few weeks, life would return to normal. 

It didn’t. 

But we became more motivated to document our experience through video. Every three to four weeks, I’d open up my phone and start shooting a video. We’d talk while out on a walk. We recorded on the beaches of Oregon multiple times. 

This past week, we experienced an ice storm that knocked out our power and internet service for 127 hours. That works out to six and a half days. 

The temperatures dipped down to 47 degrees in our home. We stuck with it for a while, assuming the power would come back on. But the lower the temperatures went, the less confidence we had. Eventually, we moved to a hotel and waited. 

Yet before we moved to a hotel, the last night, we recorded another video. Sitting in the dark, with a glow from our fireplace, blankets wrapped around us, winter coats zipped into place, and wool hats on our heads, I flipped on the video on my phone, and we started talking. 

What makes journaling successful

Dear Diary. Today I …

Have you ever started a journal or diary entry that way?

I keep multiple journals, and some of them definitely are all about defining my actions for the day. I talk about what I did, where I was, what I experienced, and even what happened in the news.

I record my day for posterity. It’s a running narrative of what I accomplish each day.

Journaling this way can be valuable.

I recently picked up my 2020 journal and started reading. It was mesmerizing to see what my mindset was merely one year ago. COVID was still so far from my thoughts in February 2020. I was traveling. I was planning a trip to Portugal. I was buying concert tickets, and planning out my summer travels.

Even with the ever-growing talk of a new virus, I had no idea what was to come.

My journaling recorded what I experienced each day as I grew and changed, as I learned more. As our world closed in and pushed us to stay at home.

Records of time are invaluable to track your growth.

But what you don’t see is future growth.

That requires a different type of journaling.

Visioning as a form of journaling

When was the last time you created a vision board?

I remember my first one.

I was in a networking group. Several women got together one Saturday morning to be coached on the concept of a vision board. We sat around a table, a poster board in front of us. We flipped through magazines, cutting out pictures and pasting them to our boards. We had crayons, markers, stickers, and glitter – everything a young creative entrepreneur needed to make her dreams come true.

I was hooked.

I remember that vision board. I had dreams of creating a successful business, growing our family, buying our first home.

Check. Check. Check!

The purpose behind a vision board is to give your brain something to grasp onto. Instead of leaving your ideas in your mind, you move them to another dimension, visually declaring what’s in your heart and your desires.

Images add value to your to-do list. Instead of saying things like – I want a new house – you visualize it and see it right there in front of you. You can find a picture to represent your idea kitchen, the decor in your living room, even the view you want from your windows.

What’s more, once it’s designed, you can place your vision board somewhere you’ll see it regularly. Tape it to your office wall. Or attach it to your closet door – what’s better than starting your days with visualization of what you hope to accomplish in the world.

I went so far as digitizing mine, and making them the wallpaper on my laptop and phone. Every time I opened up my screen, there it was. Reminding me of all I hoped to achieve.

I still do that. I create vision boards regularly. I use them in a variety of ways.

I watched my videos one more time

As I uploaded my latest video to a file on the cloud, I rewatched every video from the past year.

I realized these weren’t just videos; they were digital journals in living color. We spoke of dreams for the future, discussed goals we hope to accomplish.

When this is over, I want to …

This time in my life has taught me …

I hope someday I can …

I wish that I could …

Each video represents who I was at that moment in time. But more importantly, it also was a window into my hopes and dreams. What I missed, and what I wanted most of all.

We live in an amazing time … don’t forget that.

In the middle of staying in place, a forest fire, an ice storm, whether you’re struggling to make a career move, or are happy and in a place where you most want to be, we have the power to do it all from a tiny machine that fits in our hands.

Buy a journal and start recording.

Pick up your phone and start photographing – share it on Instagram and watch it grow.

Hit the record button and talk out your goals. Nobody has to see it but you.

Then use it as a way to make the future brighter.

Because visioning it – action boarding it – no matter how you do it, it’s incredible what you can achieve.