Vision Boards are more than just a fun art project
They are an effective way to get new ideas and motivation for what you want to create in your life, to make a claim on the Universe for what you want, and to juice up your mojo around your intentions.
Ask any advertising executive, and they’ll tell you that well-chosen visuals can help you step into any experience. Companies spend millions of advertising dollars on videos, images and sounds to give you that “Wow, that could be me!” feeling that makes you want to buy whatever they are selling.
So why not take advantage of this known science for yourself, and use it to move thoughtfully and intentionally toward a future you love? A vision board is a fun and creative way to do this.
How does a vision board help you to manifest something you want?
The power of images is immense. Like music, images can act as a gateway to the subconscious mind, opening doors not usually available during your normal, busy day. Working with a vision board capitalizes on this innate subconscious access to help you overcome resistance to having what you want, while at the same time instilling a mindset of acceptance and expectancy that allows you to receive your desires when they show up. A regular vision board practice will also help you stay focused on your goals and will train your brain to recognize opportunities that move you toward achieving them.
Over time, these changes can have a significant impact on your inner reality and will prepare you for outward results.
Reprogramming your brain to release emotional blocks and overcome resistance
The first step toward creating something new in your life is to make space for it, physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually. This can be a challenge if your life is full of old baggage and clutter.
If you want a new partner, clean your closet to prepare your home. If you want a new job or to retire, plan your exit strategy or “off-ramp” from your current position.
The same applies emotionally as well. You must make space mentally and clear away any internal resistance to having whatever it is that you want.
Recognizing and Releasing Emotional Blocks
One easy way to recognize internal resistance is to simply pay attention to the thoughts that cross your mind when you think about whatever it is that you desire.
For example, you might hear old programming telling you, “You’re too old to find a new romantic partner!” Or “Suck it up, Buttercup. There is no perfect job! Get over it.” Or how about this little beauty, “Maybe, it’s just not in the cards for me.” (I have literally said those words before with much resignation and personal drama. Yikes! 😂)
Sadly, this “poor, poor, pitiful me” story that we tell ourselves comes from pain and unrealized dreams. Being stuck is heart-breaking! But it’s important to be aware that these stories stop us dead in our tracks and prevent us from having the life we want.
Undressed from all the drama and hurt, their true nature is that they are simply excuses designed to block us from throwing caution to the wind and going for the gold.
Venturing out of your comfort zone is scarier than sucking it up and doing nothing, so your brain throws up obstacles to prevent you from getting out there and dating, or starting that new business, or taking the art class you’ve been eyeing. It’s logic: if you don’t try, there is no risk of damaging your self-esteem with failure or embarrassment.
But at what cost?
If your excuses are preventing you from reaching your hopes and dreams (or even trying!), they aren’t protecting you from hurt and suffering. Rather, they are keeping you in perpetual hurt and suffering. So while this negative self-talk may have good intentions—trying to keep you safe from heartache, disappointment or failure—it’s really harming you every day that it stands in your way. Instead of helping you, it keeps you in pain, want and lack.
This is why it’s so important to clear all the garbage out of your psyche. Otherwise, your subconscious mind will secretly conspire against your efforts, holding you back and making progress much harder than it needs to be. But if you can quiet that internal resistance and negative thinking at a deep level, not just superficially, you can make space for new opportunities and abundance.
Working with your vision board can help you with that process.
Desensitization is the process of reducing or eliminating an emotional response triggered by a particular stimulus, typically through repeated exposure. Over time, the severity of the emotional response will decrease, and may eventually even shift to something new.
For example, studies show that over a prolonged period of exposure to violence, participants’ perception of the level of harm being done shifted from alarm and repulsion at the onset of the study, to complacency or even arousal by the end of the study.
The same applies when faced with a repeated positive stimulus as well. For example, a special annual ritual that you cherish, like Samhain or Winter Solstice or even just a monthly dinner with friends, can be a joyfully anticipated delight. But if that ritual occurred every day for any significant period of time, the magic would wear off pretty quickly.
So let’s take a look at how we can use desensitization to pave the way for better manifesting.
If you hold any internal resistance to having what you desire, repeated exposure to your desires through your vision board can lessen that resistance. Each time you interact with your desires on your board, your subconscious is watching and building evidence to determine whether this interaction is a threat or not. Over time, your repeated interaction with the items on your board day-in and day-out, with no harm done, will eventually lull your brain into complacency and turn off the “danger alert” mode that was originally being triggered. When this happens, the negative internal feedback related to having what you want will decrease or stop.
For example, if you add a photo to your vision board of something that you currently believe is out of reach, negative thoughts may pop up right away when you start intentionally working with your board. But over time, any initial negative reactions will diminish to background noise (or maybe go away altogether). Instead of your subconscious demanding your attention and causing self-doubt, you might actually find silence, or maybe even curiosity.
When the nagging voice of doom finally stops barking, congratulations! You have successfully cleared out some of your emotional baggage, and are on your way to something new.
Getting Comfortable Having What You Want
So far, we’ve focused on resistance and our brain’s natural inclination to repel new ideas that are outside our comfort zone. But now that you know how your vision board practice can help you to mitigate negative self-talk, so that you don’t block what you are wanting, it’s time to look at the flip side of the coin: getting your body and mind used to the feeling of actually having what you want.
Part of the struggle with allowing new experiences and opportunities into your life is that even the most pleasant developments can be an unexpected jolt to your system, throwing you off balance. If you have never ridden a bike before, or it’s been a long time, that first ride might be difficult, if not injurious. 😮
The same holds true for new territory in work, travel, romance, friendships, and other life experiences. No matter what you are embarking on, if you are a newbie or are out of practice, you might want to brush up on your skills a bit before launching full tilt.
Common sense tells you that if you are traveling to Chile and don’t speak Spanish, you might want to learn how to use a translation app on your phone, review a map of the region where you will be staying, or talk to others who have been there to avoid common foibles.
Similarly, it is also helpful to prepare your emotional body for new experiences and feelings as well.
Without proper preparation, manifesting something new into your life can sometimes feel overwhelming when it finally shows up. If you aren’t prepared to receive, you can accidentally turn away or sabotage the very thing you have been wanting when it arrives.
This can be avoided by normalizing your desired experiences in your mind and body now, in advance.
Using a vision board is a great way to do this.
Normalization is when something new is no longer strange and uncomfortable. Rather, it has become familiar.
When trying to manifest something new, it is good to normalize the feelings of the new experience in your mind and body before they show up in your life. Otherwise, a sudden influx of new experiences can be confusing and overwhelming, especially if you had previously believed these experiences were beyond your realm of possibility. In this state, it can be difficult, if not impossible, to receive what you have manifested.
For example, if you are not used to feeling in love, you may be skeptical when a good romantic partner shows up in your life, and you might turn them away. If you are not mentally and emotionally ready to take that cruise that you’ve been dreaming about, when the opportunity presents to go with friends, you might not be able to make your decision to buy swiftly before it sells out. Or you may not have the money set aside, even if you could have afforded it with a little pre-planning.
These kinds of errors can undermine opportunities even when they are already at your doorstep, just waiting for you to say yes!
But you can combat these unnecessary failures by normalizing the experience you want in your body and mind ahead of time. That way, when an opportunity for what you want finally presents itself, you will be comfortable enough to take swift, positive action and receive your good.
Working with your vision board can help you prepare.
How to work with your vision board for best results
There are a number of different ways to use a vision board. It really just depends on how much time you want to commit to working with it.
For some people, simply the act of creating their vision board is enough to satisfy them. The journey was the desired outcome, and they are done. Others may choose to hang their vision board in a place where they can see it frequently and admire it when they feel like it. This helps them keep their goals in mind and will give them a quick energy infusion whenever they glance at it. Terrific!
At their most fundamental level, vision boards are intended to be a fun, creative process to get your energy flowing. So if you feel complete with either of these simple, easy-breezy approaches, that’s wonderful. Sometimes, “good” is good enough. Do it!
But if you want to use your board as a serious manifesting tool, for best results, you will want to work with your vision board regularly. Doing so will help you transform the relationship you have with the things you desire, creating openness, acceptance and positive expectancy. This will allow you to more easily move in the direction of your dreams.
Below are a few simple techniques that can help you amp up this process.
#1 – Make some focused time to work with your vision board daily or weekly
When working with your vision board, you will want to make sure that you have time to be fully present and mindful, if only for a few moments each day. It doesn’t have to be a long, drawn-out process. You can focus on a single item each time you work with your board, or multiple items, whatever works best for you.
Regardless of your approach, keep this time free from distraction so that you can focus and feel the work you are doing. Treat it as an opportunity to step away from the rush and hustle of your day, and relish these few moments alone with your dreams. This will feed your subconscious and nurture your desires, helping you to bring them to fruition.
#2 – Make your vision board work sacred
If you intend to use your vision board as a sincere spiritual tool, I would recommend you consider your time with it sacred, and approach it with reverence and earnestness.
For starters, have a designated space or room that is peaceful and private while you work. It doesn’t have to be a permanent space dedicated only to your vision board. It could be your favorite reading nook or your kitchen table. But it should be a place where you can minimize external distractions temporarily so that you can be fully present and grounded.
Using the same space each day, will help you to create ritual around your vision board work. You might also want to include a gesture or action to help you switch gears and step into a feeling of divine connection before you begin. For example, you could ring a bell, light a candle, or take a slow, deep, intentional breath, then exhale your worries and cares before beginning.
And of course, all good ritual includes a closing as well. You could take another moment of centering, blow out the candle, or ring the bell again. If you are witchy, you could cast a circle to start and close it to end. Whatever you choose, just think of it as magical bookends around your work. Aim for something that speaks to you and helps you get in the zone, and you will be good to go.
#3 – Connect with the items on your board from a place of emotional satisfaction
Once you are centered, take time and look at each item on your vision board with starry eyes of loving appreciation and a warm heart.
Intentionally daydream about experiencing each item. Include as many senses as possible.
Is the sun shining?
Are there any pleasant smells that you associate with the experience?
Is there a physical sensation involved?
Also, focus on the positive emotions you experience during your mental excursion. How do you feel? Now notice how these emotions feel in your body.
Soak in all the good feelings and sensations you experience as you linger on each item.
#4 – Anchor the “good vibes” in your body
So far, your vision board work has been mostly mental, linking conscious (desires) and subconscious (emotions), plus some general awareness of how those emotions feel in your body. But let’s go a step further.
Did you know that your body has memory? Body memory is powerful and can trigger powerful emotions, positive or negative, depending on the experience that created the body memory.
For example, trauma is often stored in the body and can be triggered unexpectedly by pain or specific touchpoints. These triggers can cause sudden, unwanted, spontaneous reactions.
But body memory isn’t limited to only negative associations. Positive associations can also be stored in the body. We can intentionally do this using a technique called body anchoring.
When used as part of your vision board process, your experience evolves from a mental and emotional exercise to a physical one as well. This creates a more multi-faceted approach to your manifesting work, further enhancing your ability to receive.
To place a body anchor, imagine how it will feel to experience your desire. When you are fully entrenched in the positive vibes of your dream, intentionally touch or massage a specific place on your body that feels relevant and appropriate.
For example, let’s say that you want a new house, and you have a section on your vision board of some great photos that really exemplify the vibe of the kind of house you want.
Do all your normal steps of bonding with the photos and visualizing what it is to be in your new home. Feel the love in your body.
Then, while you are intimately connecting with the energy of the experience of your new home, gently, lovingly or gratefully touch or massage a point on your body while you continue to hold that expansive, full-up feeling of having what you want. This will help you to anchor your positive feelings for your desires in your body, creating a deeper neural pathway each time you repeat the exercise, and adding another dimension to your manifesting work.
Don’t overthink this technique. It’s very simple.
For example, you can cross your hands over your heart, touch your fingers together, or cradle your hands together in front of you in a posture of receiving and thanksgiving. Or, if you notice that your heart chakra is warm and full-up, you might want to rub your chest where your heart is.
As long as the anchor point feels right to you and is a good intuitive fit (and not contrived), you are on the right path. Choose any point that makes sense to you. Experiment and find what works best for you.
(Note: If you have a history of trauma, be very mindful using this step and choose your anchor points appropriately. And, of course, always be kind to yourself and your body. Your relationship with yourself at all levels is central to your healing journey.)
Body Poses & Mental Rehearsals
Similar to using body anchors, you can also use body poses to anchor certain feelings in your body while working with your board.
Body poses are powerful conductors of energy. They directly affect your psyche and overall well-being. So whatever pose or physical action you choose, make sure it feels right for the sentiment you want to experience.
Athletes do mental rehearsals before competitions as an important part of their preparation. You can do the same to try on new attitudes and ways of being, through visualization and also using body poses and play-acting “as if” you are already having the experience you desire.
For example, if you want to tap into your inner warrior and build self-confidence, you might consider planting your feet firmly on the ground shoulder-width apart, chin slightly up, shoulders back. Really feel your body in this position. Use your imagination. Become the peaceful warrior, powerful and wise. Visualize standing your ground and speaking your truth with strength and equanimity. You might even want to make a declaration out loud to the Universe, or chant or yell. Notice how good you feel emotionally and in your body.
Feel free to really go wild with your imagination and try different things. Whether you would ever do a specific action or say the same words in public is irrelevant. What is important is that you feel the experience in your body and mind.
You may feel silly at first, but stick with it. It will get easier the more you practice, and eventually, this new way of being will feel more normal in your body and your mind. Over time, you may start to notice these practiced ways of being emerging in your public interactions, as well, which is the end goal.
Creating Positive Expectancy
Repeated mindful work with your vision board will slowly reprogram your brain to trust that the feelings and experiences you have anchored and practiced are both good and possible. It will also prepare you to receive what you want when it arrives. But in order to manifest what you desire, there is another function that must be actively working for you, as well, to help you spot opportunities that could bring you closer to your dreams.
This capability is controlled by the part of your brain known as the Reticular Activating System (RAS). This system connects your subconscious and your conscious brain. It controls your wake/sleep cycles and basic levels of arousal or awareness.
Its function is to receive the billions of stimuli perceived by your senses, and then to quickly determine which sensory input to allow through to your conscious mind, and which to filter out and throw away. Without your RAS, you would be overwhelmed and unable to function. There would simply be too much competing information for your conscious mind to process at any given time.
So, how do you tell your RAS to send certain stimuli through to your awareness instead of filtering them out?
Every time you work with your vision board with intentionality and focus, you are telling your brain that the items you are focused on are important. More intentional exposure creates deeper neural pathways (channels in your brain) related to those items. And because the brain loves efficiency, when your RAS receives new stimuli related to what you have been focusing on, it will start sending that data down the channel you have created for it (i.e., to your conscious awareness).
Think of your brain function like a river. Where water flows repeatedly, channels are carved into the earth. The more water that travels through these channels, the deeper they get. At the same time, as a channel becomes deeper, more water naturally flows into it as gravity and inertia do their work.
Your brain is similar. Deeper pathways literally occur as a result of more familiarity (time spent) with certain things, feelings, or experiences in your life. Pathways used frequently work most efficiently. They are the first route for data flow from stimuli related to whatever created the pathway.
When working with your vision board regularly and intentionally, you are creating deeper pathways in your brain related to the items on your board. The more time you spend, the deeper the related neural pathways become. Your RAS will then prioritize related stimuli as relevant to your life, and will send them through to your conscious awareness (instead of dumping them in the trash with the other junk that bombards you every day).
That’s great news for you, because it means that the more time you spend working with your board, the more likely you will start seeing related opportunities “show up” in your everyday life—not because they weren’t there before, but because your RAS was previously filtering them out. As a result of your work, however, efficient pathways now exist and your brain will be happy to deliver new relevant data to your conscious awareness.
What to expect when working with your vision board
If you work with your board consistently, over time, you will see that you are moving closer and closer to what you desire, not because the board itself is magic, but because you identified what you wanted, captured its essence with images and art, and then used your board daily to remind yourself of your intentions.
If you willfully wrap yourself in the feelings and ideas of your board on a regular basis, you will see change in your life. The changes you experience may not look exactly like what you had pictured, but you will notice that you are lining up with the sentiment/feeling of your board.
Sometimes the changes you see may feel like you’re moving away from your goals.
Don’t worry, that’s normal.
Using your vision board every day will make you very clear and focused on what you want, which also means that you may become very aware of what you don’t want, especially if you find yourself in a situation that seems to be the antithesis of the items on your board.
If this happens, don’t be discouraged. This is great news and often a huge step forward!
I’m sure you’ve heard it said before, “Awareness is the first step of change.” Once you are aware of what isn’t working for you any longer, you can take a long, hard look at your choices and options, and the effect those things will have on your life. From there, you have the power to change your situation or choose not to.
Sometimes, making changes to get back into alignment with your desired intentions might be quick and easy—all you needed was the aha of noticing that your decisions were taking you off track. But other times, the choices can be much more difficult, requiring faith, perseverance, commitment to your highest intentions for yourself, and often some discomfort along the way.
Don’t be deterred! These moments of divine discontent are an important part of your manifesting journey.
I like to think of it as the Universe testing you to see if you are going to give up and settle for what you have now, or commit to keep moving toward your desires. If you quit, you will never know what could have been. If you commit to taking action, every step forward will build new confidence, starting a forward-moving machine that can propel you to where you want to be.
Remember how you developed those deep pathways that retrained your brain to focus on what you wanted? Don’t give up now. Persistence pays off!
*Spoiler: Most of my best decisions for my well-being and personal evolution have been the hardest decisions to implement because they have required a “leaping-off” of the known path. There was almost always a significant amount of fear involved. But these have also been the most rewarding decisions in my life. When you walk through the fear, instead of abandoning course, you will eventually come out on the other side, and you will be stronger, wiser, more resilient, and better equipped to continue on your journey.
Progress, not perfection!
After some time has passed working with your vision board, go back and notice the thoughts you now have about each item on your board. Have they changed?
What was once, “That would be nice, but there’s no way,” may suddenly sound more like, “Well, I guess I could do XYZ.” The perceived harm of what you would have to give up, or face, to step closer to your dreams starts to diminish over time.
You may never attain the exact situation on your board, but that’s OK. With persistence, you will move closer and closer to the experience you desire, stepping more and more deeply into living what you love. If you are really mindful about your life, and you truly want to get the most out of your vision board experience, consider that perhaps the journey is the destination.
Sure, you might get that big-ticket item you were wanting, but you might just as likely find that you didn’t need it because the feeling you were wanting was achieved well before your goal was met. Or maybe, you just become uninterested in something on your board. That’s OK too. This is about moving forward and experiencing abundance and creativity, not about absolute, concrete items and ideas.
This is why it’s so important to choose your vision board items based on the feelings they evoke as much as (or more than) the exact thing they represent. Feelings are the experience you desire—the adrenaline and power of driving a fast car, the endorphins of being in love, the comfy, cozy of warm apple pie or sitting by the fire—and sometimes, if you can remain open-minded, they can come in a much simpler, straightforward way than you were envisioning.
Creating Your Vision Board
Feelings are the currency of satisfaction.
Every well-done vision board sets a tone when you look at it. In other words, different vision boards will each have their own unique character. They can be joyful, intense, carefree, or motivational, to name a few. A good vision board will elicit feelings and spark your imagination. It might make you dream of romance, get in touch with your inner-warrior, or tap into some other specific vibe that you want to bring into your everyday life.
When choosing images and art for your vision board, be mindful of the emotions that each selected item evokes for you when you view it. Think about how you want to feel and the overall experience you want to create in your life. Choose items that inspire those emotions when you look at them. This will have the most effective impact when working with your board.
When you place items on your board, consider how they feel in the grand scheme of your design. If it feels good, do it! If it doesn’t, you might want to do a little re-arranging or pairing down.
And remember, one size does not fit all. Vision boards are very personal. Don’t compare yours with someone else’s in a critical way. You can ask for input if you’re stuck, but ultimately, this is about what looks and feels right to you, not anyone else.
Lastly, you don’t have to create a masterpiece to enjoy the journey, anything personal and heartfelt will do. And, your inner child will love you for it!
When is the best time to create a vision board?
Timing is everything—or not, in this case.
A lot of people like to create vision boards in January to map out possibilities, hopes, and dreams for their year ahead, but you can do a vision board for a specific project, an event, or something else too.
You can keep in mind the moon phases when making your vision board if that feels relevant to you. The full moon is a great time to launch new hopes and dreams. The new moon is better for introspection, reflecting on what is important in your life, dreaming up new ideas, and intention setting. You can also take advantage of a waxing moon for creating increase, or a waning moon for releasing and letting go.
Moon energy can always add some extra zing to your work. So if working with the moon speaks to you, simply consider the energy you wish to bring into your vision board creation experience and plan accordingly.
In short, there is no right time. It’s completely up to you. Do whatever feels good.
Let’s get started! Gather your supplies (and friends).
All you need is poster board, scissors, glue sticks and a stack of interesting magazines with good photos. Markers and paint are also welcome additions for adding designs or word art. And of course, for those who love the sparkle, glitter can be fabulous (but it’s also messy, so beware)!
Last but not least, for an extra mojo boost, consider inviting a few like-minded friends to participate. While you play together, your subconscious mind will happily soak in all the good feelings and create positive subconscious associations connecting your vision board party experience (friends, food, fun) with the images and ideas on your board that you wish to manifest.
So go ahead and invite a couple of friends that you enjoy spending time with. But whatever you do, have fun!
Want more practical tips for manifesting? The Art of Creation & Manifesting shares detailed steps on mental preparation, recognizing cosmic queues leading you toward your good, and inspired action steps for maximum manifesting results.