How to Create a Vision Board (Design Your 2023 & Beyond)
There is no wrong way to make a vision board:
A vision board is a collage of pictures meant to help you focus on the feeling of the future reality you desire and are creating.
But it can also just be pretty pictures.
A lot of articles talk about the woo-woo of vision boards. They might reference spiritual gurus or talk about the Law of Attraction.
That’s all well and good if it’s your cup of tea.
But I want everyone to make vision boards. Not because they believe the vision board will be a magical tool of success — but because they want to stay focused on their goals and the success they intend to achieve.
Do Vision Boards Really Work?
Here’s what I advise against doing: approaching this seriously. Will making this vision board automatically guarantee you manifest the life of your dreams? Of course not!
But it will remind you on a daily basis what you care about, what you want, and that you intend to make decisions that move you toward the reality you’ve envisioned and emotionally outlined.
Vision boards, in my opinion, work best when they are emotion-based. Which is to say, when you gaze upon your vision board, how does it make you feel?
The words you want to find will be similar to jubilant, excited, elevated, bubbly, relieved, focused, joyful, dreamy, determined, centered, easy, luscious.
Literal pictures are wonderful, but if your heart speaks in patterns, colors, and shapes that’s perfect too. The only thing that matters is how it makes you feel.
When To Make a Vision Board
Fresh starts have been shown to be an effective tool for helping us make changes. In her book, How to Change, Katy Milkman discusses the “fresh start” effect.
In short, when humans choose a moment in time to be a fresh start, we are more likely to take action toward a goal and complete it.
New Years is an incredibly popular example of this.
We constantly hear the idea that, “41% of Americans set New Year’s goals, [yet] only 9% achieve them.” But Katy Milkman suggests looking at it this way:
“The exciting thing about New Year’s is that 40% of Americans are setting goals, which they’re not doing on February 15th or June 17th. There aren’t other days that motivate that level of ambition and pursuit of change.”
This quote completely shifted my outlook on New Year’s resolutions.
Life is full of fresh starts. Every Monday is a fresh start — every morning if you really allow it to be. The ending or beginning of a relationship. Getting laid off from a job; building a business; moving to a new city; starting a new school year; chasing an old dream made new.
Create a vision board whenever you need to take a step back and reimagine your future.
You can (and should) do this as many times as you want or need to. Whether you’re creating a vision board or journaling into a future you want for yourself.
Take the time to step back and imagine the infinite possibilities before you. Know that you are capable. Dream up some goals.
What You Need to Make a Vision Board
- Canvas (recommended; however, you can also use poster board)
- Magazines (you can opt to print photos as well)
- Glue (Mod podge is the best)
- Brushes (for both glue and paint)
- Acrylic paints (optional; I like to use one step up from craft paint)
You could also add stickers, washi tape, glitter, mementos, photos, pages from old books — your imagination (and the strength of your glue) is the only limit!
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A Note on Finding Magazines
Before the pandemic, I would recommend going to your local public library for old magazines. It is likely still worth calling or walking in and asking someone.
They may not have a box of magazines, but it’s worth asking anyway — a kind librarian grabbed some from their discard pile for me when I did.
If you have a magazine subscription, old ones are perfect for vision boards.
This time around, though, I bought three from Barnes & Noble that I felt would give me the good vibes I was looking for.
How to Create a Vision Board in 5 Steps
You may already have an idea of how you want to create a vision board. These instructions are by-no-means meant to obstruct your grand, unruly creative ideas.
That being said, the following steps make it super easy to go from setting your intentions to gluing your vision board together. Here’s how to make a vision board:
1. Set Your Intentions
What is the future you are designing and how does it feel? You might spend some time reflecting on the last year, journaling your goals, and setting intentions for change.
Questions & Prompts to Ask Yourself:
- What have I learned in the last year that will serve me in this one?
- Illustrate my future reality: what does it look like, feel like, smell like, how does it feel to be inside my body, what are the images around me, how do I feel, what’s on my mind?
- What images, words, patterns, and colors elicit the future I’ve illustrated? What will bring this feeling of levity back to me easily?
This information will help you choose magazines, paint colors, and will serve as your due North when choosing how to create your vision board.
2. Collect Images
Collect whatever images you might use for your vision board. This might include printing pictures and going through magazines.
In this stage, I like to keep my imagination open and my senses broad. As I go through my magazines, I’ll grab any part of a page (or entire page) that speaks to me.
Once I’ve gone through all of the magazines, I will look through the images I’ve gathered again and begin cutting out those I might want to use.
3. Paint Your Canvas
Technically, you can do this part before collecting images. But I like to collect images first because it helps me decide how I will paint the canvas and what colors I will use.
I have never seen anyone else create a vision board in this way before, but it’s my preferred method: I like to paint a canvas, let it dry, then add images. I think this creates a real work of art that I enjoy looking at for years to come.
Generally, I use whatever colors feel the most in alignment with the future I’m creating. I like to create different sections of colors — like a sky at sunset but the whole color palette is available.
Once I have painted the canvas, I set it aside to dry before moving on to the next step.
4. Place Images
Once the canvas is dry and all my images are cut out, I begin placing them on the canvas, determining where I will glue each one.
This step can completely change my game plan.
Sometimes, I will start with a bunch of images and narrow it down to just a few. Or I might surprise myself and decide to look for more images or words that I feel would add something.
This is a really fun part of the creative process, because you begin to see the vision board come to life. As you place images, return to the intentions you set and emotions you want it to elicit.
Once you have decided where to place all the components of your vision board, it’s time for the final step.
5. Glue It All Together; Let Dry
You can use any glue you have — I have even used a glue stick in the past.
The reason I highly recommend Mod Podge: it’s the least likely to cause your images to wrinkle and bubble.
This was a big learning curve for me when I first started making vision boards and it still happens. However, I have great success with Mod Podge and a craft brush.
This allows me to glue the images with a thin coat of glue. Then, I can seal the entire vision board with a thin coat of Mod Podge (I like glossy) to give the entire piece a consistent finish.
How to Make a Vision Board That Works
A vision board is a tool for embodying the emotion of the reality you’re creating, instead of the one you currently inhabit. It’s wonderful for focus.
But in and of itself, a vision board will not make your dreams come true. To this end, I adore the Parable of the Drowning Man — it goes like this:
Finally, a helicopter flies overhead. A man is sent down to retrieve him. The minister refuses to go, “God will save me!” Shortly after, the man drowns.
After his death, he asks God, “Why didn’t you intervene?” To which God laughs and says, “I sent two boats and a helicopter!”
In other words, have faith and make moves. It takes both.
Without a little faith, we may never venture to try. Without taking action, we will never realize the beauty of free will and the incredible community of humankind.
Have fun making your vision board!
That is the first and, I think, most important aspect to the final product and how it feels.
Keep your vision board in a place where you can stare at it.
I love staring at my vision board when I’m off in my head thinking about what to write next.
Enjoy the journey & set goals.
As Katy Milkman said, “change is almost always hard”. Believe it or not, you don’t need magic to bring yourself closer and closer to a life you love to live. You need intentionality.
You need to take advantage of every fresh start you can to build momentum where there isn’t any and stick to routines that are working when they are.
You will also need self-compassion, for the many ups and downs along the journey.
It also helps (a lot!) to have people who are supportive of your dreams, cheering you on and encouraging you to go for it.
Go for it!
Whatever it is that your vision board intends to manifest, determine the steps you need to take to bring those intentions to reality.
Start small. Be loving with yourself. Kick ass.
I would love to see your vision board! Please tag me on Instagram @connerleecarey.
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