The Truth About Vision Boards

If I hadn’t gotten a really bad case of the flu five years ago I probably wouldn’t have heard the term vision board until a few years later. I’d been living out of my parent’s house for well over a decade but found myself snuggled in their bed watching back-to-back episodes of horrible sitcoms, drinking ginger ale, eating soup and downing cap fulls of NyQuil every few hours. After two straight days of laugh tracks and watching cliché characters blunder through wacky situations I was ready to scream. My dad rescued me from my bad television coma just in time.

My dad is one of those rare people who actually listens when you talk (instead of just waiting for his chance to put in his two cents). He also always has the perfect advice for pretty much every problem. He’s able to move between social worlds with ease. He’s just as comfortable in a biker bar as he is in a fancy restaurant making small talk with a venture capitalist. Even though he says some of the most brilliant things I’ve ever heard another human say, he actually spends most of his time observing and listening. He dresses well, exercises every day, watches what he eats, writes a gratitude list every morning, meditates, takes naps, rides a motorcycle, has a huge mustache and lots of tattoos, is an entrepreneur AND he’s a barber. My cousin calls him ‘The American James Bond’. Yes, my dad is THAT cool. I describe him as a biker/barber/Buddhist. If I told you all the ways that he’s inspired me to be independent, confident as well as just a better human being, this post would go on forever. I will say that one of the most important things I’ve learned from him is to be grateful for what you have, examine your life and move towards changes that will improve it.

Knowing my dad, it was no surprise that the movie he brought in to relieve me from my sitcom boredom was The Secret. If you’re not familiar with The Secret, first off, I’m shocked. When it came out you couldn’t enter a bookstore without being bombarded by the displays and clever advertising that made you desperate to buy the book or movie so that you could find out the secret to life. If you did watch the movie or read the book you probably realized that you already knew the secret. If you didn’t, don’t bother, I’ll tell you the secret right now… Are you ready? The secret is that your thoughts, feelings and actions control your life (and in a way, the universe). It makes sense, right? If you think your life sucks, it will suck. If you think positively and envision and work hard towards your goals, chances are your life will be better. I don’t want to get super philosophical here but it’s all about perspective, figuring out what you want and taking steps towards your goals. Now that we know that, how do we figure out what we want and keep tabs on ourselves to make sure we’re keeping our goals in mind daily? There are many ways you can do this: journaling, therapy, planning, list-making, talking with a trusted friend, being creative and of course… Making a vision board (which is one of the things The Secret suggests).

Before you go crazy thinking I’m living in a house filled with dream catchers and self-help books, let me make it really clear. I don’t have a single dream catcher. I’m not new-agey and I only watched The Secret once during my desperate and vulnerable flu-induced state. Now that you know that, I’m ready to reveal something about myself that only a handful of people know. I made a vision board. Yes, I crossed that line and I attempted to collage my way into the perfect life. Did it work? Yes and no.

A few months ago I was in Palm Springs for Delilah’s bachelorette party and without even thinking much about what I was doing, I brought along a huge stack of magazines and picked up poster boards, scissors and glue sticks on the way. In other words I entered the Palm Springs getaway with all the supplies for everyone (myself included) to create a vision board. Even though I’d watched The Secret years before I’d still never taken the leap into making my own poster board collage of what I want out of my one precious life.

The Palm Springs weekend was filled with lots of sun, laughs, amazing food and copious amounts of margaritas. There was so much happening that I completely forgot about my vision board quest until the last day. I was heading into the house to grab some snacks and freshen up my drink when I saw the stack of magazines and poster board staring at me from the dining room table. Okay. Okay.  I’ll make a damn vision board! I tried to be nonchalant about it. I grabbed the supplies and sat down at the big wooden table on the patio and quietly called out to the crew swimming in the pool and lounging in the grass, “Hey guys,” I said in almost a whisper, “I’m going to make a vision board. If anyone wants to make one too, I have enough stuff for all of us.”

One other person joined me and we sat quietly for an hour or so tearing images and words from magazines then we carefully cut them and glued them onto our poster boards. When our boards were filled, we decided to look at each others and try to interpret what we thought they meant. Neither of us had our minds blown by what we’d put on them. It wasn’t like I had a bunch of photos of astronauts and suddenly realized that I’d always wanted to travel in space. All the things on my board were things I’d already been thinking about and lots of them were things I’d already been working towards.

I guess in a way my vision board solidified that what I thought I wanted was what I actually did want or maybe I was too controlled when I choose my images and didn’t let my mind go into that unknown subconscious space where our deepest desires and dreams reside. Either way, I don’t feel like my time making my vision board was wasted.

One of the things that ‘vision board experts’ urge you to do is to hang up your vision board in a spot where you’ll see it daily. This, I did not do. I live in a small house and my walls are filled with functional furniture and original artwork, none of which I was willing to let go of to hang up my gigantic vision board. Although I didn’t hang it up, I thought about the things I put on it and visited it where it lived, in my office behind the door.

Have I accomplished any of the things on my board since I made it five months ago? Again, I must answer, yes and no. One of themes of my vision board was getting in shape and I’m happy to say I’m nearly two months into changes in regard to exercise and healthy eating. I also had some images about connecting and quality time with my husband and I’m happy to say that several things in the past months have fit towards this goal. Being financially sound was another theme. I haven’t outsmarted my student debt or started a retirement fund yet but they’re officially on my list of things of things to do. Several of my images also revolved around being grateful and present and I’m proud to say that I’ve had some lovely moments of presence and gratefulness recently. I haven’t yet taken a tropical vacation (something else screaming out at me from my vision board) but I have started looking into places to go that fit my budget.

So, did my vision boarding work? It didn’t shed light onto anything I’d hadn’t been thinking about but it did solidify my urge to accomplish things that had been on my mind. You can check out some images from our trip to Palm Springs and my excursion into vision boards below. By the way the place we stayed in Palm Springs was amazing! If you’re looking for a house to rent there, check out Iconic Palm Springs Rentals.

If you want to create your own vision board, here are my suggestions:

1. Grab a variety of magazines: Don’t just pick glossy magazines filled with pretty pictures. Mix it up. Bring in a trashy magazine or a magazine you wouldn’t normally pull into the mix along with favorites like Anthology, Mollie Makes or Uppercase.

2. Get a large piece of white poster board. Images in magazines are often pretty big and having a large canvas to work with expands your options.

3. Create your vision board in a space that frees you for creative thought. If you work best in a place with lots of background noise, don’t make your vision board in a quiet room. If you feel your most creative in the morning, consider making your vision board right when you wake up.

4. Choose the right cohorts. If you decide to make your vision board with another person or people, make sure you’re totally comfortable with those people and that they’re comfortable with you. It will be hard to tap into your inner desires if you’re worried about what people around you will think.

5. Dedicate some time to thinking about your vision board. What’s the use of making a vision board if you don’t examine what you created? Spend a bit of time thinking and talking (if you do it with someone else) about the images and words you choose.

6. Create an action plan to accomplish your goals. I’m not going to tell you that you must hang your vision board in a place where you’ll see it every morning (even though that’s a good idea). However, I will urge you to pay attention to what’s on it and think long and hard about if you truly want those things. If you do, you should break down the big things into small action items that once accomplished will lead you to (or at least closer to) your ultimate goals. For help with setting intentions and accomplishing your goals check out Kari Chapin’s post here.

*If you’re still not quite sure what a vision board is, check out these articles here and here or read this one about why you should throw your vision board away.

I’d love to hear your thoughts on vision boards. Have you ever made a vision board? Did you fulfill your desires? What do you think about making vision boards?

-Nicole S.



















  1. Loved hearing your experience on the vision board. I’m not a big believer in thinking visualization only since duh you have to do work to make it happen and maybe it works or not but theres’s always something good out of it. I’ve contemplated making one for a while and even have the suppliers all ready. I’ve even read the posts from various bloggers some are totally pro and at least one is completely against. I still want to put it together if for no other reason that I love tearing things from magazines. nothing wrong in my book with getting clarity on what you want in life at this time and I think pictures are great for getting clarity (the whole ‘pictures are worth a thousand words’ thought). maybe i’ll just think of it as getting better clarity and not like a magic wand that miraculously makes it all happen. p.s. your dad obviously rocks!

  2. Thanks Tess! I’m so glad you liked reading about my experience. I totally agree that a vision board won’t change your life but it can clarify what you want. Your actions are what changes your life 🙂 And, yes my dad rocks 🙂

  3. Thank you for such an inspiring article, Nicole! My experience of making a visionboard was a bit disappointing. Probably because I should be more realistic and focus on the most important of my plans. My visionboard as well as my mind was kind of a mess) But now I’m ready to make a refined one!)
    Congratulations for having such cool dad)

  4. I loved reading this, again I am reminded why it is you are in my life and how what you do and what you write inspire me and validate the best parts of me. I have a board I did years before The Secret was written. I had taken a class in Connecticut in 1990 called The Seeds of Spirit. Our collage was called the Treasure Map to Ourselves. I still have that map. Some of the things I accomplished, some were ideals, but it put down on paper what my highest version of myself and the path that I led after that was guided by that map.
    Thanks again Nicole, stay Awesome.
    “Stay Golden Pony Boy!”

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.