We all have hopes, dreams, ambitions, or goals that we want to fulfil in life. But all too often these are put on the back burner, while we focus on more pressing commitments.
While we can’t ignore our day-to-day responsibilities, it’s important to remember that goals and dreams are what drive us through life. We often feel much happier and more purposeful when we’re in pursuit of our goals, even if the road to get there may be a long one.
An effective way to explore and realise your goals, and remind yourself of them daily, is to create a vision board.
Here, we explain what a vision board is, why they’re important and how creating one can help you to stay motivated and keep your dreams alive.
What is a vision board?
A vision board is any sort of visual display that includes images, words, and/or quotes that act as a positive and powerful daily reminder of whatever you want to be, have, or do in your life.
Vision boards are often linked to the Law of Attraction – which centres around the idea that the way we think directly impacts the positive or negative experiences that we have in life. So, the more positive our thinking is, the more likely we’re to have positive experiences in reality. This ideology has been around for more than a century and was first mentioned in a book by author Helena Blavatsky back in 1877.
But it was after the release of the 2006 book, The Secret, by Rhonda Byrne that the Law of Attraction gained popularity in modern culture. The idea is that when we put all of our wants and dreams on paper to create a tangible reminder to look at daily, we’ll feel motivated and inspired to take positive steps towards achieving these dreams.
One of the best things about creating a vision board is that there are no rules. Most people create them by hand using a corkboard, photos, cutouts from magazines, and inspirational quotes. But you can use anything at all that inspires you, and the board can be as big or as small as you like.
You might want to dedicate an hour, an afternoon, or a whole weekend to creating your vision board – it’s completely up to you. You can also add to it over time as you progress on your journey. Adding key milestones or achievements to the board can be a great way of reminding yourself of progress along the way.
Why is a vision board important?
People of all ages will have some sort of hope or dream. Children might hope for their favourite toy for Christmas, or dream about what they want to be when they grow up. People in their 20s might dream about having a family or getting a foot in the door of their first real career.
If you’re in your 50s then you might dream about travelling the world, or starting a completely new career. These goals or dreams – whether we realise it or not – are what help us get out of bed every day and keep going, even when it can feel like a struggle. They’re also the reason why when we fail or when things don’t go to plan, we’re able to dust ourselves off and try again.
Our lowest days often happen when we lose sight of our goals. But even these days don’t last forever, and eventually, we restore hope in the idea that everything will be okay.
One of the big reasons why vision boards are so powerful is because they can help us move from hoping we’ll achieve our goals and dreams, to actively pursuing them and achieving them.
When we’re not actively pursuing our goals or dreams, we can feel stuck. Perhaps you’ve lost touch with your creative side, and you can’t really remember the last time you had fun or got really excited about something. Or maybe you’re simply bored, overworked, and/or exhausted. This tends to happen to everyone at some stage in life, but it’s important to be able to recognise it, so you can make the changes needed to help you fall in love with life again.
This is where a vision board can be helpful. It might feel like all you’re really doing is making a pretty collage – but what you’re actually doing is confirming and realising your goals, so that you can start to believe that they’re possible and move towards them.
Sometimes we have a vague goal in mind but aren’t sure exactly what we want to achieve. Or we’re afraid to delve too deeply into our dreams if they feel too far away because this can be disheartening. But because creating a vision board requires you to put something tangible down on paper, it forces you to clarify your goals and work out what you really want to achieve.
Your vision board might provoke different emotions and reactions each time you look at it – which can help you to realise, adjust, and explore your dreams even further. For example, there might be some ideas on your board that you never grow tired of, no matter how many times you look at and consider them. If anything, the excitement grows.
But there may be other ideas on your board that you grow tired or bored of seeing every day, which might help you to realise that perhaps these aren’t goals that matter to you as much as you thought. There might also be new goals and dreams that you want to add to your board as time goes on. Your board isn’t rigid and can grow and evolve alongside you.
Once we achieve a goal, we often come up with new ones to challenge ourselves further, so your board will never be finished – which is one of the beauties of it.
How to make your own vision board in 5 easy steps
1. Define your goals and/or dreams
Before you start making anything, it can be helpful to sit down with a pen and paper and think about what areas of your life you’d like to grow or improve in – for example, family, relationships, finances, fitness, work, mental health, and so on.
Then see how many goals you can think of that fit into each of these areas. It doesn’t matter how big or small these are – for example, it might be changing careers, or simply achieving a new personal best for your 5K run. It can help to think about goals that you’d like to achieve in the near future – say, in the next 12 months – because this can often make the steps needed to get there feel as though they’re in easier reach.
There’s no need to spend too long on this; 15-20 minutes or so will do. It’s just a great way to get your ideas flowing and start thinking about what matters most to you in life. It’s okay if you’re struggling to clearly identify your goals or feel unsure how to achieve them. Just write down what you can, because you can always change it later.
2. Gather your materials
You can make your vision board on any sort of material you like, but many people choose to use a corkboard, which you can buy cheaply on Amazon. These are great because you can attach your words and images with pins – making it easy for you to alter your vision board in the future.
Corkboards come in a range of different shapes and sizes, but it’s best to go for one that’s not excessively large or too tiny – so that you’re not in danger of running out of space or being left with too much empty space. An A3 size board can be a great choice to get started. You’ll also need some drawing pins to attach your words and cuttings to the board.
Next, you’ll need to gather as many photos, pictures, and glossy magazines as possible. If you don’t have any old ones at home, you can always ask friends or family if they have any that they wouldn’t mind giving away.
Once you’ve got your stack of pictures, grab a cup of tea and get comfortable. Then spend some time going through your collection and identifying any images, words, colours, or patterns that you feel represent your goals and aspirations, or connect with you on an emotional level.
The cuttings don’t necessarily have to be physical interpretations of how you would like your life to look. Try to focus more on how the images of words make you feel.
For example, if one of your goals is working through your anxiety and coming up with coping strategies to help you feel calmer and more relaxed, then you could use an image of a beach, with an idyllic sunset and crystal clear waters – maybe because it makes you feel calm, which represents how you’d like to feel more often.
Or if you’re interested in finding a romantic partner, then you could choose an image that represents love to you – perhaps something red or a couple holding hands. Every word or image you choose should make you feel positive or inspired.
3. Make a collage of your words and images
Once you have collected enough words and images to put on your board, you can take as long as you like to arrange them into a composition that’s visually appealing to you, and makes the most sense to you. This part is very personal, so be as creative as you wish. Remember that there are no rules.
If at this point your vision board consists only of pictures, it can be helpful to add some words to your board. These can be handwritten or printed, and will reflect how you want to feel and/or how you’d like your life to look. For example, ‘strong’, ‘financially secure’, ‘loved’ and so on.
4. Use your vision board daily
When you’ve finished, take a step back and admire what you’ve created. Now is a good time to notice whether there’s anything missing. You might also find it useful to write the date on the back of your vision board so that it’s easier to track your progression. You might be surprised how far you’ve come when you look back in a few weeks.
It’s important to choose a good home for your vision board – somewhere where you’ll be able to look at it for a few minutes every day. Try to choose somewhere that you spend a lot of time, so that it’s harder to forget to do this. For example, above your dining room table, on your dressing table, or on the wall beside your bed.
This way, while you’re having breakfast, getting ready in the morning, or lying in bed you can spend some time visualising and affirming your goals. If they’re constantly in your mind, you’ll be much more likely to adopt the behaviours needed to get you to where you want to go.
One of the most powerful times to spend time doing this is before you go to sleep. The thoughts and images that are in our minds in the 45 minutes before we drift off to sleep, are the thoughts that we replay in our subconscious throughout the night – making them more likely to manifest in our dreams.
This can help our first waking thoughts to be linked to our goals, which can influence how we start our day, and the choices we make going forward. It can be surprising how much our own attitudes and beliefs about what we are capable of can attract positive experiences in our lives.
5. Continue working on your vision board
It’s important not to remove any images or words from your board when you reach a goal because they can act as powerful visual reminders of what you’ve achieved so far – and what you can continue to achieve in the future. You might be surprised at how many positive changes you’ve made in your life when you look back in a few weeks time.
If your goals and dreams ever take a rapid change of direction, then it can be helpful to make a new vision board, for clarity and focus. But some people suggest that you never throw away your old ones, as they can tell a story of your life – a bit like a journal – and might be useful in future if you’re ever at a crossroads or doing some self-reflection.
Your vision board is entirely your creation, so it should be something that inspires you and speaks to you personally. It’s not something that can ever be compared with anyone else’s.
While it’s sometimes uncomfortable to step outside of our comfort zone and challenge ourselves to do things we’ve never done before – by doing so we allow ourselves to grow as individuals and create new opportunities that we may not have known existed.
As C.S. Lewis once said, “You are never too old to set another goal or to dream a new dream.”