Why vision boards don’t work (and how to fix it) to get what you want

Have you ever completed a vision board, or read The Secret and still struggled to get what you deserve or desire? We’re going to explore the very simple reason why vision boards, goals and wishlists don’t work.

A vision board, goal board or wishlist is essentially a principle that says you have to visualise where you want to be or what you want, in order to get it.

The WILDLY successful book The Secret by Rhonda Byrne, uses the established pseudo-scientific ‘law of attraction’ which claims that thoughts can change the world directly.

It states that by having a clear vision, images, mantra and wishlist of what you want from life, you’ll get it.

Universal problem

First, I’d like to make it super clear that I’m not against the law of attraction or even The Secret. This isn’t a post designed to have a go at vision boards.

The truth is that I believe vision boards and future goals are a valuable part of any life. It’s important to have a clear idea in your mind of what you want from life.

The huge, massive fundamental problem that this practice uncovers however, is that it doesn’t quite work like that.

“The universe”, i.e. the big thing of existence that we live in, doesn’t just hand people stuff when they think about it hard enough.

Of course, you have to take action. But this is the one part of the entire journey that people leave out.

You cannot take out without putting in.

I also want cake

How often have you wished, longed and desired something only to see it never appear? According to many, that’s just because you have’t thought about it enough.

How do we take action on a vision board?

Let’s say my vision board or goals are the below.

  • $10 million a year business
  • no mortgage
  • working 3 months a year remote
  • 2 kids
  • wife
  • 25 person team
  • International clients
  • Biggest names in the world ask ME for help

The list goes on (believe me) and it’s huge. It’s massive. I WANT the world. I want all the stuff I couldn’t have as a kid. I want it all.

I also want cake.

The biggest fundamental flaw in our thinking of what we want, is the exact same reason the financial system collapsed in 2008 and 2001. And 1920. And the Roman Empire.

And why athletes who are paid millions go broke. And why innovative businesses crumble and go under.

We’re all so obsesses with what the world is going to give us, that we forget what we’re going to give the world.

Do I have any idea of how I’m going to do or get the above? Nope. None whatsoever. But that isn’t what matters to me yet.

The statement that I don’t know how to do it, is a limiting belief. That’s what average people do, listen to their limiting beliefs.

Instead, we’re going to focus on what we’re going to offer the world and universe in order to deserve what we want.

I give what I want

You can’t make cake without ingredients. You can’t have without giving.

In order to receive, you must give.

“Whenever you feel ‘short’ or in ‘need’ of something, give what you want first and it will come back in buckets. That is true for money, a smile, love, friendship. I know it is often the last thing a person may want to do, but it has always worked for me. I just trust that the principle of reciprocity is true, and I give what I want.”

Robert Kiyosaki

You have to be willing to give massive, unprecedented levels of input into the universe in order to get anything out.

If you want $1 you’re going to have to give more than $1 worth of input.

We’re building momentum. Building up potential energy that’ll carry us through to accelerated results.

You need a input board as much as a vision board. You need a vision of what you’re going to give, as much as what you’re going to get.

Knife twist

On top of all that, your visions are going to change. They’ll grow or shrink.

At 25 I wanted my own place.

At 28 I wanted a mortgage.

At 30 I want to be mortgage free.

The goals change as I change. They grow as I grow.

In 2016 one of the things on my vision board, was an Nvidea GeForce 1080ti GTX graphics card.

business life goals vision

The goals at the top are my high level vision and there is a business vision too

Very very nerdy and very expensive. Last week I bought one. I spent a fair amount of cash on something that was more than our mortgage.

goals vision board rewards input motivation

Suffice to say, my partner thought this was the single sexiest thing I could buy

How? Because I knew what I was giving every single day, into the universe to be able to get something like that out.

Now my sights are much higher.

Your goals are going to change and that is KEY. You have to understand that your vision board will change, your goals will change. But what you put IN needs to be consistent, regular and massive. You should be able to say that what you’re putting in, will eventually result in you getting something out.

Why vision boards don’t work (and how to fix it) to get what you want

We’re going to fix the broken system of vision boards and goals, and see how we can get what we want. We’re going to explore why it doesn’t work and how you can better focus your goals.

  • What you want is half the equation
  • It’s not just about taking action
  • Put into the universe first
  • What you give should be a reward in itself
  • You should be driven by what you can get
  • You’re not always going to love what you’re giving

What you want is half the equation

Hopefully you can already see how what YOU want is only half the equation.

The second half is what you’re going to put IN.

I’m not a hugely religious, I don’t believe that someone or something else determines what I get. I wholly believe that I what I put into the world, it’ll return to me.

Call “the universe” whatever you want. The world, existence, God. Whatever you believe holds a greater structure to what we experience.

However the undeniable law of the ENTIRE universe, is that there is no reaction, without action. No effect, without cause. No output, without input.

We need to be clear on what we’re giving to the world. What are we inputting which shows we’re ready or deserving of our rewards?

Your input is everything. Everything that you’re going to provide the world. What’s interesting is that the more [blank] you give out, the more you’ll find.

If you decide that helpful blog posts are what you’re going to put in, by doing that, you’ll find you have more helpful content to put in than ever.

If money, love, friendship, happiness, respect, protest, anger or energy is what you’re going to put into the world, you’ll find you have a never ending supply once you start to give.

It’s like the human mind or spirit or soul is a perpetual energy machine. That the more we give, the more we find. The more we share, the more we’re given. The more we send and show, the more we discover.

You have to be willing to put IN first.

It’s not just about taking action

Taking action is an overused and broad term. There are 101 things that we could take action on, but that don’t result in anything.

Taking action can be constructive or destructive. It can be effective, efficient or it can be busy work.

Taking action is what people say when they’re unsure of what to do.

Our world is obsessed with taking action. But all to often its unhelpful, destructive and unproductive.

Taking action is just as futile when it doesn’t have a purpose as doing nothing. In fact, doing nothing is way more productive if your actions are destructive.

Everyone is an expert now. We have hundreds of gurus, experts and leaders telling us the action we should take.

Blog more, be on social, optimise keywords, write a book, speak more, network, borrow money, don’t borrow, build a community…where do you start?

Which is precisely the problem. You haven’t made it clear what you’re going to put in first. You can’t decide how you’re going to do something, until you know what you’re going to put in.

It’s not just about taking action. It’s about being clear on what you’re putting in.

Put into the universe first

So how do we decide what we’re going to put in? Well, there are 10 questions below that you need to answer. Don’t think about them too long. Just write down the first thing that comes to your head.

You can use this worksheet here (no optin) to focus your universal input.

  1. What do you want to give the world to make it a better place?
  2. What are you complaining that you don’t have enough of?
  3. What do OTHER people have on their goal and vision boards?
  4. What do you think is unfair, sucks or bad about your world?
  5. What do average people do and what do I need to do more of?
  6. What do average people do that I should do less of?
  7. Is this input beneficial and positive, or destructive and negative?
  8. Is what I want to give suitable for millions, or one person?
  9. Can other people help me with this?
  10. What are the delivery methods of this type of help you want to deliver?

These questions are how you should be looking at your input. What you’re giving to the world is forged from answering these 10 questions.

Remember to download our worksheet here (no optin) if you want to see the questions and get more information and context on how to answer them.

universe fuel big ideas input vision goals

What do you want to give the world to make it a better place?

Maybe you know already, what the world needs more of. Don’t think too hard about this, it should come easy. This is your purpose, this is why you get up. Can you have more that one purpose? ABSOLUTELY! But put down here what you want to give the world, to make it a better place. No limiting beliefs and no stopping.

What are you complaining that you don’t have enough of?

Look at your life, business and situation. What is it that you want more of? Whatever you need, is often a sign that you should help others. The key to input, is help. Whatever you help people get, you’ll get too. So what do YOU need in your life?

What do OTHER people have on their goal and vision boards?

Let’s skip the middleman and think about the world and your market. What do those people have on their vision boards? Do they want more exposure or more money? More success or better health? Then that’s what you should be helping them get.

What do you think is unfair, sucks or bad about your world?

Look at the world around you and complain. Complain about the state of small businesses. The condition of housing or financial aid. The lack of quality suppliers or reliable partners. Whatever you’re complaining about, that’s what you can help the world get.

What do average people do and what do I need to do more of?

Average is cancer. Average is killer and you never want to be average. What do average people do in your world? What do average people do in your market or your competition? What do you need to do MORE of and be more in order to clearly be NOT AVERAGE?

What do average people do that I should do less of?

Like I said. Average sucks. Average is what people settle for. It’s the result of quitting. What do average people that you need to do LESS of? Spend time on Facebook. Complain about money. Talk about people behind their back. What do you need to do less of?

Is this input beneficial and positive, or destructive and negative?

Your ideas that you’ve got, if you increased the amount you produce, create or help people do this stuff, would that be helpful, or destructive? For example, if you see that you can help more Mum’s start a business and pay for childcare, that’d be positive right? On the other hand, if you want to help people spend more time taking drugs – rethink your input.

Is what I want to give suitable for millions, or one person?

This is a killer question. And it’s a bit of a trick question. The key to understanding your input, is seeing if it would benefit one person. If it DOES benefit one person, then it’ll benefit millions. It has to scale in order for it to make an impact. Remember, we’re not interested in the delivery or vehicle yet. We’re focusing on the result and goals that we’re going to help people get.

Can other people help me with this?

Are you expected to just do all this yourself? Can others help you, help the world? If only you can help, you’re going to struggle. You have to let others share your vision of input and help you deliver to the universe.

What would I do if I couldn’t fail?

Final question. What massive insane crazy action, would you do if you KNEW you wouldn’t fail. If it was all mapped out and in front of you, what INPUT would you give to the world if you knew you wouldn’t fail? This is the best final indication of the input you should be giving the world.

Download the worksheet here (no optin) and start writing these answers out.

What you give should be a reward in itself

What you give to the world, should be a reward in itself. I’m not talking about the self-sacrifice martyr mentality that we are force fed as children. That charitable work and being helpful is only good if you don’t enjoy it.

I mean have a look at what you’ve got written down as your inputs and what you’re going to give. Would you WANT to give that to the world? If you’re not convinced that you’d do this for free, then you probably should do it.

Be honest with yourself and don’t trick yourself into doing things that you can’t see a future/enjoyment in.

You’re going to work long hours, it might as well be doing something you feel rewarded doing.

The crazy thing is that we feel if we are being rewarded or that we enjoy it, that it shouldn’t be something we do. Or that if it’s easy, and comes naturally to us, that we should do something else.

We’re “guilt-ed” into believing that only hard, unrewarding work is what we should put in. It’s bollocks.

I LOVE public speaking. I’m good at it and I get a reward from it. I can genuinely help hundreds of people when I’m speaking to them in a group.

Just because it comes easy to me doesn’t mean it isn’t valuable.

Designing clear and impressive posters is NOT what I’m good at. So just because I find it difficult, does that mean it’s more valuable? Absolutely not.

But other people doing it for me is hugely valuable and helpful and I appreciate anyone who can create clear design to tell a story.

You should be driven by what you can get

Come back to your goal and vision board. The stuff you want. That is what should be driving your day-to-day. That’s why you should be getting up earlier and going to bed later.

What you can get, the potential rewards and outcomes, are what power your days. They should also inform you as to how much you need to put in.

The potential output from the universe, is what you need to be focused on. Your input is what will get you there.

You’re not always going to love what you’re giving

I want to finish by contradicting my point above. You’re NOT always going to love what you’re giving.

Your input is going to seem unrewarding, futile and relentless sometimes. Thankless, boring or even counter-productive.

First, assess what you’re doing and ask if it’s really going to get you to your vision.

Waking up at 6am and going for a run first thing sucks. I hate it. But I love completing it. I know that deep down, I have to commit to this and repeatedly push forward.

Writing blog content 5 times a week can be tedious and hard work. But I know that average businesses realistically only write 3 -4 posts a year. So I’m going to increase my input to yield the outputs I want.

But manually typing out 25 tweets for every blog post? WHY am I doing that? Can someone else do it? Do I need to do it? Does it need to be done at all?

By addressing our inputs and tasks, when we’re doing them, we constantly make adjustments and changes that make things better.

Do I have to change the world?

Honestly? Yes.

Look, output and universal rewards happen at scale. That’s the point.

Whatever I’m putting in, will only come back.

If I think and act locally or small. It’ll come back locally and small.

If I think and act exponentially universal, it’ll come back.

I’m often told, when talking this through at speaking events “yeah but I don’t want to change the world. I’m only one person and I don’t have the time”.

I understand how you feel if you’re thinking this. I really do.

Lots of people thought the same thing, but what we’ve found is that your potential is greater than you realise. The way that you scale your ideas is to think big at the time.

Think in the biggest possible respect you can NOW. Go as big as you can. Think about the inputs and outputs you want in the largest scale you can.

When you reach that (and you will), you’re going to have to think bigger.

In 2015 I thought that even renting a place would be massive. Life changing and proof that I’d made it.

I used to think that speaking at a local event and being paid would change my life.

I used to think that interviewing one of my heroes would be the most massive thing I could achieve.

Now, I have my own house with my partner. I get paid to fly out and speak internationally and I work with one of my heroes.

My goals shift and expand every time I reach them. They have to.

But at the same time, I have to INCREASE the input I give to the world to keep expanding. This means a team of people, more help, larger audiences and bigger inputs.

Tell me your goals. Tell me the input you’re going to give to the world. You have absolute control over what you’re giving the universe and it’s more than you realise.

Mike Killen

Mike is the world's #1 sales coach for marketing funnel builders. He helps funnel builders sell marketing funnels to their customers. He is the author of From Single To Scale; How single-person, small and micro-businesses can scale their business to profit. You can find him on Twitter @mike_killen.
  • Your blog posts are SO refreshing, Mike! You’re not afraid to state your viewpoint forcefully, AND you dig into potentially”touchy-feely” topics while doing so. I’m old enough to be your mother, but I continue to learn from you with each one of your posts. Excellent work!

    • Mother? Cool younger sister more like. Gwen, thanks for your comment. It’s extremely touching to hear when people get something from my posts. I like talking about this stuff because they’re subjects I’m struggling with myself. Do you have a vision board?

      • No vision boards for me any more. I was an extremely naive early adopter who honestly hoped at the time that visualization and affirmations would replace the need for taking scary action…

        Current struggle revolves around: “You have to be willing to give massive, unprecedented levels of input into the universe in order to get anything out.” But I *don’t* have grand goals, great dreams, great passions… and never have. I’m simple; being kind, generous, and honest while walking lightly on the earth are paramount for me and if I could make a living just “being” that I would!

        I can quite happily work my patootie off, yet I am NOT *driven.* How do I translate massive/grand/passionate wisdom and lessons into tactics and action that align with my subdued nature and inclinations? I keep reading your inspiring posts and taking baby steps! 😉

        • Baby steps is all we can ever do. Progress forward, no matter how slow, is still progress (:

          So you say you’ve never had big dreams, why is that? Maybe too big a question for a comments section. But it’s critical to understand why.

          Maybe you’re scared you’d never make it? Or maybe you’ve always been told that big dreams aren’t for you? Maybe you DO have big ideas but you don’t think they’re big because you think they’re specific to you.

          If you can finish the sentence “I want to live in a world where…” that’s usually a good place to start.

          Also, check out https://sellyourservice.co.uk/2017/02/big-life-changing-goals-are-your-fuel-for-motivation for a ton of free worksheets on building your goals.

          • THANK YOU, Mike! Not sure how life coaching blends with your marketing funnels business, but you are a natural!

  • Thank you for taking the time to write this article. I know the commitment needed in just sitting down and “completing” an article is time consuming—and I appreciate that.

    I like to think I give every day. I go out of my way to help people and offer lots of service for little in return.

    Sometimes it seems I’m rewarded for my efforts and other times, I wonder, “why can’t people find me and experience the help I give freely.” It’s a crazy struggle I consider everyday.

    I just wish the Universe would hurry up already and be nice(r).
    🙂

    • I second your final sentence, Jim!

    • Hey Jim

      Thanks for your feedback! I hear what you’re saying. I know how it feels.

      I don’t think there’s ever a tipping point where you’re ONLY rewarded. I think we’re constantly going to find ungrateful people and unrewarding experiences. The difference is that those experiences AND the positive, rewarding and constructive experiences should grow and scale.

      For example, if I help just one person build a funnel or sell something with email marketing, I’ll get paid and some recognition. But by expanding my message, increasing the level of input I create and helping MORE people every day, not only does the fiscal reward go up, so does my internal reward.