Envisioning Your Future with a Collage and Some Friends

By , SparkPeople Blogger

When I joined SparkPeople last May, I stumbled across its One Time Challenge to Create a Vision Collage.. In the context of my personal and professional experience, I was impressed by the sophistication of a website that would include a process that might seem "out there" for some.

Fast-forward five months. During a mid-October storm, SparkGuy posted by flashlight (to The Spark Pilot Program team) a message inviting us to create a Vision Collage. I love collage! I thought, "Someone must have started a Vision Collage team." (After all, using tools to envision your future is an early building block of The Spark's 28-Day Program, right?) So, I set out to find it; I searched SparkTeams for a Vision Collage team.

...and came up empty?

SparkPeople's Vision Collage One Time Challenge was important enough to be prominently linked on everyone's SparkPoints page, yet it comparatively received little attention. The irony is that both SparkPeople.com and "The Spark" rest on the bedrock of SparkGuy Chris Downie's own Vision Collage, made in the cut-and-paste tradition shortly after he'd graduated college. Chris was sparked to make a Vision Collage--not because he knew what he wanted for his future, but because he knew what he didn't want: To become like his co-worker, older, unfit, and counting his days to retirement. Key to Chris' contentment and living a meaningful life was this awareness: "It wasn't that being an accountant in a large corporation was a dreadful future; it just didn't feel like my future." (emphasis added)

Spark's "Garden" of Vision Collages

Undeterred, I started looking for individual Vision Collages and related posts. We needed a team! A SparkPeople Vision Collage is too powerful! It's too fun! Chris Downie's own Vision Collage certainly played a catalytic role in SparkPeople history. I have similarly experienced the transformational power of collaged images.

One of the things that most impressed me in my SparkPeople Vision Collage quest was the individuality of each Vision Collage I found, in both images and choice of artistic medium. This means that there is no right or wrong way to make a Vision Collage and blows apart the best excuse you can conjure. I've seen (successful) Vision Collages so simple that a child could have cut-and-pasted them together, detailed cut-and-paste works of art, and online Vision Collages made with PowerPoint and digital collage websites.

Two patterns began to emerge:
  1. Most SparkPeople members add to or update their original Vision Collage, in step with their own self-discovery and evolving desires; and,
  2. Everyone who made one shared benefiting from the process, in ways both small and large, subtle and overt.
Even Chris, in naming and visualizing what he wanted for his (yet-to-be SparkPeople) future, said, "Some of my goals surprised even me."

Spark's "Gallery" of Vision Collages

I decided to start such a team...ideally, with SparkGuy's support.

So, I SparkMailed SparkGuy.

On Valentine's Day, I received his encouraging response.

There seemed to be enough interest to start a team and centralize as many Vision Collages as possible. In putting out feelers, the idea of a team seemed to spark others on the fence to take the next step.

The energy had been there all along, sparked by Chris Downie's inspiration. I thought I'd do what I could to brighten up this deserving corner of SparkPeople. So, I've been inviting people to join SparkPeople's Vision Collage Gallery Team. And, thankfully, many of you welcomed the idea with open arms. More than 100 people joined and 50 Vision Collages were added to our team the first month.

Starting a Vision Collage

Many SparkPeople members have been attracted to the idea of making a Vision Collage, yet lack the confidence to start. I can offer a couple of suggestions for how to get started.

One approach is to use the table of contents of "The Spark" for inspiration, since the core areas in which most of us have goals are healthy diet habits, lifestyle changes, and living out our dreams. You can find images that represent any or all of your long-term goals, medium-term milestones, and short-term action steps. These often fall in the category of one or more SparkPeople Cornerstones:

  • Focus ("Dreams with Deadlines": Values and Beliefs, Purpose and Vision, Goal-Setting)
  • Fitness for life (Exercise, Nutrition, Stress Management, Sleep)
  • Fire (Personal Leadership, Consistency and Momentum, Motivation)
  • Positive Force ("Leaving your Mark": Coaching, Public Leadership, Community Service)

Be creative!

Another way is to start with your current desires, especially if you've already achieved many of your healthy lifestyle goals. I'm fit and close to my desired weight, for example, having surpassed my "last 10 pounds" goal last year; my family is in place. While I have certain areas of my life that I'd like to revitalize, my current priority (the one that will provide the most satisfaction and inner freedom today) is learning to golf well. So, that's my next Vision Collage. I've already started leafing through magazines, preferring the cut-and-paste method, for images that draw me and embody what I want to manifest.

Finally, joining SparkPeople's Vision Collage Gallery Team will immediately surround you with like-minded friends, as well as a continuum of Vision Collage examples.

But, I Can't... I'm Not...

Be aware that resistance (often masking fear) is energy trapped in the body and mind, and depletes your life vitality. (As an example, make a fist with your hand. Continue to tighten it for as long as you can. The tension of ongoing resistance, both physical and emotional, wreaks havoc on your vital force, and causes an energetic backflow that eventually manifests as symptoms.) This homeostatic dynamic increases with age. Even Chris, contemplating his first Vision College in his mid-20's, wondered, "Why did it feel so odd, even embarrassing, to actually write down what I wanted from my life? Why hadn't I ever done this before?"

Essentially, a Vision Collage encompasses the whole of The Spark. Because the same individualized philosophy of "The Spark" applies to your Vision Collage, you decide what to include. You can start anywhere, depending on your initial goals.

No matter where you are in your progress--or your confidence--start today. Find images that represent the visual, physical and emotional embodiment and energy of what and who you want to bring into your life (think: who, what, where, when, why...even how). Unless it's an area that needs revitalizing, collage beyond what is currently right with your life. Image the future into which you want to live. This is important, especially for those of us who are older--the figurative and literal SparkGrandmothers and SparkGrandfathers, the keepers of lived wisdom. Let yourself dream!

One Spark Lighting Many Lives

The day that young Chris Downie finally sat down and focused, his Vision Collage imaged four intense personal desires. "These small but potent steps illuminated a path for me to follow and gave me a pleasurable sense of direction and purpose." Chris took mini-vacations: "I soaked my mind in the positive images hanging over my desk. I might have been a young accountant working on difficult deadlines, but in my mind I basked in the glow of love and friendship and the power of being a successful leader."

And what a community of love, friendship, and successful leadership he envisioned!


I'll close with SparkGuy's advice:

"No matter who you are, you have the key within yourself to live your own best life by simply channeling your vast potential and energy toward a goal that encompasses your own unique vision and purpose."

Now, you, go collage...to your heart's content!

Sue Gelber (SOULCOLLAGESUE) has been a healer in the field of Complementary and Alternative Medicine for 30 years. She is certified to practice Classical Homeopathy in North America, a trained SoulCollage facilitator, and a trained Spiritual Director, and successfully blends these modalities in a family healthcare practice in northern California. Currently on professional hiatus to care for her grandson, Sue leads several SparkTeams.

Have you made a Vision Collage? Will you?

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NANANANA 9/9/2020
Since my husband is an advocate of WE as in: 'we have to', 'do we know?', 'when are we going?' I will suggest we do this together. (Even if I did it alone, he would make suggestions.) We already have collages of where we have been. I get some encouragement from them. Looking like I did 19 years ago may not be totally realistic but it reminds me of other things I would like to do. Report
SPARKNB 5/25/2020
I've made collages (have a fav one from a few years ago from a workshop, done shortly before I made a big cross-country move back home; the woman who led it had some great resources of all sorts).

Recently had been saving an image/text here & there (one of my daily to-do's is motivating imagery/mantras), & did one today, for the beginning of this month's new moon cycle (intention setting is great to do for new moons). Report
Thank you Report
Hi Sue,
I didn't realize that you had written a guest blog until today. I just found it through the sidebar on your "outside" blog. I'm very impressed with your writings. You have a wonderful gift. You were/are the perfect person to be running the Vision Collage Spark team. Thanks for taking the initiative to both start the team and write this blog. Report
Great advice. I am in the process of gathering items for my collage!! Joined the group recently also. Woohoo! Report
Yes.. i just need this now. I am all motivated and ready to start collecting cuttings from paper, magazines from today. Wohooooooooo... ill soon create my own Visual Motivator and put it in its right place. Report
I've heard so much about the visual reminders that will help us stay on track and was very interested in doing this vision collage thing, but I was a little intimidated by it for some reason. Now I have more inspiration and I'm going to check out the vision collage team for more inspiration and I will definitely do this! Thanks for sharing! :) Report
I did it -loved it!Tthe experiance turned out to be much more useful then I initially thought it would and my collage much bigger! Report
My problem is figuring out what I want and how that would appear on a collage. I want to lost a fair chunk of my excess weight, I know that. I also know what "conventional wisdom" says I should weigh and it is NOT going to happen. I can come up with a number reflecting what I feel I would be comfortable at weighing, but I don't know how to make that into a collage. I know I want to have a stronger body, a healthier body and avoid some of the illnesses that can and do run in my family, but how to reflect that in a collage? Report
Sue I will always be grateful for meeting you and for you getting me involved in the process. You truly are an inspiration. Report
Thanks for the jolt! I've made collages before and I've been living out of a suitcase all year in order to finish my class in the city but I plan to make one and am inspired to do so. Report
between my ADD and chronic severe depression i cant even read the whole blog. i cant even follow a thread and thought im so interested in this i am overwhelmed by it. Report
I have kept a visual journal for many years that I update periodically. Love it! Report
I'm glad that I read this article today. I haven't done my collage as of yet. Why? I really don't know. I haven't done much of anything lately to tell you the truth. I do believe doing the collage will: 1. respark me, 2.give me a clearer picture of what I want for my future, 3. give me a visible measuring stick. I have done somewhat of a collage in my mind, even went as far as cutting out some pictures. Now I need to do the followup and put it all together. Thank you for this article. ill start again today. Report
This is the one thing I truly want to do and keep putting off. I am a member of the team and I must say that you all are doing everything you can to get me going.
This may help
Pris Report
I keep asking myself why I'm embarrassed? I'm not even sure that's the right word--to do a collage. Maybe I should just try it. 2 years in SP and I've never done it. Report
I have not did my collage because it seemed overwhelming and to be honest it still does. Hopefully I will find courage to do it. Report
I found your blog very interesting, especially this part: "Be aware that resistance (often masking fear) is energy trapped in the body and mind, and depletes your life vitality."

I have avoided doing a collage because it seems SO overwhelming to me. Not envisioning what would be IN the collage, but actually putting it together. I've never been very artistic, but your blog helped me realize how important this is in my walk. Report
My problem is not fear - I did collage work in college art classes and enjoyed it - it's just a matter of time for me. Hmmmm - maybe I need to do a vision collage about having more ME time! Report
Thanks for this blog. I as many have stated have not done this. Yes it is in my head but logically I know that if I write it down or have a visual collage it is more likely to happen. Yet that fear of failure is there. One of my goals is to conquer my fears so I do plan soon to do this. Report
I have not made one yet. I have some picyures and quotes I've been saving but I lack the confidence to make anything that I will be happy with. I have no artistic talent, really. I would like to make one and hope this has inspired me. Report
Instead of a paper collage assigned in a seminar, I quilted the picture. I had a college building to represent my desire to teach at a college level, a cross for a close relationship with God, pile of ten dollar bills to represent a wish for financial stability and a few other items. I had the others in the seminar sign the sky of the panel to represent that I wanted people in my life. Years later, I was again assigned a collage and I made another panel. Report
I have a vision collage in my head however, it's not doing me much good there. It needs to become for real, visual and I'll have to start and work or it to become a better me. I do journal which is where I keep my thoughts and favorites. Great idea and someting to reflect on, thanx Report
My girlfriend and I redid (is that a word) ours in January. I focased on my health, food choices and exercise. With a few quoted thrown in for inspiration. I have it hung on the wall right next to my fridge. First thing I see when I need it most. Report
I have a few pages of collage in my daily journal and love love love to look at it before I write in it each day. It really helps my focus. Glad you are spreading the word! Report
This seems like a wonderful idea. I will follow-up with instructions and see what I can dream up. Thanks Report
I have one on the board behind my computer, and one on the fridge. I need to make my computer!! Report
My original collage includes pictures of times when I felt really good. That's what I'm working on---overall wellness. I think it's time to update my collage to include a few more goals I have. Report
I don't know what took me so long. I started Spark People over 3 years ago and never made one. I used the excuse that I didn't have access to magazines to cut out the pictures. This year I made a small one with thumbnail photographs (free) from the internet. I now have it posted by my desk at work, on the fridge and by my computer at home. I also have it as my background on my spark page. So now I'm inspired wherever I'm at. Report
Hi, I created a vision collage last year when a group of us at work got together to do a "Your Best Year Yet" session. Some people created posters and others pasted pictures into journals. I created a poster that I have hanging on my office door so I see it every day. I have the SparkPeople logo right up at the top along with pictures of exercise and healthy eating. I like the idea of the online collage too, which makes it easier to add or change pictures.
-Cindy Report
I read this article today and was prodded into making my vision collage. I believe my goals will change some as time goes on, but this helped me to see that the things I want to do and be are not out of my reach. Heck, I'm halfway there, just laying it out so I can see it. I've posted it on my profile, because i look at it every day, and I printed it so I can have it with me all the time. Report
Yes I have made a vision collage. I put it on my bedroom wall and look at it daily. I have added to it, and I am sure eventually I will make a new one. If you haven't made one, don't wait for the "perfect" time, or the "perfect" things to put on it. Just start, I know from experience that when you start, you will find exactly the right things for your collage. Report
Yes. I made a vision board and keep adding to it. Magazines are my favorite resource. Report
NO MORE EXCUSES! I have been assembling the materials for months- This article is the modivatoer I needed, I hope. I really do not know what is holding me back. Report
I finally did a collage and it wsa fun...sparse right now, but fun. Report
Honestly... I made one because it was one of the tasks when first starting SP and I wanted to follow the plan 100%. But I am not really a visual person and did not get anything out of it but stress. Report
I WAS SO INSPIRED to make my own collage too that it ended up being a vision board on the inside of my hide-away computer center -- I have one of those armoire computer center where I can close the doors and hide the computer away and my college was SO BIG it couldn't possibly fit so I decided to plaster all the wall space in it with insipriing pictures of the reasons why I want to lose weight, insipring words, and pictures too!! I have a SKINNY PICTURE of me, pictures of Oprah, Dr. Oz, Jillian Michaels, Sara Rue, pictures of DELICIOUS VEGETARIAN meals I made when I was detoxing with food .... my SPARKPEOPLE Membership Pledge and wonderful cards from my loving and supportive husband!!! It's a WORLD OF INSPIRATION!!! I typed out and posted my long-tern, medium and short term goals ... it's a BEAUTIFUL THING!!!! Report
I've made a rudimentary one, but nothing good enough to share. It did get me thinking about what I really want to do with my life. Report
I've been intimidated by that process. I will take a stab at it...
I know it doen't have to mean anything to anyone but me but I guess, if you don't really know what you want (other than to be thinner and healthier)...
Okay, so now I know my jumping off point...
I want to make a collage and did make a simple one before the SP convention last September. My problem is not being techy enough. I have problems uploading my pictures from my digital camera and don't know how to do a computer generated one. Doing it cut-and-paste is no problem but sharing it is.

I know just enough to "be dangerous" with the computer. Sucks to be so techy-challenged.

Am I the only one this way?????
Deb Report
I haven't made one yet (been active on the site for over a year now), but I have slowly been collecting things. When I have a few more minutes, maybe this evening, I will browse through the team pages and get ideas. I am a visual person, so maybe seeing something in front of my face might help! Report
I've never done a collage and probably couldn't do one. My artistic talent is in music, not art. I enjoy looking at collages, but can't see myself doing one. It would be a disaster. Report
I did a very rudimentary vision collage when I started the program, but I'm in a very different place in terms of attitude about my healthy lifestyle now. I also use mind mapping software for a lot of the brainstorming work I do for my job and my writing interests. I'm going to give a vision collage mind map a try and see what comes out - thanks for the inspiration!!! Report
I love doing collages. I used to them all the time when I was a kid. A few years ago when I was going through some rough family and health issues, I started journaling, this led me to start a book with nothing but collages. It was so therapeutic. A few months ago I was throwing out some clutter and came across my collage book and a few days later I started SP and saw an article on collages...what a coincidence. I Purchased a new book and started doing collages again. Reading this article is leading me straight to the Collage Gallery Team. I can't wait to check it out. Thanks Chris and Sue for waking up great Spark feelings. Report
I have not made a vision collage because I didn't see the value in doing so. After reading this, I'm giving it a second thought. Report
Great to see your blog here! I have made my vision collage and belong to this team! Love it! I have been gathering more stuff to add or start a new collage. The best thing for me to do is see this collage everyday, so I have it by my computer! Thanks Sue! Report
I haven't done this yet, but plan to do it soon. Just needed your pep talk and some inspiration. Thanks! Report
not too bad. Report
Not yet Report