The vision board concept is not new or foreign to you, regardless of whether you are calling it that way. It is nothing more than a way to collect and organize the snippets of your life’s vision in a way that is compelling and in-your-face. Not only is it motivating and a constant reminder of your goals and dreams, but it generates the kind of focus in the brain you need to keep moving the needle toward your vision every single day of your life.
What Is a Vision Board?
You know how sometimes you have a thought or some task you need to do, and, to remember it, you quickly jot it down on a post-it note and glue it to the side of your monitor? Why do you do that?
Most people will answer that when that prominent yellow note is there, hanging and disrupting the standard view, it’s hard to ignore. As it floats there on the fringes of your peripheral vision, it won’t let you forget.
I’d further say that it will attract your eye, forcing you to focus on it.
At its core, that is what a vision board is all about. To compel you to focus on your vision and make it real for you. Now, I understand how this might sound like bullshit to you. Especially if you’ve seen The Secret and you thought to yourself, “Bah, that’s a load of crap.”
A lot of it is, of course. But vision boards are not a trademark of The Secret. They’ve been used for ages one way or another, and they do work. Please hear me out.
How to define a vision board
A vision board gathers visually enticing images and pieces of text that spawn from your life vision and goals. The word board in it suggests that it’s something big and visible. Yes, but it doesn’t necessarily have to be huge. We’ll get into that shortly.
The most critical word in the name of this tool is vision. You see, we all have some vision or idea for our lives. We also have goals, sometimes related, sometimes unconnected. But most people will lose sight of the most important goals and items from their vision because guess what? Life gets in the way.
The same life you aim to control and drive toward the place of your dreams will step in and give you new goals and new tasks that you don’t even want.
Slowly, life will hijack your mind, and shortly, your vision will be nothing but a speck in the back of your memory.
That’s where a vision board steps in not only as a pure reminder of what you want to do and accomplish but also as a motivator to keep going and working toward it.
When you set up good goals that span the many dimensions of your life, it’s easy to get them mingled into a mush. A vision board will help you visualize the goals and dreams with the highest priorities, organize and connect them, and force you to think about them.
The objectives of a vision board
That brings us to the objectives of a vision board. I wanted to talk about that first because this concept is the most elusive one of all.
1) To help you identify clear goals for your life
It’s not that hard to set goals. Hell, everybody has at least one goal. What is hard is to make sure that you are setting up the right goals and that they are crystal clear.
Fuzzy goals are hard to act upon because the pathway to their accomplishment is muddled. Although you can and should push through thick mud to get to the final destination, most of the time, it’s challenging to start. That’s when fear of failure, fear of rejection, and fear of the unknown in general step in to mess up your path. Those emotions will stand in your way if your vision and goals are unclear.
The Vision Board will help you organize your thoughts by splitting your life into its many dimensions. Once you see it that way, you can sit down and define one to three primary goals for each area. Doing it in this fashion will force you to create those goals harmoniously and in a complementary way.
Goals will support each other, and they will naturally connect. The images on your vision board, which we’ll discuss in-depth shortly, will provide those goals and dreams with a tangible, clear, and precise visual. Symbolism is powerful. It’s not for nothing that they say a picture is worth a thousand words.
2) To motivate you into action
It’s not enough to set goals or have dreams. If you stop there, you’re doing nothing but create a delusional environment, which later will only lead to much bigger problems.
Goals are there for you to achieve them. To do so, you must act. Much like you have a shopping list and cross-off items as you run through the aisles, you must treat your list of goals in the same way. It will lead to disappointment and anxiety if you don’t, just as an unchecked shopping list will lead to hunger and frustration.
The Vision Board will constantly remind you what you must still do and work towards. The board itself won’t do the work. You must do the work. The board will merely be there as a constant reminder that you need to get off your ass and move things. Do things.
Of course, the vision board is not as complicated as a goal tracking sheet. It lacks deadlines or the sub-tasks you need to execute before achieving those goals. The board is not a tracking device or project management tool for your daily tasks. That’s okay.
It’s an ass-kicking tool to get your butt into gear and move toward your dreams.
3) To keep you focused on the primary goals
Focus is a huge thing. I dare to say it’s becoming more critical as our world evolves, especially from a technical perspective. Today, distractions are everywhere, every time, in our faces, day in and day out. You can’t escape them.
Many distractions are genuinely powerful, like the news, Facebook, or a box of donuts. Like Tony Robbins once said, nature designed our bodies to run away from pain and seek pleasure. We all do it all the time. Pleasure, or, at least, lack of pain, are strong deterrents that can change the course of our lives in an instant.
The worst thing is that many pleasures in life also come in an instant-gratification kind of way, which only amplifies their effects on our brain.
This setup means that our focus is continuously derailed from our path. Guess what? It’s tough to work on something unless you focus on it. Try watching a movie while also writing an email to a friend. You’ll mess up both. As much as you like to think that your brain is a master-multitasker, it’s not. Your mind needs focus.
That’s where the Vision Board steps in and helps you regain that focus. The board will act as a rope, pulling your focus back where it belongs: to your vision and goals.
From all the three objectives, I believe this might be the strongest one because, once again, the focus is becoming increasingly difficult to manage in today’s volatile and complicated life.
Why Create a Vision Board?
By now, you probably got an idea about what a vision board is, which then begs the following questions: should you create one for yourself and why?
Visualization is a powerful motivator. It caresses our emotions and awakens deep memories in our minds. Think of a sunset or a sunrise, or imagine an oasis or a desert.
Just the mentioning of those images forces you to think about them. As you picture them, your entire body processes that image and provides you with your personal feelings related to them.
That is why when you see something that makes you feel angry, happy, sad, disgusted, and later you see an image that depicts the same, those raw feelings rush right back in your body as if you were there again. Although nothing in that graphic is palpable, your body fabricates the emotion from the associated memory related to that visual.
Therefore, I believe you should absolutely create a vision board for yourself. When you sit down and work on your life vision and your long and short-term goals, you do so with emotion. You picture yourself having already accomplished that vision, and you allow those future feelings to inhabit your body.
Attaching visuals will continuously keep you in that emotional state. They will serve not only as a visual memento but as an inspirational reminder, and I think that’s a marvelous thing to have.
In addition, every time you try to picture your dreams, there’s always the danger of scaring yourself because those dreams seem too big, too impossible. That’s the problem with thinking too big, but vision boards can help minimize that effect. After all, if you managed to fit an entire vision on a board, it can’t be that impossible, can it?
How To Create a Vision Board
How do you create a vision board? There are many ways to do it, and indeed, there is no best or worst way. Below, I will give you a few ideas and suggestions and several resources to see examples. In the end, once you get into this process, you will define your way, which speaks to you and works for you.
Physical or Digital?
I’ll start by admitting that I am a huge geek when it comes to technology. There’s never been a better time in history to be such a geek because this is the time when the entire universe is available in a tiny box in our pockets. There’s an app for everything that we desire, and it’s all at our literal fingertips.
I’m the first to adopt any new applications and test them out. May it be task-list managers, project management, habit trackers, what have you. But there are some places in life where analog and physical still win over digital.
Take books, for example. I love to read a book cover to cover a lot more than I enjoy it on an e-reader. Or, how about shopping lists again? I have like three different apps to help with it, but I still write my shopping on a piece of paper before I go to the grocery store.
I feel like the vision board falls in that latter category where physical trumps digital. Keep in mind that this is just my idea. If a digital board works for you, go crazy. It’s probably easier to do, but it will be less effective.
In a world that is “A,” an “X” will stand out. If everything you do today is primarily digital, a physical tool will stand out, too. And this is precisely what you want. You want this tool to be a distraction from your day-to-day and jolt you back to your vision and goals.
For this reason, I recommend creating a physical vision board to maximize its effectiveness.
Step 1: Clarify Your Vision, Mission, and Goals
Because we are talking about a vision board, the first step in creating one is to have a vision. That assumes that you have taken the time to divide your life into two dimensions:
- Your roles in life
- Your life’s areas (physical, mental, emotional, social/spiritual)
You have created a vision for each of those that you want to have or achieve. It could be a better house, a better relationship, the next fantastic job. Whatever it is for you, it must exist for you to visualize it.
In addition to the pure vision, you must also know your purpose. I know this sounds scary, but it doesn’t have to be. The purpose is simply the “why” to your vision. Why do you want the things you want? It’s critical to have that clarity of purpose because that will connect your logical desires to your heartfelt inner wants.
If your vision is a bit out there, big and audacious, then your mission bridges that otherworldly idea to the more down-to-earth part of life. If you know what you want and why you want it, the next step is to decide how you want it done, aka, your personal life mission.
The mission then translates directly into goals. Before you start your vision board, I suggest having your vision statement written down in front of you, together with a bullet point list of your primary goals in life.
If you want to learn more about how to create a vision for yourself or how to set up good goals, I recommend you check the Creation Voyage section of my free Self-Growth Journey program. Over there, you can download a free workbook with a complete set of practical exercises that will set you on a path to setting up goals and creating a vision.
Step 2: Gather Materials for Your Board
Now that you have a list of goals derived directly from your life’s vision, you can start to gather materials to back them up. Take the first goal and visualize what it would look like.
Here are some examples.
If one of your goals is to own a big home one day, search for pictures of beautiful houses and find one that speaks to you.
Perhaps your goal is to change your body to look a certain way. Find pictures of people who look like that.
Or maybe your goal is to strengthen your relationship with your spouse and lead a better life together. Find an image that speaks to that, such as one of two people holding hands and walking down the beach.
You get the idea. You can represent each vision and goal by an image that makes it easier to understand and gives it a grounding in reality.
Make sure that you select those images that speak directly to your heart. When you look at them, you must feel butterflies in your stomach; they must drive those feelings deep and hard, like a thunderbolt.
Where do you get all these materials? The Internet is a great source, but you don’t have to limit yourself to that. There are magazines, brochures, even newspapers. Or maybe a picture you’ve personally taken of a place or an object that signifies something you want.
Use any kind of imagery that can symbolize one or more of your goals, making you crave to achieve that goal.
Step 3: Link Your Personal Mantras and Affirmation
Images are not the only things that motivate you. Words have tremendous power, too.
Do you have any quotes or mantras that you love and speak to you on a deep, emotional level? If so, gather those quotes in a list. You can print them in big letters or use a good old pen and paper to write or draw them by hand. Let your creativity flow with no judgments!
Affirmations are also powerful. If you sometimes say things to get yourself motivated, add those sentences to the list.
Finally, you can always look for inspirational quotes from people you look up to and use them on your board.
Those words written in big caps with colors and adornments will also translate into symbols. They become an image that will soon imprint on your brain.
Step 4: Put Your Vision Board Together
Now that you have several images and words as your materials begin to arrange them in a way that makes sense to you.
First, decide on the size of your vision board. It doesn’t have to take an entire wall, but it shouldn’t be too small either. I think the right size is something you can hold in your hands comfortably to look at. So, maybe half poster-board or the equivalent of four letter-size pages put together.
In the end, make sure that the board is somewhat sturdy (like carton or cork board) and it has enough space to contain all the materials you’ve gathered.
Make sure to give it a cool title, like “My Amazing Life” or anything else that sounds compelling to you.
Now, get your glue or thumbtacks and start arranging images and words together in a way that is pleasing to your eye. I emphasize you here because this is your vision board. You are not making it for anyone else, so don’t worry about others judging it. It’s yours. Make it how you like it.
Types of Vision Boards
Sometimes it might seem challenging to start a vision board, even if you have some clarity about your vision and goals. That’s why it might be a good idea to think about the kind of board you would like to create before you start putting in the work.
Here are three types of vision boards you might consider.
The Clear View Vision Board
When you have a clear vision for your entire life or, at least, a part of it, you will start with this kind of board. It’s a specific board that focuses entirely on those aspects of your life where you have crystal-clear thoughts, and it’s not that hard to pinpoint goals and dreams. This type of board particularly applies if you’ve already defined a strategy on how to achieve that vision. Its primary objective will be to motivate you.
The Opening and Allowing Vision Board
When you are a bit fuzzy about your vision’s details, it means that you are at a point in your life where you don’t know what you want. Maybe you have a few generic ideas, but the details are lacking.
In this case, you can use the vision board as a canvas for opportunities and possibilities. It can serve as a space to put ideas that eventually help you create the vision and crystalize your goals. Its primary goal is to entice your creativity and provide you with ideas.
The Themed Vision Board
This type of board is a great way to tackle a particular area of your life. Maybe it’s your health, fitness, love life, or professional career. The themed vision board is centered around that specific area of life and is focused entirely on its premise. Its primary objectives are to motivate you and provide you with new and fresh ideas.
Vision Board Ideas
Here are several vision board ideas I collected over the years, and I use them for my inspiration.
How To Use Your Vision Board
Creating a vision board is a powerful thing to do, period. Not only does it help you review and refocus on your vision and goals, but it gives it a visual representation through symbolism. As much as you might not believe that this has any merit, it does.
It gives your vision and goals the clarity they need and makes them more real. That is powerful as it is, but you shouldn’t leave it at that. You can use your vision board on a day-to-day basis and, therefore, harness its power beyond its mere creation.
Keep it Visible
Because it’s a visualization tool, keeping the vision board visible is paramount. You have made this board because the images and words empower and motivate you. Now you must feed that information to your brain every single day until there is no shadow of a doubt that one day you will reach that vision.
The more you do that, the more your brain will believe it and begin to put energy behind it.
So, keep your vision board in a visible place that allows you to glance at it at least each morning and evening.
Track Your Progress
Your vision is not just an exercise in futility. Dreams without action behind them are delusional and will turn very quickly into anxiety and depression.
For this purpose, your vision board can also serve as a progress tracker. There are several ways to do this, but maybe one of the simplest is the checkmark.
First, prioritize the one to three goals you will work toward over the next twelve months. Then, decide on three to five significant milestones you need to reach during the year for the progress on those goals to move forward significantly.
Then, near the related image, make five square boxes on your board. Every time you’ve reached one of those milestones, or you’ve completed one of those tasks, put a checkmark.
Now you’re making progress, and you can see it!
When you progress your goals and vision, it’s important to celebrate. It sounds silly, but not so much if you think about it. We all love a pat on the back when we do good. We often expect it from others, but we forget to give it ourselves.
Your vision board can also be your trophy wall. When you do something great that advances the progress of your goals, do something to celebrate. Later, add a star to your board. You are making strides. Be proud of it and recognize it.
Learn from Failures
Other times, you’ll find yourself at the end of a year, and you’ll look at your board and realize that something hasn’t moved. Maybe at all or not significantly enough.
It’s okay; that happens. But don’t leave it at that. Instead, look at your board and ask questions. What happened? Why didn’t I act on it? What prevented me from doing it?
Keep asking questions because failures are opportunities for learning and improving your self-awareness and judgment. The vision board is there to help keep you accountable.
Vision Board Conclusion
Look, I know it sounds a bit out there that a carton board with images on it will change your life. The reality is that it won’t all by itself. The vision board is merely a tool, albeit a powerful one, meant to be in your arsenal of self-growth and self-improvement toolbox.
So, don’t think of it as a solution to all problems because, much like most things that sound too good to be true, it’s not that. Instead, use it as a motivator to keep you focused on your road toward your goals and dreams. It might seem awkward at first, and you might find yourself feeling odd, just having it around. But, give it time, and it will grow on you.
Soon, you’ll start to feel the pull. Soon, you’ll begin to see that simple vision board as an extension and expression of your life’s vision. Once you get to that place, you’ll be able to harvest the power of the vision board fully!
Other Vision Board Resources
- The Reason Vision Boards Work and How to Make One
- How to Create an Empowering Vision Board
- How to Make a Vision Board
- Vision Board 101: How to Use This Manifestation Tool
- Vision Board Not Working? Here’s How to Fix It
Now, before you go, I have…
3 Questions For You
- Do you have a vision board? If so, share some ideas you’ve used.
- Do you feel more compelled by images or words?
- Whether you use a vision board or not, what other tools do you use to keep motivated?
Please share your answers in the comments below. Sharing knowledge helps us all improve and get better!
Hi there! I’m Iulian, and I want to thank you for reading my article. There’s a lot more if you stick around. I write about personal development, productivity, fiction writing, and more. Also, I’ve created Self-Growth Journey, a free program that helps you get unstuck and create the beautiful life you deserve. Enjoy!