This was a question which floored me at the end of my Create your Vision Board Workshop held in London City Library.

"Why don't vision boards work?"

This was a question which floored me at the end of my Create your Vision Board Workshop held in London City Library – which everyone appeared to enjoy very much, so it came as an unexpected shock and really caught me unawares. And, cleverly, it was an open question…and it demanded a decent answer! But at the time I felt a little defensive being put on the spot like that and I responded by saying that perhaps the lady should sign up for one of the classes that she felt she would enjoy more…there were certainly plenty of choices, and why attend a class for something that you knew didn’t float your boat? It’s not always easy to find time during a crowded workshop to give the attention you would like to every participant. But, later on, thinking about her question, perhaps she felt vision boards worked for others and not for her, that she was doing something wrong, or somehow couldn’t connect to the ‘magic’.

Although there is a lot of information on the web about the magic of vision boards and the power of visualisation, one thing I do know is that what I think about the most, what I focus on – either by imagination, in my thoughts, in my writings, my musings – I will be much more likely to notice those things when I go about my everyday life. And if my mind is a gym, and I am working out and focusing on those thoughts, like muscles, they will grow and become bigger! The more attention I pay to those thoughts, the stronger they will become.

This is why goal setting is so important – and being clear about what goal you want is crucial, because by focusing on your goal your chances of achieving it are dramatically increased, especially if it is something you feel inspired and excited about. I’m not saying that the magic does or doesn’t exist, but why not help things along as much as we can by being clear about our objectives?

Marketing executives know all about the psychology of getting you to buy into the products that they know will ultimately make them richer – through visual media and messages they hope to get into your head, to make you connect to something you consider to be valuable and essential to your happiness. A designer handbag, a delicious meal, an exotic holiday – Yes Please! I will never forget how I admired my friend’s £80 handbag. I told her I would like one in purple, but didn’t have enough money to go out and purchase one. Every time I travelled via the airport I would go to duty free and admire these handbags. Then a year later there in the Oxfam shop was a brand new, purple handbag with the label on, exactly the same make, for £2.50! Is that magic? It certainly felt like it as I shakily handed my £2.50 over to the shop assistant, and skipped out of the shop!

Vision boards are a way we can choose and use images in a purposeful way – rather than just allowing the rest of the world to inundate us with things they consider to be important – we can think about what we want, we can start to make choices and ask important questions such as ‘What do I want in my life?’, ‘Do I accept what is being dished out?’, ‘Can I choose something different, something beautiful that inspires me?’.

My sister came to visit me when I was preparing all the ingredients for one of my Vision Board workshops and she excitedly told me that she wanted to create one – I had a great pile of magazines, from good housekeeping to cosmopolitan, glue, scissors and an A3 sheet of card all ready for her. Two hours later she had created a colourful collage of flowers and fruit and sunsets and beaches and there in the middle was a small photograph of a French chateau. I laughed and said ‘what’s this about sis?’. She said ‘I’ve always wanted to live in a French chateau’. We laughed because she was travelling from NZ and essentially homeless at that time. I promptly forgot all about it. How amazing that just a month later she was living in a French chateau! It turned out that her ex husband was doing some building work for a hotel chain, and the owners needed someone to care-take their chateau and look after their two dogs. How simple! So there was my sister, learning French, living in a huge chateau in the south of France. How quickly things can change when we know what we want. The important thing is to think things through very carefully – ask yourself ‘What is the outcome if I achieve this?’. Try to visualise yourself having received or achieved your goal – how does it feel, what about your family, your friends, your lifestyle. This will help you decide if it’s just a ‘flash in the pan’ desire, or something worth achieving. And if you’re not sure what you want, a qualified life coach will help you!

Julie Talbot-Dunn is an Exeter-based Life Coach, qualified with The Coaching Academy in 2010 who coaches via Skype and face to face. She specialises in coaching people who are in the process of starting a new small business, looking to grow their business, or who are just stuck in a rut in their life and need to move on but don’t know how. Julie also holds workshops in Exeter on how to create and develop Vision Boards, to enhance goal setting and achievement.

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