A lot of people have dreams and goals. But for many of us, it can be easy to lose our sense of motivation toward realizing those dreams without a tangible vision of what’s possible.
One effective and increasingly popular way to help you stay motivated and inspired is by creating a vision board!
In this article, we’ll look at what a vision board is, the benefits of creating one, and the eight simple steps to make one of your own.
What is a Vision Board?
A vision board is a creative visualization of your goals, values, and intentions designed to help you stay inspired and motivated. Some people have also called them life maps or action boards. People often create vision boards at the beginning of the year to help them visualize their hopes for the year ahead.
Vision boards can be made digitally with free online tools or with physical materials, including a poster board and a collage of magazine clippings, mementos, quotes, words, and images.
Made popular by celebrities including Oprah Winfrey, Steve Harvey, Katy Perry, and Ellen DeGenerous, neuroscientist Dr. Tara Swart suggests1https://www.cnbc.com/2019/11/22/visualization-that-helps-executives-succeed-neuroscientist-tara-swart.html#:~:text=For%20one%20thing%2C%20looking%20at,and%20filters%20out%20unnecessary%20information. that vision boards help many people reach their goals because they prime their brains to recognize an opportunity. As people continue to revisit their vision boards, the images and the plans associated with them gain higher value in their subconscious.
So whether your goals are to get healthy, be more generous, strengthen your relationship, turn your passion into a career, become a better leader, or any number of things, a vision board could be a great way to help you frame your mind for success and remind you of your why.
Let’s look at the additional benefits of creating a vision board…
Benefits of a Vision Board
- Helps you stay motivated. Research shows2https://wol.iza.org/articles/goal-setting-and-worker-motivation/long that wisely set goals can boost motivation, especially if they are clear, actionable, and attainable.
- Helps you visualize your dreams and values. Visualizing the outcome and imagining yourself taking action toward your goal can help you manifest your vision2https://wol.iza.org/articles/goal-setting-and-worker-motivation/long into reality. Some athletes3https://www.cnbc.com/2018/02/01/nfl-star-richard-sherman-uses-visualization-to-create-success.html use this tactic to help them prepare for a big game.
- Helps you clarify your focus. By creating your vision board, you evaluate your values, intentions, goals, and the simple act of doing this helps you find clarity and give you a sense of focus.
- Helps you be proactive instead of reactive. By going through the practice of proactively setting your vision and goals for yourself, you give yourself intention. This practice helps you avoid going through life bouncing from one whim to another.
- Helps you set boundaries. When you have your vision in front of you every day, you physically see what you want. So when something tempts you to distract you, it’s easier to remember the goal you set before yourself and say no when you need to.
- Helps you make decisions that align with your values.
- Helps you gain daily affirmation for the decisions you want to make for yourself that align with who you are and what you want out of your life.
How do you Create a Vision Board? Follow 8 Simple Steps
The steps below are intended to help you create your vision board for the next year. You can go through a similar process for a vision board based on a specific area of your life and may even choose to create multiple vision boards. It’s up to you!
This process can take two to three hours from start to finish but can vary depending on how much time you spend on reflection or the creative process. Use these steps as a guide, and feel free to make them your own!
Step One: Reflect back
Creating a vision board starts with laying the foundation and doing internal reflection on who you are, where you’ve been, and what you’ve learned thus far.
For this step, you will want to grab a journal and go somewhere quiet to reflect. Take five to ten minutes (or as much time as you think you need) to think about the past year. If you’re someone who journals throughout the year, you might instead take this time to read through your journal entries from the past year.
To help you with this process, try reflecting and journaling through these questions:
- What happened over the last year?
- What brought me joy?
- What drained me?
- What do I wish I did more of?
- What do I wish I did less of?
- What did I learn?
- What did I lose?
- What did I gain?
- Did my activities align with my values?
- Who did I spend the most time with?
- What are the top five things I’m grateful for?
Now look through your answers and note any themes that might have come up. For example, were your activities focused on a certain area of your life? Did your journal entries indicate a desire for deeper friendships? Did you get better at self-care? Keep these themes in mind as you move on to step two.
Step Two: Imagine forward
After you reflect on the last year, it’s time to imagine forward and think about what’s possible in the future. In this step, you’ll look at your goals, dreams, intentions, needs, and desires for the year ahead.
While you’re still in your quiet space from step one, continue journaling for step two of the process. Some people may find a break between steps one and two helpful to let their brain reset. Plan to spend as much time as you need in step two (15 minutes to an hour, roughly).
Think about what you’d like to accomplish over the next year in each area of your life. Consider various aspects of life including family, relationships, hobbies, passions, social life, career or education, health, and finances.
Pro Tip: You might find having one journal page or one 3×5 card for each life area helpful.
Imagine forward with some helpful journal prompts for each area of your life:
- What life value can I exemplify in each area of my life?
- What do I want to change?
- What is something I’ve always dreamed of doing?
- How do I want to be remembered?
- What do I need/want more of this year?
- What do I need/want less of this year?
- How can I grow?
- What are my strengths?
- What do I need help with?
- If you could write a letter from your future self one year from now, how would you finish this sentence, “I’m proud that I________ this year.”
Look through your answers and notice any themes. Do you have more goals in one area than the others? Does anything surprise you? Does anything sound familiar? Highlight your answers that stand out and resonate with your values the most.
Now, look at the answers you highlighted. What goals and ideas emerge to the surface? Write those down on separate journal pages or 3×5 notecards, and write an action step you can take to realize your goal or dream.
At the end of step two, what you wrote down on your final journal pages might look like this:
- I want to be a bigger part of my kids’ lives.
- I will end my work days at 4:00 pm to be home at dinner with them every night.
- I want to feel more connected to my spouse.
- I will talk to my spouse about starting couples counseling.
- I’m really good at and enjoy writing poetry.
- I will submit my work to a publisher.
- I’m passionate about ending homelessness in my community, but I don’t know where to start.
- I will get connected with a local charity to learn more.
- Social life:
- I wish I had friends who lived nearby.
- I will plan a friend group weekend getaway to reconnect.
- Career or education:
- I want to get promoted at work.
- I will start researching programs and sign up to get certified in coding.
- I want to feel less stressed and exhausted daily.
- I will prioritize my mental health and start seeing a counselor.
- I want to pay off my credit card debt.
- I will schedule an appointment with a financial advisor to get started.
Pro Tip: The example above only includes one goal/idea and an action step for each area. You may have more than one. However, it’s helpful to narrow it down to one or two per area, so you don’t get overwhelmed.
It’s also important to note that you may choose not to put some areas of your life on your vision board at all. Maybe you want to focus on your top three, for example. Remember, this is a guide to help you realize your most important goals, not an exact rule book you must follow for your entire life. Additionally, it’s flexible! Some goals you may want to adjust or add over time.
For ideas on how to set better goals, check out this helpful resource:
How To Set Better Goals Using Science
Do you set the same goals over and over again? If you’re not achieving your goals – it’s not your fault!
Let me show you the science-based goal-setting framework that will help you achieve your biggest goals.
Step Three: Choose your board platform
Now we’re getting into the creative stuff! There’s no right or wrong answer for which platform is best for your vision board. It comes down to your personal preferences.
Do you prefer working with your hands and getting a little messy? Do you like apps that streamline the process? Do you prefer graphic art?
Let’s look at all the options you have to choose from!
Physical vision board options
For your physical vision board, you will pull scraps of magazine clippings, quotes, words, images, and souvenirs. You will then cut and glue your collection onto your “board” of choice:
- Corkboard/Bulletin board
- Art journal/Sketchbook
- Inspiration wall in your home or office
This is a fun example of a creative way to make your vision board look like an art installation in your home or office!
Virtual vision board options
It might be easier for your virtual vision board to pull images, quotes, and words from your digital library of images you’ve saved to your device.
- Canva provides plenty of free vision board templates in an easy-to-use platform
- Jamboard is a great go-to virtual cork board you can add all kinds of elements to
- Adobe Express, like Canva, provides board templates in their easy-to-use platform that may be more familiar to graphic designers
This is a great example of what your vision board might look like on Canva!
Pro Tip: Canva and Adobe Express are not only free options, but they also include many pre-loaded images and graphics you can pull from to use as inspiration.
Application vision board options:
If you prefer apps, you have the bonus option to include music inspiration on your vision board! Many of them also have preloaded images you can pull from. Here are a few of the highest-rated free vision board apps:
- Corkulous (available on iOS)
- Vision Board (available on iOS
- Vision Board Perfectly Happy (available on iOS and Android)
- Visuapp Vision Board (available on iOS and Android)
Step Four: Curate images and words
The images, words, quotes, mementos, and scraps you choose for your vision board are meant to capture a feeling around your intentions, goals, and dreams. These images are meant to motivate and inspire you as you revisit your vision board daily.
As you look over the notes and the goals that emerged to the top, consider what images come to mind.
For example, let’s say that one of your goals is to have a deeper connection with your partner. Maybe the image you have in mind is of you holding each other.
Another one of your goals might be to get more involved in ending homelessness in your community. Maybe the image that comes to mind is someone sharing food with someone in need. Or if the word that came to mind was “compassion,” maybe you find a quote that relates to compassion.
Here’s where to find images, quotes, and words:
- Magazines: Ask your local library or bookstore if they are getting rid of any old magazines. They often throw these away anyway, so you can likely pick up some for free.
- Pinterest: This is a great place to curate images and quotes. You can search by keywords from your goal statements or by your value. Pin images to your boards on your Pinterest account.
- Online public domain images: Many images are available on Unsplash and Pixabay. Type in a keyword for what you’re looking for, and download or bookmark the ones that pique your interest.
- Apps/Online Programs: Most apps and online programs listed above include pre-loaded images you can choose from. Add them to your digital boards with a simple keyword search.
- Blogs: Some interesting blog posts might include lists of great quotes, like this one: 221 Positive Quotes You Can Use to Change Your Mindset
After curating your various pieces of inspiration, narrow them down to the ones that resonate most with you. Organize them into the categories you want to focus your vision board on. Perhaps you focus on four areas: family, relationship, passion, and health.
Step Five: Gather your supplies
To get started on your board, you’ll want to gather your supplies along with your curated images and scraps, as well as the journal or 3×5 cards you worked on for steps one and two.
Supplies you’ll need for your physical vision board:
- Poster board, scrapbook, cork board, art journal, or go to your inspiration wall in your home or office
- Images, words, quotes, souvenirs, and clippings
- Scissors and glue
- Pen and paper
- Craft supplies as desired (markers, paint, stickers, etc.)
- Your journal or 3×5 cards
Supplies you’ll need for your graphic or digital vision board:
- A login on your preferred device for the app or online program you want to use
- Images, words, and quotes (even songs) saved onto your device or app
- Your journal or 3×5 cards
Step Six: Plan your layout
This is where the creative fun begins! There are various ways you can lay out your vision board. What you choose is your personal preference. Take the various elements you’ve curated and start laying them out in different ways that are aesthetically pleasing. Consider color, the most prominent images, the best quotes from your collection, etc.
Here are some vision board ideas to get your juices flowing:
- Divide your board into sections for each area of your life: family, relationships, career, passions, hobbies, health, spirituality, finances, etc.
- Divide your board into sections for each of your top five values. For example, maybe your top five values are wisdom, adventure, humility, generosity, and security
- Divide your board by color and give each color a meaning. For example, maybe each color is associated with a different value or intention
- Add one primary goal to the center of your board, and radiate out subgoals around the center
- Make your board a linear timeline with goals that you see happening in sequence
- Put each goal on a different spread in your art journal or scrapbook
- Randomly collage everything together
Pro Tip: There’s no right or wrong way to layout or format your vision board. For example, what if your “vision” board isn’t visual at all?! What if you created a vision playlist? Whatever you do, do what works for you and helps YOU stay motivated and inspired toward reaching your goals.
Step Seven: Assemble
Now that you have your plan and elements for your vision board begin putting it together. At this point, you should already have your elements laid out in a way that you find works for you. Begin pasting things on your board and adding to it as you go.
Pro Tip: If you’re creating your vision board online, the layout and assembly steps overlap greatly. The nice thing about the online vision board is that it’s easier to edit as you go. If you paste something on your physical board that you no longer want, you can always put something on top of it.
Step Eight: Display your vision board
When it is done, make sure to display it in a place where you will see it often. Great options include your bathroom mirror, office wall, near your calendar in your kitchen, on your fridge, or, if it’s digital, as the background of your computer screen.
How to Create a Vision Board FAQs
To make your vision board aesthetically pleasing, ensure it’s something you like. Consider your favorite color combinations, favorite images that you want to be most prominent, favorite quotes from your collection, etc. Then consider a layout that makes sense for you.
Divide your board into sections, try a linear approach, or start from a center point and go out from there. Still not sure how you want it to look? Look for inspiration by searching “Vision board inspiration” on Pinterest.
Common practice is to create a vision board once a year, but there is no rule on the timeline. You may choose to create a vision board every season. Or, if it’s for work, you may create a vision board every quarter or before a big project. You may modify your vision board as life happens and unforeseen events occur.
The important thing about your vision board is that it helps you point back to your values and intentions—your “why.”
For example, perhaps your vision board included that you wanted to buy a house this year, but then finances fell through, and you couldn’t make it work. Go back to the why behind your intention to move. Perhaps it was so you could live closer to family. What else can you add or adjust on your vision board to be more connected to your family this year?
The most important elements to have on your vision board are things that help you visualize your goals and intentions. They usually include images, quotes, words, and souvenirs related to the things you want to accomplish or realize over the next year.
If you are creating a physical vision board, materials people like to use include poster boards, art journals, scrapbooks, cork boards, or bulletin boards. Some have even used a wall in their home or office.
Other materials for a physical vision board include magazine clippings, printed-out images or photos, mementos like ornaments or small home décor items, quotes, words clipped out of books or magazines, and any other craft elements to suit one’s taste.
For digital vision boards, materials include a device like a phone, tablet, or computer, an internet connection, and a login to your preferred design platform.
Your vision board should be displayed where you will see it daily. People often display their vision boards in their office or bathroom mirror. If it is a digital vision board, a great place to display it may be on the background of your computer desktop. Ultimately, it doesn’t matter where you put it as much as how frequently you will see it.
To create a vision board, first identify your goals, intentions, and values. Take time to journal and narrow down your focus. From there, curate elements that help you visualize your goals and dreams. Include pictures, quotes, words, souvenirs, etc. Then lay out your vision board in a way that is aesthetically pleasing and begin to assemble it with glue and other craft supplies as desired.
If you’re creating a digital vision board, you can skip the glue and craft supplies and stick with your digital platform to lay out and assemble your vision board.
Good examples of vision boards can be found on Pinterest. The vision boards that stand out most are aesthetically pleasing and inspiring, reminding viewers of their goals and ambitions.
Your vision board could take anywhere from one to ten hours to complete. The time it takes to create your vision board will vary by person and largely depends on how long you spend in reflection and journaling to focus on your goals and how crafty you plan to get.
A mood board is similar to a vision board in that it uses similar elements, including images, words, mementos, etc. however, the purpose of a mood board is to focus someone’s design intention around a topic, brand, or product. In contrast, a vision board helps an individual visualize their goals.
Yes, you can have more than one vision board. While some people often have one personal vision board to help them visualize their goals for the year, they can also be used in the workplace for various projects or initiatives or can be used personally for different areas of life.
Vision Board Key Takeaways
To summarize, take note of these steps to create your vision board:
- Step One: Reflect back. What brought you joy, and what drained you over the last year?
- Step Two: Imagine forward. What are your hopes for the future?
- Step Three: Choose your platform. Decide whether a physical or virtual vision board is best for you.
- Step Four: Curate images and words. Collect items that resonate and help you visualize your goals.
- Step Five: Gather your supplies. Grab your glue stick or set up your login!
- Step Six: Plan your layout. Put together the elements you collected into an aesthetically pleasing format.
- Step Seven: Assemble. Once you have your layout, put everything together!
- Step Eight: Display your vision board. Put your vision board somewhere you will see it every day.
For more ideas on how to set yourself up for success, check out our article, 10 Steps to Reinvent Yourself and Realize Your Potential.