What *is* a Vision Board, Exactly? A Break Down
Updated: Apr 12
By Gaby Abrams
Vision boards have come a long way. Once upon a time you had to rely on images from your favorite glossy magazines and hack together something that looked like a preschool art project.
If you’re anything like, ohhhh….everyone I know, then you probably have some big goals that you haven’t met yet. Every year you’re like, “Yes, got it! This is the year!” And then February comes around, and you forget about it.
Next January…same goal, same result. Sound familiar?
If this is you (spoiler alert: it’s you), there’s probably one of two reasons for it. The first is that you don’t actually believe that you can achieve your goal. Oh, sure, in a hypothetical world, anything is possible. But in your brain, sometimes it’s a different story.
The second possibility is that you don’t really want that goal. You just feel like you “should” want it, but you’re not really feeling it at your core.
We don't have time for those “should” goals. They clutter our lives and keep us from focusing on the goals that are actually important to us. And they make us feel awful about ourselves.
The good news? Building a purposeful and authentic vision board is easier than you think, and it can actually help you rewire your brain and break through these barriers to success.
Step 1: Open up Canva or Photoshop and set up a 12x18 document. (Alternatively, you can buy a piece of poster board and use that.)
Step 2: Set your goals!
Be as specific as possible— the universe needs to hear exactly what you want. Don’t just say, “I want to make more money.” Set actual dollar amounts. Don’t say, “get fit”— say you’ll go to the gym 4x a week for an hour at a time. And don’t be afraid to get greedy! You can have it all, and you shouldn’t feel bad asking for it.
As you’re doing this, take everything a step deeper.
At a recent vision boarding workshop that I did, someone joked about adding a pair of shoes. “Why the shoes?” I asked her. She wasn’t sure.
Here’s the thing: realistically, we can afford the shoes right? Even if you really wanted a pair of, say, $1500 shoes, I bet you could come up with a dozen ways to be able to afford them. So what do they represent? Do they represent you learning to treat yourself? Is there a goal you need to meet before you feel like you’ll “deserve” them? Maybe it represents what you think successful people “should” look like. Either way, there’s a lot more going on there. Try to figure out what that is!
Step 3: Find images to bring your goals to life.
The purpose of this is to make the unfamiliar familiar.
These images are going to help you visualize your goals, and in doing so, you’re going to trick your brain into creating a memory of the event, so that your brain sees it as something that already happened and is therefore POSSIBLE.
For this purpose, I make my images as realistic and familiar as I can. If you want to have a certain amount in your savings account, get an image of your actual bank statement and photoshop the amount you want. If you want to write a book, make a book cover with YOUR face and dream title. Dreaming of being featured in Forbes? Photoshop articles and write your name in the byline.
You NEED to trick your brain into thinking your goals can actually be achieved. Otherwise your brain will always resist and find ways to sabotage you. Break through your limiting beliefs!
Step 4: Make it emotional.
Print and hang your vision board somewhere that you’ll see it every day (I have mine next to my desk). Pay attention to the emotions that the images bring up for you.
I have found that my vision board is an amazing way for me to not only identify what really excites me, but also to help me uncover my fears and doubts. See what comes up for you.
Do you feel anxious every time you see that big sum of money sitting in your vision board “savings account?” You probably have some money blocks you need to work on. When you see your “article,” do you have some visibility fears popping up? Maybe your “book cover,” makes you cringe, because you can’t bear leaving your children for a book tour.
These are all really valid fears and emotions, and if you don’t deal with them, you’re going to subconsciously sabotage your success. It’s so much better to deal with them now rather than later!
And make sure you visualize yourself actually doing the work to reach these goals. Your vision board isn’t a trophy collection; it's a way for you to design a life you love.
When you visualize that, you may find that some of the things you thought you wanted are actually not for you at all. Last year, I thought I wanted a store someday. I put a really cute pink storefront on my vision board, and I even mocked-up my logo on the window and designed it to be an “About” page on a website.
Guess what happened? I hated that store! Every day I sat at my desk and felt super resentful imagining myself sitting in traffic driving to that store, managing employees, rushing out to make it to pick-up on time. Do you know how happy I am that I found that out when my store was only on my vision board?!
And that’s the beauty of a vision board. You can make it totally YOU. If something stops feeling right, re-do it! Cover that image with a better image. Keep tweaking.
Don’t be afraid to be authentically you.
Don’t set goals just because you feel like you should.
The more aligned your goals are with what you actually desire, the easier they will be manifest.