IT WAS about five years ago that I first heard of a financial vision board. A friend of mine said that at the beginning of every year, he does one — but at the time I wasn’t convinced it would be useful.
Then, about 12 months ago, I came across it again when reading an article headlined, 50 Personal Finances Tips That Will Change The Way You Think About Money, and there it was. Number nine: “Creating a financial vision board.”
So, what exactly is a financial vision board? Well if you can remember when you were in school, there may have been days when you went on retreat. During the course of the day, you may have been asked to put together a poster of images and words, which were taken from magazines and newspapers, which were to represent how you would like life to be like, or reflect the way you saw the world from your perspective at the time.
A financial vision board is broadly along the same lines; it is a collection of pictures and words that you would pin to a bulletin board, which represent what you would like to financially happen in your life.
So, if you wanted to go on a foreign holiday during the summer, you would paste a picture of an exotic looking beach, and if you wanted to change your car, you might post a picture of a Ferrari, which is supposed to remind you what you would like to achieve in the months and years ahead.
I had a jaundiced view of financial vision boards - I still do, even though I have one. But the logic behind putting together a collage of images is that visualisation and having a constant reminder of what you would like to achieve is supposedly one of the most powerful exercises you can do.
You might think there is no way writing things down on a board will magically bring them to life, but a number of studies would suggest otherwise.
According to one such study carried out by Dr Gail Matthews from the Dominican University in the USA, she found that those who wrote down what they wanted to achieve, and reminded themselves of what they were after on a regular basis, accomplished significantly more than those who did not.
According to psychology.com our brains work overtime to achieve the statements and images we transmit to our subconscious mind, and when those statements and images are on something like a vision board, we are destined to achieve them.
I struggle to believe that statements and images on a board will make any impact on my subconscious unless it forces me into doing something about them.
I am sure many readers, like me, read Rhonda Byrne's book, The Secret, and I thought it was very interesting.
I remember following some of the advice contained in the book, and if I simply thought long and hard enough, and sent enough positive thoughts out into the universe that what I wanted would manifest itself. But who was I fooling? Nothing good was going to happen to my finances unless I made them happen.
If I wanted to become a millionaire, but I sat around all day, thinking what it would be like to have that much money, and if I stuck up a mock statement I made myself, showing €1,000,000 in my bank account, sitting in the middle of my vision board, do you think I would become a millionaire by doing nothing else? Of course I wouldn’t, it’s fantasy rather than reality.
If you don’t have the right frame of mind where you will work hard, that you will educate yourself so that you can provide a service or product that people are willing to pay you for, then your chances of becoming a millionaire will be very slim.
I do think, however, that vision boards are useful in reminding us about what’s important to us and what we value, and why we get out of bed in the morning and do whatever it is we do, and why for example I am writing this article at 2.45 on a Monday morning.
The reason I am is because on my vision board, I have an email from a reader of the Leader thanking me for making a difference to her life, and that of her children by following one piece of advice I wrote about last year.
I don’t know what it was, but it meant a lot to her, so if I can help out one more person like her, then I don’t mind at all writing my articles in the middle of the night.
I also have a picture of a guy on my vision board called Joel Glickman. He worked in his family’s plastic business, and one day at a wedding he was messing around with two drinking straws, when an idea for building toys dawned on him. Shortly afterwards he launched K’Nex. He pitched the idea to Hasbro and Mattel but they turned him down, but it didn’t stop him, and he continued pitching to others until Toys “R” Us, started selling his product and the rest is history.
He reminds me that developing a great idea doesn’t require genius, it requires perseverance, and that there is an invention in all of us. I want to come up with a very innovative financial product and website, and I don’t know what it is quite yet but I’m getting there, and it will happen, and I am working on it all the time. So, yes — make yourself a financial vision board, put up all of those things you would like to happen, and then go about making them become a reality.
Liam Croke is MD of Harmonics Financial Ltd,
based in Plassey. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org or www.harmonics.ie