Dreams into action: using a vision board to make a difference to your year.
Vision boarding has been unfairly maligned. It can get lumped in with the ‘law’ of attraction as an exercise in idle fantasy, a way for the warm waters of what might be to tempt you away from doing anything about what actually is. At Now Go Create, we don’t pretend to understand all the mysteries of the cosmos. But rather than waiting around for the universe to deliver our desires, we reckon we’re better off reclaiming a vision board from the just-think-positive-thoughts posse, and using the power of dreams to inspire an itch for action.
The throng of explorers that filled our three buzzy Dream Into Action workshops at the recent ASOS Festival of Learning showed that, within the right framework, vision boarding can provide a unique way for us to step outside the immediacy of our deadline-driven work worlds and engage ourselves with the important stuff.
“What do we really want for our lives and where should we put our energies in order to achieve it?”
These are big questions and it makes sense to use a big part of our intelligence to enagage with them. Half our brains are devoted directly or indirectly to vision and according to neuroanatomist R. S Fixot, whenever our eyes are open, vision accounts for over 60% of the brain’s electrical activity. We’re visual creatures. Advertisers know this, which is why they use images to try and influence how we spend our money. Our session was rooted in using the same neural pathways to influence something much more important: how we spend our attention and time.
“Attention and time are two of the engines of action.”
But first we need to get an idea of where we might like to go. And this is where vision boarding comes into its own.
Here are three observations from our workshops for anyone seeking to make their own vision boarding session a success:
1. Make your inner critic work for you, not against you
When we begin any creative endeavour we go up against our inner critic. This judge that hovers over our shoulder constantly asking “is this any good?” has the power to shut so many of our early experiments down. First steps aren’t supposed to be good, though our inner critic doesn’t always appreciate that. The thing with the inner critic though is that it’s part of who we are. Our judgements on the things we think are good – and those we don’t – are part of our individual identities. Rather than attempting to shut this voice out, vision boarding begins by harnessing its power. It’s integral to the exploration, the sifting through images, postcards, fabric samples, cuttings, quotes. Your judgement will guide you on the journey of no,no,no,maybe, no, hmm, yes, no, hold on… YES. Your board must first speak to you.
2: Think with your fingers.
One of my favourite German words is “fingerspitzengefuhl’. It means ‘fingertip feeling’ and usually denotes a wide-ranging intuition, but I like to (mis) translate it as ‘thinking with your fingers.’ This is how each board seems to emerge from the intersection between individual creative preference and available materials. Unlike most computer-based work, there is a physicality to vision boarding: the sifting and tearing of paper, the fine control of scissors, the satisfaction of fitting images together. At times it feels almost as if our fingers are making the decisions without having to consult with the brain. In each session I noticed a relaxation, a collective expression of engagement from the group once they began doing this. As one creator, deep in the flow of it, said: “Why can’t we do this every day?”
3: Share your story
Using your judgement and thinking with your fingers to create a tangible vision board is the first step. The next is sharing your story with others, which is why all of our sessions ended with a mass show and tell. There can be a particular power in the act of making your dreams known. It feels like speaking up for yourself, breathing life into something which otherwise might have stayed deep inside your thoughts. The whole point of these sessions is to help get the dreams and goals out of our heads and into the real world where we can do something about them. Because it’s doing that gives dreaming its power.
We run many different bite-size sessions here at Now Go Create, including this vision boarding process. If you’d like to put together a creative calendar of events for your team give firstname.lastname@example.org a shout.
Written by Now Go Create coach Matthew Burgess.