Vision Boards for Career & Dream Exploration (It’s Not Just for Hippies!)

What is a vision board? How to create a vision board? These are the questions that this article will try to answer.

This was originally posted on this blog (and spotlighted on BlogHer) in 2012.

I am a career counselor and teacher by training and experience. I trust this process as a helpful tool in career and dream exploration.

If you are unfamiliar with it, I hope this article will be helpful.

 What is Vision?

The definition of “vision” that we are looking at with regard to creating a vision board is “the act or power of imagination.” 

[vizh-uhn]

a : the act or power of seeing : sight
2a : something seen in a dream, trance, or ecstasy; especially
b : a thought, concept, or object formed by the imagination
3a : the act or power of imagination
(for the full definition: vision)

 

A vision board is essentially a creation of imagination.

It is either compiling your dreams into a physical, viewable form, or it’s finding out what your dreams actually are, and compiling that in form that makes sense to you. It’s usually created with images, but if you are blind, I’m sure something more tactile would work.

I think many people in America confuse this bit about “vision” and about “wanting” something with what mainstream tells us we should want – stuff, mainly. You know, a new car, a big house, plump retirement plans. Slim bodies, ageless faces, yada, yada, yada.

What I found in my years of counseling people was that at the very heart of it, people don’t care so much about that stuff. No. In our core, in that deep and still place inside, we yearn for our own unique life experiences, for things that are not things, but rather feelings, emotions, opportunties, learning, growth. Love – we all want love.

When I heard that enough times to understand that it’s truly universal, I realized that there is room for us all.

What I mean when I say that I realized that there is room for us all is that I realized that none of us are actually in direct competition with each other. We’re not in direct competition with each other because none of us wants exactly the same thing. Each desire is unique, each vision of that desire is different, and the expression of it all is different.

 

We get tired, this shlepping from job to home to family to life and it takes its toll. It’s hard to frame that desire – pull it out, even – and I think we often keep it tucked away inside us as we go about the day-to-day.

And sometimes we don’t even know what it is we want.

Creating a vision board is a great exercise for fleshing out those desires, sometimes hidden, sometimes unknown and sometimes achingly clear. 

At whatever stage you might be, it’s a handy tool.

This is how I make my vision board:

What you need:

  • Magazines, lots of them, and a wide variety at that – even reach for the magazines that you don’t normally read. (beauty shops and the library are my go-to places for free old ‘zines)
  • Glue – I recommend using spray-on adhesive type, rubber cement and glue sticks. 
  • Scissors. Sharp ones. I usually have a razor blade as well, for some harder-to-cut items
  • Poster board. I think it’s worth it to just buy good presentation board (it’s between $3-5) rather than used cardboard, but whatever
  • Any other types of art/embellishments: glitter, pages from art books, story lines (I love Griffin and Sabine)… there are no rules here
  • Music is great. Something that truly floats your boat
  • Space
  • Time. I have done mine in increments, but you really need to have at least a couple hours an increment to really *get into it*

This session:

I created a vision board right after I got married.

It was a great vision board. It helped me actively develop my vision for that time, and helped me to see what my goals actually were.

It gave me something to dream about as well (babies! long driving trips to Mexico!)

 

That board served me well.

For this next board, I wanted to keep a few elements from the old one, like the newborn baby images, but wanted the rest of it to reflect my changed vision.

what is a vision board and how to make one

I set up my materials

 

My boy was working his cardboard model wheel on the table across from me.

 This is another thing that I love about making a vision board – while it’s easier to focus and do it alone (or with friends), if you are in a pinch, you can do it with your kid(s).

Just get them set up, have the music going and they will be happy.

I haven’t had the chance to work at it alone for a long, long time – and that’s okay.

This is a kid-friendly activity.

 

Getting Your Board Set Up

There are a few approaches to cutting/collecting what you want on your board.

In one, you have an idea of exactly what you want – and you find those images in the magazines, or you find them online and print them (or better, draw/paint them yourself!).

But sometimes you don’t know what you want.

Flipping through a wide variety of magazines and randomly cutting out the things that are interesting to you will serve you  with a big pile of images and maybe words that you can sift through and use – or not – later.

That’s important to remember because as you create your vision board and focus on what it is that makes YOU happy, don’t allow thoughts of possibility/impossibility to enter. Just focus on what visually makes you happy in the images.

Forget about what anyone told you that you ought to want or should do, forget about (or try to forget about) the years of conditioning on what “makes sense” or is “responsible.” Just flip through the magazines and cut out things that make you happy or you like. 

If you do this, then assemble and glue on the images, you will see themes emerge from what you cut out. This happens usually without you even being aware of it!

For this board, I was specifically seeking images of couples – My One True Darling Man and I have a really hard time managing the logistics of Date Night – and just spending time together the two of us.

Romance gets lost in the wayside of raising two small children. So I specifically wanted to have us reflected in my vision.

And…it’s hard to find pictures of happy normal couples! This is what I was coming up with:

Um, yeah. Or this:

 Totally us, no?

Redbook was a surprising fount of sexy-stuffs:

"twister"? a vibrator ad?!
"masque" - are you kidding me?!!!

Hilarious though they were, “intimate massager” and “flavor enhancer” visuals were not what I was looking for… 

My point: it can take a while sometimes before you find what you are looking for or what feels right to you.

Don’t settle for less.

 This little gem I loved – I wish I could find more like it.

Kids engaged in super-cool activity, kids exploring, kids traveling.

I was really looking for pieces that reflected what I wanted for my kids.

 

Vision Board Coming Together

My new vision board came together over a period of a couple of weeks.

It was exciting to see it emerge, this new vision that I have and will remain mine until either the vision shifts or new details emerge.

There were things that I was completely expecting to see there, like travel, living life with moxie.

I was surprised to see how much running-related ended up there – I guess it’s even more important to me to try and keep with running than I thought it was.

That’s another thing that I love about vision boarding: even when I think I know everything about the vision that is in my heart and what I want for my future, the action of creating tangible, visible evidence of that vision always gives me something to be surprised about, something that I wasn’t fully aware was there.

 

Where to Put Your Completed Vision Board

The act of creating the vision board was powerful process and the end product is important.

You want to be sure to place your vision board in an area of your house or office that you look at often. Above your computer or workstation, in your kitchen, or by your alter if you have one are all solid choices but you know what’s best.

The most important thing is to place it in an area that you look at often.

Tucked away behind something? No.

Your vision board stays out and in a place you can look at often, and absorb pieces of.

Take your completed vision board one step forward with journaling about the themes you see in your board.

Take those those themes and create a plan for yourself.

For more information on things to do with a completed vision board, sign up for my career development newsletter (here) – you’ll get all the new posts directly.

Vision Board: How to Make a Vision Board and Why it Matters
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Meriah
is a deaf blogger, global nomad, tech-junkie, cat-lover, Trekkie, Celto-Teutonic-peasant-handed mom of 3 (one with Down syndrome and one gifted 2E).
She likes her coffee black and hot.
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5 Comments

  • I used to do this when I was a kid …I never realized what I was doing, and haven’t thought of it in a while. I’m so glad to read this post. Thanks for sharing! I’m so glad I saw you on Make My Monday 🙂

  • I really love this and am going to do it once things settle down with the school schedule here. I’ve made a small vision board before, but that was years ago and it’s long since outdated. Thanks for the inspiration!

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