As a new year begins, I’ve been reflecting on all the great things that happened last year – it was one of the best years that my business has done and one of my best years in terms of family and friends – and I wanted to share with you something that I believe is one of the main driving forces of my success and happiness: the power of vision boards and visualisation.
Visualisation is something I do every day. It’s basically focussed daydreaming. I’ve always been a daydreamer. In school, my reports always said: ‘Matthews brilliant, he just gets distracted a bit in class’. I can’t remember what I was daydreaming about as a child – probably new roller blades, or a new bike, going on holiday or whatever. As I got older I started daydreaming about buying houses – when I was 14 in my granny’s kitchen I remember looking at the property supplement in the papers, dreaming of owning my own house, and saying to my dad: ‘You should buy this house because its gone up in value massively!’ Then when I was 19 I had my first house!
At that time, I didn’t really know what I was doing. I still thought it was just daydreaming. I thought it was just a weird coincidence that the things I daydreamed about came true. I hadn’t realised that it was possible to control these daydreams. Now I know that I can visualise exactly what I want and within a matter of time it will come into my life.
Vision Boards – Harnessing the power of your daydreams
I made my first vision board in 2010 when things were starting to go tits up for me. I’d read about vision boards and visualisation and the power to bring what you want into your life. I really had nothing to lose so I gave it a go. I made a board outlining everything I wanted from 2010. It worked, and I’ve made one every single year since. I believe that my vision boards have been the catalyst of my success and happiness over the last 7 years.
My Vision Board
Vision boards come in all shapes and sizes and the most important thing is that your vision board contains what you want to feel, do, be and have – there is no right way to make a vision board.
This is how I make mine:
At the top of my vision board every year I write the year, and then I write LOVE, HEALTH, HAPPINESS, “Gratitude is the absolute way to bring more into you life” and then ten words that I absolutely love: ‘If it’s meant to be, it is up to me’. Every single year those 5 things go at the very top of the board. Then I write down the things that I really want for the year – that might be a new job, new house, new partner, whatever. I write it down. My vision board is half white board, half cork board. On the cork part I put a couple of photos to remind me what is really important – my family, my friends, and photos of me doing a bungee jump and skydiving (because if you I can do that I can do anything).
And that’s it!
How has my vision board worked for me?
In 2016 I had the following things on my vision board:
- Stop drinking
- Work with Netflix
- Work with NI Screen
- Work with the IFB
- Distribution deal
- New apartment
- Work in TV
Normally I keep my vision board where I can see it, but during 2016 I was getting my house redecorated and I packed away the board and forgot about it. When I finally unpacked it, I laughed out loud because I couldn’t believe what I had achieved. In particular, I couldn’t believe that I had stopped drinking! When I was doing my 2016 vision board, I remember writing down ‘stop drinking’ and thinking that there was no way in a million years that I was going to be able to stop drinking. And there I was, at the end of 2016, having stopped drinking. That was the biggest shock for me in terms of the power of visualisation. Every single other thing on the list was either in progress or had actually come to fruition: I had opened up a conversation with Netflix about my movie South, I had received funding from NI Screen for a short film, I was in discussions with the IFB about a project, I had secured a theatrical distribution deal for South, I had completed my first TV gig for the Discovery Channel, and I’d moved into a new apartment!
When I wiped my board down at the end of 2016 I wrote that I wanted:
- To work with RTE
- To work in LA
- To work in London
- To stop smoking
- Bigger clients – bigger jobs – better paying jobs
- Grow Bankhouse into a global company
The results? Again, everything is in train or completed. I’ve worked extensively in LA and London. I have worked in Oslo, and Las Vegas and I have booked work for next year in the Bahamas. I have secured worldwide clients and worked with Colin Farrell. I have my first contract with RTE and I’ve stopped smoking (having been a social smoker since a teenager I haven’t smoked a single cigarette in six months!)
Love, Happiness, Health, Gratitude and ‘If it’s meant to be, it’s up to me’
All the external success is obviously great, but the most important things on my board are those things that I write down every single year: LOVE, HAPPINESS, HEALTH, GRATITUDE, IF IT’S MEANT TO BE, IT’S UP TO ME.
Each of these concepts are things that I want to have and things that I want to give, so they guide how I want to live my life and what I want to experience in my life.
I want love in my life, and I want the people that I love to know that they are loved. Having ‘love’ at the top of my vision board makes me a lover, it reminds me to give love, to receive love and to be open about telling my people that I love them. This is very important to me because life is short, and you never know what’s around the corner.
I want to appreciate my health and be mindful of my health. I am no longer a hypochondriac – meditation has really helped to eliminate my health-related stress. But I still want to be healthy – I want to be aware when I feel something isn’t right – a mole, a cough, whatever. Just today I went to get my body mapped for moles – one of them was a slightly odd shape – nothing to be concerned about but the doctor is going to review it in three months. I like to know that I’m on top of my health, that I’m looking after myself, so that I can enjoy and appreciate my health while it’s good, because there is no guarantee that it’s going to stay good.
Putting happiness at the top of my board reminds me to strive for happiness. It acts as a check on my relationships, my work – if something is making me unhappy then I have to do something about it. If I have a relationship that isn’t making me happy I have to change it. If a client is giving me anxiety because they’re putting pressure on me to produce champagne product on a beer bottle budget, then I have to step away from that. I’m not happy every day of my life, but I know and remember what happiness is and what I’m aiming for. I enjoy feeling sad and a bit down sometimes because it means that there is something I need to do – which may just be eating junk food and watching TV (and that’s fine because sometimes that’s just what you need!). And you know what? Making happiness a key focus in my life does make me happy most of the time – Oh my God! I’m so happy with the people I’m working with now! My production manager, my editors, my camera men – they’re bloody great! We’re not in each other’s pockets but when we’re working together we’re enjoying it. I love them because they’re so good at their jobs, they’re such good people – so trustworthy, honest, and hardworking – it’s a joy to work with them.
Focussing on happiness is not a woolly idea, it requires hard choices. I am not simply fortunate in my working relationships – I have had to be really ruthless in changing relationships (even ending relationships) that were not making me happy. This can be difficult for some people, but the truth is that just because you went to school with someone for 13 years, it doesn’t mean that they have to be in your life when you’re 30, or 40, or 50. Things change – people, emotions, everything changes – happiness means being open to change, rolling with the punches, focussing on happiness and making the hard choices that are necessary.
Gratitude is the absolute way to bring more into you life
Gratitude is the absolute most important way to bring what you want in your life. You have to appreciate what you have to make space for new things that you will love – you can’t make space to be grateful for new things if you’re wasting emotional energy worrying about what you lack. I’m grateful for everything I have – I’m sitting in my apartment right now – do I want to live here forever? No. Am I grateful for this place I have now? 100%. I am in love with my apartment. But… do I want to move to a bigger house? Yes. Do I want to live by the sea? Yes. Will that come to me? Yes, when the time is right.
It’s great to know what you want, but be grateful and happy with what you have and let go of pining. What you want will come to you when you’re ready.
If it’s meant to be it is up to me
You have to act to make things happen.
Even when I delegate, its my responsibility to see that things get done. I need to keep on top of people – not nagging, just mapping their progress on the task that I have given them. Say I outsource an animated sequence that I need in two weeks. I need to call the animator to find out where he’s at with it. I need to make sure, regularly, that we’re on schedule because if we’re not on schedule I need to deal with that in good time. I can’t find out on the expected handover day that there are delays – if it’s meant to be, it is up to me.
Make your own vision board for 2018
I would just say – give it a go for 2018. Get a whiteboard and pen, write down a few things you’re grateful for, a few things you’d like to feel, be, do, have, and then let it go!
You might want to keep it somewhere you can see it, or at least access it, whenever you need some guidance. I like to take a photo of my vision board and set it as a screensaver, so I can see it every day. In this way you’re getting daily guidance, a daily reminder of the things that are really important to you.
Say you want a six pack. You’re about to head home for the night and you spot your vision board on your phone. You might think: ‘Oh shit, I haven’t been to the gym today’. Or maybe you’re looking for a new house, your screensaver reminds you to just have a quick look to see if there is anything for sale in the areas you’re interested in. In this way, gentle daily reminders of your big picture goals coax you to take incremental steps to achieve them.
Once your vision board is complete – enjoy it! Visualise it! Imagine yourself really feeling, being, doing and having what you want. Do it often! If the vision board is the engine, the visualisation is the juice that keeps you going toward your goal. Once you’ve clarified your vision and enjoyed the feeling of having achieved it, you can let it go – it will come to you soon enough.
Happy New Year!
I wish you all the best with your vision boards and all the happiness and success that you want for 2018. See you on the other side!