Walking into Cheer Fusion in Fredericksburg, Virginia, it’s hard to miss the colorful posters lined up above the mirrors. Filled with platitudes like “Practice Like a Champion” and goals like “I would like to cheer for college and get a scholarship,” these homemade vision boards provide a creative source of motivation for the gym’s teams—as well as a much-needed means of focus and direction.
Ever since Mandi Spina, program director at Cheer Fusion, first implemented the practice of making vision boards two years ago, she says they’ve had a big impact on her gym. “We ask the teams what they see in their future and [how they envision] the epitome of cheer,” says Spina. “We give them a month to work on the vision boards and then showcase them [in the gym]. The kids explain why they used the photos they did and talk about what’s special to them.”
Spina notes that the finished boards feature a variety of photos, many depicting complex moves or memories with fellow teammates. Many of the athletes get creative, making door hangers or even video recordings. Age often determines the content; for instance, the 5- to 8-year olds focus on big bows and trophies, but the older girls emphasize goals.
The practice effectively enhances performance, especially for youth cheerleaders. “A lot of the younger athletes amaze me with their visions. They post pictures of stunts they want to do,” she asserts. “They want to become those pictures on the boards. It pushes them toward their goals and provides a constant reminder.”
A Powerful Roadmap
Joyce Schwarz, founder of The Vision Board Institute and author of The Vision Board Book, defines vision boards as visual maps comprised of pictures, power words and affirmations depicting changes you’d like to make in your life. “They represent the best of what’s to come. It’s really about living and appreciating what we bring to others,” says Schwarz.
Schwarz utilizes an acronym, GRABS (Gratitude, Receive, Acknowledge, Share), when teaching others about vision boards. “[Creating vision boards] should be coming from your heart, not your head. Work with the senses, do word association with colors,” she advises. For instance, an athlete who wants to go to Worlds might picture the experience of traveling to Disney World—and all the sights, sounds and emotions that would entail—while creating his or her vision board. Adds Schwarz,
“Envision what you want to accomplish and act as if it’s already happening.”
At Diamond Springs, CA-based All Star Elite Cheer, vision boards are an integral part of the gym’s annual Team Bonding Night. Each member of the team contributes to the creation of a group board, using supplies from its Vision Box. “The process itself was great because it led to some great conversations about the things that were important to them as a team,” says gym owner Karen Wilson. “We now have the boards in the gym, and at every practice, we go over to them and remind ourselves of the things we put on there. It has been a great tool.”
What’s Your Vision?
Manifestation isn’t just for athletes—many business owners swear by the practice as well, even in corporate America. Three years ago, Kim Lawton, COO/Partner at the Inspira Marketing Group, heard about the concept at a leadership seminar and introduced the idea to her staff. “Every year, we incorporate the vision boards to kickstart discussions about our mission, core values, what clients we want and our revenue goals,” says Lawton. “It is a cultural thing and turns into a bonding moment.”
Lawton finds employees will depict personal dreams and goals, as well as professional aspirations. “People are creative. They start with a blank canvas and are totally open to making the vision board more impactful. It has meaning and purpose,” she says.
Vision Board Book author Schwarz points out that many people continually update their vision boards as a living work-in-progress, keeping the focus positive and productive. “This is more than creating a collage. It’s a GPS system that guides you to immediately take steps toward your vision every day,” she says.
Want a step-by-step guide to creating your vision board? Check back on our blog this Thursday for some trusty tips!