Moving on Upwards: Making a Motivation Collage

Now that the site's had awhile to calm down as it sets back into it's new skeleton, we can move back into our regularly scheduled Thursday fun. And let me tell you, I've been wanting to write this article for awhile now. Between work and dental work, the writing that I love to do, has become a bit harder to do. When I got home tonight I was feeling very unmotivated. Yep, that's right. Sometimes it's even hard for me to get the energy to write my weekly column. Pain is a horrible motivator. And all I wanted to do today was sleep. So, what does one do when one is feeling unmotivated? Well, if you're like me and a few of my other artsy friends... you turn to making a collage. That's right. Collages. They can be fast and fun and a great way to use up images out of your favorite magazines. They're also a very powerful tool to help you get motivated.

Creating a pretty image out of a collection of graphics and words isn't anything new to us. If you're in the US, I'm sure you were forced to make at least one or two collages in grade school. Remember your teacher asking you to break out a piece of construction paper? Usually you would reach for your favorite color. Then they'd toss out a pile of magazines onto your desk and shout out some theme of "Spring" or "Your Favorite Animals" and give you 15 minutes to sort through the piles of 'zines to find images and words that matched the theme. And there you sat, trying to find images out of magazines that had already been used by a few classes before you, pasting images fast and furious so that you could create something that proudly met the theme and satisfied your inner designer.

So what's a collage got to do with getting motivated? Actually a lot. Let's say you have a goal to buy a house. You work through the traditional resources to get your finances all in line for mortgage brokers, you read books on buying homes and you look around town for good areas that fit your price range. You're doing everything right and yet, it takes your friends and/or significant other to actually drag you from the sofa to go house hunting. However, let's say you make a collage of pictures and color paint chips of everything you want to put IN that house. You start collecting images of furniture, funky tables, new bedspreads, even small cut outs of house design and landscapes you seem to like. Then you paste them down on one single page and tape it to your refrigerator. And all of a sudden, just seeing those things every day, makes you want to go buy your dream house so you can start buying the things on that page and fill up your home with your style. I'm sure that the collage helped to inspire you to get off your feet and search harder faster than anything else.

The same thing applies to weight loss motivation. A friend of mine, while she was working hard at loosing weight, decided that she would make a collage of clothing she wanted to buy the moment she hit her targeted goal. Every day she logged onto the computer, there was the image of all those clothes she wanted. And when she DID reach her goal, she went back to her collage and purchased herself some of the things that were on the collage. She spent maybe 15 minutes max pulling images together of clothes she liked that helped carry her through the process of loosing weight. Not bad for a quick and fun way to inspire and reward hard work. Collage design is fast and furious and when used as a motivational tool, it can help inspire you to achieve anything.

Here's some guidelines for making your motivation collage:

  • Keep it simple. Don't try to combine images that send mixed messages. Stick to one theme. So if you're making a collage for your house, stick to things that relate to the inside or outside of the home. Try not to place books or cds or clothes into the collage.
  • Keep positive. Sometimes, it's hard to put things down on a piece of paper that you want to when you cannot afford it. If you find that you're getting depressed from pasting images. Take a step back and remind yourself that these are things in your grasp and that you'll get them once you attain your goal.
  • Give yourself permission to play. Get creative and wild. Don't let your rational side tell you that you cannot afford the toys you're pasting on the sheet. Mix and max images with powerful words that also relate to helping you achieve your goal.

Making collages is a fast and fun way to help inspire and motivate you into attaining your goals. While this article uses a few big and sweeping types of goals, you can use this method for anything you need help being inspired to. Even your daily work. Print out lots of images online and pull them from magazines and have fun creating a collage that not only reflects your dreams but inspires you to attain them. And now that I am done with this article, I'm going to go treat myself to playing World of Warcraft for a bit longer with my friends.

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collages and art therapy

I used the poster technique before I had a major (scary) surgery. I asked myself "What will this surgery help me get back to doing?" And started clipping away... by the time I was done, I had the front and back of the poster filled up. Now I use my levenger Circa to hold some of my favorite images and quotes from that poster.

i have a black paper note

i have a black paper note book that i collage in. I call it my scrapbook, cos I put photos, and price tags, clothes tags etc in it too. I have a HUGE box of cut outs from magazines... I cut out so much, as the magazines I buy have no literay value whatsoever!

A new blog about motivating yourself with images and more

I've had very good results with collages (it's great to make one about large themes at the beginning of a year) as well as other methods of displaying images to myself that support the future I want to create. For example, print a picture of something you want to do on a 3x5 card and include it in your Hipster PDA. I think of it as hacking into the constant stream of advertising to insert messages about goals that are important to me. I'm blogging about this topic at

This is a great tool. You

This is a great tool. You can also do it online and access your "collage" anywhere you can connect to the WWW. It is useful if you want to look at it while at work, or away from home where you may have your collage located.

Also, you might check out "The T.A.D. Principle" - a great manual on setting goals and the power of visualizing and positive thinking.

Desktop Background


I am utilizing a different aspect of this concept now. I have a few things going on that I have negative feelings about. So to counteract this, I have found the most beautiful photographs of some very lovely places and made them my desktop background at home and work. A different photo for the two machines.

Now and then, I minimize all my windows and imagine myself there. The screen is large and the photos take up the entire desktop, which makes it easier. Smell the air, feel the water or ground under my feet, listen to the birds or the waves or the brook, watch the trees waving in the breeze. I remember similar experiences from my past that are happy.

The goal that I am meditating on is finding that source of calm and happy inside and bringing it back up to the surface. It is a relaxation technique, and a way of distancing myself from annoyances of the moment. It also serves as inspiration for future plans. :)

One of the images is a beach scene with palm trees and sun and water, the other is a mossy forest with lush greenery and a rushing brook. Cliche, I suppose, but the pictures have vivid colors and images that make it easy to dredge up happy memories from years ago.


There's a spot on the river at Niagara that was secluded and quiet. The only sounds were from the river itself. We touched the water and sat on a giant flat rock in the sun, watching the standing waves. We had walked about five miles to get there and had another five mile trek to get back. There was a geocache there--difficult to get to, it was almost mountain climbing to find the spot. It was the best part of our vacation--being alone, in nature, hearing the roar of the water and looking with pity at the tourists on the other side of the river in their guard-rail enclosure, with their 1 cent rain ponchos to protect them from spray and drips, safely away from nature, pushing and shoving one another so they could see the scenery we were sitting in.

Maybe someday I'll get to go back. Somehow I think it won't be the same. They're building a park in that area. There will probably be guard rails.

Background collages

I made myself a desktop background a few months ago that makes me happy when I needed it. I raided some baby animal sites, and now my desktop has baby penguins and kittens and bunnies and things. My preferred Linux desktop (GNOME) allows users to have multiple "workspaces", so every so often I bounce over to an empty workspace so I can stare and my menagerie for a while.

I should try a motivational collage...

Great insight

I have always that art equals play and I love your free-spirit approach to collage. Great inspiration. Keep going!

Motivation collage

I just want to thank you for your informative and straight-forward post!

I know about collages as a way to bypass the critical mind and speak to the subconscious, and have made many in the past. But it has been easy to discount their effectivness and get lost in just cutting out pretty pictures.....because I haven't had any earth-shattering experiences of success with them. I think I bought the hype and then was disappointed.

But it * is * a creative tool and I particularly was drawn to your post because there is no hype about it (or very little). Just a simple reminder with some good examples.

So thanks. I am going to start doing collages again. I want to buy a house - and started a bulletin board of images. And I want to start dating again and have pasted a few pix of guys I would date on the bulletin board too. But I'm keeping it real this time.

I am going to write about this in my blog - - and will refer to your post.