Do vision boards really work?
Psychotherapists say no and find it to be a feel-good pitfall that actually stagnates growth. But some researchers find they can work under specific circumstances. Let’s have a look at how vision boarding should go for optimal success.
The beginning of the year is always time filled with resolutions, vision casting and goal setting. For some time now, vision boarding has become a popular way of combining all three. It is touted as a tool that helps manifest desires by directing where you invest time and energy as it serves as a consistent reminder of what you want to achieve.
The reason it has become so popular is because it involves ‘priming’ a phenomenon in which “exposure to a stimulus, such as a word or image, influences how one responds to a subsequent, related stimulus.” Therefore surrounding yourself with images of your goals and aspirations will have an impact on your daily decisions and behavior.
Essentially, vision boarding tends to focus on outcomes rather than the processes or journey.
The thing is, the more familiar you become with the images on your vision board, the more familiar the concepts become. Leading to ‘cognitive ease’ which can change how you feel about your goals and whether you are motivated to invest your time and effort into them. Your brain starts to act as if you already have these things or as if you’ve achieved these goals thereby shifting your brain’s priority.
How? Experts say, because of cognitive ease. Whenever you move towards a goal, the result is a cognitive strain which causes your brain to reject the action and find a simpler solution. All of a sudden you can’t help procrastinating or being content with the fantasy because it’s easier to do.
In fact in 2002, a study was published on the predictive power of Positive expectations versus Positive fantasies and their effects on the actual outcome.
Positive expectations, according to the researchers, are drawn from past and present achievements and performances. When testing for expectations, future hardships and efforts are taken into consideration while fantasies focus only on a positive best-case-scenario type of future.
Effective Vision Boards
The above vision boarding is associated with some common traps that could lead to stagnation if not done properly. Some of these traps include; lack of concrete timelines that depend on a ‘someday’ projection, not accounting for the struggle or difficulty that comes with achieving goals, goals not being prioritized in any order, and setting lofty goals without a plan of action.
Essentially, vision boarding tends to focus on outcomes rather than the processes or journey. This brings about a fantasy approach which as above stifles effort, increases procrastination and does not prepare people for hardships and obstacles.
Researchers advise that the best form of visualization is the kind focused on the process.
How to get the most out of vision boarding
Count Your Steps
When creating a vision board, outline the process and the outcomes. For example, if you want to own a home, your vision board should include a picture of a house being built and a picture of a happy homeowner.
It is important to make your goals Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant and Time Bound.
How Much, By When?
Map out clear plans and timelines for achieving your goals and include them on your vision board. It will help you forecast any challenges, resources, assistance and tools that will be part of the process.
While visualization influences your behavior and performance in the long run, combining it with physical rehearsal is integral to success. Physical rehearsal can include anything from prepping for a presentation to get a raise or sell a product, to honing in on or learning a new skill.