In the last two years, my friend and mentor, Ron Clifford, who runs a Thriving Photographers group on Facebook, has challenged group members with creating their own vision boards. I was hesitant at first for a few reasons, but the biggest reason is that I personally have an aversion to making plans and goals and sticking to them. But I was open to trying … so I did!

What’s a vision board?

It’s pretty much what it sounds like. You take your vision and put it on a piece of poster board. Simple, right? Well, maybe not quite that simple but in general terms that’s what it is. To create your vision board you gather up your thoughts, hopes, dreams and what you want for yourself, and find images that reflect those.

Get out your old magazines, print images from the internet, grab your scissors and start cutting out those images you find that show you what you want. Trips, travel, fame, fortune, income, a big project you want to do, that one idea that’s been in your head for years — all of these things will go on your vision board. Let me break them down a bit.

Goals

We all have them. Whether we visualize, vocalize, write them down or just keep them to ourselves they are there to give us something to reach for. Putting your goals, all of them or maybe one large one that seems just out of reach, on your vision board will help keep it in front of you, make you think about it, even work on it more than if it’s not visible.

Dreams

This is a fun one to add to your vision board. Think about the possibilities, what dreams do you have, what would you do if money were no object? What are those things you’ve always dreamt you could do, or who you always dreamt you could be? Where are the places you’ve always dreamed of going? Nothing is too big to imagine. Take your dreams and multiply them. Dream HUGE!

Road map

I’m sure you’ve heard this before; if you have no end destination you won’t know how to get there. With a vision board, you take control and create your destinations. You can see where you want to go and take the steps to get there. You can be able to recognize when something happens in your life that leads you in the direction of one of your dreams or goals and be able to act on it.

I created my vision board, now what?

Put your goals and dreams in front of you. Ultimately your vision board should be a physical poster board with your cut out images pasted on it. I realize in this technologically heavy world we live in that we don’t always have magazines laying around anymore. If it’s really not possible to make a physical board, create an electronic one — an “e-vision board” if you will. That’s what I did, then I made it my desktop wallpaper so I see it every single day.

Outcomes

Personally, with my two years of creating vision boards, not everything happens but quite a few things I had on my boards did happen. On my first vision board I added a gallery show, trips to Amsterdam and Berlin and quitting my ‘real’ job. All of those things happened. Yes, there were other items that didn’t, but they are in the works, still on my radar and I’m still working on them.

My next vision board included Antarctica, a huge dream trip that I never thought would be possible. Guess where I went? I led my first photography tour, I mentored other photographers and there was a bit more travel, all of which were items on my second vision board.

A vision board helped me focus a little bit more on what I really wanted, because it was there, because it made me stop every so often and think about what I was doing, question myself about what I was working on and if it were helping me to get where I wanted to go. It made and makes me think.

Ron Clifford’s story

Here’s Ron’s story about how he got started with vision boards:

“I made my first vision board in early 2015 and I did it rather reluctantly. After all, aren’t vision boards for dreamers and in the realm of woo woo wishful thinking? But alas, I found myself challenged to at least give it a try and after committing to it, I set out with scissors and glue and poster board and went old school on it. On it was travel as a guide to Antarctica, to do a Ted talk, to have a studio with old wooden floors, travel to Africa, presenting to audiences, CreativeLive and quite a few other things. Within a few days of completing the vision board, a future trip to Antarctica became a reality and over time, everything and more listed above came true. Except I haven’t been on CreativeLive …… yet ……

“It turns out I was wrong (don’t tell my wife I admitted that). It isn’t woo woo or wishful, it sets in place your intentions and creates a visual benchmark to give your faith something to move toward. I am now a believer in the power of vision boards to help people have something to believe in, and move toward. There is so much more to them than dreams and wishful thinking.”

When to create a vision board

Ron reminded me that there is no good or bad time to do this. It does not have to be a yearly thing and it does not have to start in the new year. Like anything that will help you move toward your dreams and goals, any time is a good time. Goals and dreams are fluid and they do not necessarily have deadlines. There are no rules other than to dream huge, as I said before. Ron also suggested going outside what you already know you will accomplish. This makes sense, we’re trying to push ourselves further, not just do what we know we’re going to do.

Do you already create a vision board for yourself? Will you give it a try? If you do, I’d love to hear how the process worked for you and what you learned from it.