Looking for a creative, colorful way to make your dreams and goals feel more accessible than ever? Try vision boards, the Pinterest-friendly art project that advocates swear makes you more likely to achieve your goals.
TODAY spoke to two experts in the field, both who have been making vision boards for years, about how the boards can really help you meet your goals and for some tips on how to get started on the project.
What are vision boards?
A vision board is simply a physical reminder of what you hope to achieve in a certain timeframe. Typically featuring photos, words, and other visual displays, advocates for vision boards say that you can use them for anything from material goals to workplace achievements to lifestyle changes, but emphasize using them to highlight larger dreams.
"I would say, material things are all well and good," said Elizabeth Rider, a blogger and author who has been actively using vision boards for over a decade. "If there's something specific that you want, like a house or, you know, an item, whatever it is, that's great. More than anything, your vision board should focus on how you want to feel, you know, whether it's, you know, surrounded by family, of course makes most people feel comforted, or taking that next trip might make you feel accomplished. Whatever it is, focus on items that makes you feel a certain way, not just on material goods."
Joyce Schwarz, director of the Vision Board Institute, agreed with Rider's assessment.
"The vision board comes from your values and from the inside out, not just the outside, not all the Coach purses and not just travel," Schwarz said. "It's important to have it come from your values.”
Schwarz, who said that she has been creating vision boards since the 1980s and now runs an organization devoted to the practice, said that the important thing about vision boards is the combination of words and pictures which allow people to "latch on to."
"It provides a path for them to move forward," she said.
Rider added that it's important not to spend too much time focusing on the future, even when mapping your goals.
"I think it's really important to live in the present and not in the future," Rider said. "But what we do in the present moment creates our future. So having a vision board, reminding you of what you want your vision of your life to look like makes you take daily action, take those steps towards what you want, but when you're visualizing you're in the present moment, which actually is beneficial because the more we're present the more we can actually create what we want."
Do they really help you achieve your goals?
Of course, simply putting some photos and phrases on a piece of paper or corkboard won't make them come true, but Rider says having a frequent, tangible reminder of what you want to achieve can make you more motivated to act.
"I started my first vision board, like 11 or 12 years ago, and I just noticed that every time I would put something on my vision board, something of the sort of would come true," she said. "For instance I wanted to be in to be in the top 25 salespeople in my company and I put an invitation to the sales gala on my vision board and next year, I was in the 25. ... It's not about just like, you know, magic things happening it's just about visualization. When you see something everyday you focus on it, and then see it kind of going."
A survey from TD Bank, published in 2016, found that people who keep vision boards of their "financial and other goals" are "almost twice as confident" about reaching those goals compared to people who do not. According to the study, 59% of the people who use vision boards or other imagery were confident about achieving their goals.
The study also noted that people who visualize their goals are "feel more accomplished and happy."
Schwarz added that vision boards allows people to take some time and "be grateful" and make sure they're being their best selves.
“When you're inviting yourself to be your best, we can help ourselves and move forward," she said. "When we do (that) and are grateful for what we have today, it allows us to release a lot of difficulties. That doesn't mean that you're going to have the perfect thing, doesn't mean your kid's not gonna cry ... Those are little everyday living challenges."
Checking your vision board frequently is an important part of the practice, which is why it's important to keep it in a room or area that you spend a lot of time in.
"One of the things you want to do is to make sure that you're staying on the vision path," Schwarz said. “Check yourself every week. (Ask yourself) 'OK, how am I living this vision? How can I live in today?'"
How do I get started?
The real joy of vision boards is that they can be as complicated or as simple as you'd like them to be.
"Depending on what your budget is, you can even just get like $1 poster board and cut it to the right size, or you could go on Etsy or online you can find like a really pretty corkboard or bulletin board that frame," Rider said. "There's a lot of options for what to actually use as your board."
When it comes to actually adding material, Schwarz said that you can aim for a specific goal or map out some general ideas for the coming months.
"I say do vision boards every season," she said. "And so now, you could do vision boards for the whole summer. And you might not want to keep going on, you might not want to do more than just three months of vision work. You can go ahead and say 'What are we really picturing for our family for this summer?'"
There's also no reason for a vision board to remain fixed, either — Rider recommends adding more to it as your dreams and goals grow and evolve.
"Don't feel like you have to complete it all at once," she said. "I do think it's a good idea to kind of sit down maybe turn off the TV, put on some music you like and start to create your board but don't feel like you have to fill it all up at the same time. You might be inspired by something next week, or, you know, things might change so don't feel like you have to like, you know, complete the project in one hour or less."
Schwarz said that in addition to including pictures that relate to your goals, your board should feature 'power words."
“Power words are important," she said. "You know, you have to kind of remember what these images stand for. Pick up power words. When you make power words you can find them in magazines, pictures, and print them out.”
The most important thing, though, is to make sure that your board is uniquely yours.
“Use a little of your own creativity, because you're creating your life," said Schwarz. "Look at that creativity, creating your life. You're co-creating your life with your heart, with your faith, and your universe. You can create your life.”