When Vision Boards Fail You - Christine Kane

You’d think I wouldn’t share this story.

I mean, the Kindle version of The Complete Guide to Vision Boards just went to #1 on amazon.com. (It’s a revised edition – with never-before-seen content – and a whole new section on Intention. Click here to get it.)

So you’d think I’d refrain from sharing a story about failure. Something that didn’t happen. Something that didn’t work.

But here I am. Sharing it anyway. Because it’s one of the most common questions I get. “What about when you don’t reach your goal?” “What about something that just refuses to happen for you?”

You may be surprised at my answer. Read on…

Way back when I did my very first Vision Board, it shocked the hell out of me when things manifested…

A house.

An assistant to help me in my business.

An office.

But there was one thing that simply would NOT happen.

No matter how many times I re-made my Vision Board. No matter how many different placements I tried with this one image, there it was. Decidedly NOT manifesting.

The Grammy Award. (Background: Before I started the company I now own, I was a musician.)

I had plastered that Grammy at the top center of the board.

Then I put it on another board I made a year later. Then on another one a few months after that. I just kept ripping out that photo and putting it on my board, no matter how dumb it made me feel.

One morning, I was feeling particularly sorry for myself because I hadn’t yet “made it.” I looked at my board. Smack dab in the center was that fucking Grammy Award. It was mocking me.

It said, “How’s that Grammy coming along, Christine?” You famous yet?”

The familiar biting feeling of my own self-criticism threatened to spiral me into a terrible day.

But something made me stop. One of those “Lo! And the angel of the lord appeared before them!” kinds of things. A moment of truth.

It simply asked me to sit still. The emotion and the fever seemed to fall away, giving me the space for some clarity.

I stared at the Grammy award. And then, something invited me to ask myself why it was even there.

My answer was honest and the slightest bit needy.

The Grammy was the ultimate symbol of music success, right? A symbol that was agreed upon by everyone as proof of someone’s validity. In other words, I was waiting for the external world to validate me. (I warned you it was a bit needy.)

The Grammy on my board was about fear. Not about intention. This fear had driven me for so long, I couldn’t see myself without it. I made decisions from it. I betrayed myself in the name of it. I did showcases I didn’t really want to do because of it.

And then, a question appeared in my head. It wasn’t a rational thing. Nor was it one of those pro-and-con debates that arises when we’re struggling to make a decision.

It was a wise voice. An objective voice. And it had the slightest hint of humor.

It said, “Okay, Christine. Here’s a question for you. Honestly. Tell me. How many times have you ever even watched the Grammy’s?”

I sat there for a moment. And then I laughed.


Once when I was in high school snowed in at a friend’s house.

And the other time was just to see Mary Chapin Carpenter (who I had followed from her very first CD) perform on the stage. And I only watched it until she was done.

Twice. That’s how much my soul truly gave a shit about the Grammy’s.

In fact, I can’t even tell you who has ever won a single Grammy. (I don’t even remember if Chapin won that night.)

Music? Loved it.

Songs? Worshipped them.

Building a business around my creative life? I even liked that too.

But other than seeking to fill some worthiness hole inside of me, I didn’t care about Grammy awards.

Then that same wise voice simply said, “I don’t think you got into music to get awards. I think you got into music for something that matters to your soul. It’s up to you now to get congruent with that path.”

So, if you had been watching in that moment, what I did next would seem a trivial, even pointless, gesture. But it changed something inside me forever.

I walked up to my Vision Board and slowly, as tiny sounds of tearing paper filled the silence, I peeled the Grammy off the board.

I was shaking. I was letting go of what I had thought was my dream. I was taking the reigns from my ego, albeit only symbolically. I was admitting, “I may never get external validation. So be it.” And this was scary to me because my ego promised me it would forever leave me alone if I won that Grammy.

I didn’t have a clue at the time, but removing that image was every bit as important as everything I ever achieved on my boards over the years.

So when people come to me hurting because an all-important goal hasn’t been reached, or an intention hasn’t yet happened or they haven’t “made it” yet, I am compassionate. Because yes, it sucks.

Then I tell them my Grammy story.

After that, I share three thoughts:

The first is about persistence.

It’s possible that you are still in the process of calling this intention toward you and ego is feeling impatient. That’s all. (I mean, if I had chosen to keep pursuing the Grammy, I may have been able to make it happen with time. Who knows? I just wasn’t willing to take the actions needed, nor did I want to focus on an award anymore.)

The second is about relationship.

Any time we set an intention, we are now in relationship with that intention. If we rail and moan because this thing hasn’t made us happy yet, then we’ve abandoned the relationship, we’ve separated ourselves from it.  We are no longer relating to it. I believe that the moment I sat there and admitted the truth about the Grammy was the first and only time I had stepped into real relationship with that intention. I truly called it into my heart. Where are you in relation to this intention of yours?

The third is about your soul.

Consider this. Your business is the territory for your soul’s expansion.  That means you are being called to grow, evolve and become.  Who are you being called to become?

In my Grammy lesson, I was becoming someone who could run her own business without any gatekeepers or approval, while leaving behind the pattern of waiting to be rescued.

This non-manifestation literally turned me into an entrepreneur. In fact, the year I let go of that goal was the year people started asking me how I had gotten so successful in music and could I give them some places to start in their business.

So when you do it right, intention is a teacher. It is there to evolve you and expand you.   When you hit a wall, sometimes it simply means you’ve moved out of the shallow levels of just trying to get more stuff.  And this is when things get really, really powerful.  Open up and see what you are really trying to call into your life.

Oh, and click here to get my Kindle book.


  • Julie Furlong

    This is a wonderful anecdote that you have shared from your life. I think the decision that you took about changing your life’s goal was not only a wise one but brave too. Maybe because you were brave enough then to take such a step, you are so successful now. May you achieve much more such milestones.

  • Noni

    Brilliant. I love your honesty and insight.

  • Laurie


    Thank you. Thank you for this profound gift of a blog post. There is so much in your writing that has struck me as new, refreshing (albeit challenging) and resonant with the Truth in my heart. My desire to have a child has gone through an evolution over the past 5 years or so. If I’m being totally honest, it began as a “Grammy desire”. When I get silent and truly inspect my initial thoughts around motherhood, much of what I believed was shaped by societal expectations. To not be a mom…to not have a biological child of my own…to be of “mature maternal age” and not have a child was to be a failure. That thinking has changed. Today, I envision my role as a mother as being in line with this spiritual quest that promises to expand my awareness of love and deepen my relationship with light. As a teacher, I have opportunities each and every day to interact with children and to bring them into that field of love and light. The image of a stuffed panda bear near the centre of my vision board is representative of that soft, comforting place that anticipates a child in my life. But as I write this, I realize that I can’t really know for sure if that means a biological child…I’m not ready to stop trying to conceive, but I’m no longer fearful of the possible outcomes. I thank you for reminding me of the importance of getting clear about my intentions and desires. Thank you for bravely sharing your “failures”. Deep love and respect for you and the work that you do. -Laurie

  • Sara

    Hello, I dont know why but when i try to download the kindle version amazon told me that it is not avaible for my country (Spain).
    Please if you could change this i will be really gratefull.
    Thanks in advance,

  • Leanne Burns

    Great article. The lesson is real. I want to add that it made smile because: 1. I have seen you perform LIVE in New Bern, NC (2004) and love your music to this day, and, 2. I haven’t watched the Grammy Awards since Chapin was on! (Followed her music from the beginning, attending many live concerts as well).

    • Christine Kane

      Awwww. Thank you Leanne! I remember that cool show in New Bern!

  • Dawn Meyer

    Thank you so much for that Christine.

    I had a similar experience and this really brought even more of it out for me.

    I had wanted to take a particular class that had LOTS of prerequisites and took me years to get to. Then, a few months from the class, I suddenly realized that it was no longer calling to me.

    I asked what had changed, and I realized that it was that once I found out that it was going to have hundreds of people in it and that those of us who took it were not going to be a small select group, the class was no longer so appealing. I just wanted to be seen as special. But I already AM special and I don’t need a class or a certificate to tell me that.

    So thank you again for all of the confirming words.

  • Shannon

    Love this. I used your kindle book as a jumping-off point to create a “mobile” vision board… and photoshopped a group of pictures together to use as the lock screen on my iPhone. It makes me smile every time I see it!

  • Peggy Kelsey

    What a breath of fresh air this post was! It came at the perfect time, when I’m struggling with deciding to let my project go or not. Thanks so much for sharing!

  • Jill

    “The Grammy on my board was about fear. Not about intention. This fear had driven me for so long, I couldn’t see myself without it.” This landed. What a great way to examine what we are striving for. Brilliant!

  • Jenna Staab

    Great email today Christine. It’s so nice to see the humanity in our mentors, and that wrapped up in such a huge/seemingly tiny lesson was really nice to read.

  • Dee Lambert

    This is such a good lesson. If you don’t mind, I will share this email with some of the ladies on my list. I speak often about having the proper intention behind what you do and not allowing fear to get in the way of your dreams. You put it so well in your own example.
    Thank you, Christine.

  • ola

    Thanks Christine for those wise words

    Is there another way of getting hold of the book, I am based in the UK and the link only works for people in the US.

  • Stephanie

    Than you for this article. I needed to hear this today….
    I truly admire you Christine. Thank you for sharing the truth of who you are with me! Someday I’d love to meet you.
    Be Blessed and Know You Are Loved!! Namaste’

  • Nanette Saylor

    Thank you for sharing your powerfully liberating experience. I, too, have come to know that letting go of what “should” be, embracing the space, and following my heart is what makes it possible for me to create a life I love on my terms. Being willing to let go creates room on my plate for possibilities beyond what I can imagine. Clarity and focus come to me through Visioning. Thank you for being such a strong voice for this transformative practice.

  • Sarah

    Christine, I’m finding your authenticity stunning and that story of letting go genuinely powerful and funny – great to laugh

  • Whitney

    I was JUST thinking today about the times I put those images of women accepting awards, delivering speeches at podiums that I’ve had on my boards for years – but not the last 2. Focusing on the accolades and the recognition rather than just the service – like the award validated the work. Nope. In my pursuit of some of that, I found that most of those awards involve women nominating themselves and then filling out lengthy paperwork about their work, which is then reviewed by a committee of people – very subjective. So what does the award really mean, anyway? I felt free when I took them off and am now focused on being of service and being generous – those images are far more inspiring. Thanks for sharing this experience and giving me that “me too” moment we all enjoy so much. Love learning from you and with you. Whit.

  • AmyJo

    Excellent writing and I love the story. Thanks for sharing! I gave up on vision boarding a couple years ago- for said reasons… Once upon a time, my vision boards worked so well! But once I started my business, nothing seemed to be manifesting the way I intended. Reading this story brought me to a clear awareness that I was putting all the things I was “supposed” to desire on that board.

    I just snagged the kindle book- thanks! I’m feeling excited to get back to creating a new board with very clear intentions this time.

    My biggest problem- how to find the pics which represent my intentions? After all- I’m so off the beaten path with my goals that it seems unlikely to find images that represent me. And so, the quest begins!

    • Christine Kane

      AmyJo – just be with it for a while. It sounds like the voice that is telling you “there aren’t any pictures of what i want” is hoping you will give up, rather than align with something more powerful. 🙂 See what happens.

  • Janet McGee

    I truly believe that not everything you do has to be about earning an income. Do you love to dance but don’t have legs long enough to become a Rockette? Dance anyway. Love to draw but your kids won’t let you put your sketches on the refrigerator? Draw anyway. Love to sing but you can only get away with singing in the shower? Sing anyway.

    Leonardo daVinci advised that we should live our younger days in a way that will enrich our later years. Whatever you do, as long as it is something that you love, will enrich you. It will make you more of the human being you’ve always had the potential to be.

    We humans are pre-wired for music. The right temporal lobe is the home of our musical brain, directly across the corpus collosum from the brain’s language centers. It should come as no surprise, then, that musicianship adds roughly 3 points to a musician’s IQ. Musicians are better team players and have greater appreciation for diverse cultures than non-musicians. Among college students, it is not the English majors who score highest on reading tests; it is the music majors. So go ahead. Play and sing your heart out.

    In 2011, my daughter informed me that she’d been approached by the U.S. Equestrian Foundation. I must have looked totally confused, because Emily explained that they had asked her to ride in the 2012 U.S. Olympic Equestrian team. She turned them down. They asked again. They said, “You’re an underdog, and America loves an underdog.” She turned them down again.

    Apparently, if you’re on the Olympic Equestrian team, you are expected to spend the rest of your career training future Olympians. That was not what Emily wanted to do with her life. What she wanted to do was use equine therapy to help rehabilitate young people who had gotten in trouble with the law. That was Emily’s career dream.

    She never had the chance to live her dream. I told the story of Emily’s Olympic offer at her memorial service. A week later, the Spring Semester began at Strayer University. Jim McCrae, who had known Emily since she was a toddler, gave his first lecture of the semester to his business students. Toward the end of class, one of Dr. McCrae’s students asked, “How do you know what’s important? How do you choose what matters in your business?” Jim said that he took off his teaching hat, came around, and stood in front of his desk. He told his class about just having attended the funeral for a young woman. What he learned from Emily was that, if you do what you love, you will be doing what is important. After class, the young lady told Dr. McCrae that she wished she had known Emily. Jim replied, “I wish I had known her better.”

    Do what you love. It does not have to be your career. It will fulfill you and enrich your life in ways you may not anticipate.

  • Don

    Wow, this is beautiful. Thanks for sharing it! (And thanks for the free Kindle book, too)! 🙂

  • Carol Frazier

    And there are these Grammy and Academy Awards on my vision board. You made me step back and think. I am growing my creative coaching and vocal coaching biz.
    Can I do it all? Do I want to?
    I haven’t signed up to work with you YET, I’m currently with Maria Andros. BUT, you might see me next year. Love your content. Love your stories. We have a similiar path. Blessings- Carol Frazier