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Years ago, my husband came home from a life-coaching workshop with a poster board covered in magazine cutout images. I wrinkled my brow, turned up my nose, and thought, “Please don’t tell me he paid money for this amateur-art workshop that is supposed to help him make a plan for his life.” Indeed, this workshop did tell him how to make a vision board. And I didn’t believe in the slightest that it would work.
As we went through the next couple of years, I watched as his dreams came to light. That little “arts and crafts” project had made a difference. We saw it every day. (And how could we not, as we lived in a tiny one-bedroom shoebox apartment.)
I was admittedly wrong. I’m happy to say that I’ve since opened my mind and learned a lot about setting goals and manifesting dreams since that day. I make my own vision boards once a year. They remind me, daily, of what I’m working towards. But it doesn’t just transport me to a future possibility. It also allows me to experience the present with greater joy and fulfillment.
What is a vision board?
Let’s take a step back. Do you know what a vision board is? It’s a roadmap to your dream life, which you create from images and words.
Ethereal/abstract + Practical/constructive = Magical combination.
You focus your attention on what you want your life to be in the next year (or two or three). What experiences you want, what feelings you want to create for yourself, and what material things you want to own. It can be related to your career, your family, or just life in general. Maybe you want to travel more or learn to paint. Perhaps you want to feel less stressed or more financially secure. Maybe you want to buy a house or a new car. It can be whatever you envision.
I personally like making one general “life” board. I am particularly interested in building a career that seamlessly integrates into the rest of my life, and I make certain choices in work because of the type of lifestyle I want to create. (For instance, I’ve chosen to pursue an online business and freelance work to have flexibility for my kids.) Therefore, I like my vision board to be integrated as well.
You use magazine images, photos, hand-drawn pictures, words, phrases, and inspirational quotes that align with your goals and dreams, and you attach them to some kind of board in a visual display. It’s an opportunity to explore possibilities and remove the limits that you may have placed on yourself in the past. It’s about taking control of your life and changing the narrative to what you want it to be.
Last year, I actually made a “digital” vision board using Adobe Photoshop so that I could make it the desktop background on my computer. It was the first thing I saw every time I sat down to work! If you are graphically inclined in the least bit, this is an option as well. It also frees you up to use images from Google instead of being limited to magazine cutouts only. But don’t worry if this option sounds terrifying to you. The scissors and paper option works like a charm.
Will a vision board *really* transform my life?
In short, yes.
It is scientifically proven (based on this study from Schacter et al) that the piece of the brain that turns on when remembering the past is the same piece that turns on when imagining the future. Essentially, this means that when we create a clear visual in our minds of what we want our future to be, our brain believes it is real, just like it does with a true memory.
Believing it’s real changes everything. As this article from Scientific American states: “Visualization and action are intimately connected.” Visualizing allows you to truly know what you want, which simply allows you to make choices that line up with that vision. That part isn’t rocket science, it’s just common sense.
The visual cue of a board is also simply a reminder, in the same way that your to-do list reminds you to pay the power bill or buy veggies and dip for the party. You write it down to remember to do it. So often, we do the imagining part really well. We stay up late one night chatting with a friend about this dream life, smiling and laughing. Then the next day it’s forgotten. We go back to our regular routine, the vision lost.
It’s a popular saying: “Seeing is believing.” Make yourself believe. Decide to believe. It’s so much more gratifying than the alternative. Your mindset will shift to one of possibility, and, yes, your life will be transformed.
Let’s get started!
1. Gather the supplies.
Ready yourself for the victory that awaits. (Too dramatic?) Here is what happened last time I made a vision board: I suddenly remembered it was that time of year when I make a vision board. I got super-excited to start. I quickly realized I didn’t have the supplies. It was night time, and there was no way I was leaving the house. I made hot chocolate instead.
And while hot chocolate was definitely a good move, I couldn’t stop thinking about the vision board. So I ordered supplies online. (This is motherhood.) If you want to do the same, I highly recommend it, and I made it super easy by giving you direct links to the best options for all the supplies below.
Here is what you need:
- A board (poster board if you want cheap and easy or cork board if you want nicer looking and the ability to change images out later)
- Glue or scotch tape (double sided is nice) or pins (if you’re using a cork board)
- Sharpies or markers (in case you want to add in your own words or sketches) + blank paper
- Photos and images (from magazines or from this handy vision board image book*)
- A photo of yourself (this is optional)
* If you’re like me and you don’t have magazines on hand, this 2020 Vision Board Clip Art Book is a perfect solution, with a variety of images and words.
Quick Shopping List:
Click the item image to add it to your cart on Amazon.
2. Set aside time for the session.
You’ve gathered the supplies — or they are on their way from Amazon. Next up, is scheduling the vision board session. You can do it right now if you have the supplies and the time. Just make sure you have an hour or two free where you can really get in the flow. You may even want to do it with your partner or even your whole family (if your kids are old enough to understand it). Another fun option is to have some friends over and it a party. Friends who dream together grow together, yeah?
If you’ve scheduled in your session and you’re waiting for your supplies to come, make sure you bookmark or save this post so you can come back to it.
3. Session time!
Once you’ve gotten your supplies gathered or that wonderfully dreamy Amazon Prime truck has dropped them off at your front door, you’re ready to get down to business on your goals. Set the tone for inspiration, and put on music (preferably instrumental) that uplifts and lets you get in the zone. You want something that allows you to focus on the task at hand but also keeps you inspired. (Try Luminary from Cheryl B. Engelhardt. It's a collection of gorgeous instrumental soundscapes perfect for setting a dream tone. Or use the BrainBeats app for a variety of collections featuring everything from beats to Native flutes to handpans. Better yet, get them both!)
You should be giddy with excitement and empowered by possibility. Your dreams matter. Whether you’re 13 or 42.
4. Dream big.
It’s time to define your vision! [Cue fireworks]. This is the visualize part of vision-boarding. Think about what you truly want for your future. (If you need an extra boost on defining the bigger picture for yourself, read the post on Big Picture Goal Setting.)
Close your eyes and see it in your mind. Imagine the ideal future you. Dream big. Don’t think about limitations.
- What do you see?
- What places do you want to go?
- What experiences do you want to have?
- What things do you want to own?
- What feelings do you want to feel?
- What new skills do you want to acquire?
- Where are you living?
- What are you doing for a career?
Think about what you want. Not what others want for you or what you think you should want. The more specific you can be the better. Don’t be afraid of wanting to live life.
5. Find pictures and words to match the dreams.
The great thing about a vision board is that it’s… well… VISUAL. It’s not just text on paper. You can see it. All it takes is a glance to stir up an emotional connection. Text is fabulous. (I am obviously partial to words.) But pictures shoot straight to the heart.
Go through the vision board Clip Book or the magazines you have on hand and look for images that connect with your vision. Cut out whatever calls to you. Don’t glue or tape anything just yet. Look for words that resonate, too. If you don’t see a word you’re looking for and you really want to include it, just make a note of it and you can write it in with markers when you put the final board together.
6. Arrange your board.
Now that you’ve chosen images and words that fit your goals, it’s time to lay them out on your board. There are no rules for the layout. Arrange the clippings in whatever way looks and feels good to you. You may want to leave space between each image (which makes it a little easier on the eyes), or you may be going for a feeling of energy and intensity that you like when you cover the whole board. You choose. Let your personality and creativity shine. If you want to add in that photo of yourself, do it.
If you couldn’t find an image or word you wanted, don’t forget you can write or sketch it in with markers. Once you’ve laid it out and you’re happy, you can start attaching. Glue, tape, or pin your clippings down (depending on whether you choose poster board or cork board).
As I tell my two-year-old… YOU DID IT! Take a minute to step back and look at your dreams visualized. You should be glowing and over-the-moon excited.
7. Squeeze in a little pep talk.
You’ve made amazing progress so far. But you’re not done! On the contrary, you are just beginning. You are embarking on the most sensational journey of your life. So take a moment to bring the process to a close. Be proud of yourself for taking action. Give yourself permission to receive everything you have there on your board. Remind yourself that you are in control of your destiny. What would say if you were inspiring your best friend to follow their own dream? Say that to yourself.
8. Hang your vision board on the wall.
Find a place to hang your board where you’ll see it every day. It’s a VISION board after all. Your office, your bedroom, your kitchen, etc. Where will your eyeballs find it daily? This is how your goals are going to become embedded into your psyche.
Make it a point to look at your vision board every day. As you look at it, say to yourself: “This is the future I am creating.” Make a personal vision statement to go along with it, if you like. There will be bumps in the road, and ups and downs on the roller coaster. You will feel confident one day, and you might feel doubt the next. It’s important that you know that. Because this is a powerful motivational tool that can shift your mindset and transform your life. But you are still human. You must be committed to the process so that you don’t give up on yourself when you encounter a challenge.
Seeing the vision is an amazing first step, and next, you'll need to take one action at a time that will lead you to that vision. You can check out the post on Big Picture Goal Setting and the post with 5 Easy Steps to Reach Big Goals to help you take those steps. These posts will help you align your desires and future vision with concrete goals and then break those goals down into actionable tasks so that they aren’t overwhelming.
When we give ourselves permission to dream big, we find we’re able to do things we didn’t even know we could do. So go take some action.
Oh, and I want to hear allllll about your vision board process! When you finish, do me a favor and come back and tell us how it went in the comments at the bottom of the page. I’m excited to hear about your vision!