When we set goals and make plans, we have to find the motivation to transform these into reality. There’s lots of advice out there on how to do this, indeed, we’ve made many suggestions within previous blog posts, or in the online resources section of this website.
One very powerful tool though is the Vision Board. In this blog we’ll discuss what this is and how it works.
What is it?
A vision board can be a notice board, allocated area of wall or a large piece of paper - it doesn’t really matter what you use. What’s important is what you put on it. Vision boards are usually a collection of images, words and sometimes materials that invoke strong positive feelings in you.
For maximum impact, it’s good to place your vision board somewhere prominent where you’ll see it every day. By looking at it regularly, you’ll be reminded what you’re working towards. The feelings it will produce in you will help you stay motivated to achieve the goal or goals encapsulated by this collage of images that are all very personal to you.
Being made up of images, the overall picture that is created becomes more memorable, so you can see it in your mind’s eye even when you’re not actually standing in front of it. Conjuring up a mental image of a list of goals and sub-goals and actions in this way would be trickier to do for most people.
It’s not dissimilar to the mood/style boards used to help designer’s clients get a more tangible sense of the ideas being presented. The big difference is, it’s more personal nature and the powerful motivational impact it can have.
How does it work?
To understand how it works we have to consider how our brains and motivation works. We are complex beings, and I’m not going to be able to tackle that vast topic in this short blog. However, I am going to pick out one key element that plays a huge part in the effectiveness of vision boards, which is the way our conscious and unconscious minds work.
Milton Erickson, a therapist whose hypnotherapy practices formed the basis of Ericksonian Hypnosis, used the analogy of the conscious mind and unconscious mind as a horse and rider with the rider being the conscious mind, and the horse our unconscious.
When the relationship is working well, the rider makes the decisions about where to go, and at what speed, and the horse works out how best to make that happen. Anyone who has worked with horses, or any animals, knows that it takes a lot of time and close work to form a successful partnership like this.
However, we’ve all seen what happens when this relationship breaks down, and the horse decides to do it’s own thing. There is nothing any rider can do to actually make three quarters of a ton of horse do anything! The relationship only works when the horse was voluntarily cooperating.
In the same way, our conscious mind can make great plans, but if no attempt is made to persuade the unconscious mind that these plans have merit, then just like the horse, it will keep going on the path it knows, rather than listen to its rider’s new instructions. No amount of positive intentions set by the conscious mind is ever going to prise an unconvinced unconscious mind out of its ‘stable’!
What the vision board does, is work directly with the subconscious mind. The unconscious mind is the less verbal partner of the two - it’s far more influenced by images and feelings than reasoned argument. Making big powerful picture worlds on a board, with deeply felt emotional attachments, makes it very compelling to your unconscious. It lets you set goals in a subtle way, gently and persistently shifting the focus for your unconscious mind onto what great things are possible for you.
Then, when you are going about your daily life, your unconscious mind will spot that advert or opportunity that can take you one step down the path towards your goal, and draws your conscious minds attention to it. Before you know it, something small has changed, which will motivate both of your minds to work together in this direction, just like that successful horse and rider partnership.
How do you create a vision board?
To create your own vision board, first choose a topic or goal that you care about. Then start to collect images that are relevant to this topic and which strongly draw you to them. It’s important not to use images, words or objects that are just so-so, the impact of the board is stronger when you have a big emotional response to each and every component.
Once you have enough images, it’s time to gather your materials. Decide whether you are going to use a pin board or paper. A pin board can be good because it’s easy to update if you find a new image, or want to replace an old one. Saying that, you can easily glue a new image over the top of an old one on paper, so it’s really up to you. If you prefer to use a techie method, Pinterest is a great way to do an electronic version, which you can print out, or use as a screen saver, keeping it in your sights regularly.
Make it fun to make, do it with friends, or as a relaxing ‘me time’ event. The more fun associations you have with it, the more positive impacts it will have on you long term.
Then just get creative. Make it look as good as you can. Add additional decoration, or key words, anything that makes the message it holds for you more exciting, compelling and attractive.
Once you’ve made it, put it up somewhere you will see it regularly and see what happens!