Vision Boards: A Powerful Tool (For People Of All Ages)
Vision boards are in – and they’re not just for 13-year-old girls planning their outfits or who they want to date (as many people seem to think). But what exactly is a vision board (or dream board)?
Basically, this is when you take a pin board (or a virtual pin board, such as Pinterest) and fill it with images of things you want to achieve. For instance, if you’re trying to get fitter and healthier, you might fill it with pictures of healthy food, images of people working out, any nice workout clothes you’ve got your eye on, maps of places to plan out your walks or runs, pictures of your fitness heroes, and perhaps a picture of your past self where you felt fit and healthy. The more you look at your vision board (many people keep it by their bed or their desk), the more used to these images your brain will get, and – in theory – the more likely you are to go for the healthy food option or to get up and head to the gym instead of plonking yourself down on the sofa for the evening with two giant pizzas. Or maybe you want to create a vision board of your dream home, gathering images from the internet of the perfect house and the perfect garden, not to mention all the furniture and accessories you’ll fill it with. You can even do it with your career, your relationships, your hobbies, and any dreams you want to achieve in life. If the actual pin board seems too cheesy to you, create a board (or a few) on Pinterest, and log in to look at them several times a week to keep your brain on track. You can even take a screenshot, or choose one picture and save it as your phone or computer background. Easy peasy – and the best bit? It can be really fun.
I’ve got my own vision board (part of which you can see above) next to my standing desk in my office, and I look at it whenever I’m feeling stuck or uninspired or unmotivated. It’s like a visual accountability buddy, keeping you on track in terms of your goals and ambitions. You can see mine below (and yes, that is a picture of me holding a skeleton in Target. Remarkably, it represents several things I want to achieve!).
So, let’s make our own vision board!
First, I want you to take out a notepad and write down everything you could possibly want on your vision board. For instance, some categories might include:
Your career goals: On mine, I have the TED logo and a pic of one of my mentors, Lori Harder, giving her TEDx talk. I also have a picture of me outside Stephen King’s house in Maine (which I visited as part of a Stephen King tour – I wasn’t just stalking him!) as it represents success as an author, as well as the fact that he and his wife do so many amazing things for their community. Besides, it’s a really cool house. I also put one of my business cards up there to remind myself I’m already doing what I need to do – I just need to keep doing it and do more, growing every day. Put a picture of the person you most look up to, or who represents what you want to achieve in your career. Or you could put a picture of the building you want to work in, or a TV character who has the job you want.
Your health goals: The pic of me with the skeleton is there because it’s when I felt at my fittest and healthiest. I want to get back to that weight and level of fitness (which has taken a bit of a hit due to the pandemic and a previous medical condition). I also have a pic of, again, Lori Harder, in her workout gear, looking fit and healthy – and in the California sun. Being somewhere sunny is also a goal of mine, considering I’m writing this in January in bleak, grey, miserable England. If you want to get into running, put pictures of running gear and perhaps a route of all the running routes you want to try. Same with hiking or anything else. Put a picture of a gym or a picture of your personal trainer if you have one – their face looking out at you might well inspire you to exercise on a day you otherwise wouldn’t have done it. Same with food – put pictures of nice healthy nutritious meals on there. You never know, it might stop you from ordering in that pizza (saving you money too!).
Your home goals: I have several pictures of my dream home, from the house itself (cute clapboard houses with wraparound porches and even a turret!), to the outdoor space (including a hot tub, of course) and even a picture of a dog. I love dogs, but I don’t currently have one of my own – I borrow my parents’ dog, Tilly, whenever I want puppy cuddles. So, put a picture of which town or country you want to live in, the kind of house, the kind of land, even pictures of furniture and décor for the interior. Visualise the whole place and everything in it, so you can get excited about what you’re aiming for.
Your travel goals: I have pictures of places I want to visit (Lake Bled, Banff, Austria, Amalfi Coast) and places I want to go back to (Colorado, where I went to university for a year, New England). I also have a map of North America up there as there are still so many places I want to visit in both the US and Canada, preferably during a massive, epic road trip. Just find pictures of beautiful places you want to visit one day, or places you love and want to go back to. If one of your goals is to make more money, these pictures will be extremely motivating – if you earn more money, you’ll be able to go to all these places. Of course, this will be the same with your dream house too.
Your Legacy Vision and your Success Sentence: These are taken from my book, Write Your Life: The Ultimate Life Hack For Achieving Your Dreams – so you can read more about them there – but basically, it’s a sentence explaining what ‘success’ means to me (as it will be different for everyone) and a sentence describing what I’m aiming for in life in terms of legacy and what I want to leave behind. If you want to know, here are mine:
My Success Sentence: Success for me means doing what I love for a living, earning enough to live comfortably with no debt or financial stress, and having the ability to give back in a meaningful way.
My Legacy Vision: To show as many people as possible how they can achieve their goals through writing and how they can design their dream life – and live it too.
Your motivational quotes: I’ve added some of my favourite quotes to my vision board, mostly ones I’ve found on Instagram and Facebook. I’ve even included one of my own, from my own book. In case you can’t read them on the picture, some examples are:
‘I’ve decided to become more afraid of staying the same than I am of failing.’
‘Try to live every day like Elle Woods after Warner told her that she wasn’t smart enough for law school.’
‘Go big or die unfulfilled.’
‘That risk you’re afraid to take could be the one that changes your entire life.’
‘The fact you aren’t where you want to be should be motivation enough.’
‘The week is yours. Own it.’
‘You have the power to change your life at any given moment.’
Just pick ones that most apply to your life and your goals, and create your own quotes if you want. I recommend using Canva if you want to make them into pretty graphics.
Once you have your list of everything you want to include on your vision board, the next thing you need to do is figure out what you’re using for your vision board and where you’re going to put it. Mine is just a cheap pin board, which are easy to find, or you could use a whiteboard or Blu Tack the pictures straight on the wall. Some people create digital vision boards using sites such as Pinterest, or they create one big picture file and put it on their computer desktop or phone background. Whatever works for you. Just make sure you put it somewhere you’ll see on a regular basis. The whole point is to look at it every day, to keep your dreams and ambitions at the forefront of your mind, so don’t squirrel it away in the spare bedroom or in the attic!
Next, find all the photos you need online. Try Google, Pinterest, Facebook, Instagram, and so on, until you’ve found pictures or representations of everything you’re aiming for (remember: they don’t have to be pictures of the actual things you’re aiming for or the tools you’ll use to get there. I didn’t put a weighing scale and a measuring tape up to show I wanted to lose weight and get fit; I put a picture of me at my fittest). Print them out, cut them out, and then apply them to your vision board. I highly recommend listening to upbeat, uplifting music while you do this, or perhaps a motivational podcast or two. This is a fun exercise, after all, so have fun!
And that’s it – you should now have a nice, pretty, colourful vision board that is positively bursting with inspiration and motivation. If you have space left over you can gradually add to it over the next few weeks or months, and when you achieve one of your goals, replace it with a picture representing another goal. This is not something you just do once and then leave alone. If you’re constantly working towards your goals you WILL get there, and so the images on your vision board will no doubt be constantly changing. Give it a try – it works!