Author and tech executive Seth Godin said, “the only thing worse than starting something and failing ... is not starting something."
So many people struggle with this. They have goals they want to accomplish, but they don’t know where to start. When you’ve had this problem—and yes, I know you’ve had this problem—what did you do?
There are many ways to address a failure to launch. Some people brainstorm. Others take a walk to clear their heads. Some go to a private place until they’ve formed a plan.
These are all effective ways to get out of your funk and plan for the future. But allow me to make the case for an otherwise forgotten creative exercise: vision boards.
Bringing back the board
Favored by everyone from C-suite executives to Oprah in the ’90s and early ’00s, vision boards are back as a tool for focusing your mindset and visualizing and planning your personal and professional goals.
There are no limits to what you should or shouldn’t put on a vision board. They’re a place for you to safely and privately imagine the future you want for yourself, your family, your business—anything you’d like!
As unorthodox as this suggestion may seem, vision boards are really an exercise in mindset. When you have a positive mindset, you achieve positive results. And vision boards are a wonderful way to cultivate a positive mindset.
You can do this on a device, but I would encourage you to do this the old-fashioned way, on paper. There’s something to be gained by searching for images, cutting them out, and pasting them to a board. The action itself is part of the creative process to mindfully manifest your dreams.
A vision board is an exercise in mindfulness. They force you to deliberately examine your desires so you can positively pursue what you want most from life.
When you’re thinking about what your vision board should look like, think aspirationally, then specifically. Next, make a commitment to your goal. Finally, look for data that supports your aspirational goals. This last step can be a challenge. Self-doubt creeps in, and you find yourself considering what would be “good enough” rather than what you really want.
Many people think safer goals are the way to go. I disagree. “Safe” goals are deceptively limiting, quite the opposite of the purpose of a vision board. There’s ample evidence that those with aspirational goals achieve better outcomes than those who set "safer" goals or artificially restrict their objectives. If you want more, ask for more, and you’ll get more. Or, think of it this way: if you expect less, you ask for less, and you receive less.
Our goals are always consistent with how we value ourselves. They are aspirational because we feel like we deserve to be aspirational. Our mindset has to be one of abundance and not limits.
Committing to your goals
Committing to your goals is an important step. That's what a vision board is—a visual commitment to keep you accountable to yourself. Harvard has conducted extensive research on the power of setting goals. Their study determined that individuals with defined goals are ten times more successful than those without.
Participants who reported writing their goals down were another three times more successful than the remaining goal-setters. Clearly, documenting your aspirations on a vision board, actively committing and creating accountability so that you don’t back down, can have a powerful impact on your life.
Why are these people more successful? Because positive mindsets yield positive results.
When people have goals, they also have a plan to follow. They’re more prepared when obstacles arise. And they’re more effective negotiators.
Negotiating with vision
Setting goals doesn’t just improve the arc of your personal and professional life. You’ll be a better negotiator, too.
Mindset is imperative in negotiation. When you consciously set goals for an outcome, your mind remains focused on achieving them. Having objectives help you answer the essential question: what do I want to get out of this?
There are admittedly few people who mindfully manifest negotiation outcomes with vision boards. But based on what we know about the power of documenting goals, shouldn’t they?
Vision boards are a powerful tool to create a mindset that’s capable of achieving the goals of your negotiations because boards bring positivity, intention, and creativity to the negotiation table.
Being deliberate and imaginative before and during negotiations yields better results. And vision boards bring inventiveness to the goal-setting and negotiation process so you can come to the table with an open mind and heart.
Vision boards help you set goals. And setting goals will help you be a better negotiator.
You can sign that new client. You can negotiate new terms. But only if you have the positive mindset and courage to manifest your goals through dreaming.
As the former president of India A. P. J. Abdul Kalam once said, "you have to dream before your dreams can come true."