Oprah was the first person to popularise vision boards. “Create the highest, grandest possible vision for your life because you become what you believe,” she said. In the world of business, founder of Net-a-Porter Natalie Massanet started making a vision board after reading Shakti Gawain’s Creative Visualisation.
My own experience of vision boards began back in 2000 after reading John Assaraf’s The Secret. I generally create at least one vision board a year, usually during the week between Christmas and New Year. It reminds me of being a child, when I was never happier than getting out the sugar paper, glitter and glue and making the latest project on Blue Peter (the longest running British children’s TV programme and an intrinsic part of our culture). My current vision board includes references to a workcation in Bali and adventure travel to Kashmir and the Himalayas.
Truth be told my vision board efforts have been hit and miss. But when I’ve take a step back to think about the times when I haven’t been able to envision something into reality, it’s almost always been because I didn’t truly yearn for it. Whereas my most successful efforts have come from me focusing my mind on how I can make the goals and aspirations on my vision boards a reality.
A goal is a dream with a deadline.” ~ Napoleon Hill
Put your board up and tend it every day
We’ve become such a ‘take-away society’ that we expect everything to happen on demand. But the truth is we have to tend to and nurture the tiny seeds of our dreams, even when we can’t yet see any shoots. And this takes time.
For years I wanted to go to India, and as part of that trip, see tigers. The majority of my friends have travelled in India, but I never did. For some reason, the thought of India always seemed mythical, exotic and distant. In 2012, I created a new vision board and for the first time pasted images of India on it – with a tiger taking centre stage. That year, I was on a very tight budget as I’d not long left my CEO role and wasn’t working. There was no money for ‘a big adventure’ as I needed every penny I had for the new venture I intended to launch formally in January 2014.
Every day as I sat at my desk I looked at my vision board and wondered how I would make the trip a reality. I believe it was persistently asking that simple question – how – that enabled my mind to come up with a range of ideas. From how I could generate the funds to finance the trip, to when would I be take nearly a month off without affecting my embryonic business to deciding where I wanted visit during my trip. Including a trip to Ranthambore National Park to see tigers.*
It’s so true that what you focus on is what you create. The process of asking the question How? shifted my mindset, and I started to come up with ideas and solutions.
There is no right or wrong way to create a vision board
There’s a whole industry started up around teaching people how to make a vision board, and each offering different advice. My advice is to whatever works for you. It’s your board. The only thing I would say is that your vision board should be tangible and not digital. Ripping out magazine pages and getting out the Pritt Stick is a very different experience than creating a digital version on Pinterest for example.
This is what works for me.
- I like to include an image on my vision that represents a success I’ve already had in a similar area. To help me with planning my tiger hunting adventure to India, I included an image on my vision board that represented my very first ‘big adventure’ – seeing lions in Masai Mara and the flamingos at Lake Naivasha (made famous in the film Out Of Africa). Seeing an image from my Kenyan adventure, which I had saved hard for as a student, acted as a reminder that dreams can come true if you tend them with care.
- I don’t only rely on magazines for images. I take photos, I buy postcards from galleries, I add fabrics and materials to turn my vision board into a collage.
- Preparation is part of the visioning process. I take my time to create my board; I don’t try to do it in one evening. My process starts by collating magazines and materials for my new vision board. This invariably means visiting several travel agents and selecting which brochures I want to use. Then I pull out all the images I like. Once I’ve got a big pile, I go back through my cuttings and narrow down my selection to ones I really, really love.
- While working on my board, I like to have fun bringing my senses into the process. Buying scented candles and toiletries that evoke the fragrances of a destination I’ve put on my board. Making a playlist of music. Cooking a meal with spices from the local cuisine. I then find ways to keep that dream alive throughout the months ahead through further sensory experiences.
- I prefer to make my vision board on my own. Other people like to surround themselves with people and make the process into a group celebration. Do whichever is your personal preference. Like I said, this is a personal process.
Take inspired action
The goals and dreams you’ve put on your vision board won’t just happen because you’ve pasted some beautiful images on a piece of sugar paper. You do actually have to do something.
Every day ask yourself what one step – however small – you can take today that will bring you a little closer to your vision. This could be doing some market research to bring a product idea to life. It might mean acquiring a new skill which you’ll need further down the line. It may be learning to speak a new language ready for that big adventure. It could be writing your business plan, and committing your ideas to paper.
This may mean spending just a few minutes each day visualising. There is a whole raft of research to back up the practice of visualisation, particularly from sports psychology. One of the earliest studies was by Richard Suinn who discovered that skiers who visualised themselves racing downhill fired electrical impulses and produced muscular patterns identical to those triggered when skiers actually hit the slopes. Another groundbreaking study discovered that people who visualised doing bicep curls five times a week for a fortnight increased their strength by 13.5%.
But before you stop going to the gym, remember that this only worked for those who had actually lifted weights in the first place!
Vision boarding is a journey
It’s a process of laying plans and then working out how to bring them to fruition. It reminds you of what you want; your dreams. When the day’s not gone according to plan, you can look at your vision board and remind yourself of the goals and dreams you’re working towards.
* If you were wondering what happened on my trip to India, you can read more about it in this article How Reading Half The Sky Inspired Me. And yes, I did get to see a tiger.
Join The Conversation
Question: Do you use vision boards? What successes have you had with them? I love reading your feedback so please let me know in the comments box below.
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- How Reading Half The Sky Inspired Me
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Prior to becoming a business consultant and coach, I spent 8 years in the trenches as a CEO having trained at Cranfield School of Management, the UK’s leading business school. With experience in business planning, financial management, risk management, building strategic partnerships, product development, marketing (including PR) plus leading and developing staff teams of up to 150 people, there’s very little I haven’t had to deal with or experienced.
You can find out more about working with me HERE. Or book a call to arrange an informal chat over coffee. There’s no hard sell. Just solid advice and a straightforward, honest assessment of how our services would be a good fit for your business, the results you can expect and how to get started.
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