The Secret created a pop culture sensation when Oprah featured the book, movie, and several teachers and practitioners of its philosophy on one of her shows. The concept underpinning The Secret is the “universal” Law of Attraction. According to the Law of Attraction, each person creates their reality, the positive and the negative elements, via their thoughts and actions. Though perfectly true in relative terms, the concept’s credibility fades in specific situations. In short, it presumes an understanding of the world and self that not everyone possesses or wields effectively. This presumption caused the popular version of the concept to ring somewhat hollow under close scrutiny.
With that disclaimer in place, Joyce Schwarz’s book, The Vision Board; The Secret to an Extraordinary Life, provides an excellent addition to the usual goal setting practices of self-evaluation, listing and planning. Although she shares and utilizes some of the exercises and tenants of The Secret, she effectively shows people how to envision, plan and pursue the life they want to live. She accomplishes this by sharing examples of vision boards, multimedia visual renderings of dreams and life goals, from a broad range of people with wide and varied pursuits and intentions for their vision boards.
The personal transformation outlined by Schwarz begins with the Visioning process which she describes as, “a process where your soul reveals your heart’s desires, prompted by a circle of like minded supporters who add their own insights. Traditionally, visioning is a group process….Visualization is more often an individual technique where you picture a desired outcome or goal”. Visioning is based on the GRABS approach to life, Gratitude, Release and Receive, Acknowledge and Ask, Be and Believe, and Share, which is a variation on The Secrets’ principles, Ask, Believe, Receive. A person must ask “the universe” in specific terms for what they desire, believe that they will have it, and think and act as though the desire has already been granted. Schwarz’s adaptation emphasizes her belief that people, who want to change their lives, must appreciate what they have and share what they want with others in order to build their reservoir of supporting resources and community. This process is outlined in The Vision Board’s opening chapter.
As a matter of course, after a career change, the birth of a child, the beginning of a New Year etc., people periodically go through the process of reflection, evaluation and goal setting. This book provides a different approach to this common practice. Instead of writing the usual list of goals and steps to attain them, The Vision Board helps readers create a life vision. They answer reflection questions, write power or guiding phrases and words, draw, paint, cut images, gather photos and paste their visions on posterboard, walls, headboards or other objects. Some people also digitally render the picture of their lives they most desire, and then use the image to create screensavers, computer desktop backgrounds, and mousepads; the idea is to keep the vision board in view as often as possible.
Instead of treating just one aspect of the person or several in a linear fashion, this guide literally takes people through the process of illustrating their life story, the one they want–not the one they have lived so far. For example, the author suggests that readers use a virtual tool, such as SecondLlife.com along with their vision board, to create the reality of their life they most desire, to practice living it and preparing for various opportunities to create that reality as they arise. If a person wants to own a record company, they can create a Second Life persona and “practice,” build it virtually, then apply what they learn offline. She also encourages journaling as a tool to reinforce and support the activities and goals defined by a person’s vision board; it’s a way to work through next steps without pressure and define the details of the vision board. On the other hand, the technique can also be tailored to focus on a specific area of one’s life. Examples of vision boards for relationships, family, career and health are also featured in the book.
The Vision Board is an interesting and engaging resource for people in search of a way to revitalize their goal setting process. Schwarz’s approach to goal setting, life transformation, or the dreaded but familiar resolutions of the New Year, lends itself to adaptation. If a person needs to add or modify a goal, the addition or subtraction of pictures, power phrases, and words can be made quickly and effectively with more positive results–no discouraging strikethroughs or long revisions to best laid plans. Her holistic and visual approach helps inspire readers, while the tangibility of the end results brings their dreams that much closer to reality.
The Vision Board: The Secret to an Extraordinary Life by Joyce Schwarz
“What is the Law of Attraction?:Like Attracts Like” by Phylameana lila Desy, About.com