People say that Vision Boards are about using the Law of Attraction to bring certain things into your life. If we were to play the word association game and you said, “Law of Attraction” I would probably say, “The Secret.” About 10 years ago, my best friend recommended that I read this now famous book and on her advice, I did. And I absolutely did not enjoy it or buy into the concept. Something good happened to you? That’s because you had positive thoughts. Something didn’t work out? That’s because you had negative thoughts – you attracted this failure to yourself. Got cancer? You must not have been thinking enough happy things. Ugh.
I rejected it entirely because I have a completely different philosophy towards life. I will accomplish the things I set my mind to. I have will power and determination. I have free will! I have a strong work ethic. And to quote Coleman Cox, I am a great believer in luck. The harder I work, the more I seem to have of it.
And yet, I still signed up for a workshop this January hosted by the fabulously positive Megan Sheppard (Leslievillian Remax real estate agent by day, vision board leader for charity by night) to leverage the Law of Attraction. Yep, I did. And kudos to Megan, she brought a beautiful energy to it.
Here’s what I got out of it as a person who likes logic, order, analysis and clarity.
1. Creativity and Fun
I liked not being overly bound to an intellectual process. We searched magazines, talked, laughed, and dreamed. We cut and glued. And then we shared and admired each other’s work and goals. We made friends. It felt really good. And goodness knows we can all use a little more of that in our lives.
2. Planning and Goal Setting
I liked applying myself to thinking about my life, what I want out of the coming years and finding ways to express that outside of my usual corporate-type goal-planning. I didn’t quantify anything and that was OK. It was good for my mind and my soul just to think about it and “more of” was enough. More cut flowers in the house. More recognizing others for the things they do and mean in my life. More books and cozy fireside chats. I’m going to venture to say not all goals need to be SMART. These goals you just feel in your heart.
I only had so much space on my board. Out of the many things I wanted to do, I had to weed out things that were less important to me. I prioritized. It’s not about everything, it’s about those few things that matter.
Now I have my vision board in my office and I see it every day as I do my work, my accounting and follow up with my network. Those beautiful cut flowers, that cheerful red bicycle, and a picture of President Obama recognizing Stephen Spielberg for his contributions to their nation look back at me and I remember my goals. That’s so much better than the written plan we tuck away in a drawer and don’t look at again until a year passes or our boss asks us about it.
The vision board approach also encourages storytelling. Our group told our stories to each other for a full hour after we completed our boards. Storytelling encourages emotional connections, interpersonal understanding and builds empathy. It felt good, and it made the goals more real, rooted and meaningful.
The Beauty of a Different Approach
So, despite the fact that in Performance Management, one of the disciplines that I have practised for many years, we tell people to quantify their goals, be specific, put time boundaries on them, make sure they’re attainable, I didn’t do any of those things with Megan and our group.
And yet it’s working. I see my picture of President Obama and I remember to include genuine praise in an email, and I see the library of books and I remember to order that new one to broaden my horizons. There is not a one-size-fits-all to life or any other discipline, despite what consultants will tell you. Thank you, Megan, for freeing me of my corporate approach, my research-driven methodology. You allowed me just to enjoy, to create and to dream.
Sherry Pedersen-Ajmani is an Organizational Development consultant in Toronto and Principal at Talentcraft. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow her on Twitter @SP_talentcraft. Megan Sheppard is a full-time Toronto real estate agent and part of Remax’s Team Sheppard. You can reach her at email@example.com.
Megan, Sherry and Oma Chiropractic, location host of the event, support the Red Door Shelter, www.reddoorshelter.ca. Since 1982, the Red Door has provided services for families and individuals who need safe and supportive emergency shelter.