Lifehacks: Vision Boards and Journals – 5 Steps to Success
5 Steps to Vision Your Way to Success – Journaling and Vision Boards
Vision boards and vision journals are often cited as a necessary by those who are successful. With such a low barrier to entry, why not consider doing one for yourself?
Effectiveness of the vision board method aligns with the tenants of neuroscience that suggests we need additional reinforcement or repeated exposure to happy concepts in our short term buffer so they can transfer to our long term brain storage. Why? The brain allocates less importance to storing happiness because we are biologically wired to look for danger in order to survive. This creates less viable brain space for happiness seeking. Creating visual aids to reinforce happiness concepts creates the necessary constancy and exposure our brains require to decide they are worth storing.
Secondly, the process of creating a vision board or vision journal requires that one considers what they want to achieve. Too often, we get lost in the grind of daily life, which provides no space for long term life, goal or vision planning. It is impossible to arrive at a destination if you have no idea where you are going. The process of creating the tool helps you to identify the desired outcomes of your daily life.
Lastly, the effort spent to make the board is investment in that future, increasing the odds of it becoming probable. This is the same reason why people who make business plans for their businesses are dis-proportionally more successful, respective of the quality of the plan itself. The time spent on strategic planning of any kind tends to have an incredible return on the investment (ROI).
Creating a vision board or vision journal is fun, easy and takes far less time than you think. It can be done incrementally once you make some key decisions:
1. In Real Life Vision Board or Digital Vision Board?
If you make your board using offline materials – magazines, paper, journals – are you likely to display it so you can look at it consistently? Is your life suited to having a “home” place for your board or vision journal, such as over your desk or in your bedroom? If you decide to go the digital route, will you do it and file it away to never review again or will it be something you see and access on a regular basis? Is your digital life suited to having this information stored somewhere that is easily accessible but not necessarily public? Will the aggravation of making it one way or the other be an obstacle? Your personal preference is the driving force of this decision, keeping in mind that your brain needs to look at it on a regular basis. And whichever you choose, you can always create a copy for the other medium. Digital boards can be printed at a copy shop that can do large format and IRL boards can be photographed and saved online. Here is an example of each type:
2. One Goal or Life Planning?
Sometimes people make a vision board around a specific goal, like losing weight, for example. Other people prefer to create a layout to show a complete future life. Some find balance between the two approaches. You’ll have to decide what your focus will be for this vision and what is more suited to your preferences. If taking on your whole life is overwhelming, just start with one area. You can either build on it or build more after you are a master. Here are some examples of each:
3. Create a Content Collection System
Once you have decided the answers to #1 and #2, you need create a system to collect the content in an ongoing way. This makes the building process very easy and increases your excitement around doing the task. For the digital boards, something like Evernote works really nicely for this purpose, because it grabs all mediums from all places, the web, social media and the files on your computer. For the offline or IRL boards, something like an accordion folder tabbed by goal or life area (love, career, wealth) works really well to capture the pieces as you find them. You may find that setting up both systems – IRL and digital – works best for you.
Now that you’ve decided what to do, go out and do it: Buy the accordion folder and label it and put it somewhere easy to access. Signup for the free evernote account, download the web and mail clipper as well as the app for your devices and make a notebook titled for each vision goal. Here are some examples of content collection systems:
You probably already have much more content than you think. Check those personal files that you transfer from computer to computer but never delete or look at your bulletin boards, refrigerator clippings, and magazines you just won’t throw away. Most of this content is probably linked to a future, unrealized vision. Use this as the first pieces of content to put in your system.
4. Decide on a vision
Sounds simple, but it’s far from easy. What future do you want to have for yourself? You’ll need to think about that globally, if you opted for a holistic life board in #2 or specifically if you opted for a goal based board in #2. Saying you’d like to travel more is a convenient thing to “say”. When tasked to create visuals around traveling more, you’re going to have to decide WHERE you want to go, and HOW you want to get there and WHO you want to be with and WHAT kinds of experiences you want to have doing that. A picture of a woman on a bus isn’t going to work for the man who wants to travel more via first class air. It may be helpful for you to jot your decisions around the specifics of your vision in words in your content collection system.
5. Think about how and where you will collect content, incrementally.
Now, whenever I read a magazine (and sometimes a book I don’t intend to keep), I rip out the pages that have images, phrases or stories on them I would like to have in a vision journal. I do this as I’m reading it because I’ve learned that I am not going to go back and do it later. If you intend to collect your content digitally, whatever you choose to store it in should be a service that allows you to grab the content as you find it (evernote does). Since you’ve already set up your content collection systems as detailed in #3, you can get started right away and do it as you go.
What you may notice is that you want to make more money but you spend all of your time reading TMZ. If this is the case, you won’t find wealth related images as you go so it may be hard to collect content incrementally. This is, in fact, the first paradigm shift to make. If you cannot collect the content incrementally, you don’t have enough of that in your life. Make space for new content around your vision, research what you should start reading or browsing and add it to your routine. Follow different feeds on twitter about your vision and related topics, find new bloggers to read, like pages on facebook about your goal topics, get a new magazine subscription to something related to that vision… you get the idea.
After putting these things in place, you should already start to see some small shifts towards your new vision. You’ve begun the process of strategic thinking and added some effort towards implementation so this is not surprising.
Keep going with the content collection and notice how you feel each time you add something to the content collection system. Periodically review what you’ve collected to see if you need to shift your emphasis a bit. Try not to delete things you added to your system. The advantage of collecting over time is that your vision will be more reflective of your ongoing, sustainable life, instead of a passing whim of the day. The urge to delete will come at a time you are feeling one kind of way, which is in opposition to how you felt the day you added the item. If you don’t like what you’ve collected, continue to shift your focus until you are collecting things you love and look forward to putting on the vision board.
Once you have a critical mass of content in the content collection system, you will move on to assembly: