I see it every year. Posts on top of posts on "How To Create The Perfect Vision Board to Manifest Your Dreams" or "Have Your Best Year Ever Through Manifestation". A promise that if you imagine your dreams and narrow in on what you want, your desires will come true.
If only it were that easy, right?
It all started with The Secret. The self-help book on Oprah's favourite things that everyone went crazy about a few years ago. It preaches the power of the The Law of Attraction. It's an ideology that essentially promotes "like attracts like". Here's an official explanation:
While there's definitely validity in thinking positively and being resilient, I see some major holes in this argument, especially from a "professional success" perspective.
Hmm. I'm just going to say it...
The Law of Attraction, manifestation, and vision boarding are FLAWED concepts.
(click to tweet)
Boom *mic drop*
I would even go as far as saying that teaching these as a life or business coach (when taught as standalone concepts) can be counter-productive for your clients. Here's why:
Reason #1: Thinking that bad things only happen to you when you allow them to is a shitty thing to believe. The above quote stated "we are responsible for bringing both positive and negative influences into our lives". I'm quite sure that parents of a child dying of cancer didn't encounter this struggle because they weren't manifesting a positive life. Bad things happen to good, positive people all the time and it's of nobody's doing but the universe.
Reason #2: I'm a fan of mindfulness and resilience when encountering tough situations - silver linings and all - but there is a fluffy lack of reality that TLOA promotes. I can make a vision board on Pinterest filled with a life I dream of, and all that will do is allow me to keep those things in mind. It wont give me the resources to create that life.
Reason #3: Vision boarding is often really material and, as the title depicts, visual. For some, it allows them to create big-picture goals for their year (or business). Perhaps your vision board includes a photo of family to represent developing a better work-life balance. But I bet you also have a shot of that incredible resort you're dying to visit or the beautiful workspace that you wish you had. You probably included things you want or personal style looks you're inspired by. And that's totally cool (girl, you do your thang). BUT material inspiration doesn't really connect with a game plan. Which leads me to this final point...
The Lesson: Discovering WHAT you want is easy. It's figuring out HOW to get there that's the tough part. (click to tweet)
My intent isn't to be a Debbie Downer here and tell you to stop dreaming. I myself am guilty of a Pinterest addiction and think that negative thought is unproductive as much as the next person. However, I think the real secret is that you have to set realistic goals and break down actionable steps in order to achieve your dreams. This works on a personal level or from a business perspective.
In the end, dreaming without action is paralysis.
Sure, you have to know what your big dreams are. But sometimes, we figure out those dreams over time by just DOING. Not everything is as linear as identify goal → figure out how to get there → achieve goal. There's merit in taking steps to doing what you love and figuring out your "big picture goals" on the way.
So where does that leave us with mapping out our business plans for the year?
I challenge you, the fabulous solopreneur, to spend a week figuring out what your big picture goals are for the year. Keep notes on what you want less of in your life and what you want to fill your time with instead. But I challenge you to do this WITHOUT a vision board. Dig deep and narrow in on who you are at your core and what your business needs to thrive... without taking inspiration or pulling ideas from outside sources. Keep this undeniable, cross-my-heart truth in mind: nobody knows your business better than you.
Your second challenge is to figure out what you need to make sure that the picture you've just identified can happen in real life this year. What exact tasks will you need to take to make this happen? This list doesn't have to be linear. But is has to be actionable. Sometimes it's easier to break these tasks into three categories:
1. Next Month (immediate tasks)
2. Next Six Months
3. Perpetually Throughout The Year (repeated, consistent tasks)
I also like to do this using sticky notes for my "action steps", and then assigning them to a category later. You'll feel a sense of clarity if you know that your goals will be achieved if you follow the game plan you created.
What are your big picture goals for this year? How will you identify your action plan to achieve them? Leave your thoughts in the comments! xx
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