I’m sure most of you have heard the phrase ‘vision board’ being bandied around. You might have seen this being mentioned in a self-help article, for example, or perhaps in an interview with rapper-turned-spiritual-guru, Big Sean. Celebrities such as Oprah and Reese Witherspoon swear by them. Physicists probably swear about them. But what actually are they?
Vision boards are said to be visual representations of your goals. You cut out pictures from magazines and newspapers that inspire you, or that symbolise a particular change you want to bring about in your life, and collate them on a poster.
Many people put their trust in vision boards, and there’s scientific evidence that visualisation is an effective way of achieving your goal. When preparing for a big race, for example, Olympic athletes are known to use visualisation to improve their performance.
But even if you’re not Usain Bolt, visualisation is really powerful on a broader scale. Some people believe in the ‘law of attraction’, which states that your thoughts are hugely powerful in determining what happens in your life.
On a less spiritual level, there’s a famous quote from Greek philosopher Epictetus that really rings true - “You become what you give your attention to”. I mean, it’s stating the obvious really - if you devote the majority of your energy and attention into your relationship, you’ll likely develop a really strong, long-lasting bond. Equally, if you put most of your attention into your career, then you’ll be more likely to succeed than if you hadn’t put that same energy into it. “You get what you give”, as Drake wisely said.
So bottom line - vision boards and visualisation practices are great. However, have I ever made a vision board? No, I haven’t.
But why not, given I’ve just spent the last four paragraphs harping on about how amazing they are? The trouble is, although making visions boards can be a therapeutic practice, it takes quite a lot of time.
Ah yes, time. That elusive commodity that none of us seem to have anymore. The irony is that technology was brought into society to supposedly give us more time for leisure, because we’d have machines doing most of our work for us. Yet the more we’ve digitalised, the busier we’ve become - how does that work, right?
But that’s a rant for another day. The point is, a lot of us don’t feel we have time to sit down and spend an afternoon making a vision board, regardless of how helpful it might be.
My solution is, instead of making a visual board, what about making an audio board for all our dreams and aspirations. We draw just as much inspiration from music as we do from images, so in theory, if we listen to music that represents certain changes and lifestyles that we want to emulate in our lives, then it should have a similar effect.
Vision boards are really just cues to remind us to keep visualising what we really want to happen, so I’m suggesting we curate playlists around the same principle. There are so many artists who’ve built their ‘brands’ around a lifestyle, with the music being almost secondary to this.
Take Jimmy Buffet for example, whose sun-soaked, tropical Country brand has spawned an army of fans - called the Parrotheads - who are known for their Hawaiian shirts, parrot-hats and island-inspired living. Buffet’s music is good, don’t get me wrong, but it’s no better than any of the other artists that were around at the same time. What’s made him so popular is the way of life his music promotes.
So instead of making a vision board, as an experiment, I’ve tried putting together a playlist of songs that represent the kind of mentality I want to have in life. It’s thought that the best vision boards don’t just represent material things that you want, they also include emotions you want to have. So you could put in songs that make you think ‘Wow, I want to feel like that’, as well as songs about living a particular lifestyle or having specific possessions.
As a suggestion, I’ve found that Country music often has an overwhelming tone of gratitude, with these songs often championing the pleasures of a simple life, as opposed to one spent chasing lofty aspirations. So if this is what you’re after, you could include songs such as Devin Dawson’s ‘He Loved Her’, Florida Georgia Line’s ‘Simple’, or Zac Brown Band’s ‘Chicken Fried’, for example.
Alternatively, if you’re after a more materially ambitious lifestyle, then Rap and Hip Hop are perhaps where you want to look. EDM is great for those whose vision boards would be more adventurous and travel-centred - the music videos for Avicii’s ‘The Nights’ and Jonas Blue & William Singe’s ‘Mama’ epitomise this. Similarly, Reggae is perfect for bringing some island-holiday vibes, while Contemporary R&B and Tropical House can bring a great sense of relaxation, for those who are striving to become more peaceful and less stressed out.
These are generalisations, of course, and don’t hold true for every song in that genre. But they’re just to show how different musical palettes often do represent a certain goal or feeling that we’re aspiring towards.
I’ve included my own audio-board below, containing a mix of simple moods and mindsets I want to emulate, along with some more concrete aims (my daily goal is obviously a little bit of ‘Chicken Fried’…).
Maxim's Audio-Board Playlist: