Do you remember when, as a child, you read bedtime stories and fairytales and gazed at the illustrations to visualise the characters and their actions? Do you remember drawing doodles in your notebook, reflecting your thoughts and dreams? You felt enchanted. The images drew your attention and amplified your imagination, making it feel all the more real.
Jeff Bezos, CEO of Amazon, famously banned PowerPoint from corporate meetings. Instead of simple data, he sought to paint the full picture with detailed, descriptive, and vivid words, letting the audience visualise the scenes and connect to the narrative. Our subconscious mind tends to interpret imagery in the same way as real-life action. We activate the same part of the brain responsible for visualising action and performing an action. We connect what we see with what we believe we already have. Some of us create and store desired images and stories in our minds, and some create vision boards.
In recent years, vision boards (also called manifestation boards) reflecting images of our goals, dreams, and wishes have become very popular. The release of a well-received motion picture titled The Secret and a book by Rhonda Byrne of the same title has spurred our interest in the power of manifestation. By channelling our thoughts, cultivating a positive attitude, improving our personal vibration, and drawing on the power of visualisation, we have a potent ability to change our lives, influence the realisation of our dreams, and attract what we desire.
YouTube has plenty of how-to videos with various popular YouTubers showing their colourful collages of Pinterest pictures and showcasing their cut-and-paste creative process. Some have a habit of designing a new board at the beginning of the calendar new year consisting of images of as-yet-unfulfilled projects and dreams for the upcoming year. Many speak to the effectiveness of these mood boards. They often talk about wishes manifested through a daily routine of looking at their imagery map. Viewers have limited capability to verify and confirm the presenters' manifestation technique except to take their word for it. Was it pure luck or their hard work in achieving a set goal, or a mix of both? Perhaps none of the above, with the project being a marketing tactic to sell a possibility.
Endless books and articles on this topic provide examples of how to create vision boards effectively portraying visual boards as a magical wand making our dreams come true. As good as it sounds and as wonderful as it appears, some experts do not share the enthusiasm of vision boards proponents'.
The scientific community has shaken up the multi-billion-dollar personal development industry and has questioned some of these endorsements, indicating that visualisation and vision boards do not help us to realise our dreams. Often, they call them a fantasy, which in reality can work against us and prevent us from achieving success. Setbacks and loss of motivation, together with self-blame for ineffective vision boards, are only a few observed effects that have the potential to impact vulnerable individuals blindly trusting the process. When we visualise success and see our final goal as complete, our brain can process it and perceive it as real, and as such, can cause a reduction in our drive and energy to work towards that goal. We may focus on a finite goal instead of focusing on the process of achieving it. If that is the case, expecting vision boards to do the work for us, waiting for our goals to be miraculously fulfilled, and remaining in a blissful dreaming state can have the opposite effect than what we want to accomplish.
Evidently, some see vision boards as an effective tool in fulfilling our dreams and wishes, and some are at the opposite end of the spectrum. There are few opinions in-between that view vision boards as "sort of", working. Perhaps the key to using these boards is not if we create them but how we create them. Instead of being passive idealists, waiting for a miracle, we can be active realists in charge of our progress.
No doubt that we are a visual species. Images, whether in our mind or on a vision board, help us to focus on what we want and dream of. Yet, we could balance and offset our tendency to dream with a well-designed plan of action. Oprah Winfrey, a famous media personality, endorsed vision boards at one point. Yet, not long ago, in one of her interviews, she indicated that she no longer creates vision boards since she is already a powerful manifestor. Having a plan might be sufficient. However, some of us might feel the need for tangible visual expression of our desired goals. We might recourse to choosing images to reflect our dreams and use our creative juices to design a collage to help us feel and relate to our goals.
If you decide to create a visual board, do not overcrowd it. Keep your images and set up simple. Stay focused. Concentrate your energy on specific targets. Add measurable and manageable steps to each image and set a concrete timeframe for each level of your mission. Have a Plan B to reflect on alternative ways to reach your goals. Be flexible on how you want to define and accomplish your objective. Most importantly, keep your body and mind active. A nutritious diet, healthy habits, regular exercise, and relaxation are necessary to rejuvenate and recharge your energy.
We should also remember that not everything is meant to happen. Sometimes there is a reason why we cannot achieve our goals despite our efforts. We might be disappointed at the time, and later view our failure as a blessing as we come across more interesting opportunities. Being patient and tolerant with ourselves and our surroundings often can be a saving grace. Dreaming and setting up our goals should be light, fun, and energising. The same applies to the gradual completion of our plans. Over-stressing, tension, and frustration takes away our energy and slows us down.
Enjoy creating your vision boards either in your mind, on a physical board, or in a virtual space. Be creative and dream big, yet do not wait around for things to happen. Play an active part in fulfilling your dreams, and you may find them becoming a reality – and if not, trust the process as an opportunity to learn about yourself and explore your passions.
"To accomplish great things, we must not only act but also dream; not only plan but also believe." – Anatole France
"To accomplish great things, we must not only dream but also act; not only believe but also plan." – Anna Niemira
About the author
Anna is a corporate consulting professional experienced in international capital markets, finance, and innovative technologies. Being an effective communicator, negotiator, and strategic management ambassador focused on growth and development, she served as a Director of Business Development at various organisations and has been called upon to serve as a judge and mentor at various financial and entrepreneurial competitions.
She studied Blockchain technology at York University, Lassonde School of Engineering, Strategic Business Management and Negotiations at Harvard University, and received her accreditations from the Canadian Securities Institute. Fascinated with a holistic approach to life and business, and wanting to understand the human mind and human behaviour, Anna studied foundations of psychology at Yale University.
She is a media personality known for her stage presence at various speaking engagements, popular talks, and interviews with progressive, innovative technology entrepreneurs, industry influencers, and idea trendsetters.