To vision board or not to vision board that is the question that lots of small business owners ask me.

There are two schools of thought on vision boards.

The first school firmly believe in the power of having a visual representation of what you want from your business and your life.  They argue that getting clear on your vision is the essential first step on the journey of building your business. And equally checking in and updating that vision as time goes on is of paramount importance.

The second school thinks that vision boards are a complete and utter waste of time and that rather than spending hours faffing around, cutting stuff out of magazines and gluing them together you should be out there actually ‘doing the work’ that will build your business.

My own opinion sits somewhere between these two schools of thought!

Vision Boards Are Awesome

I’m a big fan of the book The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen Covey. If you haven’t already read it then do yourself a favour and get a copy. It is a classic and every time I read it I gain a new insight.

Covey’s second habit is “Begin With The End In Mind” effectively before you ‘crack on’ with the work you need to get super clear on where it is that you are trying to get to.

A vision board is the perfect representation of the end that you have in mind.

Used properly it can be the perfect tangible representation of where you are going and it represents your dreams, your goals, and your ideal life.

Vision Boards Are A Waste of Time

Now I do have a certain degree of sympathy for the ‘vision boards are a waste of time’ school of thought.

Creating and keeping your vision board up to date is not and should never be considered a full time job! I have come across people who spend days (possibly even weeks) making sure that their vision board is ‘just right’ before taking any action to build their business.

Equally I have met people who carefully tend to their vision board on a daily basis and use it as a focus for their morning meditation practice yet they don’t take any of the ACTION required to make that vision a reality.

Staring at your vision board is not going to create that business or that life. Getting clear on what you want and then taking the required action and DOING THE WORK is how you get that business or that life.

My Struggle With Vision Boards

For years I struggled to create a vision board.  I had a really clear vision of what I wanted and where I wanted to get to but I would sit down with piles of magazines and sift through them but never find the right images to represent my dreams.

I’m not particularly interested in jewellery, cars and fancy houses and I even seem to be over the handbag fetish of my 20s.

I also went down the online route. This was in the early days of  using PicMonkey and I ended up with something that, quite frankly, looked a bit cr#p and did not inspire me at all. I most certainly didn’t want to have THAT as the wallpaper on my desktop!

I tried Pinterest as well, I created a private board and got pin happy but I struggle with Pinterest and I rarely looked at it.

Then one day I was sitting thinking about what I really wanted from my business and my life. I started to doodle. I am not an artist by any stretch of the imagination, stick figures are about my limit.

But I really liked the first little stick figure that I drew so I kept on going and now I have a vision board that I can truly connect with because it means something to ME.

Anybody else that sees it pinned up on my wall will think it is something that my 7 year old created but I look at it every day and know, unequivocally, that I am going to make every single one of the things on my vision board come true.

Over the past couple of months I have felt a shift in how I want to do business and while I still 100% connect with the long term vision that I have created I had been struggling to articulate where I am now and the direction that I moving in over the short term.

Enter The Cavalry – Surrey Art School

I came across Surrey Art School via a friend and decided their Creative Visualisation and Goal Setting Workshop was exactly what I needed.

The Arts School is located in Newdigate in the heart of the beautiful Surrey countryside.  As I drove there I could feel my spirits lift immediately as I pottered through the winding country lanes on a gorgeous Spring day.

Stepping into the workshop really made me smile. I am a self-professed ‘non-creative’ so I haven’t been inside anything like a real art studio since my last art class at school at the age of 14!

I was met by Ellie Green, the owner of Surrey Art School and my tutor for the session and what an absolute delight she is. It is a genuine pleasure to come across people who are not only passionate about what they do but incredibly good at it as well.

After I confessed to my lack of creative talents and only being able to express myself artistically through stick people(!) Ellie put me at ease straight away.

We did a simple visualisation exercise to set the scene for the day, then we set to work.

Ellie gave me a huge pile of magazines and instructed me to pull out any images that ‘spoke to me’. This is where I became a bit hesitant. I’d tried this stuff before and it never worked for me. What was going to make this any different?

But to my surprise with some upbeat music in the background, a cup of tea, sun streaming into the studio and some gentle chatter with Ellie I got into the swing of things and before long had a decent sized pile of images and words that I could use to create my vision board.

Ellie then instructed me to divide the images and words into three piles to represent my past, present and future.  And again there was a little voice in my head saying ‘this is a load of nonsense’ but I did it.

As I started to lay out the images on a piece of paper, organised into the past, present and future the cynic in me was silenced. The things that I had casually selected, at random, were starting to tell a coherent story.

How on earth did that happen????

This is what I came up with:

In all seriousness, how on earth did it happen? There were probably a few factors at play:

  1. Ellie explained the power of the sub-conscious mind and even although I thought I was selecting images at random we make every choice for a reason.
  2. The workshop is just such a lovely space to spend time that I fully relaxed and opened up my mind to new possibilities.
  3. I had invested time, energy and money to be there and therefore I was much more committed to the process than I would have been if I had gathered a pile of magazines and tried to do the same exercise at home.

If you are struggling to come up with visualisation and goal setting and are in the area I would highly recommend getting in touch with Surrey Art School and booking a session or if you live too far away take a look and see if you can find something similar in your area.

So, how about you. Do you find it easy to visualise where you want your life and business to go? Have you come across any creative hacks to help you along the way?  If so, please do leave a comment and let me know.