How to create a vision board

Photos by Carla Kucinski

I like to think of vision boards as a visual inner compass; it’s a creative way to help you focus on who you want to be and what you desire your life to be. Vision boards can help you see your goals and achieve them. Assigning an image to the goal (or multiple goals) makes it feel more attainable. It’s no longer a thought floating around in your head; it’s real and has meaning. If you can’t see the goal, how do you know where to begin or where you’re headed? And when you finally get there, how will you know you’ve arrived?

I started creating vision boards about 8 or 10 years ago, when my therapist introduced me to the process. She didn’t refer to it as a vision board necessarily; rather, it was like drawing a map of your subconscious mind. The process involved flipping through a stack of magazines and tearing out anything that sparked something in me. You’re not supposed to question your selection or hesitate before ripping it from the pages. It’s supposed to be a free-flowing process. No second guessing. No questioning.

At the end, you glue the images to a piece of paper or poster board or you can paste the images to your canvas as you collect them. Then you sit back and analyze what you see. I found the experience freeing and eye-opening — and at times surprising. Objects appeared on the board that tappped into parts of my subconscience that hadn’t been unearthed. Seeing my completed vision board was always an “a-ha” moment.

Our busy lives create busy minds that prevent us from connecting to ourselves and listening to what our hearts truly desire. Vision boards help us pause, take a deep breath, and dive into our subconscious minds to discover what we truly want in our lives.

Creating a vision board is a very meditative process. It quiets the mind. (I recommend doing the exercise in silence so that you can fully immerse yourself in the process and limit distractions.) The experience feels similar to painting or writing or wandering through nature snapping photos. You get in “the zone.” Hours glide by without noticing.

Although you can create a vision board at any point in your life, I find I gravitate toward vision boards after I’ve undergone something life changing or I am in the middle of something that feels life-altering. (It’s definitely been one of those years.) I recently decided to create a vision board after reading life coach Martha Beck’s “Steering by Starlight,” a fantastic book about finding your destiny and how you can guide yourself to that destiny. She calls her vision boards “pictorial star charts,” a collection of images that represent the vision for your life. In her version, you can tear images from magazines, but she also recommends printing images from the internet if you have a specific goal in mind.

Once your star chart is complete, she suggests closing the activity with a “spell” or a prayer. Some sort of statement that you send out into the universe. She likes to start her statement with one simple word: “Thanks.” It’s “gratitude for what you’ve received (in the future.)” I love that concept of believing you will receive what you put out into the world. Already imagining that you will obtain your destiny gives hope. Beck says that most of the time her clients’ charts come true, sooner than they had imagined.

For my board, I adopted Beck’s statement method but added a twist. In addition to stating gratitude, the statement should be a phrase that you tell yourself. Maybe that phrase is to help guide you (“Follow your heart.”); or to keep you from feeling discouraged (“Great things await you.”); or a sentiment that you need to express to yourself daily (“Trust the journey.”). Perhaps it’s not a sentence that resonates with you but one single word or a title for your vision. (Dream. Strength. Peace.)

The vision board I created is a combination of the approaches by Beck, my therapist, and author Julia Cameron, who briefly shares her thoughts on the practice in her book, “The Sound of Paper.” Definitely worth checking out.

Below are my step-by-step instructions to take you through the process of creating a vision board. Set aside an hour — two if you really want to dig in deep — and unlock your subconsciousness. Ready. Set. Go.

Step 1: Gather supplies


I picked up this square cork board and the dry-erase board at Target for $9.99 each, along with some fancy push pins for under $3 (also a Target find). I liked the idea of hanging my vision board in my office with my “statement” written on the dry-erase board underneath. You can also use a plain sheet of paper or poster board or a small canvas and glue the images to the material.

Step 2: Grab a stack of magazines


Aim for a good variety of about 12 of your favorite used magazines.

Step 3: Let it rip


As you flip through the pages, tear out any images that ignite a positive response. Anything that evokes feelings of freedom, pure joy, etc. It’s usually the images that cause you to pause that you should tear out. Don’t question why you’re gravitating toward that image; it will all become clear later. You can use scissors to cut out your images or for those of you who desire a more “freeing” experience, use your fingers to gently tear the inages from their pages. Feel free to rip out any words that grab you, too.

Step 4: Assemble


Now comes the fun part. Pin (or glue if using paper) the images to your board. Try not to edit yourself during this process. Let your intuition guide you as you place the images on the board. Again, don’t question or try to analyze your board until it’s complete.

Step 5: Step back and observe


Take a step back from your masterpiece and for 5-10 minutes observe what you’ve created. Journal about what you see. Here are some questions you may want to ask yourself.

  • What sort of themes emerge?
  • What do the images have in common – if anything?
  • What’s the overall tone/mood?
  • Does anything surprise you?
  • What goals are present?
  • What’s the overall vision?
  • If you could give the piece a title, what would it be?

Once you feel like you’ve fully explored your board, write or say “thank you” followed by your statement/affirmation/prayer.

Place your vision board somewhere in your home where you’ll see it every day. Then sit back and enjoy the journey.

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6 thoughts on “How to create a vision board

  1. Hey, Carla…I am wowed right now that you posted this. I have been thinking for months and months of making one of these and putting it in my office (my office is at home), but I have been a little misty on how to proceed. Also, I was unsure of how long to imagine it would take. (If you tell me I have one hour or eighteen to complete something, I have a ridiculous tendency of going the max, and I knew I didn’t want it to become an overwhelming or too-much activity.) I will do it now, thanks to you. Love your board!

    Renee

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    • That’s so awesome! I’m glad it will guide you. 🙂 I’m a lot like you in that if I don’t have a deadline I’ll totally get lost in the process for hours. 😉 Good luck! I hope it’s eye-opening for you.

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  2. Linda Borzilleri says:

    Awesome, Carla …. I love it! What a positive way to explore feelings and to visualize positive affirmations. If I still had a classroom full of children I would let them loose on stacks of magazines and poster board.

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    • I bet kids would love this activity! I had a 10th grade English teacher who had us create a self-portrait collage from magazine images. I loved the process even back then. It can be very powerful to assign an image to a feeling or a goal.

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