"If you’re living in a busy city but long to move to the seaside, you could pin an image of the view you dream of seeing when you open your front door…"

Looking Forward

28th December 2018

Fed up with your new year goals and resolutions failing to come to fruition? Perhaps you’re just not visualising them clearly enough… Claire Moulds offers a new perspective.

The start of a New Year always brings with it good intentions, talk of a ‘fresh start’ and, for many people, a review of their goals and ambitions. So, why is it that by February it’s back to ‘business as usual’? And why are we then surprised when another year rolls by and we still haven’t written that book we know is in us, run the marathon we’ve dreamed of completing since we were a kid or pursued our fantastic idea for a new business?

The truth is, it’s not enough to just identify a goal in life. The key to achieving it is to have it at the forefront of your mind every day – thereby ensuring you never take your eye off the ball – which, in turn, ensures that the decisions that you make going forward will be made with your ambitions uppermost in your mind, leading you to make the choices that best support them.

And that’s where a vision board comes in.

Put simply (the clue’s in the name), this is a visual representation of our hopes, dreams and goals for the future with an image representing each pinned to it. In essence, it’s the result of asking yourself ‘what do my life goals look like?’
For example, if your baking skills mean you are constantly compared to Mary Berry and you hanker after writing your own cookery book, you might pin a picture of a recipe book you love to your board. Or, if you’re living in a busy city but long to move to the seaside, you could pin an image of the view you dream of seeing when you open your front door.

It’s not just about choosing an emotive image, however, as you need to really understand your goals first and the motivation behind them. After all, a long nurtured idea of moving to the coast or the countryside might be less about rural living and more a reflection of a need for peace and quiet in which to unwind. Once you realise the real driver behind your goal, you might then decide to focus your efforts on finding moments of calm and relaxation within your current life, rather than looking to uproot you and your family.

Equally, a vision board isn’t simply about acquiring things. You can’t just pin images of everything you’d like to own if money was no object. A successful vision board is about how you want to feel in life and what matters to you. It’s not about saying you want a mansion or a million pounds in the bank and pinning those to the board. It’s about why you want those things and what the real meaning is behind them. For instance, property and money may actually be a reflection of a need to feel financially secure – especially if you’ve grown up without that security in your childhood – or a strong wish to provide a certain lifestyle for your family. In which case, pictures of a huge mansion or a cheque for a million pounds in your name might be replaced with more compelling images, such as one of a savings account with regular amounts going in each month or an image of you and your family on holiday.

Lauded by Oprah Winfrey and Ellen DeGeneres, and also by pop star Katy Perry – who, as a 4th grader, famously created a vision board of her dreams and aspirations in life, featuring a photo of singer/songwriter Selena clutching her newly won Grammy Award – vision boards are a powerful tool when it comes to moving you towards your goals. As Perry says of her board, which she found again as an adult when moving apartment: ‘I knew where I wanted to be even as a young kid. I just didn’t know that if I put one foot in front of the other, I would actually get there someday.” Fifteen years after pasting that picture on to her board, Perry was nominated for a Grammy herself.

Crucially it’s the ‘putting one foot in front of the other’ that is key, as you have to take responsibility each day for moving your dream a little further forward, which takes time, energy and determination. Having a vision board doesn’t mean that you can just sit back and wait for the universe to deliver your ‘order’.

So, why create one?

Vision boards are based on the Law of Attraction philosophy, which believes that having positive thoughts and positive emotions attracts positive experiences and opportunities to us, enabling us to manifest our dreams into reality. And, while the concept has its critics, there’s no doubt that the act of making a vision board focuses your mind on what’s important to you and gives it a clear set of goals to achieve. Then it’s about putting them into action on both a conscious and subconscious level, ensuring every decision you take going forward takes you a step closer to the life you want. 

Crucially, your board becomes a mini visualisation exercise every time you look at it. We know that visualisation works: Olympic athletes, for example, have been using it for decades to improve their performance, picturing their run or jump in minute detail – every movement, every sound, every breath and every heartbeat – until they can literally feel their muscles firing in response to the mental script they have created. Like an athlete, you not only need to be able to imagine exactly how every aspect of your future life will look and feel but you also need to repeat that vision constantly, which is why you should aim to spend time with your vision board every single day.

Vision boards can also play a vital role in shaping the performance of a business. A study by TD Bank of small business owners found that those who created one were almost twice as confident that they’d achieve their goals than those who didn’t. Moreover, of those who used a vision board when starting their business, 76% said that today their business is where they envisioned it would be. The study also found that visualisation in goal-setting is especially important to millennial entrepreneurs – who, thanks to social media, have grown up using images to tell the story of their lives – with 89% saying they used a vision board when developing their business plan.

Meanwhile, self-made billionaire and Spanx inventor, Sara Blakely, cites visualisation as being absolutely key to her success. Specifically, she notes how Harvard previously conducted research with their graduating class, asking how many of them had goals, and, while 100% confirmed that they did, only 5% had created a physical representation of those goals. Twenty years later Harvard followed up with the same class and found that those 5% were worth more financially than the other 95% of the class put together – proving it really pays to get things down on paper.

And, whether you choose to create your own vision board or not, do take one thing away from the philosophy behind it and that is that if you want something to happen in your life, you need to think it, feel it and act on it every single day.

How to Create Your Own Vision Board

1. Make sure your goals are prominent. Choose a location to display your board where you will see it every day at least once.

2. Once you’ve decided where it will hang, determine how big your board can be. While you might not use all the space with your first set of images, you will eventually want to add pictures that represent new goals in the future.

3. Design the board in a way that is aesthetically pleasing to you, so that you want to look at it and interact with it. It should draw your eye to it and generate an emotional pull when you think about what it represents.

4. Take your time. If the board represents your future life, it’s worth spending a few hours putting it together so it is the best version of your future that you can create.

5. As a visioN BOARD is about how you want to feel in your future life as much as it is about what shape that life will take, consider adding items that make you feel happy, motivated and content. For example, you may include a shell you brought home from a beautiful beach on holiday.

6. While we’re all familiar with and, chances are have been overwhelmed with, inspirational quotations on social media in recent years – if there is a piece of text that resonates with you when you read it, or reminds you why you are trying to shape your future in the first place, pop it on your board as a constant prompt to keep going.

7. Review your board every few months. Life moves on and if a goal no longer feels important to you, it’s perfectly reasonable to remove its picture so that you can focus all your energy on those that still are.

8. If you feel comfortable, share your vision board with those closest to you so that they can see and understand the future that you are trying to create and support you in achieving it.

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