From Oprah Magazine
Some of the world’s most influential thought leaders—Deepak Chopra, Gabrielle Bernstein, and Oprah, for starters—all agree: It’s wholly possible to turn your dreams into reality. It’s called manifestation. Well, that and hard work.
It’s not total magic, though. And it’s not something that happens overnight. For success with manifestation, you have to set your intention, believe that it will become a reality, then take active steps towards making that abstract idea come to fruition. No matter what your goals are—to learn how to relax, to be more patient, to improve your relationship, to travel more, to find a job you adore, or to simply be kinder to yourself—a vision board is a great tool to have during your journey.
But what exactly is a vision board? Put simply: It’s a visual representation of your goals, says media and life coach Zakiya Larry. These typically poster-sized visuals, contain all kinds of images and text that represent something you’re trying to accomplish.
Don’t confuse it with a mood board, though. While similar, they are not one in the same. A mood board is more of a planning tool used for aesthetics—decorating a room or planning a party scheme. A vision board, on the other hand, relates to your life direction, says Larry.
There are really no rules when it comes to vision boards, since it’s about crafting something that will inspire you to realize your dreams and goals on a daily basis. Some vision boards hone in on a singular idea, while others look at the bigger picture of what you might want the future to look like.
Does a vision board really work?
It turns out putting your goals on paper in this type of visual format can actually help you achieve them. It’s a notion that Oprah and other celebrities, like Reese Witherspoon, have touted before (though Oprah says she doesn’t use a vision board anymore because she’s a “powerful manifestor.”) And there is plenty of research to back it up.
According to Psychology Today, mental practices (like visualization) can increase motivation, confidence, and even motor performance. In fact, in one study, researchers found that, in athletes, visualization was almost as effective as physical practice.
It’s also a fun arts and crafts project that allows you to see what your goals would look like once you achieve them, says Larry. So, if, for example, you’re hoping to be more comfortable with your body, you might put pictures of happy, healthy women coupled with empowering words like “confidence” on your vision board.
Okay, ready? First, consider what matters most to you.
Take a moment of self-reflection and figure out what’s most important to you, says Larry. Think about the one or two segments of your life you really want to change and focus on the words those sectors bring to mind. Then, decide if your vision board should represent short-term or long-term change. Larry says using yearly benchmarks is most digestible and easiest to track progress.
Then, get out your magazines.
It’s time to hunt through your old stashes for visual representations of your goal. Or, you can always print images you see on Pinterest and Instagram.
If you want to make improvements to your kitchen, for example, you can clip a picture of a home that inspires you. Or, perhaps you’d like to finally take a vacation day. In that case, find yourself a palm tree pic and some glue.
Or, use online images.
If you prefer to go the digital route, there are plenty of free online programs to help you make your vision board. For simplicity, you could create a board on Pinterest. But if you want your digital vision board to more closely resemble a physical one, use an app like Canva, which can be used on your phone, tablet, or computer. You don’t need to be a graphic design expert—this program is free (you can pay a premium for added functionality and graphics) and is extremely beginner-friendly. Simply import your inspiration photos and arrange them into a collage on your blank digital canvas.
To make your vision board work, put it somewhere you can see it.
The trick is to make sure any words you use are short and the images you choose are vivid, attractive, and glossy, so your vision board regularly catches your eye, says Larry.
Once you’re done, put your vision board in a place that’s within your regular line of sight—your nightstand, your home office, or even by your television—because the key is to look at it as often as possible, says Larry.
If you’re not comfortable making such a statement with your vision board, Larry suggests creating a smaller version. You can cut your poster board in half, or use the largest photo frame you have on hand.
Alternatively, you can use your digital vision board as your laptop’s backdrop or your phone’s home screen.
And don’t be afraid to make updates…
Though a vision board is a wonderful tool to help you achieve your goals, you can’t just sit back and expect it to magically make things a reality.
Think of your vision board as a living thing—rip things off, add things, or start from scratch if you’re so inclined, says Larry. And be open to variations of what you want to achieve. For example, if your goal is to go vegan, don’t beat yourself up if you’re more of a vegetarian after six months or so.
“Sometimes we miss the fact that we’ve achieved something great, because it doesn’t look exactly like we thought,” says Larry.
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