“Write down the revelation and make it plain on tablets so that a herald may run with it. For the revelation awaits an appointed time; it speaks of the end and will not prove false. Though it linger, wait for it; it will certainly come and will not delay” Habakkuk 2:2-3.
A few years ago, I got into the art of writing vision boards to help me better plan for the year ahead, as well as envision a roadmap to my desired goals. At first I found the whole idea of writing and sticking up your goals on a piece of paper, a bit juvenile (it was reminiscent of my pre-school days when my nursery school teacher would tell me cut out and stick pictures on to a collage for a class activity). To say I felt silly at the idea of writing up a vision board would be an understatement at best. But even with my aversion to the art, something inside of me kept nudging me to give it go (I mean what’s the worst that could happen, right?). So I reluctantly started “vision boards” and to my surprise, I thoroughly enjoyed it, and eagerly searched out magazines and newspaper pictures I could use for my new found project. At the start of each New Year, I would draw up new sets of goals and objectives (and include ones from the previous year, if I had not achieved them) to kick-start me. Year after year, I would consistently set up a vision board and after a while I began to notice that I was actually achieving most of my desired goals. By the end of each year, I had achieved about 80 percent of my goals for that year. To say I was exhilarated at this achievement would be an understated way to describe my feelings. I couldn’t believe that the art of putting pen and pictures to paper could actually help you achieve your goals.
What is a vision board and how does it help you achieve your goals?
Simply put, a vision board is “a visual representation of the things that you want to have, be, or do in your life. It consists of a poster or board with cut-out pictures, drawings and/or writing on it of the things that you want in your life or the things that you want to become”. Psychologists believe that vision walls activate the “law of attraction” into your life which helps you realise your goals, but that’s a topic for another day.
At the risk of minimising vision board to just writing down a list of goals on a piece of paper, sticking it on your wardrobe and hoping that these goals somehow miraculously come together, I thought I should elaborate more on my idea of how vision boards help you achieve your goals. First, it is a constant reminder of the things you have to achieve for that year (provided that you place it where you can regularly see it). Every time you see it, you are reminded of what you still need to do in order to achieve your goals. Even when you forget about your goal, it is there as a constant physical reminder of what you need to do. Second, it helps motivate you into action. It forces you into “acting” and “doing” things that will help you achieve your desired goal. For instance if you are a final year university student with hopes of graduating at the end of the year, a picture of a graduate (complete with the gown and cap) may be that extra motivation you need, to make you put in the extra hours so as to ensure that you graduate at the end of the year. And third, it serves as a roadmap that shows you how to achieve your desired goal. For instance, if your goal is to own your first home, your roadmap becomes saving more money and making smarter financial choices (such as spending less) which will help lead you towards your goal of being a home owner.
How to make vision boards work for you.
There are different ways to go about “vision boarding” in order to make it work for you. Some people set yearly goals, while other set weekly goals. As the saying goes, “different strokes for different folks”. But in my experience, I found that that the following five points has helped me realise most of the goals I put down on my vision board.
1) Categorise your goals.
The first and probably most important step to vision boards is to categorise your goals into different clusters or “umbrellas”. This makes it easy to compartmentalise your objectives, so that it doesn’t seem overwhelming (or a drag) and thus makes it easier to achieve them. Depending on your needs and interest, you can divide your goals into the following categories:
- Financial goals (savings and other money related goals)
- Professional goals (career objectives such as getting a promotion or changing jobs)
- Academic goals ( pursuing a degree or formal qualification)
- Relational goals (relationships with family, friends and significant others)
- Physical goals (health and fitness)
- Spiritual goals (relationship with God). I am a Christian so this applies to me.
- Mental goals (getting your mind in the right framework which may include getting rid or negativity and focusing on positive things)
- Leisure goals (spending time doing things that you love which may include taking up a new hobby or seeking out new adventures).
2) Sub-divide your goals into monthly or quarterly clusters.
As opposed to just setting your goals and hoping that you achieve all of them by the end of the year, I have found that sub-dividing your goals into monthly or quarterly objectives goes a long way. This is probably much easier to achieve with the more tangible goals such as financial, professional and academic (for the intangible goals such as spiritual and mental, it is more of a feeling that can be measured by personal convictions than anything else). For example, if you want to buy a house and the bank requires a cash deposit of USD 10 000, you should aim to save a tenth of that amount every month, rather than scrambling for the money at the end of the year. By setting monthly objectives, you are more likely to achieve your overall year-end goals.
3) Work hard.
To achieve the goals laid out on your vision board, you have to be willing to work hard and make sacrifices. Achieving your goals may mean clocking in an extra hour at work on a Friday afternoon to get that project finished in time for Monday’s meeting, or spending an extra hour or two in the library on a Saturday evening (instead of going to the movies to watch the latest cinematic release) in order to finish that arduous assignment. It may mean waking up at 5am to go for that dreaded 3 mile run so that you can lose the extra weight (and make it in time for work at 8am). Whatever the case, achieving your targeted goals will often require you to work hard, very hard. There is no room for “free-riders” or those who ride the “co-tails” of others. If you want to see results, you have to put in the work.
4) Don’t be rigid.
When setting up a vision board, it is important to be flexible with your goals. This does not mean settling or aiming for failure, it just means taking into consideration the human factor. As we all know, life comes with its ups and downs, and with this, we may sometimes be unable to realise our targeted goals for the year. Huge and unexpected life events such as, sickness, death of a loved one, accidents or loss of a job can throw us off balance and make it nearly impossible to achieve our desired goals. And in some cases, our goals may not even be in our own hands, particularly the relational goals like getting married etc. In this event, it is important to remain positive and remember that it isn’t the end of the world. We can always carry over the goals we did not realise in one year, into the next. That way we can look forward to new goals as well as realise old ones too.
5) Set realistic goals.
Finally, it is vital that you set realistic goals with suitable time frames. This makes achieving your goals more practical and prevents unnecessary frustration. For instance, you cannot expect a work promotion when you have been under-performing and displaying an overall bad work ethic (if anything, you risk losing your job rather than getting a promotion). In other instances, certain goals, such as building a brand name or establishing a new company takes time, hard work and patience (Rome wasn’t built in a day as the popular saying goes). When it comes to vision boards don’t let delusion get the best of you. Stay focused and be realistic.
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