How to Make a Vision Board that Makes Your Dreams a Reality
Understanding the science, techniques and methods to create your best vision board
When you were asked as a child what you wanted to be when you grew up, what was your answer? The president, a superhero, a veterinarian, a doctor, a princess?
When did we lose our ability to dream so big? As we grow and experience more and more of life, we unknowingly compromise our imagination and dreams for a life that feels more achievable.
What if I told you that you can dream big as an adult and, even more so, you can achieve those dreams, as well!
Your first thought might be: “Well, it’s too late. I’ve already worked and achieved my current life, why would I uproot all of that now?”
Nurturing your dreams and creating your ideal life doesn’t always mean abandoning your present, but, perhaps, somewhere in the in-between to elevating the fulfillment and joy you feel every day.
Accomplishing this is much easier than you might think, and it is also fun and creates a source of seasonal delight in the process with vision boarding. With my own practice of intention and vision boarding over the years, I have brought love, money and all the travel I desire into my life.
What is a vision board?
A vision board is exactly as it sounds—a visual embodiment of your goals-turned-dreams and, as I call it in the JMB Living Journal, a vision of your ideal life. However, what you create with a vision board is so much more.
The concept of a vision board is to serve as a representation, visual reminder, source of motivation and mood board of all the things you want your life to hold. When done right, this is very rarely a collage of material objects.
Vision boards are more than just scrapbooking a wishlist of things you wish to have, own or possess. Think of your vision board as a whole, rather than many different images pasted together. The best vision boards evoke the feeling that you expect to have when all your dreams come true. Whatever it takes to achieve this is up to you.
That’s one of the great things about vision boards: no two are the same. Even your own vision boards might be completely refreshed from season to season, year to year and so on.
Why use a vision board?
While intentional journaling cultivates a cognitive mindset shift that allows you to recognize more beauty, increase gratitude throughout your life and more to help you feel more joy and live a more fulfilling life, a vision board furthers this purpose.
That is why vision boarding is often practiced alongside and coincides with intentional journaling, and why I included a space for a seasonal vision board in each issue of the JMB Living Journal: on the journey to creating contentment, long-lasting joy and growth, you are also creating and living all of your dreams, big and small.
If you feel like you’ve gotten complacent, or even unsatisfied, with your life, creating a vision board can be a great start to forging a path that helps you fall back in love with your life.
How vision boards work
Liz and Lauren of Vision Works NY put it best: It’s not a secret, it’s a science. If you missed my Vision Board Masterclass with Liz and Lauren of Vision Works NY, you can get access to download it here for more on this.
There is so much neuroscience behind the function and success of vision boards, and it’s actually so fascinating! Here is a look at how your anatomy and nervous system work with vision boards to help you create your dreams:
Everything has energy that translates to feeling: thoughts, words, images, etc.
Neurons connect the brain and the heart to each other.
The heart fires more neurons to the brain, than the brain to the heart. So, when creating a vision board, what you want to do is create something that speaks to the heart with representations of the emotions you want more of in your life.
When the heart sends a message to the neurons in the brain via neurotransmitters, the feeling is translated into what we know to be a thought.
Vision boards are to invoke a feeling that creates thought: the more positive feeling, the more positive thoughts.
Vision boards are a tool that exercises the brain with daily repetition to rewire your brain and program your subconscious mind with the feelings (and, therefore, thoughts) that shift your mindset and action to manifest the contents of your board.
Another scientific aspect of the manifestation vision boards foster is that the brain doesn’t know the difference between time and space. So when you’re looking at your board and feeling the emotion you’ve represented on your board as if your life already looks so, you’re activating it because the brain thinks it’s happening.
It takes at least 21 days to create a new neural pathway, so by dedicating time to look at your vision board with intention and supportive affirmations every day for a bare minimum of 21 days, you are one step closer to inviting the things you deserve into your life.
When we’re little, we imagine and feel that we can become anything. As we grow older, we develop a belief system that restricts thoughts. BUT, we don’t have to give up dreaming! Now is the time where we can expand our belief system to adapt with our mindset shift that we can live any life.
Liz and Lauren do such a wonderful job of researching and explaining the science behind vision boards to offer invaluable insights and experienced guidance as you create your board, and you can learn more about what they do and all they have to offer here.
Everything you need to create a vision board
While we’re awakening our inner child’s imagination, ability to dream big and BELIEVE in everything our future can be, we also activate the creativity of art projects and crafts from childhood.
While creating your vision board, you should look for images that evoke the feelings and emotions its manifestation will bring and hold those feelings with intention while pasting it all together, but also: have fun!
Each vision board is going to be as individual as you are! The aesthetic, the colors, the perspective of the images, the content and even placement on the page (if you even choose to use a page) all comes down to what YOU enjoy, desire and choose.
That said, I'll limit my advice to the more functional aspect of creating a vision board and I can only hope to inspire you in choosing a specific direction and/or medium that’s best for you.
Vision Board Materials:
Vision boards can be done physically on any type of paper or board, or even digitally as a collection of pins on Pinterest or in software/apps that allow you to edit a blank page!
Magazines- if you don’t want to buy new ones or want an environmentally sustainable option, check your local library to see if they will donate any to you or go to a thrift store!
Pinterest- you can view JMB Living’s vision board inspiration collection that we frequently add to here. Choose any of these images/pins/affirmations or allow them to inspire what you want to look for!
Google Search- images, affirmations, vision board examples, etc.—the internet is your oyster!
Junk Mail- maybe that random ad you got for a lawn service has an image of a garden that evokes a feeling of growth or bounty for you… cut it out and paste it!
DIY- you can draw, write or doodle for your board as much as you want!
Stickers, pens, markers, etc. to add those extra personal touches and make it look how you want!
Print pictures of places you’ve been, want to go to, or things from childhood you always wanted to do. These are very often infused with positive and strong emotions of desire, belonging and peace that you want your board to convey.
Drawings are expressive, therapeutic and filled with emotion.
Affirmations, scriptures and quotes! Just because it’s called a “vision board” doesn’t mean it has to only be images!
Another great method when finding what best creates the emotion and feeling consistent with the desired outcome of your vision boards is to use symbols. Finding or creating an image of a symbol that represents the dreams you’re trying to create is a great method of aligning your path with what you desire.
Symbols to consider including on your vision boards for powerful visualization:
Doors: Open doors symbolize that you are welcome to receive a new beginning. You can include closed doors to represent that you are shutting yourself off from things that no longer serve you, or closing the door on an old chapter of life.
Heart: Being open and ready to receive what you desire and are creating
Eyes: Clarity, looking for opportunity
Stairs: Elevation from your current situation or in your growth journey
Roads and pathways: Focusing on your journey
Water: Rebirth, cleansing
Gardens: Refreshing, awakening, growth
Clock: Divine timing, or having ample time, being present in the moment
How to use your vision board to make your dreams come true
Just as with any other aspect of your journey to creating your dreams or fostering personal growth, using a vision board requires dedication and belief in yourself, the power of letting go of the illusion of control and the consistency from the mindset shift.
Vision boards are great for breaking out of a limiting mindset. Pay attention when you feel resistance and what is difficult when using your board: do you struggle to believe it will come true, do you get negative intrusive thoughts during your affirmations, do you dread looking at your board each day as a subconscious denial of its potential to work? Identify what is holding you back and work to remove resistance. You begin to see results when you give in, put in the work and fully commit to the mindset shift.
Creating your vision board routine steps:
Look at your vision board daily: The vision of my ideal life spread is at the beginning of every JMB Living Journal so that when you begin your journaling for each day, you can also look at your vision board. I’ve found habit stacking to be very helpful in counteracting the thought that I “don’t have time” to active my vision board each day…by instilling it into my daily routine, it has become a reliable source of hope for the future. I’ve found that it’s best to look at my vision board in the morning so that I can move throughout my day with the feeling that influences my subconscious and actions to move me toward creating my dreams.
Feel what it would feel like if your vision was reality now while you are looking at your board.
Add Affirmations: There are two types of affirmations you should use while looking at your vision board. The first type is one that you repeat before looking at your board to get in a good space for truly feeling and attaching those emotions to the vision of your future, without your mind wandering or thinking about other things occupying your attention. The second type is affirmations relevant to what I want. Pinterest is a great place for affirmation inspiration, but if you want to master creating your own, you can take The Secret to Creating Affirmations that Work course.
And I recently added one new practice daily when looking at my vision board. After listening to a interview with neuroscientist Andrew Huberman on MadeFor's Basecamp Podcast, I added the step of thinking about what I am afraid of or what would prevent me from making these dreams a reality. This helps shift your brain into a mode of figuring out how to avoid these challenges or how to take steps to work through them. I've found it is helping me to focus on the hard things that I need to do and the actions steps I need to take, and since I'm feeling inspired and motivated by looking at my board and feeling success first, it is helping me get more motivated to follow through on these action steps that I may tend to procrastinate on.