Bridget Schilling

My Vision Board Reality

What if I told you a fifth-grade science fair-type poster board helped me run a half marathon? I’m your typical December 31st set your New Year’s resolution gal. I go all out for a few days, maybe a week, and then old habits set in. Yeah all those “goals,” right out the window. 

So, what about this vision board business I saw posted on Facebook? Would this vision board really help me achieve anything over the next year? Believe it or not, it did. It legit did! For the last 11 months this board has been perched on my night stand. It is the first thing I see in the morning when I roll over to hit snooze. My vision board is the last thing I see when I go to sleep at night.

Julie (from the Compounding Courage team) and I both work at Southwest Health Center and she frequents the department I work in to visit our water station. I remember having a conversation with her and asking her a few questions about the vision board class. One thing she said was, “Sign up soon. The class is filling up.” I hesitated. I let my own fear of the unknown get in the way. The class sold out.

Julie stopped again and I casually mentioned I didn’t sign up. I let Julie know if there were any openings I would take two spots. Now you may ask what the heck was I so afraid of. There were actually a few reasons that held me back. The first reason was my own mind questioning myself. Was I really going to stick to some vision board? Was anything I pasted on that board going to be left undone like all those past New Year’s Resolutions? Who would be at this class? Would someone look over at my magazine clippings and think I was dumb? Most of all, I did not want to let myself down one more time.

I lucked out. 

Julie sent me a message about a week before the vision board class letting me know there were not only one, but two openings. One cold night last December my sister and I set out to Mineral Point to attend the vision board workshop. I had my packet of pre-work info in tow. I also carried along one big “vision” I had not shared with many people.

The word I chose to use and focus my life around for the next twelve months was committed.  

Now, I can be committed to things, but the one thing I wanted most was going to require a lot of commitment on my part. I wanted to run a half marathon. I need to mention the fact that I have NEVER been a runner. Honestly if you know me well, my line is “if you see me running, you better be running too.” This girl though, was going to run a half marathon.

I made it real. 

I put that vision on my board. Right in the middle of my board is a big old running shoe and the word committed. There it was, along with a 13.1. One may ask, why? Why at 34 years old did I choose to run a half marathon? Honestly, the half marathon was inspired by a book I read. I listened to the author explain the trauma she endured, and if she could endure that, she could run for 13.1 miles.  

I looked back at the last 34 years of my life and realized what I have overcome. I knew I too could run 13.1 miles. I was going to run the half to truly let go of my past, the sadness, the pain, the “I’m not good enough thoughts,” the mistakes I made. A true release of parts of my story and to find peace.  

Peace I found. 

Crazy right? Can running really do that for a human? I guess in my own mind running a half marathon really did do that for me. It wasn’t just the race itself but the journey getting there. I remember telling Julie, “I’m nervous to tell people because, what if I fail?” Julie reminded me that if I did fail, what did I learn? Failing would be part of the journey.

When I started training I could barely run 1 mile. I was out of shape and out of breath. I had to ask myself over and over why I chose to do this. With every step and every mile, I became stronger and stronger. I found new friendships with crazy runners like me. The love and support from my husband, my kids, and close friends is something I will cherish forever.

I never thought I’d putting running and one of the best days of my life in the same sentence. Race day was like no other day I had ever experienced. I showed up with a killer playlist and some pretty huge butterflies in my belly. I also had some of the best support crew a person could ask for. I remember rounding a corner after completing the first mile and seeing some unexpected family standing there in shirts that said “Bridget’s Support Crew.” I cried. I was overwhelmed and humbled.

I was supported through the whole race by my husband, my kids, my sister, cousins and some of the very best friends one could ask for. I remember reading an article the night before the race that talked about high-fiving all the kids, giving a thumbs up to anyone with a poster and to help the runner next to you who was struggling. It also said to take in every positive vibe from race day. I took it all in. I did it. I completed it and did it all under goal time.

vision board
Bridget half marathon finish

Would I have completed this without the vision board? I don’t think I would have. I couldn’t even talk about the half. Putting 13.1 on the fifth-grade science fair-type poster made it real. That board has been there for the last nine months staring at me. The vision board was a constant reminder of how I wanted to be committed in 2019 and I was. What does 2020 have in store for me? One thing I know for sure, I plan to be first in line to sign up for the 2020 vision board workshop.

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Julie Stephenson

Julie is one of the founders of Compounding Courage, a company that provides personal growth and leadership development programs. CLICK HERE to learn more.