THURSDAY THOUGHTS: What’s Your Vision?

I couldn’t believe what my husband told me after he came home from a work event. He attended a scholarship donor recognition dinner at the local University. Seated to his right was one recipient who was on his way to becoming a CPA. To his left, a biology major on the path to being a doctor. The MC asked for all the seasoned workers at each round table to share with the soon-to-be graduates their number one advice for when they debut into the workforce. As he sat and listened to each person contribute their wisdom to the bright-eyed and eager next generation, he carefully thought about what he would share from his twenty years in the banking industry. Having great communication skills is important, he thought. Or, taking calculated risks could be another good advice, he considered. Instead, he blurted, “Make a vision board. Write down what you want, how you envision yourself and believe it will happen,” He then followed up with, “Wow, I can’t believe I just said that.”

I should explain—he is a numbers guy, extremely pragmatic and the opposite of me. I’m more of a dreamer who prefers vibes over logic. Picture “Dharma and Greg” (my apologies if this 90’s sitcom reference is before your time). Perhaps I was always a little “out there,” but it wasn’t until I found myself feeling stuck and unsure of my future that I discovered my “dreamy” tendencies would become the tool to help me navigate forward. Before getting back into the workforce, I was a stay-at-home mom to our four children. Those were some of the best years, and some of the most confusing. Let’s be real, as much as kids can fill you up with love and joy, they can suck the mojo right out of you, especially as a career woman. Thankfully, I found my way back through books.

Self-help and empowerment books became my best friends (aka: my therapists) during my time as a full-time parent. Desperate for inspiration and a life beyond the time-outs, piles of laundry and screaming tantrums in supermarkets, the books became my escape. The common themes I came across were about gratitude and creating a vision board (insert eyeroll). Believe me, this non-crafty and crabby mom had no extra energy to cut and paste words and pictures on to a poster paper (which would’ve required a stop at the craft store that was way out of my way—yeah, no thanks!) to create a vision board of a vision that I was unsure of. Where would I even begin when the only thing that I truly desired was to be able to sleep in and watch TV in bed ALL DAY LONG. But I was desperate. So, I started small.

No, I did not cut or paste. Nor did I go out of my way to get poster paper. Instead, I made lists. Lists of things that I was grateful for—the food on our table, my family, my bed, my health…etc… To my surprise, I noticed a shift in my mood. It was small, but impactful enough to give me a boost of optimism. I liked the way I felt after making these lists so, I made them often—in my journal, on my phone while waiting in a school carpool pickup line, or on random scrap pieces of paper before going to bed. The lists transformed from gratitude lists to pages and pages of elaborate details of the things that I wanted and could envision myself having and doing in my near future. The blank pages became a canvas of words that held the essence of determination, belief and gratitude that painted a picture of my future—my own unique “vision board.”

This practice became an important tool that helped all aspects of my life, so I had my family begin creating their own “vision boards” as well. Each New Years Day, we sit around the kitchen table with pen and paper in hand to set our goals for the year. Yes, of course, they complained about it at first. Once we got past the eyerolls and “why are you making us do this?” complaints, they recognized the value in taking the time to create one and now look forward to it each year. My husband, especially, has grown to appreciate this practice because it’s helped him advance in his career. Writing down his work goals has helped him find clarity in his intentions and growth in areas where he wanted to improve. Being clear about what he wanted to achieve in the upcoming year and making a detailed plan created pathways to financial success.

Have we seen results from our “vision boards?’ You bet! But it’s a lot more than about the results. It’s about the energy and emotion that we create when making these “vision boards.” It’s in that imprint that lights up the pathways to further our growth. It’s the magic behind the courage in our decision making, the hope and inspiration in our dreams and the permission in believing in success. It’s our declaration to grow, transform and be compensated for our worth.

So, how does this apply to work? Well, what started as a solo experiment, turned into a strategic planning tradition for our family that has shown great results for each of us. The same rules apply to any workplace. Research shows that businesses who used vision boards from the beginning of their venture were able to achieve more than half their goals.

So, where to start?

What do you want? How do you see yourself? How do these things make you feel?

Write it as if it’s already happened and be specific—I am so grateful for being appreciated and supported by my team. I am so grateful for the 10% financial increase before the end of this year. I am so grateful for my courage to speak up about the changes that I want to see at work…. Ya get the gist.

Action. You can think it all you want, but unless you put in some effort, it’s not likely to happen. Start small if you need to; small actions can have huge impacts.

Believe. It’s more important to hang on to the feeling of believing and trusting that things will happen for you than it is to be, cerebral, about it. Let me remind you, this isn’t about a magic genie granting you your wishes. It’s more about shifting your mindset to being open to accepting and deserving of new opportunities.

Now, let it all go! Yep, that’s right. I said, let it go. Find that balance between action and faith. Trust the process and believe that if it’s meant to happen, it will happen.

What’s your vision? How do you see yourself or your business tomorrow, in a month, in a year? Do you believe in yourself enough to see and feel them come true?

So, Why Not You?

This edition of Thursday Thoughts was written by Anna French, Operations Coordinator for WNY People Development. She is a multi-tasking maven, mother of four, writer, yogi, and optimist.