How to create a mood board to help you achieve your goals

Assorted images and printed matter hanging from clips

Visualising what matters most and noting down our strengths can be the motivation we need to achieve our goals, and learn something in the process.

Human beings are teleological; we like ticking things off. Dr Denise Quinlan of the New Zealand Institute of Wellbeing and Resilience, says: “When we set a goal and achieve it, it builds a sense of who we are, it builds our sense of confidence.”

Finding our purpose and place in the world improves our self-efficacy and wellbeing, but how do we get there? For Dr Quinlan, the process, where we get to know ourselves, is the most important part.

A mood board can be an evocative way to connect to your goal – a visual reminder of what the goal means to you, and what things will be like when you achieve your goals. Before getting the scissors out, ask yourself – when I’ve achieved this goal, what would be the best thing about that? The answer can be as simple as inspirational images and quotes or photos of your family stuck to the fridge.

Mood boards help you check-in with yourself regularly, especially for longer term goals. “Sometimes it takes a lot of energy, and we need fuel in our tank. Our motivation is fuel – why would you not want to be tapping into that and refuelling by reconnecting with your motivation as often as you can?”

While some people are drawn to images, others like videos or bullet-point lists. “The mood board isn’t magic,” discloses Dr Quinlan.

Dr Quinlan encourages her clients to write down what their strengths, experiences and skills are on a resource board. On here they also note the people and things supporting them. It could be spending time in nature, playing with a dog or calling a friend or family member for a chat. When you are feeling stuck, looking back at the resource board will remind you that you have what it takes to achieve your goal.

If you have a relatively straightforward goal, it can help to break the goal down into smaller stepping stones, like a training programme if you want to run a marathon. However, if your goal is more holistic, like being a calmer and more patient mother to your children, this is harder to compartmentalise. Instead, it helps to regularly check in on what you have done that aligns with your goal to stay positive – as well as reminding yourself of your motivations.

“For some people, they can only see it step at a time, and that’s okay,” says Dr Quinlan. “They are doing the important part, which is getting in touch with what it is that they really want.”

If we enjoy the process, then we are already succeeding, she says.


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