It’s the key downfall of more than a few freelancing creative-types that they’re good at “creative” but not so great with the “business” side of, you know, running a business. I have always—perhaps smugly so—prided myself on never falling prey to that sort of “whatever, man, it’ll work out” sort of business management. This maybe makes me “smarter” than some of my fellow writer-types, but let’s be honest—mostly it makes me just more anal-retentive. It’s not that I’m so smart, it’s that I’m constitutionally incapable of that mystical “letting the universe show me the way” thing that so many of my cohorts seem to embrace.
My tongue is firmly planted in my cheek here, by the way. While I’m glad that I always pay my taxes on time and such, of course there are moments when I believe everyone else is more creative, more meaningful, more everythingniftykeen than I am.
So when I shared that I thought it was time to make another vision board, it was because I’d become keenly aware of everything being off-balance for me, business-wise. I wanted a bit of inspiration while figuring out which sorts of practical measures to put in place and get myself back on track. As an overly-cerebral type, I find this sort of exercise good for me—it gets me out of my own head, for a bit.
I made my vision board. I felt like—as it had been the last time I did this—it was a good exercise for me, and sort of reinvigorated my point of view, going forward.
It was a coincidence, but shortly after I did my board, my friend Jo White (a.k.a. Mediamum) posted a link on Facebook to a Psychology Today piece titled Throw Away Your Vision Board.
The whole piece is definitely worth a read—there’s plenty of empirical evidence to support the notion that “thinking good thoughts” or “visualizing success” are not predictors of actual success (and may even be linked to worse outcomes)—but the takeaway at the end is key:
Fantasizing about your perfect world and your perfect life may make you feel better in the short term but will limit your ability to transform your dreams into reality. Convert your vision boards to action boards.
Dream about it, envision how you will realistically do it or get it, and then get off your tush and make it happen.
Fair enough, right? Just picturing yourself as wildly successful isn’t as likely to propel that dream to fruition as is, say, formulating a business plan and following it. It’s a fair point.
Still, I left Jo a faux-wounded comment saying that I like my vision board, and she was game enough to respond that I should keep it if I did. No big deal, in the grand scheme of Facebook interactions, I suppose. But the piece has stuck with me, and I’ve been trying to figure out why that is.
I think for me, it comes down to balance, and knowing where you struggle. I’m told that plenty of people are good at dreaming/wishing/opening themselves to the universe/whatever you want to call it. To postulate that those sorts of people may need to become a little more concrete in their planning towards dreams becoming reality makes perfect sense to me. But for someone like me who is all about the planning, the lists, the concrete goals… well, I cringe a little at the message of the Psychology Today piece, because without the occasional foray into “this thought exercise has no specific end goal,” someone like me continues to accomplish tasks but never really figures out what they truly want.
Absolutely, specific planning is what gets things done. But dreaming is what opens the pathways in the first place. Isn’t it? Some of us need to focus more on one area or the other; ultimately, we all need to meet somewhere in the middle.
As for me, I made my board, and I felt like it gave me some important clues about where I need to head this year. And yes, a couple of days later, I sat down with my bookkeeping, and then a day after that, with my client list. I’ve already started taking steps towards some changes for this year. But rather than basing it purely on numbers and facts, I’m also considering those intangible “what is going to feed me” sorts of things I’m ordinarily quick to discount. I don’t know that it will make for a perfectly balanced year, but I do know that for me, the dreaming piece is important, too.