Data visualization plays into our brains’ strengths and helps us to absorb information. Creating vision boards—and looking at them repeatedly—also makes it easier to imagine yourself taking the steps necessary to fulfill your dreams. Therefore, some consider vision boarding a form of “manifestation,” in which feelings and beliefs are brought to physical reality.
Vision boarding, when combined with goal-setting, is a powerful process for thinking about your ideal future. Journalist and software engineer Michael Peers says, “A vision is an idea. That idea is an extension of a motive or intent—therefore, identifying the ‘why’ should lead before the ‘what.’”
Writing down your ideal life plan and visually representing your purpose makes it more likely that you’ll achieve what you want. It’s an effective strategy for learning how to manifest something. For example, a 2021 meta-analysis published in the Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology found that clearly defined goals, which are the catalyst for starting a successful vision board, have positive, unique effects on behavioral change.
Every person can create an aspirational vision for their life, which can be incredibly empowering. In this article, we’ll look at how visualization can take the positive effects of goal-setting to the next level. We’ll also cover vision board ideas to help jumpstart the process.
- According to Anne Trafton of MIT, 90% of the information transmitted to the brain is visual. The Wharton School of Business found that only half of people are convinced by purely verbal presentations. However, two-thirds are convinced when visuals are added.
- What makes vision boards worth the effort is basing them on your values. Otherwise, achieving your goals won’t provide much satisfaction.
- If you’re new to using vision boards to help guide your life’s direction, it can be tough to get started, especially if you’re more logical and less intuitive or creative. Use apps, magazines, inspiring texts, and quotes to kickstart the process.
What Is a Vision Board?
A vision board is a physical or digital observable representation of your goals. Vision boards usually include words and images that are associated with the type of life you aspire to live. For greater clarity, choose between a board that focuses on one area of your life, such as your career or family, or one that functions as more of a “big picture.”
Vision boards often include:
- Photographs of people and places that you love
- Other types of images such as landscapes, pictures of nature, and travel destinations
- Inspirational words and text
- Creative elements such as colors, stickers, and designs
Your board should inspire key aspects of your life like your:
- Spiritual life
- Physical health
- Mental well-being
Examples of Vision Board Ideas
- Goal-setting vision boards: These focus on things like your career, income, relationships, and health. Either pick one of these themes to create a board about or combine several.
- Dream boards: These incorporate your biggest aspirations, even if you don’t necessarily think they’re realistic. For example, you can include images of professional mentors that are very successful, beautiful homes you’d love to own one day, or destinations that you dream about visiting. Affirmations and quotes are also useful for dream boards.
- Brainstorming vision boards: This type of board can help you develop ideas and solutions or break out of a creative rut. You’ll want to include artistic elements such as colors, photographs, and drawings.
- Personal development boards: Create this type of board to feel motivated and guided toward becoming the person you want to be, such as more relaxed, confident, patient, kind, or connected. Include all types of words, quotes, and pictures that represent the characteristics you’re aiming to develop.
Why It Is Worth Your Time to Create a Vision Board
“It’s not total magic . . . For success with manifestation, you have to set your intention, believe that it will become a reality, then take active steps towards making that abstract idea come to fruition.”Brigitt Earley
Some of the benefits of putting together a well-thought-out vision board include that it:
- Clearly defines your goals and life path: Vision boards keep your attention on what matters most. Findings from a 2019 study that appeared in the American Journal of Lifestyle Medicine suggest that goal-setting should be linked with action planning for the best results, meaning visualization is usually most helpful when it involves specific value-based goals combined with an action plan.
- Boosts your motivation to work hard: Vision boards can be inspirational, but they won’t help you reach your goals if you’re unwilling to do the necessary work. Stay motivated by thinking about the underlying values driving your actions.
- Puts you in a positive mindset: Reviewing your board often and picturing yourself making your dreams a reality boosts your confidence. In fact, many elite athletes use visualization techniques as part of their training to give them a competitive edge. That’s because visualizing success keeps your focus on your strengths and conditions your brain to perform well under pressure.
How Do You Make a Vision Board?
“If you are working on something that you really care about, you don’t have to be pushed. The vision pulls you.”Steve Jobs
- Get clear on your values: To create a clear vision for your life based on your values, write out a list of your top three to five core values. As Francis Chan once explained, “Our greatest fear should not be of failure, but of succeeding at things in life that don’t really matter.”
- Choose a type of board: Decide whether you want to design a digital or paper board, then purchase the necessary materials you’ll need. For help making a digital board, try using the EnVision visualization app or a graphic design service like Canva to streamline the entire process.
- Get into the right frame of mind: Consider using tools such as meditation and journaling to shine a light on what you truly want. These mind-body practices can be helpful before creating your vision board because they’ll point you in the right direction regarding your overarching purpose. Dr. Thichiki Davis recommends keeping these values-focused questions in mind before doing visualization exercises:
- What really matters to you?
- What gives you meaning?
- Who do you want to be?
- Who do you want to help?
- And how do you want to spend your time?
- Dedicate at least several hours to work on it: Set aside a set amount of time to develop SMART goals that are Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, and Timed. You might choose to create your board all at once or to slowly build upon it over several days.
- Remember to review your board often: Spend a few minutes every day looking at your board. Whenever necessary, make changes to certain goals or refine your strategies.
What to Include on a Vision Board
1. Images That Resonate With You
“A camera is a save button for the mind’s eye.”Roger Kingston
Dr. Tara Swart, a neuroscientist and contributor to CircleDNA explains, “Looking at images and other elements in a vision board primes the human brain. As a result, your brain grasps opportunities that may otherwise have gone unnoticed.”
Add pictures and other images to your board to strike an emotional note and inspire you. Try including a mix of photos, such as those of people in physically great shape, family portraits, pictures from vacations you hope to take, or images of happy, connected, and content-looking people.
Here are tips for choosing images and photos to add to your vision board:
- Cut out photos from magazines or newspapers.
- If you have mentors or people you look up to in your field, add their photos, specifically ones of them doing something powerful such as speaking or teaching others.
- Add printed photos of your family and friends that you have stored on your phone or computer.
- Print photos from Google Images or Pinterest, or keep them digitally organized. One way to manage your vision online is to create a folder of images that you keep adding to.
2. Empowering Words
“The reason most people never reach their goals is that they don’t define them, or ever seriously consider them as believable or achievable. Winners can tell you where they are going, what they plan to do along the way, and who will be sharing the adventure with them.”Denis Waitley
Your vision board doesn’t necessarily need to include full quotes. It can simply have short sentences or even singular words that are meaningful to you.
Here are tips for adding motivating text to your board:
- Choose words that push you in the direction you’re trying to go, whether related to your job, hobbies, health, marriage, or family.
- If your board has a theme, add words or sentences that tie into it. For example, if you’re hoping to foster more connection in your life, include words such as “charitable giving” or “abundance of friendships.” Or, if your board is related to your career success, have words such as “servant leadership” or “teamwork.”
- To help pinpoint several words that represent your life’s path, try completing online tests that reveal information about your strengths or purpose, such as the StrengthsFinder assessment.
“A very wise quote is a spectacular waterfall! When you see it, you feel its power!”Mehmet Murat Ildan
Include inspirational quotes from people who inspire you, whether those you know personally (such as your grandparents) or authors, celebrities, entrepreneurs, athletes, and politicians.
For the most significant impact, add quotes that are short and easy to repeat to yourself often as mantras.
4. Affirmations or Supporting Beliefs
“Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine.”Marianne Williamson
Affirmations are the opposite of self-limiting beliefs, which are those that keep people from having an open mind about who they are, what they can accomplish, and how they can positively affect others.
Changing the language you use is one decisive way of focusing on eliminating negative self-talk. To gain more confidence, you’ll first have to recognize your limiting beliefs and then replace them with self-affirming ones.
Here’s how to include affirmations on your board:
- Add empowering phrases to your board such as, “I am…,” “I will…,” or “I have plenty (or enough) of….” An example is “I am an excellent public speaker” and “people want to listen to me speak.”
- You can also choose a mantra to include (a statement or slogan repeated frequently) to create positive energy, such as, “I create my own path and walk it with joy.”
5. Decorations for Personalization
“To be yourself in a world that is constantly trying to make you something else is the greatest accomplishment.”Ralph waldo emerson
When something is personalized, you feel more of an emotional connection to it. Plus, it feels rewarding to hang something up in your home or office that you put a lot of creative and thoughtful effort into.
How to bring unique, creative touches to your board:
- Tailor your board to your personality by putting a bit of yourself into it, such as your favorite colors, shapes, designs, drawings, paintings, stickers, or motifs.
- Think about the emotions associated with your goals, then add colors and images that represent those.
- Feel free to sketch or paint on your board, too.
6. Mementos and Keepsakes
“The best way to predict the future is to create it.”Abraham Lincoln
Add small items to your board that strike up positive memories, or mementos from the places you want to see or live in. These can remind you of happy moments you’ve lived in the past, plus what you’re working toward in the future.
Ideas for adding items to your board that represent special times, events, people, or places include:
- Adding photos or items from countries you love. For instance, if you really love Spain, you might glue a Spanish postcard or restaurant menu to your vision board.
- Posting tickets from events that you enjoyed, such as concerts, sports games, etc.
- Incorporating keepsakes from major events such as weddings, births, or christenings, for example. Do this by adding table cards, invitations, “save the dates,” birth announcements, and so on.
What to Do After Your Vision Board Is Complete
To protect your vision board and keep it safe for years to come, consider laminating your vision board or framing it. By doing this, you’re going the extra mile and cementing your board into your mind as something that’s valuable and important.
Hang your board somewhere visible so you can refer to it often, ideally every day.
Make sure to revisit your vision board daily or weekly to check in on your progress. This helps to keep yourself accountable and motivated, especially if you track and measure your goals.
If you’ve created a digital vision board, you might choose to make it the background of your computer or your screensaver, this way you don’t forget to look at it often. And if you find that a digital vision board isn’t as effective because you don’t look at it enough, consider making a physical one instead.
Want to learn more about “thinking big” and setting goals? Read “How to Create a Vision for Your Life.“
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