I know this might sound a little crazy, a little out there, but you really need a vision board.
Yes, it can be pictures of wine and peanut butter cups and Netflix (oh wait, that’s mine) but the point is to have something you can look at every day that represents happiness and success, something to keep you focused on the pursuit of your goals. The point of a vision board is to help you create a mental image of the future.
I experienced the power of visualization firsthand eleven years ago when I was misdiagnosed with ovarian cancer. I was 33 years old, had not yet started a family and was desperate to believe in something, anything, that might help. Rhonda Byrne’s The Secret was all the rage, so I surrendered my skepticism and started learning how to visualize the future I wanted. The night before my surgery I fell asleep repeating “there is no cancer, there is no cancer, there is no cancer” envisioning my return to work and life, sharing hugs and tears of relief with my friends and family.
Fast-forward 16 hours, post-surgery, to my family crowded around my hospital bed delivering the incredible news that the doctors had been wrong and the tumour was benign.
Visualization 1. Cancer 0.
Do I think my positive thoughts trumped science? Do I think I had cancer but managed to will it away with my thoughts? Of course not, but ever since then I’ve had to admit that visualization can be a pretty powerful tool. That experience opened my mind to the power of positive thinking, of humans’ ability to manifest their own destinies and create their own realities simply by imagining the future they want.
I went into the creation of my vision board as I do most things: certain I knew where I was going, entirely uninterested in the process, focused only on the end result. Creating a vision board was a task I assigned myself but it was the process of creation that proved most enlightening. Now I’m on a mission to have everyone try it. Here’s why:
- Vision boards are a small step towards taking control of your life. Vision boards are more than a series of pretty pictures whose sole purpose is to inspire us to keep our nose to the grindstone. If you’re stuck between where you are and where you want to be a vision board is an actual step towards achieving your goals and dreams. It’s a small step, admittedly, but it’s something and its power to bring your desires into focus shouldn’t be ignored.
- Sometimes we don’t know what we want until we’re forced to define it. Since becoming a mother I have defined success as the ability to earn an income doing work I love in a flexible, self-directed environment. Traveling with my kids, exposing them to new places and cultures is also high on my priority list. My vision board, therefore, is full of images of exotic locations, airplanes, libraries, cozy work nooks, computers, books (and half-drunk cups of coffee because, you know, life). When creating a vision board you’ll have visceral reactions to certain images. You might see two pictures of the same general thing and when you understand why one speaks to you and another doesn’t you can begin to explore what’s driving your reaction and what it reveals about what you really want.
- Vision boards are a constant reminder to stay focused on your goals. My goals have remained the same for years and yet here I am in my forties just now taking concrete steps to really go after them. The constant, visual reminder of what happiness looks like to me is a valuable and powerful tool as I set about defining and creating what I want the next five, ten, 20, 40 years to look like.
Ready to get started? Here’s how:
- Decide what you want to manifest. For me it was big picture: my future as a mother and a professional. For someone else it might be a relationship or a dream home. If you have more than one theme think about whether or not you want separate boards, or just one.
- Get practical. For a vision board to work it needs to be, umm, visual. So think about where you’re going to put the actual finished product. A poster-sized pinboard above your desk? In a scrapbook? On an 8.5x11 piece of paper that sits atop the clutter in your desk drawer? From there decide what kind of surface you want your images mounted on and how you’ll do that: paper or corkboard? Glue, tape or pins? Keep in mind you’ll probably want to change the pictures out every now and then.
- Start looking for images that truly excite you. What gets your blood racing? What calls your name? What represents your dream (house, car, work space, vacation, job, etc.). What makes you smile or laugh? Magazines, newspapers and calendars are great sources of colour photos, and so is the internet if you have access to inexpensive colour printing. And don’t forget to search your own photo archives!
- Make sure the finished product really speaks to you. Play with it. Move images around, switch some out for others, add some in black and white if it needs a boost or a variation in mood. Just make sure you end up with something that feels right; something that makes you happy and excited to sit down and do the hard work of making your vision a reality.
- Look at it every day. Visualize what you want to manifest and how it will feel when you get it. Really think about. Play the scenario of accomplishing this goal over and over in your head, the one of you stepping off the plane for a six-month vacation in Bali or receiving your cooking school acceptance letter. Take the time to truly align your thoughts, desires and actions so that the vision board becomes a part of you, not just pretty pictures on a wall.