Vision boards: How to harness the power of visualisation

If you’re setting goals for the new year, this mental technique popular with sports stars and celebrities could help super-charge the results.

Years before he became a household name, actor Jim Carrey wrote himself a cheque for $10 million for “acting services rendered”.

Carey reported to Oprah Winfrey that although a number of years passed between writing the note and placing it in his wallet as a reminder, he was paid exactly that sum to make the smash hit Dumb and Dumber.

Carrey isn’t the only high-profile celebrity to put his faith in visualisation.

Athletes such as Tiger Woods and Muhammed Ali, billionaires such as Spanx founder Sara Blakely, and Hollywood heavyweights like Arnold Schwarzenegger and Oprah herself have all claimed to have used the practice to help achieve their success.

What is visualisation?

Visualisation is imagining something you want, seeing it in the mind as if it is already true and then repeating these images every day.

The images should be clear, detailed and include the five senses – so you should imagine what you can see, hear, taste, touch and smell in your imagined scenario.

Does visualisation really work?

A study by Cleveland Clinic Foundation found those who carried out virtual workouts in their heads could almost train their muscles as much as an actual workout.

Another study, by Auburn University and Transylvania University, showed weightlifters were able to lift more weight when they incorporated visualisation into their training.

While you might be keen to start visualising your goals, there is a physical tool that just might help you achieve your dreams: a vision board.

The power of vision boards

A vision board is a collage of pictures, words and quotes you have assembled to inspire and motivate you towards achieving your goals.

Master life strategist and author Shannah Kennedy has been creating vision boards for more than 35 years.

“Vision boards are a call to become something more – a daily visual reminder of your dreams and goals,” Shannah explains.

“A lot of people write their goals down at the beginning of a new year and then put the list away in the drawer.

“But the brain needs a map on display, otherwise how will it have the confidence to get you where you’re trying to go?”

Seeing is believing

When it comes to goal setting, vision boards are invaluable for a reason, according to Shannah.

“The brain places a stronger value on images rather than the written word on a to-do list,” she says.

“But, ultimately, this is about taking time to think about our values and then building imagery and quotes based around questions we ask ourselves such as, ‘Which direction do I want to go in?’ and ‘How do I want that to feel?’

“You have to choose things that mean something to you and what you want out of life.”

Follow through with action

Whether you’re writing goal cards, practising daily visualisation with meditation or creating a vision board, goal setting won’t mean a thing without having an action plan in place, development and wellbeing coach Sheena Polese says.

And it’s a good idea to share that action plan with others.

“It’s part of the recipe, because all the research shows that if we keep our goals to ourselves, we’re less likely to fully commit to them but if we make them public, we feel duty-bound to honour our words,” Sheena says.

Keep your vision precise

Sheena says your goals should be specific and present with a simple ‘why?’ attached.

“You might say you want to lose 10kg but you need to ask yourself why you want to lose the weight, how you’ll expect you’ll feel and/or what changes it will make to your life,” she says.

“And then you need to look at what the actionable steps will be and in what time frame you hope to achieve each step.”

Looking to buy a home in 2022?

Picture the home but don’t forget a journal that includes how much you’ll need to save, how you plan to do it and what a realistic time frame will be in order to achieve the dream.

“You’ll need to revisit your actionable steps daily to remember to stay on track and keep working towards your goals,” Sheena says.

As Winfrey pointed out in her interview with Carrey, “Visualisation works if you work hard”.

Written by Dilvin Yasa.