How to Make a Vision Board to Manifest Your Dreams Into Reality
Spend enough time scrolling through social media and you're sure to discover your ex's latest fling (ugh), beauty tips galore (heads up on that skin spatula, btw), and, as of late, lots and lots of collages. Judging by the more than 800,000 #visionboard posts on Instagram and more than 5 billion with the same tag on TikTok, there's clearly a surging interest surrounding vision boards, but what even are they?
The trend isn't just a fun art project, but a tool that people use to manifest what they want for their future. As the theory of manifesting goes (popularized by the 2006 book The Secret), if you speak something you want into existence, it has a greater likelihood of coming true for you. Vision boards help you materialize what elements you want to have in your future, by literally seeing them in front of you. To some people, that idea might still sound far-fetched, but studies suggest that imagery and visualization can impact the brain's cognitive function and train your mind to actually do something it's been thinking. Putting your goals down in a physical representation, such as on a vision board, only reinforces those thoughts and helps your brain "practice" for when it's time to make moves. (Related: How to Use 'Design Thinking' to Achieve Your Goals)
"The more you do or think about something, the more you're letting the universe know that you want it," says Valerie Mesa, an astrologer and "soul coach". "[With a vision board], you're just upgrading the way you do it and the way it comes to life. It's like you're using these phrases and cutouts as a magnet for what you're pulling towards you."
Want to make your own but not sure where to start? Ahead, exactly how to make a vision board and what you can do to make yours effective — plus, vision board ideas that offer plenty of goal-getting inspiration.
Fun Vision Board Ideas
"A vision board is a great way to evaluate your core values and goals [and] to take inventory of where you're at in life, what's important to you, and where you want to go," says Lauren Hessling, creator of Busy Bee Planners and a guide to creating vision boards.
There are various ways to create a vision board that doesn't involve the traditional poster board route, says Hessling. "I've also used my phone screensaver, my desktop background, and my planner [to make them]," she says. "When I'm deciding what kind of vision board to make, I ask myself where in my daily routine would that visual reminder of my goals and core values be the most effective?" In other words, you don't want to make a board then tuck it away where you'll never see it. "I find my phone and planner are the best places for me because I consistently check them throughout my day," adds Hessling.
Creating a vision board in your planner or notebook can be as simple as writing out affirmations or, if you have the room, cutting out and pasting images that represent what you want out of life. Some planners, such as the Law of Attraction Planner (Buy It, $63, amazon.com), even have dedicated space for creating a vision board. Doodling the same thing over and over can work just as well. For example, if you're focused on personal development — i.e. strengthening your self-image, learning to love yourself, practicing self-care — consider drawing a heart sign along with an affirmation each week in your planner. Phrases such as "I am free of limiting beliefs" or "I am worthy of happiness" can help reinforce the idea and maintain a positive, goal-oriented outlook. (Related: How Doodling Helped Me Cope with My Mental Illness — and, Ultimately, Start a Business)
As Hessling mentioned, another great place to keep a vision board is on your phone or computer being that you look at both several times a day (and the more you engage with your vision board, the more you're able to reinforce said visions). If you decide to go the digital route, you can make a collage on apps such as Canva or choose one main image and set it your device's background. Another good option is creating an online vision board via a site that allows you to save and collate images, such as Instagram or Pinterest. "You can turn on that playlist that motivates you and dedicate a day to finding images for a Pinterest board that you'll be able to add to continuously," suggests Mesa. Just remember to visit your online creation from time to time so that you can keep your goals fresh in your mind and effectively manifest them. (Although, let's be honest, this shouldn't be too hard given how addicting social media can be and how much time everyone already spends on the 'gram.)
As for what exactly to put on your vision board, think about what you'd like to attract into your life. Want to travel more post-pandemic? An image of a dream destination (hi, Peru) could be great to keep on your phone's lock screen. Dreaming of moving out and finding your own place? Cutouts from design magazines, images of picturesque living spaces, and even print-outs of apartment listings can all be smart options to hang above your desk in your current abode. And you don't have to rely solely on pictures — looking for a word or phrase to cut out or draw can also reinforce an idea in your vision boards.
How to Make Your Vision Board Effective
While there's no wrong way to make a vision board, there are a few things you can do to help make yours more effective. "You have to be open and let the universe do its thing, but the more you can elaborate on the dream that you're manifesting, the better it's going to be," says Mesa. This means selecting elements that are specific to what you're trying to manifest (i.e. an image of a person who has the specific profession you're aiming for vs. a more generic businessperson photo). (Related: How to Be Creative — Plus All the Perks It Has for Your Brain)
Creating an effective vision board also requires more than just cutting and pasting images; you want to focus on the emotions you feel when imagining your dreams being realized. "The more you can be sure of what it is you're aspiring to achieve or become, the more specific the cutout, the more you involve emotions, the better," explains Mesa. Imagining a positive future can provoke positive emotions, and positive emotions can often increase your chance of achieving success, according to Psychology Today.
Before putting pen (or glue stick) to paper, however, make time for a "planning phase," says Hessling. "It's important to really visualize not only your goals but also the process of achieving those goals." Journaling can help get ideas flowing if you're still not sure what exactly you want to manifest and then help you outline some of the emotions and intentions that go along with your goals. There aren't set rules on what you journal about and for how long. It can be as simple as making a list of emotions you want to feel in your day-to-day life or as complicated as mapping out specific steps to take to accomplish your dreams — it's up to you. If you need a few prompts to get started, think about what actions you'd need to take to achieve your vision, what obstacles you might face along the way, and how you'd overcome them. After you're finished journaling, you can then start searching for photos, clippings, and quotes that represent these hopes for the future. (Related: How to Use Visualization to Achieve All of Your Goals This Year)
It may help to repeat a positive affirmation as you look back on your vision board after you make it, so you can still feel like you're doing something actionable with it and keeping its message alive. Even saying something as simple as "I deserve good and happy things in my life," is enough to get you in a positive mindset, which experts believe is key to getting what you want.
You can technically create a vision board whenever inspiration strikes. But Mesa suggests using astrological events as a good indicator of when to start a vision board, since creating your board around new beginnings is ideal. (Think: New Year's resolutions.) For example, the zodiac wheel starts over with Aries season beginning on March 20, so that could be a good time to make a board. The most important rule about making vision boards? Do what feels right to you.
Whether you believe in their power or not, spending some time on yourself and making space to picture what you want your life to include is always a good idea.