Planning Your Success?

In 2016 I came across the idea of vision boards for the first time in my life. I had been watching YouTube clips on the topic of personal leadership when one of the recommended videos on vision boards popped up. If you have never come across the idea before or a vision board, it is a map or tool you put together that enables you to see in pictures, words, or phrases , the key things you wish to accomplish over a period of time. It allows you to write down your vision and goals in a way that is creative so you are constantly reminded about your why, what and your how i.e. why are you doing what you are doing, what exactly are you doing and how are you going to accomplish certain things. The vision board can be an effective planning and focusing tool. I’ve had one for some time now and I thought I’d share with you a bit about my journey and some of the great things I’ve learnt along the way. I hope it sparks some goal setting inspiration for you!

Not only does January 2020 mark the start of a new year, it marks the start of a new decade; the year and decade in which I (at least for the foreseeable future) will bid the student life adieu, and the era in which a fantastic project I’ve had the honour of being involved in will finally get to see the light of day. With the end in sight I have been preoccupied with thoughts about what lies ahead. It is a great opportunity to refresh and restrategise, not just for the year but possibly the next 10 years.

I must confess, I have never been a fan of making new year resolutions as I’m not sold entirely on the “New year, new me” buzz that comes with the start of each year. It may seem odd given this post is about goal setting. My challenge with new year resolutions is that each January there are too many people professing, confessing, announcing, pronouncing and the list could go on just to convey that many people at this time of the year, with adamance and vehemence; with oomph and viva(vhi-vha) as my fellow country folks like to say; claim that it is indeed “Their Year”.  I don’t doubt them.

However, by mid-march the proportion who still believe firmly that the year and its opportunities remain theirs for the taking declines. In fact, I’ve read articles stating that in January most gyms experience an influx of registrations, but by end of February the revenue they make does not correspond with the low rates of gym attendance they observe. In other words, many sign up for the gym in January but before the end of the first quarter few are actually making use of their membership. You see where I’m going with this in terms of my dislike for the new year resolution buzz?

The first time I came across the idea of vision boards I was sceptical. So I went on to watch a few more clips until I eventually stumbled on one done by Valuetainment . This was “the clip” that won me over and left me convinced I needed my own vision board. The Valuetainment clip was appealing to me because the gentleman who spoke about this was articulate, practical and most importantly had some great examples of tangible goals he has come to realise. Although I had doubts about this working out for me, I thought  it worthwhile exploring. So for my first ever vision board I kept it simple. I had reasoned that if it worked out I would eventually expand the board. I set myself goals that related to my spiritual walk with God, physical health, career and private life.

It took some weeks before I made it to the shops and it was a couple more months before I actually put the board together. By some months I mean I only got around to implementing this 2016 idea in 2017…procrastination of course (nip that in the bud!). When I did make it to Officeworks, I purchased a pin board (larger than A4  but smaller than A3), sticky notes and draw pins. I then printed some inspirational statements and wrote out the buzz words that were cues for what I had in mind to achieve for the year. I deliberately chose a quiet day where I knew there would be no distractions to assemble the board. I had set aside an hour which expanded into 3, sorted my snacks and selected some great music. Turned out to be one of the more exciting times I have had of solitude!

A recurring message from the clips I had seen was to ensure I would eventually place the vision board where I could regularly see it. So, I hung it in a spot that was always in my line of sight i.e. I made sure the board was one of the first things I glanced at when I woke up, the last thing I glanced at when I walked out of the room and the final thing I saw at lights out. It was not everyday that I looked at it in detail but the board was positioned in such a way I’d always catch a glimpse of it. I made it a point to check in with myself around the June/July period and around November to gauge my progress towards the goals I had written down.

I remain surprised at what I was able to achieve that year and the level of consistency in the little things that I started gaining in different spheres of my life e.g. dealing with procrastination, eating well and sleeping well to mention a few. Since then I’ve refined my approach and expanded the vision boards which I refresh at the start of the year. Boards – plural – as I now have one for the year and one about my life which I’m still expanding on. I try to ensure that the board with goals for the year includes plans for activities that will get me a step closer to the grand vision for my life and the legacy I’d like to leave. Sounds super organised but it all came together in baby steps and over years. I hope I can eventually have a “vision wall”. One day!

There are a couple of things I have learnt along the way that I think are worth noting.

  1. The effectiveness of a vision board is largely dependent on your commitment and willingness to invest time and resources in the goals and endeavours you list.
  2. Vision boards and fear don’t go hand in hand.

Whether you are religious or not, it will not work out if you map the board in fear! Dream big and aim high. When I put my boards together I have at the fore of my mind “Faith of a mustard seed” and part of the scripture from Habakkuk 2:2 “Write the vision And make it plain on tablets, That he may run who reads it.”

  1. Ultimately the board is a tool, you still need to put in the work.

The vision board is simply a tool. You still need to put in the work and make some tough calls relating to your habits, thinking and lifestyle. I’ve found the planning process forces me to identify reasons why I may not succeed. Yes, we all have “haters”. But the truth is we are our own biggest stumbling blocks, particularly when it comes to mindset and habits!

The vision board can have multiple functions, serving as a self reflection, prioritisation  and time management tool depending on the approach you choose to take. In writing up or refreshing my goals I’ve  been able to pre-empt the changes I need to make and understand the kind of opportunities I should either pursue or be on the look out for. Knowing what it is I am after means that I’m a bit more cautious with what I spend time on, who I spend time on and what I can be flexible about. This is because I have gradually realised how much effort it will take and the kind of commitment some goals require. I’ve always taken the “go big or home” approach with my boards, and I’ve realised that if I don’t do certain things, I will block opportunities for other people and hinder them from realising their full potential.

Don’t take the impact your life can have on another for granted!

  1. Have sounding boards

Seeing your plans on paper regularly helps you articulate your plans/goals to those who matter professionally and personally. If you’ve got the good hearted folks around you, they will keep you accountable and help you realise these goals.

Don’t get trapped into thinking everyone needs to know everything. We all have different strengths and on occasion there are some goals you can only share with a select and trusted few. It could be that different people will keep you accountable for different things and that’s just nature!

  1. Make the most of it!

The vision board is also a great way of identifying areas you need to work on and develop your knowledge and skills. Knowing what you desire to achieve  and understanding where you may lack in knowledge or skill helps you to identify the kind of connections you need to be more conscious of. In a non-narcisstic way, this can help you to be more intentional in who you connect with i.e. you become more conscious of the kind of skills, mindsets and lifestyles you would benefit learning from.

So when you do meet people as the year progresses you know what and who to be more intentional in your time distribution with both in your professional and private life. I know for a fact over the last couple of years this has reduced the time I spend on calls, social media and even time I spend out. There are some sacrifices one has to make. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying abandon people. I’m just saying if you truly get enamoured by what is possible, time and understanding of what season you’re walking in become valuable things. You will need to define and draw up your boundaries. Some people will get it, some won’t and that’s ok!

Finally, an added bonus to those who are believers – I’ve found the boards help me focus my prayers. Still a work in progress on prayer but progress nonetheless.

For now, I think I’ve written a lot, so I will close off with the following. Remember, the vision board is only a tool. It can help you remain focused and committed to developing and harnessing your strengths. Ultimately you are not the master of your course. Life will happen along the way and there will be many events you have no control over. In fact, some goals and the direction you were heading in may change. What matters most is that you are giving your all in everything you do and you are doing it with excellence.

Keen to hear from you, What have you found useful in terms of planning and keeping your eyes fixed on your goals?



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