Clear the Way

In January, Lindsey C. Holmes, owner of Newark, New Jersey-based brokerage firm LCH Real Estate (with an additional office in New York City), was frustrated by a slowdown in business. She knew she needed to raise her visibility, but it was difficult for her to remain optimistic with all of the negative news about the economy. So she was intrigued when a speaker at a conference brought up the topic of vision boards——graphical representations of what one wants to achieve in life. According to the speaker, a vision board would add clarity to her goals and serve as a constant reminder and motivation to keep working toward them. Recognizing that her mindset was the first thing she needed to change, Holmes gave it a try.

“I wanted to focus my thoughts,” Holmes says, so the 26-year-old took a 13-by-17-inch sheet of construction paper and looked for pictures that symbolize career success. To represent her desire for more clients and increased revenue coming from multiple sources, she cut out pictures of hundred-dollar bills and had them raining down across the page. Then, “I took the word ‘Flash’ and put pictures of cameras around it, because I wanted to increase my exposure,” she says, keeping the dream-inspired collage on her wall where she could see it every day. In the six months before Holmes created her vision board, she had 10 promising business leads; in the six months afterward, she’s counted 40. “That’s massive for a small firm during a ‘recession,’” she says.

What Holmes experienced was not magic, but she believes it was the result of using a vision board to prioritize her intentions for her business. That, in turn, inspired her to take steps to realize her vision, says Dee Marshall, business coach and president of Raise The Bar L.L.C., a coaching firm in Newark, New Jersey. “With a vision  board, you’ve got these positive images in front of you,” says Marshall. “The images help you envision what you  want in your  career, business, and how you want to live.”

The monetary bills on the board inspired Holmes to stay positive and make those extra connections that led to referrals. The cameras reminded her of her quest to raise her profile and prompted her to say ‘yes’ to some invitations she might otherwise have turned down. As a result, “I started getting invites to a lot of exclusive events that helped jump-start my career,” Holmes recalls.Vision boards aren’t a new concept, but they became the subject of renewed interest when they were mentioned in 2006’s The Secret–a film and book by Rhonda Byrne (Simon & Schuster Adult Publishing Group; $23.95), which explores the law of attraction–the belief that people’s thoughts, both conscious and unconscious, dictate the reality of their lives. Even media mogul Oprah Winfrey admitted that prior to the 2008 presidential election she created a vision board and put on it a picture of the dress she would wear to then-Sen. Barack Obama’s inauguration.