Do vision boards really work? Yes and no. Put simply, they won’t work unless you do.
Last weekend I held a “2023 Vision of You” Vision Board party in Frankfurt, and had a wonderful time with a bunch of inspiring ladies. We chatted, we networked, we drank, we ate pulled pork 😉 and we visioned the hell out of our futures. Was a fun-filled afternoon!
But you know what? It was a stealth attack from me. I pulled a sneaky one. Because we didn’t make Vision Boards at all… we made Action Boards, based on neuroscience!
It’s not about sticking photos of mansions and Brad Pitt onto a piece of cardboard, closing your eyes and scrunching up your nose, finding the right happiness frequency, and then sitting back and relaxing as everything gets plopped into your lap.
That’s not how it works, my friend.
This is about goal setting and goal getting, Science-Style.
Here’s the much-abridged version of how this all works…
See, your brain is there to keep you alive, it’s not there to keep you happy. (Read that again if you weren’t quite paying attention!). Your brain doesn’t care that you want that promotion, that you want to find love, that you want a nice new apartment. It’s doing its best to filter through all the external and internal information it’s bombarded with every millisecond, filtering out what is most important to your survival, discarding everything that isn’t.
It’s “value tagging” these things in order, and prioritising things it thinks are important – are you cold, or hungry, or being attacked? It will then notice things that are warmer and more emotions-based that you have previously tagged as important, such as friends, loved ones, or even your favourite car (yes my very first car, a bright blue Suzuki Swift is forever tagged for me. I still notice them everywhere, because my brain knows how important this was to me!).
So how do we tell the brain what is important to us, so we notice it as it comes within reach?
Visualisation. Full sensory immersion, so that your brain finds it hard to distinguish reality from a really really great visualisation (yes this is scientifically possible!), where you feel all the feels, and flood your body with dopamine and endorphins. It shows your brain that this is important to you, and yes it’s new, but it’s not dangerous, so let’s go for it.
And to make it more powerful? Taking action. This is where the Action Board comes in.
Create a Vision Board, but with things you really want to achieve in the next 6, 12, 18 months. Things that make your heart sing when you visualise them. Not things you should want, or things that don’t motivate you, or make you feel guilty if you don’t take action.
Then look at this every night before you go to sleep, and visualise what it feels like to live one of your goals, and as you slide off to sleep in the hypnogogic state your subconscious is most susceptible to new information, so it’s more likely to absorb the image and feelings associated with it.
And then, every day, take a little action towards these goals. Small steps and small achievements give the brain little shots of dopamine and testosterone, to spur you on to taking the next step, that next little risk, that will bring you closer and closer to your end goal.
Your brain recognises what it is that you want, because you’ve shown it through visualisation, so it is less averse to taking action, and more likely to tag opportunities that will take you in the right direction. So you can reach out and grab them with confidence!
So, my friend, this is really the crib notes version of a 30 minute talk I love to do – if you or your team or organisation are interested, hit me up at firstname.lastname@example.org! Would love to share and spread the motivation and inspiration we all need to reach for our dreams.