Sunday, November 1, 2009

Vision Boards

This past August I attended a Women’s Adventure Weekend in the White Mountains. My attraction to this event was the opportunity to diffuse the disdain I had developed for hiking based on one ill-fated hiking trip there over twenty years ago. As I happily reported here, I completely exorcised those demons, had a great time with my friends, and met some other good people.

Part of the weekend was devoted to self-improvement through workshops focusing on sharing self-exploration. I opted out of most of those, but one which followed immediately after a yoga class was about creating a Vision Board. As someone who loves to flip through glossy magazines, appreciates attractive layout, and has developed a pretty strong “cut and paste” skill set over the years, I was interested and stayed for this workshop.

A vision board, as the workshop leader explained, is a 2-D collection of magazine cut-outs, photographs, drawings, and other ephemera that represent your goals and desires. The function of the board is to make those things “come into your life” through some sort of magical mechanism. At first, I was taken aback by the leader’s enthusiasm over the mystical qualities she credited her own vision boards to possess. As she spoke, I realized that what she had ascribed to unexplainable forces was an actual focusing on her goals that was realized by the construction of and reinforced by the frequent viewing of the boards. These visions may have come true based on the fact that she acted to make them happen, or merely that she was completely aware of her desire to have them happen, so she attributed minor occurrences into categories she had included on her board.

Knowing this, and later attempting to explain it, I cut out my pictures and brought my materials home. I needed my copies of DWELL magazine to successfully complete any vision I had of my future. Sadly, since I returned from the weekend, my vision board materials remain folded, spindled, and mutilated in a paper bag in my closet.

Until now.

A few days ago, as part of her “Thinking Directions Occasional Update #34”, Jean Moroney sent out this terrific article, “Four Reasons Why Reviewing Written Goals Helps You Achieve Them”. And while constructing the vision board is not as exacting an exercise as writing down and refining your goals, it is similar in that it can help you focus on, and be a constant reminder of those goals. These two actions can help make opportunities to act toward achieving those goals foremost in your mind. Please enjoy her article, reprinted here with permission.

Four Reasons Why Reviewing Written Goals Helps You Achieve Them
by Jean Moroney

Here's a piece of advice you may know: Write down your top goals and re-read them every day. Simply implementing this daily review can make a significant difference in whether you achieve the goals.

If this sounds like some kind of magical thinking, it's not. Re-reading your goals helps you achieve them through an entirely understandable process:

1) When you write out the goal on paper and re-read it every day, you give yourself a chance to test it and refine it. All goal statements are not created equal. If you formulate your goal in a vague or unrealistic way, you can't achieve it. Just the act of writing the goal down helps you notice and correct these problems.

But even if you don't catch a problem immediately, every time you re-read the goal, you have a chance to spot an issue and refine the goal accordingly.

2) Every time you re-read your goal, you reinforce your desire for it. That motivates you to take action. You can see how this works when you plan a vacation. Every time you think about what you'd like to do, you get a little more excited about the vacation, and eager to plan the details to make that happen.

3) When you re-read your goal every day, you keep the idea activated. It is easily triggered by outside circumstances, so you think of it at helpful times. For example, suppose your goal is to carve out time for exercise. If an appointment is canceled, you would like to realize "I could use this time for exercise." If you reviewed your goal this morning, you are quite likely to make the connection. On the other hand, if you last thought about exercise a week ago, it's off your radar, and probably won't occur to you.

4) When you re-read your goal every day, you automatically notice your progress (or lack thereof). Tracking progress is crucial to achieving goals, because it gives you the information you need to correct your course as you go. They say Apollo 11 was off course more than 90% of the trip to the moon--but they still got there, because they constantly corrected the course. So, just by re-reading the goal every day, you support making the changes you need to actually achieve it.

As you see, there are good reasons why writing down your top goals and re-reading them every day helps you to achieve them.

But it's not magic. If you aren't committed to the goal, then clarifying it, reminding yourself about it, and noticing your progress won't help a bit. Ultimately, you will only achieve your goal if you choose to act toward it. Writing down the goal and reviewing it every day simply helps you see the opportunities to act. [emphasis added]

Jean Moroney, President of Thinking Directions, teaches managers, business owners, and other professionals how to tap their own knowledge banks to solve problems faster, make better decisions, and communicate more effectively. Corporations hire her to train their managers in "Thinking Tactics" to help them get more done with fewer resources. For more information, visit:


Cheryl said...

I used to make fun of people who did stuff like "write down your goals" or actually made a vision board. Then I attended a workshop at Kripalu with the lovely Kris Carr (Crazy Sexy Cancer) and found myself creating a vision board. It does help you focus. What do I want? How can I get it? I'm redoing mine, thanks to your post. You rock.

Lynne said...

Thanks for the comment, Cheryl.

I was the same (making fun of the whole thing), but I think it was due to the magical aspect of it all. Now, I'm ready to cut and paste once I flatten out all the pictures I squashed into the bag in my closet.

And I do rock - to Lucretia Mac Evil tonight (and my dancing that went along with it quite amused our exchange student this evening).