How to Create a Vision Board (and what to do with it)

Tell me… have you ever thought of creating a vision board? Or maybe you’ve created one before and then… nothing happened?

Vision boards are something I have clients do early on in the coaching relationship because they are incredibly useful tools in taking a dream and making it reality. Life gets busy, crazy, even chaotic, and it’s natural to struggle with goals in a world of distractions that demand your attention.

Vision boards help you hone your focus, empowering you to make decisions that bring you closer to what you want. They keep you engaged in the unfolding of your story, rather than being a bystander, with people and circumstances around you pushing and pulling your life in different directions.

Like any tool, a vision board works if you work it. In this article, I’ll walk you through 3 three key phases of creating and using your board including the critical first steps to take, then onto how to create a vision board and attract your goals. Because it’s nice to have a pretty picture to look at, but much nicer to see that pretty picture emerge in real life :)

Phase 1 – How do I get clear on my vision?

Guy sitting on a lake in canadaWhere are you now, and where do you want to be? Even if you feel like you have a good handle on this, go through these exercises to see if you have any blind spots, or any strengths or passions you haven’t considered.

Having this clarity will really help when you sit down to create a vision board online, on paper, on a corkboard, or however you decide to build yours.

Here are 3 steps for getting clear on your vision:

  • Get clear on where you are.There’s a simple, effective coaching tool called a personal assessment wheel (also called a wheel of life or balance wheel). The wheel is divided into 8 key areas. Your task is to fill in how fulfilled you feel in each area right now.This will give you a powerful visual into what’s working and not working. It will show you the strengths you can build on and lean into for support, as well as areas to work on and areas where you need to be kind with yourself.People often ask how to make a vision board that actually works, and self-compassion is a huge part of my answer. We have to recognize the areas we need to work on and we have to do that with kindness and love so that we can lift ourselves up to where we want to be.Download the self assessment wheel here.
  • Connect with what feels right for you. 

We all carry beliefs about who or what we “should” be, and many come from outside ourselves. It could be family, friends, teachers, coaches, media, or society in general. There’s nothing wrong with these beliefs when they feel right in your heart. Where they become a problem is when they aren’t right for you.

As much as you may want to gain approval, live up to an ideal, fit in, or be accepted, constantly seeking external validation – approval, praise, recognition, etc. – puts your energy in someone else’s hands. That’s a resource you cannot regulate or renew. When you instead connect with what truly feels right to you, you become the keeper of your own validation and energy.

In terms of how to start a vision board, getting clear on what is right for you has to come first. This means understanding the values and purpose that drive you, and practicing making decisions that align with those elements of yourself.

To start practicing this, try the Light Method, which is a great tool from Dr. Dain Heer of Access Consciousness. Visualize something you think you “should” want in the future. Notice how your body and mind feel as you visualize. Does it feel light or heavy? If it feels heavy, ask yourself, “Where does this belief come from? Is it truly mine, or is it someone else’s?”

When a belief is truly yours, it will usually feel light in your body and heart – i.e. right for you! You may feel uncertain about how to make it happen, and that’s ok. What matters first is what you truly believe and want for yourself. How to get there comes later.

Taking it to the next step, ask yourself, “If each area of my assessment wheel was at 100%, what would it look like? If I had a magic wand, what would I make possible?” Limiting ourselves is so habitual that it matters to adopt a mindset of “everything is possible”. Completely remove those limits in your mind and let yourself imagine it all.

If you want to go further into uncovering what is truly into your heart, I invite you to explore a couple of exercises:

  1. The 6 Steps to Unleash Your Inner Leader ebook
  2. A guided journey to meet your Captain (read the steps in the article and scroll down for the guided journey audio recording)
  • Visualize what you want and assume the energy.Visualization is a big part of creating and using a vision board (we’ll get into using it later on). Not only do top athletes use visualization to achieve success, a study of Olympic athletes found that those who spent most of their training on mental exercises (like visualization) performed better than those who focused solely on physical training! Then there’s the ultimate action hero himself, Arnold Swarzenegger, who used the power of a vision to become a champion bodybuilder and one of the most recognizable stars in Hollywood, and Connor McGregor who used visualization to become a UFC world champion.Yes, when it comes to making your dreams reality, action matters. If you don’t take real steps, you won’t get anywhere. BUT, it’s your inner strength, clarity and resilience that puts force behind those steps, making them strong, intentional, and focused.Take a moment to close your eyes and visualize what you truly want. Imagine it is already your reality. What does it look like, feel like, smell like? What feelings are you experiencing? What does your environment look like? Who’s with you? How are you spending your time? How are you holding and moving your body? What is your facial expression? How are you dressed and feeling, physically? Visualize every detail and assume that energy as if it is currently in your life.Let’s say, for example, you dream of becoming the CEO of your own business. As CEO, how would you dress? How would you speak and carry yourself? How would you make decisions and what type of decisions would you make? Assume that energy during visualization and also start carrying this into your daily life in how you show up, make decisions, and interact with others.

Phase 2 – How do I make a vision board?

Vision BoardNow we get down to how to build a vision board – the nuts and bolts of the arts and crafts. There are different ways to do this. Some people like to use paper, or a corkboard, others like to create a digital version. It’s really a matter of preference.

In deciding between a physical or digital board, consider the following:

  • Flexibility – Visions evolve. Prepare for that by choosing a type of board that can be easily modified. Digital ones are usually easiest to modify. If you want a physical one, a corkboard or magnetic board is a good choice. If you want to get fancy, create one in a picture frame where images are not glued or taped, but held in place by the glass of the frame.
  • Visibility – Your vision board should be somewhere you will see it daily. A physical board has an advantage because you can hang or place it somewhere visible like a closet door, next to your bathroom mirror, on your desk or nightstand, and so on. With a digital board, you’ll need to either set it as your phone or computer wallpaper, or be intentional and disciplined in accessing it regularly. Alternatively, you could print out a digital board and hang it up.

Once you’ve chosen the best option for you, it’s time to start creating. So… what do you put on a vision board? Find images, words and designs that embody what you want to create, the feelings you want to experience, and the values that matter to you. For example, if you want to feel at peace, you might include the actual word – “peace” – or an image of a calm lake, peaceful colours, or something else that says “peace” to you.

Here are some ideas for what you can include in your vision board:

  • Images of people that embody what you want to achieve for yourself, or the types of people you want to attract into your life
  • Activities you envision yourself engaging in
  • Images or words that relate to your values and purpose
  • Quotes, poems or song lyrics that align with your vision
  • Things you want to own (focus on what has meaning in your vision, for example, a reliable vehicle to give you more freedom, a new home that will improve your quality of life, athletic equipment to improve your health in a way you actually enjoy, books you want to read, etc.)
  • Colours you associate with the feelings you want to experience
  • Postcards of places you want to experience
  • Images associated with skills you want to develop or knowledge you want to gain
  • Pictures of friends or family you want to spend more time with
  • Pictures of people or things in your life you spend time with and want to keep up

The list could go on! Anything that inspires you or triggers the energy you assumed when visualizing in Phase 1 belongs on your board.

Where do you actually get those images? Here are some ideas:

  • Magazines, catalogues, newspapers and flyers
  • Online image catalogues like Unsplash
  • Pinterest, Instagram, Facebook or other social media sites
  • Google image search (you don’t have to know the exact image you want, just type in some of the words or phrases you associate with your vision and see what comes up)
  • Greeting cards
  • Your own photos
  • Create them using markers, paint, even crayons!
  • Create them using Photoshop (if you know how) or even MS Paint
  • Use your word processing software to type up any text you want to include and have fun with fonts
  • Get outside and take pictures of meaningful people, places, landscapes, etc.
  • Roam your local dollar store for stickers, scrapbooking items, craft supplies, etc.
  • If you have a tourist information center nearby, sift through their pamphlets for images of destinations and activities, or look on tourism websites

Whenever you’re unsure of whether or not something belongs on your board, try the Light Method and tune into your values for guidance.

Once you’ve gathered all your images (physical or digital), give yourself an hour or so to just relax and enjoy putting your vision board together. Light a candle. Play music. Sip your favourite drink. You can even invite like-minded friends over to build your vision boards together, sharing ideas and supplies, and even making plans to keep each other accountable.

Some people love creating their boards. Others feel a bit silly. If you’re in the latter category, lean into that. It feels silly… and? And who cares! Embrace the silly feeling. Have fun. Laugh with yourself. Maybe it feels silly because your Gremlins are cropping up. Shush them and enjoy :)

Remember: if you truly want something different in your life, you have to do something different.

Phase 3 – How do I make my vision board work?

hand holding fireworks“How do I create a digital vision board?” “How do I find images?” “How do I know what to put?” “Am I allowed to use words?” “Can I use my own photos?”

It’s natural to get caught up in the “doing”. It feels more like taking action, which gives a little rush of accomplishment.

That’s great if it motivates you. However, success is largely driven by mental effort; the inner “doing” of using a vision board. It can be hard to see mental exercises as productive, but think about this: when you’re asleep, your body continues to work hard repairing tissue, digesting, creating neural pathways, and so on. Rest is productive. Meditation is productive. Visualization is productive. Your hands don’t have to be moving for you to be producing something worthy.

When it comes to how (and why) vision boards work, there are 2 main schools of thought. One may feel right to you, or even both!

  1. When you use visualization, you send out a powerful frequency into the Universe that attracts what you want into your life in the way of opportunities, people, circumstances and so on.
  2. When you use visualization, you put yourself into a mindset to recognize (consciously and, with time, unconsciously) opportunities as they come up, and possibilities you may not have thought of otherwise.

With both beliefs, it’s the act of visualization that drives change. Here’s how a vision board fits in with the act of visualization:

  • You create it based on the inner work of connecting to your inner leader and visualizing the future you want to create for yourself.
  • You use your vision board as a tool to bring you back into that visualization, to hone your focus, to help you assume the energy of what you want to create, to lead from Future You, and to train your brain to send out those frequencies, or to notice opportunities and possibilities around you.

Here’s how to use your vision board to create shifts in your life:

  • Daily: Take at least 90 seconds with your board, tuning into the energy of your vision. It’s normal for a habit to not come naturally at first. A daily, intentional practice will help rewire your brain to create the new habit. At least 90 seconds is ideal, but even just 2 seconds, each day, is better than nothing :)
  • Weekly: Aim to spend several minutes once a week with your board to assume that energy and consider the steps you can take during the week to bring you closer to that reality. Try making this part of your weekly planning routine, ensuring you plan at least one step towards your vision. Step by step, week after week, is how real and sustainable change is made, and visions become reality.
    • As needed: Vision boards are powerful tools in making decisions. When struggling with a decision – big or small – look to your vision board. Assume that energy and ask yourself, “What choice would Future Me make? What decision would be aligned with my values and purpose?” If you’re having trouble in a relationship, feeling overwhelmed, worrying, feeling off track… any very human struggle… take a few minutes with your vision board and connect within to help you uncover solutions.
  • Quarterly or Seasonally: A few times a year, revisit your personal assessment wheel to see what’s changed. Celebrate your successes and get curious about any areas that have worsened or stayed the same. Ask yourself, “What has been going on in my life or heart?” Sit with your vision board, connect within, and ask, “Does this vision still feel right to me? Does it feel aligned with my values? Does it spark my inner leader? Is there anything I feel shouldn’t be here, or that’s missing?”

When Your Vision Changes

Guy holding glasses to his faceThe more you work on what is going on inside, the more your outside world changes.

As you evolve, it’s natural for your vision to evolve as well. Any time you feel like you’ve begun to outgrow your vision board, or that it’s no longer serving you, is a good opportunity to start this process over from Phase 1. Every time you take a deep dive within, there’s the potential to uncover something new, and for that to be reflected in a new vision for yourself.

Remember: you created your vision board to be flexible for a reason. It is meant to evolve, just as you are meant to evolve!

If you would like guidance in getting clear on what you truly want in life and how to make it happen (using vision boards and a variety of practical coaching tools and strategies, tailored to you), I invite you to connect with me.