Vision Boards and Visualization. Can They Change Your Life?

goals success vision boards Jun 21, 2019

“It is a universal principle that you get more of what you think about, talk about, and feel strongly about.” –Jack Canfield

Recently my company offered to help us put together a plan and a vision board.

Someone offered to host a “vision board” party, a get-together that involves the activity of cutting out pictures from magazines of things we wanted and pasting them on poster board. Not many showed interest or enthusiasm. “Isn’t that ‘old school?’” one co-worker remarked.

We were all looking for the new magic.
We were all looking for the magic of something new, something revolutionary, something that could trigger results beyond our dreams of “things” pasted on poster board.

Vision boards and visualization, itself, are a recurring theme every few years, or so, by new speakers and thought leaders.

It has seen many transformations but continues to pop up in corporate motivational sessions, small business visioning, and personal goal setting.

I was first introduced to the idea of visualization in the ’80s when I read the book, Creative Visualization by Shakti Gawain. It was the first time I even considered the potential of our thoughts to shape our future.

The next reincarnation of visualization popped up when The Secret came out. (It was a modern update of the thoughts and principles from a book published in 1910 by Wallace D. Wattles, The Science of Getting Rich.)

People were crazy about it, at first.

Some people said, “It changed my life!” And others said, “I’m visualizing, but nothing is happening!”

The missing component in The Secret for most people was the connection between thoughts and action. They knew how to dream, how to visualize, but they didn’t commit to taking action.

The Secret quickly became less compelling, and once again, we’re ready for the new transformation of how our thoughts can manifest our dreams.

We tend to live in a “yearning” state.
We yearn for more business, more success, better relationships, the dream car, and a life where the future is brighter than what is happening today.

But, what we’re really longing for is the way those achievements make us feel.

It’s also a good feeling to be able to park our visions and emotions in a safe place called OUR FUTURE. If we think we can control the way we see ourselves years from now, then we don’t have to be so afraid.

Intellectually, we know there is no absolute control, but it does make us feel better… and it’s motivating!

That’s why a vision board feels so good. It shapes a life from glitzy magazine photos, giving us excitement and a blueprint for looking forward to the years ahead.

But is it real?
It depends on how you implement your visualizations.

“I have seen in my own life that creative visualization works.”- Oprah Winfrey

The vision board is a “thing” oriented tool rather than an “experience” oriented plan.

You have to be open to the particular “thing” expanding through your actions by making a plan.

If you want a new car, what is the strategic plan you’ll put in place to help your business grow, the thing that fuels your bank account, and makes it possible to purchase your new vehicle?

If your desire is a vacation with your family, you’ll need to commit to working more efficiently so you can earn and set aside vacation funds, organize your business to run while you’re away, and coordinate the time with your spouse to take time off, too.

As odd as it seems, I can look at my past vision boards and see the things I actually acquired and achieved through the years. I got the new patio furniture, I traveled to Italy and France, and my figure is pretty darn close to the woman I put on the board. I remember carefully snipping her head off so I could imagine myself as that svelte image in a little black dress. And yes, I even bought the dress that the headless paper “she” was wearing.

After looking at past success… I decided to re-visit the vision board with high expectations.
It was worth a shot. I spent one Sunday afternoon making an updated version of my vision board. Instead of buying dozens of magazines, I printed out pictures from the Internet (Pinterest is a great resource).

I also created a cover for the book I’m currently writing and tacked it prominently on the board (I use a corkboard and tacks instead of a poster board).

I printed an ad from an upcoming publisher’s conference, sticking my own headshot centered among other featured published authors. I admit it gave me a thrill.

I couldn’t decide on the car I wanted, so I chose two dream cars. One was silver, and the other was white.

Why not? My current car, an Escalade had 168,000 miles on it and the days of needing a lot of space for kids and their hockey bags were over. I was loyal to that car, and it served me well. It was in mint condition… she didn’t even look her age!

I put a few more pictures of places I wanted to visit, and reprinted a fresh photo of the dream kitchen I’ve had on the board for years.

There was a certain amount of emotional risk involved.
I didn’t reach all my goals, mainly financial, because my career got hit hard during the economic chaos of 2008 and beyond.

Peeling away the photos of unfulfilled dreams gave rise to a pinch of failure and disappointment, but then, maybe they were not meant to happen so that other things could happen.

When my career slowed down, it made room for me to begin writing again. I’d written two books before, and writing was always my passion. But a robust career in real estate didn’t always make room for me creatively.

Because of the market crash, I was home every day by 4:00. I used that time to create one of the things I am most proud of. I always said that someday I would write my next book on how I survived the loss of my child.

My son died suddenly of meningitis at just 16. It was the darkest time in my life, but I survived. I wanted other parents to know there is life after such a tragic loss.

My stumbled career made room for me to finally write that book. (How to Survive the Worst That Can Happen, A Parent’s Step by Step Guide to Healing After the Loss of a Child).

I didn’t meet my financial goal that year, but I did achieve my emotional goal… and it felt great.

The “things” on the board have magical triggers.
The vision board holds so much more than pictures of “things.” It’s the emotional achievements that arise because of those picture goals.

It’s not the “thing” that makes it happen, but the MINDSET you create to lay the foundation for those things to be able to come into your life.

I didn’t achieve my fitness goals because of a picture on the board. I reached them through a commitment to more effective exercise and eating right, but the image was on the board to remind me every day. It stimulated me just like the first taste of good wine… I wanted more.

What I’d been doing on my own wasn’t bringing the results I wanted. I needed to be pushed at the gym, so I hired a trainer just one day a week… but the rest of the days, I continued with what he taught me.

I’d gotten in the habit of not eating regular meals because work was so erratic, and I wasn’t fueling my body adequately. I restarted my love affair with cooking and the joy of eating fresh food, particularly vegetables (you can eat as many veggies as you want!).

I didn’t feel deprived, I felt alive.
I completed my vision board on Sunday. I wrote about it in my journal that night, feeling every bit as excited as though it was already in motion to happen.

The very next day, on Monday, my car died. It died in such a big way, that there was no fixing it.

I looked in awe at the pictures of the cars on my vision board… perhaps the Universe reacted quicker than I thought. I knew I needed to get a new car someday… but really? 24 hours later?

I now had no choice. Living in Southern California means a lot of time on the road. My car was an important part of my business and lifestyle, and I’d had a good year in business, so I felt confident the time was right.

You guessed it… I bought the car on my vision board, my dream car. But the funny thing is, my husband decided he needed a new car, too.

Remember, I put two cars on my vision board, one silver, and one white. And yes. We bought two cars, one silver and one white, fulfilling the destiny of the vision board.

So do pictures manifest your future, or is it your thoughts?
I profoundly believe it is the marriage of both.

There’s an essential addition to getting results from a vision board. If you just look at the pictures, you’re limited to what you see. If you start imagining it through all your senses (sight, sound, touch, taste, feel) you’re activating your brain to respond.

Writing those thoughts awakens the emotions and feelings around those thoughts. It heightens your awareness and encourages you to act.

It was a game-changer when I enhanced my dreams from the vision board by writing about them in my journal. It worked like compound interest in an investment account… the dream grows exponentially and expands to all areas of your life.

You see clarity in the things you MUST do to make dreams happen. Then, the message is sent out to a magical place for fulfillment.

“You are not given a dream unless you have the capacity to fulfill it.”-Jack Canfield, author of Chicken Soup for the Soul series

Amazon has fulfillment centers… consider the universe your personal fulfillment center.

Once you press Amazon’s order button, you’re pretty sure it’s on its way in two days, so there’s no need to wonder about the status. Amazon keeps you fully informed every step of the way, and so does the universe.

Look at the pictures, write the words, feel the feelings, and press order now.

The universe gives you little signs as to what your next step needs to be. All you need to do is take the very next step, and then the next. Then, commit to actionable steps to bring it all to fruition.

There are times when it isn’t a “thing” we want.
Instead, we are looking for relief. Relief from those difficult life experiences that change the course of our lives.

That was me.

When my son died, I thought I could never be happy again, But I didn’t limit my dreams because I was grieving. I just kept visualizing myself as happy again… one day. I searched for feelings of peace and a safe place to put my tears so that every day didn’t feel so dark, so empty, so painful.

Then, I began to notice subtle things that showed me resilience was at work restoring my heart. It started in little ways… I’d spontaneously laugh at something my youngest child had done, or find myself singing in the shower again.

I fought it. I didn’t want to think I could be happy after losing my beautiful boy. But the universe kept sending messages to me, that everything was going to be all right… and I finally accepted it.

It doesn’t mean I will never cry another tear. It just means that he now resides safely in my heart forever. I get to feel love for him every single day and feel happy.

Life may not always turn out the way you think it should, but guess what…
When you look back on your life in the years ahead, you’ll see it from a new perspective. You’ll see how it all fits together. Perfectly.

Isn’t it time to revisit the magic of the Vision Board?

Are you ready to kick in those creative juices? Download my simple ebook, "How to Develop the Creative Mindset" here.

**Previously published on Medium**