We all have big dreams that we want to achieve in life, but we don’t always know how to reach them. One way that many people manifest their dreams and aspirations is through the use of a vision board.
Learning how to create a vision board can help you figure out what you really want and turn your dreams into attainable goals. The creative process of manipulating images and words and putting them on your board pulls them out of the ether and makes them tangible. Once you decide what’s important to you and “own” the image, you can move forward and take action towards creating a better life for yourself.
What Is a Vision Board?
A vision board (also known as a dream board, inspiration board, goal board, mood board, or visualization board) is a tool that allows you to make your goals visible. Each one is a personal representation of what you want an aspect of your life to look like. It's a collage or collection of images and objects chosen by you, arranged for clarity and focus.
Do Visions Boards Really Work?
Not only do they work, but vision boards work on many levels. It uses the law of attraction to provide its user with a lot of benefits.
1. Clarify Your Goals
First, choosing images allows you to really think about what you want to do with your life and start to clarify and focus on your goals.
If you want to travel, you can add photos of destinations you want to visit. If you choose to run a marathon, you can add pictures of people crossing the finish line. If you aspire to become a published author, you can add a poem that you wrote. You get the idea.
2. Connect With Your Goals
Second, they work because they connect you with your goals. By the time you locate your goal, cut it out, and post it, you have at least partial ownership in it, which will make it easier to act upon.
You’re no longer only daydreaming about what your new house might look like, for example. You’re actively looking for pictures of rooms you love, paint colors that energize you, and even fabric swatches if they inspire you.
Your subconscious also starts to focus on these goals, helping you make mindful decisions and replaces negative thoughts with positive ones.
3. Focus on Your Goals
Third, by placing your vision board somewhere, you will see it throughout your day. They act as a motivator and reminder of what you should be focusing on.
We're all overloaded with information. The news is ready to tell us what to worry about, and other forms of media are intent on telling us what to believe.
When you have a board full of ideas that you selected and set in place, your focus will be easy to maintain, and you can confidently shed the distractions that simply don't work for the life you want.
4. Act on Your Goals
Lastly, it would help if you kept in mind that your goals aren’t magically going to become a reality simply by hanging them on your board. You have to set SMART goals (specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-bound) and put in the effort needed to succeed.
Instead of only visualizing the end result, think about the steps involved for both your short-term and long-term goals and start doing them.
Ask yourself what do you need to help you achieve the goal? What challenges or obstacles might you face? What can you start doing today to make your dreams come true?
Use your vision board to set your goals and stay motivated, then create and commit to an action plan for each of your specific goals.
With a bit of hard work, dedication, and follow-through, you can change your life for the better.
How to Create a Vision Board
The first step to creating a vision board is deciding if you want to create a physical board or a digital one. There are pros and cons to both.
Most people recommend and choose to make a physical board because it’s a more active and immersive process. You are touching the images and cutting them out, which forms a bond of ownership. Arranging and gluing these images creates a home in your mind for the goal. A digital vision board doesn’t provide the same hands-on experience.
If you’re still figuring out what your goals are or are going through a period of transition, such as making a career change or starting a new relationship, a digital board might be smarter to use. As it’s a living document or design, it’s easier to add to or update. Physical boards are more permanent and harder to change.
Digital vision boards tend to be more convenient. They don’t require additional supplies or materials like glue sticks or magazine cutouts, don’t take up any space, and aren’t as messy.
The process of picking quotes and pictures for your board is just as important if you want it to work, so don’t rush through it. It might take you days, weeks, or even months to determine your goals and collect the right inspiring images, and that’s okay. Your subconscious mind is still thinking about what you want to accomplish, and you are opening yourself up to new ideas.
Stay flexible with your board and understand that your goals will change. If you currently have a big farmhouse and are filling it with a happy family, consider what your vision for the next twenty years will include. Your board can help you to focus your mind on the future you want.
How to Create a Physical Vision Board
If you decide to make a physical vision board, start with your background. A simple cork board can work, but so can a piece of paper, poster board, wood, cloth, or even just a blank space on your wall.
You'll then need some old magazines or printed materials (unless you plan to print photos off the internet). If at all possible, work with magazines so that you can take your time as you flip through and touch the pages. Magazines also cover various topics, so there’s a greater chance that you’ll discover something new or different that you might not think to search for online.
Then it’s as simple as:
- choose your image
- carefully cut it out
- add to your board
As mentioned, once you glue something to your board, it's permanent. To start, you may be happier pinning or taping your images until you're ready to solidify the arrangement.
You can also use markers, paint, stickers, and handwritten notes or drawings to add personal touches.
How to Create a Digital Vision Board
To create a digital or electronic vision board, you have a few different options. You can use a blank word document, a template from a design website like Canva or PicMonkey, or create a vision board online with a website or app, such as VISUAPP, DreamItAlive, or Corkulous.
Once you’ve chosen your platform, the process is essentially the same. Choose your images, save them, and arrange them on your board.
What Should I Include on My Vision Board?
What you include on your board depends on your goals, values, and priorities and how specific you want to be.
Some people will choose a theme for their vision board, such as health or creativity, or use a feeling or emotion, such as freedom or happiness. Others will select a timeframe for their board, such as making one every year for their annual goals or creating one for their five-year plan.
But you don’t have to limit yourself to having only one board at a time. You might decide to create a few that focus on different things.
Either way, the act of looking for images that mean something to you allows you to think deeply about your goals. This sifting process lets you put away others’ expectations and truly build a view of your life goals.
For example, if your goal is a cabin in the mountains where you can quickly get to the ski slopes, you don't need to worry about decor choices for a metropolitan apartment. If your goal is to start your own business, you probably don't need to worry about getting a promotion at your current job.
Taking the time to really think about what you want, and not about anyone else's expectations for you, is one of the best decisions you can make for your life. Until you really know what you want, you may be focused but pointed in the wrong direction.
There is no right or wrong way to create the perfect vision board for yourself. Make one that you want to look at, inspiring you and motivating you to take action towards your goals.
Here are some vision board ideas to help you get started.
Add Your Goals
Your board is all about making your personal and professional goals front and center. You can use your vision board to help you gain financial clarity, advance in your career, improve your health, or achieve whatever it is that matters to you.
Money is a big deal in life, and few of the things and experiences we want will be completely free.
If you're struggling to improve your credit rating, hang up a bill with a $0 balance. If you want to stop living paycheck to paycheck, create a balanced budget for yourself and hang it up.
Acting on your vision board’s items makes them tangible, so invest a bit and use real cash by pinning a $5 bill to your board. Or if you want to travel, use a Euro note.
Career & Personal Development Goals
Are you hoping to move up in your career? Post the job description of the role you want or pictures of your dream office.
If you want to learn new skills, add a copy of a degree or certificate or a list of the books you want to read.
Do you have a side hustle or want to start your own small business? Include a list of your business goals or examples of the product you want to create or services you will offer.
Health & Wellness Goals
If you want to exercise more and eat better, put up photos of delicious-looking salads or post a smoothie recipe.
Maybe you want to improve your mental health. You could include pictures of calm and relaxing places, religious or spiritual symbols, acts of kindness, or happy people enjoying their lives.
Don’t forget about your “why.” If you want to quit smoking or lose weight for the sake of your children, put a picture of them on your board.
On that same note, don't forget to add people to your board. If your grandmother was a great inspiration, find a photo of her and add it to your board. If a great author, artist, or other professional inspires you, put up their picture.
By adding people to your board, you're building a community that can support you during the early mornings and late nights when you feel alone as you work toward your goals.
Make sure to include quotes on your board. These can be anything from the famous “Hang In There, Baby” cat poster to Abraham Lincoln’s “Whatever you are, be a good one.”
Not only will quotes viewed daily inspire you to keep going toward your goals when things get tough, but you'll find inspiration from the quotes that you choose not to add as well.
Add Natural Elements
Your vision board isn’t limited to paper, so bring in the natural world.
Pick up a pretty leaf on your daily walk, flatten it in a book and glue it to your board as a way to better connect with nature. Glue dried rose petals next to a photo of a beautiful home in the country if you want a house with a garden. Add a feather to inspire feelings of freedom or spirituality.
Where Should I Display My Vision Board?
It's important to have inspiration around you, which is why you might decide to make more than one vision board.
Set up your main board near where you spend time in the morning. If you're working hard on a side hustle, you may be on your computer early in the morning. Or you may spend your time in the kitchen eating breakfast and making lunch. Hang your vision of the ideal life you genuinely want where you can see it as you sip your morning coffee or tea.
If you work in a cubicle, you may find that your decorating options are limited. You can create an electronic board and use it as your screensaver, or just take a picture of your board and make it the background on your phone.
4 Vision Boards Alternatives
You don’t necessarily need to make a vision board to reap the benefits associated with visualization and manifestation. Other visualization tools and platforms can also help you with your goal setting and achieving your goals.
Having little visual reminders placed throughout your home or office is a visualization trick that people often use. Some examples of this include:
- Pictures of healthy snacks or people exercising near your fridge or pantry to remind you to eat healthy foods
- A list of your career goals displayed on a bulletin board above your desk to remind you what you are working towards
- A framed picture of a beach next to your alarm clock to inspire you to get up and go workout
- A custom image of your goal on your credit card or debit card (if your bank has this option) to make you think twice about what you’re spending your money on
2. A Journal
Your goals don't have to matter to anyone else; in fact, keeping your “board” private may give you confidence if folks around you don't share, support, or understand what it is you're going for.
An art journal, bullet journal, sketchbook, or standard notebook is an excellent alternative if you don’t want your goals on display. You can make lists, add drawings or doodles, record motivational quotes or mantras, or create collages just as you would with a traditional vision board.
In a lot of ways, Pinterest is a giant digital vision board. You scroll through images and save the ones that stand out to you onto different boards, whether it’s a meaningful quote, a picture of something you want, or a blog post or video that includes instructions or resources.
Pinterest is a great tool to start with, especially if vision boards are new to you. You can easily save and sort anything that inspires or encourages you and filter through them as you gain more clarity on your goals.
You can also keep your boards private.
4. Wish Lists
We spend a lot of our time online, so you may find that your vision for creating your best life can be more tangible with electronic connections.
If you shop online, you can set up wish lists with various retailers and use these to anchor your vision.
For example, if weight loss is your goal, set up a wish list of clothes in new sizes. If you want to downsize, create a “tiny house” wish list and load it with the materials you'll need.
While this won’t be as effective as a vision board because it’s not something you’ll look at every day, you can still benefit from the process.
By learning how to create a vision board and use it properly, you can direct your dreams, focus your mind, and achieve your professional and personal goals.
Amanda Kay, an Employment Specialist and founder of My Life, I Guess, strives to keep the "person" in personal finance by writing about money, mistakes, and more. She focuses on what it’s like being in debt, living paycheck to paycheck, and surviving unemployment while also offering advice and support for others in similar situations - including a free library of career & job search resources.