Michael Rhodes


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What Millennials Can Teach Us About Achieving Our Goals

Published on 1.25.16

Cultural wisdom has it that a picture is worth a thousand words. But for today’s millennials, a good selfie is worth 140 characters or less.

As a community banker for more than 20 years, I thought I knew every financial planning tool in the book. But I’ve recently learned something new. Young people don’t just tell you what they want to achieve — they show you. They capture and share images over social media channels like Instagram. And these pictures are helping them achieve their goals.

As the Human Bank, TD Bank is committed to helping our customers achieve financial health and wellbeing. So we decided to survey a cross-section of individuals and small business owners across the U.S. to find out if visualization empowered them to achieve their goals. The results were eye-opening. Eighty-six percent said they used visualization techniques to accomplish key objectives — ranging from personal to financial goals. But three out of four millennials went further — they used images to map where they were headed. And these vision-crafters were much more confident and likely to fulfill their dreams. (For full details, see our survey results.)

Based on our findings, I’d like to share four visualization tricks for achieving your goals.

  1. Find your creative medium. Many people have discovered their inner artists with the advent of smart cameras and mobile phones. The key is to leverage your preferred mode of creative expression to make it more tangible, vivid and, above all, your own. So write it down. Draw it. Scrapbook it. Dictate it. Paint it. Code it. If you are mathematically inclined, capture it in numbers.
  1. Create a visual road map. Big hairy goals can seem overwhelming. It’s more effective to break them down into individual steps. The twist here is to visualize the steps in a way that helps clarify the process from beginning to end. Saving for a home renovation? Divide your financial goal into individual rooms and designate each space as a step in the design process.
  1. Keep a visual dashboard of your progress. Staying focused on a goal deepens our commitment and can serve as a powerful motivation to keep going. Create a countdown clock on your laptop home screen. Set up automatic reminders on your mobile phone. Compose a blog on your personal journey and daily victories. Devise your own visual dashboard to stay engaged.
  1. Share your vision with the people you love. When you share your vision with people you love, you may find yourself refining your plans and identifying gaps that need more attention. In fact, just announcing your goals can serve as a powerful forcing function to help you bring your goals to fruition.

The concept of visualization is certainly nothing new. It’s been around for decades, fueling creative ideation and performance both in industry and the arts. But it took millennials to show us how to use our creative instincts to capture and share pictures of the future.

So start crafting your visual roadmap today. See you on Instagram!