Vision board example

Vision Boards, for when SMART goals aren’t your thing

There’s plenty of research which supports the S.M.A.R.T approach to developing goals. However, it’s not for everyone, so I thought I’d share some posts with alternative approaches, starting with vision boards. As a disclaimer, I’m not guaranteeing success with any of the methods I share, they’re just tools which you might like to try.

Achieving goals

There are many elements involved in successfully achieving a goal, for example;

  • Deciding on your goal
  • Thinking creatively
  • Planning how you’ll achieve it
  • Visualising the goal and the steps to reach it
  • Paying attention to/being affected by relevant cues
  • Exercising willpower or self control
  • Helpful habits
  • Monitoring progress and adapting
  • Inhibiting internal distractions (emotions)
  • Inhibiting external distractions
  • Taking action

List from Amy Brann – Neuroscience for coaches

What is a vision board?

A vision board, or action board, is a visual representation of your goals, dreams and intentions.

If you google vision boards you’ll see that there is much debate about the pro’s and con’s! So to give you a balanced view here’s some research for and against them. What there seems to be agreement about is the importance of visualising the steps needed to reach your goals, so make sure you don’t miss this bit out!

What are the benefits of using a vision board?

Sometimes coaching clients feel stuck when talking about goals. When we explore it they’re often being held back by assumptions, beliefs and the voice in their head which is saying ‘I should do x…’ Visualising their desires can help them to think creatively – they start talking about the ‘what if’s…’ Their eyes light up at the possibilities, suddenly they feel motivated to take action.

During my coach training I experimented with a vision board. This was my experience:

  • The act of creating the vision board helped me to clarify my goals and dreams
  • It acted as a visual reminder of what I was aiming for. Research into goal maintenance shows that there could be benefits in keeping a goal in mind externally, rather than relying on working memory.
  • I found it helpful to portray goals beyond my work life e.g. financial, travel, wellbeing, hobbies. It helped me to think about the intrinsic motivation behind my goals, which drove me to achieve them (the ‘why’.)
  • As mentioned above, an important step for me was focusing on elements on the board and thinking about the steps I’d need to take to achieve them (the ‘how’.)

How to create a vision board

  1. Reflect on your goals or dreams.
  2. To help you develop your vision board ideas source images, metaphors, quotes and words which reflect your goals. You might also like to portray how you want to feel.
  3. Add the images to a board, this can be a physical pin board, or a piece of card. Alternatively you might want to create your vision board digitally using Canva, Miro or Mural. Unsplash is a great website for finding images.
  4. Looking at the different elements on your board, reflect on the following:
  • How might it feel if you achieve that goal?
  • Visualise the steps you could take to achieve it, what milestones are there along the way?
  • When might you get to those milestones?
  • Who can help you?
  • What might get in the way?
  • How could you overcome it?
  • On a scale of 1 to 10 how committed are you to the goal?
  • What would move you up the scale by 1 point?
  • What’s one small step you can take tomorrow/this week/this month?

In summary, my personal experience is that vision boards can be a useful tool for unblocking thinking, enabling you to think more creatively. They can be motivating, particularly when combined with reflection on the steps that you need to take to achieve the goals.

Have you used vision boards? What’s your experience been?

Once you start working towards your goals you may face challenges which de-motivate you. You might find this blog post helpful – 5 Resilience Boosting Techniques To Help You Move Forward

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