o… we’re half way through summer. How close are you to those summer goals you set? How about those of you who didn’t set summer goals? Uh…. ??♀️! that would be me. Since I retired from coaching a few months ago, I’ve been bouncing all over the place with 101 different projects and speaking engagements. While I maintain a very full calendar, I’m like a ship going full steam somewhere without a rudder. Having had a full-time structured job for the past 37 years, this frenetic nomad existence is kind of fun—literally not knowing which way the wind will blow my ship today has been a nice change. However… the whole reason I chose to retire was so I could put concentrated effort into the numerous projects I’m excited to produce. Without a clear daily vision of those goals, I know my daily life direction will remain rudderless and those goals will have a very slim chance of coming to fruition.
I first read about the concept of a Vision Board when I read “The Secret.” Shortly after that I heard Nastia Liukin, the 2008 Olympic Gymnastic Champion, describe to a group of riveted young gymnasts how her Vision Board had kept her on track toward her Olympic goals. Considering that the majority of us are visual learners, it makes perfect sense that being able to visually see your goals and dreams clearly—multiple times a day—would serve as a massive motivational Refresh Button.
So… what makes an effective Vision Board? First it needs to be enticingly visual! This seems self-explanatory, but you can’t just write a list and call it a day. To really embrace this exercise you need to see your goals and dreams with your eyes. And your board needs to be so enticing to you that you enjoy absorbing all that’s on it multiple times a day.
Next, figure out what you want and as importantly, why you want it. This is where you can make a list. You then need to figure out your visual representation for that list. A Vision Board doesn’t have to just be a picture of the end goal. When our student-athletes at UCLA made Vision Boards, one of their common goals was to win a national team championship. Some represented that on their board with a trophy, some put a picture of someone on their board that motivated them to get 1% better each day. Another athlete put a photo of their team celebrating together as a way to recreate the emotion that comes from achieving something as exhilarating as a team national championship. Another put the words Every Choice Matters => NATY
While a checklist isn’t sufficient, it is a great idea to include words on your Vision Board. Anything positive that produces a feeling of invincibility is extremely powerful toward moving you one step closer to obtaining that goal. When I was cleaning out my office I realized that the big bulletin board that was by my desk had accumulated all sorts of motivational visuals over the years. One photo was something I pulled out of a magazine of a young girl in a floral dress, standing in the woods with a snake around her shoulders like a shawl. I never really thought about why I put it up on my board until someone asked me what the picture stood for. At that moment it was clear to me… I’ve always liked scenarios of vastly diverse juxtapositions. To me, that photo reminded me that while I was in the jungle every day as an athletic coach, I still needed to maintain my individual style, flare and sense of adventure. To someone else it was just a girl, in a dress, in the woods with a snake.
One of the most fun aspects of a Vision Board is that it is 100% personal and only needs to speak to YOU. Your heart. Your mind. Your soul. Someone else could look at your board and not be emotionally moved by one single thing. No problem. It’s not their board.
One reason I chose to write this musing was to motivate myself to finally craft my post-coaching Vision Board. I kick started that effort this past weekend when I purchased a different type of Vision Board, a sweatshirt that says in big bold letters “Straight Outta Excuses.” I figure it’s time for me to get a rudder… Michael’s Arts and Crafts here I come!