What is a vision board and how is it different than scheduling plans, setting goals or making resolutions?

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Are you a planner extraordinaire, or a goal setter and realizer, or maybe even a resolution-maker and keeper? Good for you! Most of us have planned, set goals and made resolutions before. We have the lists to prove it! And, even if we plan, set goals and make resolutions, sometimes plans fall apart, our goals are not realistic, and our resolutions just peter out. (Witness the echo in a fitness club in February.) If our plan, goal or resolution doesn’t look like the end we had in mind, we feel bad or defeated. Worse, we compare ourselves to others and the whole process can make us feel hopeless. And we start again the next year, sometimes even by writing out the very same plans, goals and resolutions on our lists! Ouch.

Looking for a different way to plan and manifest a great future? Read on.

Scheduling plans, setting goals and making resolutions are all great strategies for organizing your life and making things happen. I know that they are crucial in business and life. I encourage you to do what works for you – any or all of them! But they aren’t the only way to envision and experience the future, particularly your best future. A vision board is another way of looking at your year and it doesn’t include making to-do lists or creating Excel files or calendars that need to be updated. A vision board is visual, not verbal; artistic, not data-driven; hopeful, not admonishing — and once completed is so unique it cannot be compared to anyone else’s life!.

If I ask you which comes first, the vision board or the plan, goal or resolution, the answer is hands down: the vision board. It is your over-arching picture of your year that inspires you to take action. And that action might be to make plans, set goals and even, if you must, make resolutions.

A completed vision board with cut out images from magazines, photos, postcards and maps placed on a white poster board organized by the 8 feng shui bagua areas.

An example of a completed vision board.

These different tools that help you think about your future work with different areas of your brain (and one works with your heart). Let’s look at their differences by starting with their definitions:

Definition of a New Year’s Resolution (from Cambridge Dictionary.org): a promise that you make to yourself to start doing something good or stop doing something bad on the first day of the year.

Definition of a plan (from Oxford Living Dictionary): a detailed proposal for doing or achieving something.

Definition of goal setting (from Your Dictionary.com): the process of identifying something that you want to accomplish and establishing measureable goals and timeframes. Goal setting is a process that starts with careful consideration of what you want to achieve and ends with a lot of hard work to actually do it.

Definition of a vision board (from English Oxford Living Dictionaries.com): a collage of images and words representing a person’s wishes or goals, intended to serve as inspiration or motivation. (Read my definition here.)

Here’s the thing: humans are predominately visual creatures. More than one third of our brain is devoted to processing visual information. This is far more than that devoted to understanding sound, smell, language and movement!* Vision boards use pictures; plans, goals and resolutions use words and data and much too often, pounds (as in desired weight lost).

If you want to create something new in your life I would encourage you to get creative, and put those dreams on a vision board so you can actually SEE them. That’s what vision boards do differently than planning, setting goals or making resolutions.

* Matthew Walker, Why We Sleep, Unlocking the Power of Sleep and Dreams


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Silver gift bagA graphic of the 8 feng shui bagua areas with symbolic images representing their meanings, for example, a pair of birds to represent the Love & Marriage area.