“Vision Boarding – have you heard of it?” I hadn’t. When my friend Jill first asked if I’d like to join her and a few others for a Vision Board session, I imagined some new extreme sport – images of land boarding and wake boarding raced through my mind – and I responded with appropriate caution. “Umm, no? Sounds interesting?” (Thinking: will it hurt? is it dangerous? I’m generally up for trying new things … but with all my races booked up for the year ahead, I need to treat my limbs with some respect.)

It turns out that a vision board is not that kind of board after all. Phew. You don’t ride a vision board – you make it. A vision board is a tool to help you clarify, concentrate and maintain focus on a specific life goal. Like a very focused scrap-book in poster format, it’s a visualisation of your goal as accomplished fact.

it’s a visualisation of your goal as accomplished fact.

For purists, there’s a whole philosophy behind the vision board concept: the Law of Attraction. That’s a “New Thought” maxim based on the idea that “like attracts like”; that the universe will deliver an experience of life that aligns with the expectations you hold. It’s not so new-fangled, either: Ralph Trine wrote in In Tune With The Infinite (1897): “The law of attraction works universally on every plane of action, and we attract whatever we desire or expect … Determine resolutely to expect only what you desire, then you will attract only what you wish for.”

Jack – our workshop leader – explained it another way. “The universe doesn’t give you what you ask for. It’s not about what you want or what you need. You get what you are.”

A piece of tangible reality that connects you to the future youre growing into
A piece of tangible reality that connects you to the future you’re growing into

Does it really work? I suspect that depends on how literally you choose to understand it. In its most pure and literal form, there’s a sense of inevitability about it that feels too passive for my liking. Everything I’ve learned from my career in marketing – and my life on the trails – tells me that if you want to drive change you need to take positive action: you set goals, work hard, and take responsibility for the results you want to see. Sitting back and waiting doesn’t cut it.

Sitting back and waiting doesn’t cut it

Just last year, Psychology Today blogged that “millions of people are unsuccessful in achieving goals with the Law of Attraction. Why? The LOA doesn’t exist!” Yet whether you’re a believer, a fence-sitter or nay-sayer, there is undeniably good sense behind the vision board idea: visualisation is a powerful tool, after all. Think Salomon athletes striding across the Alps; think Inov8 runners scrambling over the Cumbrian fells – brand marketers are geniuses in visualisation. When they hit on imagery that’s strong enough, we’ll buy into their stories before even checking the price tag on the products they’re selling: we want to be part of the reality they’ve shown to us. The power of visualisation is strong.

As a child, I remember plucking up the courage to jump across a stream behind my house. I imagined myself running, jumping, landing; running, jumping, landing; running, jumping, landing, over and over again from the safety of the bank until I had the sensation perfected in my head. Then I did it. The visualisation gave spring to legs and courage to my heart until I ran, jumped and landed, safe on the other side – just as I had seen myself do a dozen times before.

The visualisation gave spring to legs and courage to my heart
The visualisation gave spring to legs and courage to my heart

That technique came to me instinctively, but I’ve since learned that sports people have been using visualisation for years. Quoted in the Telegraph, Wayne Rooney explained, “I lie in bed the night before the game and visualise myself scoring goals or doing well. You’re trying to put yourself in that moment and trying to prepare yourself, to have a ‘memory’ before the game.”

A vision board is another tool in the same armoury: it’s another way of enabling yourself to ‘see’ the success that you’re determined to achieve. It’s an extension of the old truism that tells you to dress not for the job you do, but for the role you aspire to. (Another apposite phrase that came up during our workshop session: “fake it til you make it.”)

you’re building a picture of your own success that can help sustain you when your self-belief falters

Your vision board is your own series of visual cues to remind you of what your goals will look like, once accomplished. You’re building a picture of your success that will sustain you when your self-belief falters; a piece of tangible reality that connects you to the future you’re growing into.

And there’s another aspect to vision boarding, too. It’s FUN. Serious, good, energy-boosting fun. Spend a day immersing yourself in words and images that resonate with you; focusing on goals that inspire you; stealing a sneak peek at a future that blossoms with success; investing time and energy in the belief that success can be yours: what’s not to like?

It may not be pure science, but it’s certainly not nonsense either. It’s part of the mix of sound planning, positive energy, self-belief and clear direction that can help us blaze a trail towards the future that we want to inhabit.

It's part of the mix of sound planning, positive energy, self-belief and clear direction that can help us blaze a trail towards the future that we want to inhabit.
Vision boarding: a tool to help us blaze a trail towards the future that we want to inhabit.

Have you made a vision board before? If you have experience – positive or negative – of vision boards or the Law of Attraction, I’d love to hear about it.

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