Mindfulness

What to put on a vision board and how it works (with an example and checklist)

Vision boards. You’ve probably heard of them. You may have a general idea of what they look like. But what exactly are they, what do you put on one, and more importantly, how do they work?

Read on to find out all the details.


What is a vision board?

In a nutshell:

A vision board is a compilation of positive and meaningful images, affirmations, words, or anything else that appeal, inspire, and motivate you. The images represent your goals and things you want to work towards in your life.



How does a vision board work and how can it help with goal setting?

Why is this even important? It’s one thing to stick some pictures on tag board and throw it up on your wall. But it’s a whole other thing to actually make a vision board, display it, and use it to your advantage (read: actually make it work for you).

What we focus on expands into our life.

Read that again.

What we focus on expands into our life.

Ever heard of self-fulfilling prophecies? You become what you think? The idea is the same.  The mind is a powerful tool, and visualization is a great way to use it. If you’re a fan of the book, ‘The Secret’, it says this:

“The law of attraction is forming your entire life experience and it is doing that through your thoughts. When you are visualizing, you are emitting a powerful frequency out into the Universe.”

If that is a little too ‘woo woo’ for you, think about this.

Visualization is a very powerful tool and the benefits are widely known. There are countless examples of Olympic athletes and other athletes using visualization (you can find an article from the New York Times here) and how beneficial it is.



In fact, according to a post on Psychology Today:


” …the brain patterns activated when a weightlifter lifts heavy weights are also similarly activated when the lifter just imagined (visualized) lifting weights. “

So yeah, powerful.


But listen up. Here is the secret to making a vision board successful versus one that isn’t:

A vision board MUST include feelings and emotions around each and every item you put on your board. And not just how you feel in the moment you’re creating the board – but how you want to feel when the specific item you put on the board comes true. This helps create an attachment and connection to the item/topic, versus it just being a piece of paper on the board that looks nice.



Example: Let’s say you want to make a goal to get outside and hike more. You find a photo of a woman hiking and put it on the board. As you’re creating your vision board, imagine how you will feel once you start hiking more. Imagine yourself feeling energized and refreshed. Focus on those emotions and feelings. Do this each time you look at the photo on your board.


I even take one step forward and start thinking of tasks I can take towards some of the items I put on the board. This part is optional, but has been helpful.

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What to put on a vision board

The possibilities are vast when it comes to deciding what to put on your vision board, or even what you want to do for the actual board (more on that below.)

For this post, I’m highlighting three different ways to organize your board.

Some commonalities each board should have:

  • Your goals
  • Your desires
  • Your values
  • Other things you want to incorporate into your life
  • Basically, things that you want to come to fruition in your life!



Of course, you don’t have to stick within just one of the ways to organize your board. You can pick and choose things you like from each if that feels right!



Topics

One way to organize your board is to focus and find images/mantras/affirmations/words/art to support different topics you have goals, values, or desires in. Here are some possible ones:

  • Family
  • Career
  • Friends
  • Animals
  • Volunteering/Community
  • Home
  • Hobbies
  • Self-care
  • Money
  • Health/Wellness (Physical and Mental)
  • Travel
  • Romantic Relationships
  • Values
  • Growth Opportunities
  • Goals


After you pick some topics, you can decide to keep the images (etc) for each topic separate or mix everything together on the board.


Intuition method

This is my main method of choice, and that is what I like to call the ‘intuition method’.


What is the intuition method, you ask? Basically, you spend some time looking through magazines or other media and when an image, word, mantra, piece of art, etc speaks to you, cut it out and put it on your board.


This method works well for me, because by tuning in to my intuition, when I see something that is meaningful, I’ve already started developing that emotional connection that I talked about earlier – the key piece to making a vision board actually work.


Another important piece is trust. I go in to the process trusting that my intuition knows the direction I’m supposed to take in life – after all, it hasn’t steered me wrong so far. It may seem like I’m using this method all willy-nilly, but I’m not.


If you’re not super familiar with tuning in to your intuition, don’t worry! The feeling you’re looking for here is anything that makes you feel calm, grounded, and at peace.



Intentional Living/Goal Setting Method

This method is for you if you have very specific goals already in mind that you want help visualizing. In this case, you would search out images/art/words/mantras/affirmations/etc that support those goals. You can also include skills or tools you’ll need to accomplish those goals.


Obviously, vision boards are very flexible, but it might be helpful in this method to write down your goals on the board itself.

In addition to goals, if you’re working towards a more intentional life and focusing on you ‘why’ (or different ‘whys’), you can use a vision board to support you on that journey. In this situation, you would do the same for goals above – find media that specifically spoke to and supported your ‘whys’ for doing whatever it is you want to do/work towards.


Not sure what your ‘why’ is or how to find out? I’ve got a couple of resources for you!

Related post: How a 100 Things List Can Help you Live a More Intentional Life

Related post: Intentional Living 101: The What, The Why, and The How

As I mentioned previously, your vision board needs to resonate with you. If that means you mix and match some of the above methods, then do it! These categories are just to give you ideas for what to put on your vision board. Once you determine the method you want to go with (or a mixture of both), you can start to look for inspiring photos, art, words, phrases, drawings, etc.



Vision Board Checklist

There are a few things you’ll need to create your vision board, and this checklist will help you gather up all your supplies.


Before we get into it, I can’t keep going without making a few suggestions to help keep this project low waste and also minimize some clutter (you wouldn’t expect anything less, would you?):

  • Use what you have at home. Go through junk mail, news paper, magazines, etc., before buying new. For example, one year I used the back of the previous year’s board, and this year I’m using the back sides of some of my son’s doodle pages and taping them together instead of buying new tag board.
  • Ask friends and neighbors if they have any materials such as the ones mentioned above that you could have
  • Consider secondhand supplies – ask around or check out your local thrift store
  • Consider an electronic board (see more below)



Physical items

Do you want to use tag board or construction paper? A bulletin board? White board? Your fridge? Here are some examples of materials you can use for your actual board:

  • Tag board or construction paper
  • Scrap paper pieced together or separate (you could use a different sheet of paper for different goals/values)
  • Bulletin board
  • Wall
  • Door
  • Fridge
  • A box
  • Fabric

Additionally, you’ll need the following:

  • Tape or glue
  • Scissors
  • Some time to devote to the project
  • Your favorite beverage and/or snack
  • Some candles
  • Your favorite grounding music



Electronic

Not really feeling the whole physical board piece? Maybe electronic would be a better fit for you. There are some definite pros for having it electronic – you can use it as a screen saver, your phone background, you easily check it on an app whenever you want. Here are some electronic options:

Here are some additional items you’ll need:

  • If not using Pinterest or Canva (or just looking for additional photos), you’ll need a place to find photos. Unsplash, Pexels, or Pixabay are good places to find free stock photos that are legal to use.
  • Some time to devote to the project
  • Your favorite beverage and/or snack
  • Some candles
  • Your favorite grounding music

Whichever option you decide, make sure the platform you choose makes it so you can see it every day, multiple times a day.

A final reminder: when looking for your images, think about how you want to feel, not just things you want. Bonus if the items have actions you can take to go with them.

Here are two examples from my vision board last year and the impact they had on my life.



Vision board examples

Plants, plants everywhere

One example came from my vision board two years ago when I came across a picture of plants that really spoke to me. I love plants and they make me feel calm and my surroundings cozy.

The want/goal: more plants

Feelings attached: calm, cozy (hygge)

Actionable steps: bring more plants into my life!

The result? That year, I ended up hosting two succulent planting parties, repotted all my indoor house plants, and ended up with five new plants.


This next example still surprises me when I think about it…

Nature Photography

I had a goal at the beginning of 2017 to further expand my photography. I wasn’t sure what direction I wanted to go in, but I just knew I wanted something to happen with it. So, I found a couple of photography-related images that appealed to me and put them up on my vision board.

The want/goal: put focus towards expanding my photography

Feelings attached: The feelings attached to this one was related to finding my way back to my identity before my son was born. Photography was a huge part of my life, and once I was pregnant with him (I was on heavy restrictions) and for the year after he was born, I lost my focus for it.

Actionable steps: Look for ways to expand my photography

Results: As of March or April in 2017, I had already booked my photography for three (!!!) gallery exhibits/showing. I had never in my life pitched my photography to a gallery and I had no idea what I was doing. But all of a sudden I found myself with 3!

As if that isn’t surprising enough, this goal went one step further.

One of those gallery showings was at a large health center. Around that time, I had started to become interested in the connection between nature and mental health. For the gallery exhibit, I wanted to showcase that connection, somehow. This is where the 2-minute guided mindfulness meditation with nature photography idea was born. I created prompts to go along with the photos. I was SO happy with how it turned out. So happy in fact, that I knew I didn’t want this idea to end when the gallery show was over.

Enter: The Mindful Mom Blographer (my blog’s original name – since rebranded to what it is today).

Yep. The blog was born from that particular photography gallery and that tiny goal I put on my vision board.

Amazing how these things work, isn’t it?



Create! 

Once you decide whether you want a physical or electronic vision board, it’s time to start compiling the images/art/words/mantras/affirmation/goals/etc. I like having my images on tag board that I can hang up in a place where I know I will see it multiple times a day.



Make sure you have some time to devote to this. Find a cozy, quiet place, put on some grounding music, grab your favorite beverage and snack, light some candles and get to work!

Arrange

Next, you need to decide how you want to arrange the items on your board. Do you want to organize by topics or goals? Put things randomly throughout the board (my method of choice?) Do whatever feels right for you. There is no right or wrong way here.



Display it!

After you’ve completed your board, choose a location that you will see the board multiple times a day. For me, that made the most sense to have it hanging in my bedroom right by my bed. That way, I could look at it while laying in bed, getting ready for the day, and more. What location makes the most sense to you electronically or physically? Pick a location and display it.


Visualize

Whenever you find yourself looking at the board, pick one or two of the images and focus on them. Imagine what your life would look like with that particular image in it, including how you would feel once it came to fruition. Image yourself making steps and goals to achieve whatever it is in that image. Image your perfect day with that particular item in your life.

Note: The idea isn’t to focus or obsess about something so much that it starts to become stressful. If you start to feel any sort of negativity from the vision board or something on it, make adjustments so that it doesn’t have that effect.

If you want to learn even more about vision boards and why they are effective, you can visit my Vision Board board on Pinterest here.

Have you ever created a vision board? Have you had any success with it?

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