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.” 


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

This blog now seems to have an audience that is made up of travelers, people with disabilities and parents of kids with special needs/disabilities. This makes sense to me, because, after all, living life in a unique way is something that all three of these groups have in common, right?


We travel to experience the world, for the thrill of the new. We travel to stretch ourselves, learn, have fun, see new things, eat. We travel to change landscapes, push ideologies, see, taste, experience, be.


When we have a disability, we venture forth into the world in a unique way, from different vantage points off the mainstream. Our senses, limbs, organs or thinking are wired up in a way that allows us to live life from a place that not everyone can experience. Living with a disability has much in common with traveling: they are both avenues of experiencing the new, a different way of doing something.

Parents of a Child with a Disability

A parent of child with a disability – or “special needs” as it’s becoming popular to say – is forced to venture forth into this unknown, this different way of doing things by virtue of the fact that their child is on this road. Like it or not, their child is on this path and if they want to help their child or allow their child to be all they can be, they need to learn to travel too.

We’re all on this road together. Some of us chose it. Some of us didn’t. Sometimes it’s framed in more sexy ways than others – “beaches in Baja” sounds way cooler than “brain injury” might, but you know what? In the end, you are sitting there and a butterfly passes you and you swear it winked. Which is to say: Your perspective on this world is going to shift dramatically with either travel or disability and that’s just a fact.

But even for the people that wanted change – the travelers among us – even for them, things can get hard. Culture shock hits, you get to this point in which you want to fling the new food at the wall or scream that you don’t give a shit about cross cultural understanding, or peace, love and ecosystems.

You just want the electricity to WORK, you just want the water to RUN and you want frickin’ wifi ACCESS, is that so much to ask?! Or people to quit pointing at you, quit mocking you, quit treating you like a goddamn walking dollar bill.

So what’s it like then, for the person with a disability? The travelers who travel the world in their body, who experience life in a way that is unique but which they often didn’t choose? It can get hard too – culture, only it’s your OWN culture here – slams you up and kicks you in the face, tells you that you can’t participate, you don’t belong, you can’t work, you are good for nothing but some happy photo of a meme that will get passed around Facebook, you have a “good attitude”.

You just want to WORK, you just want the opportunity to RUN, you want some frickin’ ACCESS, is that so much to ask?! Or people to quit pointing at you, quit mocking you, quit treating you like you are going to cost them a goddam dollar bill.

It ends up being very, very similar, you see.

red dawn oregon california (11 of 14) red dawn oregon california (7 of 7)

Far more similar than most people think.

I want people to understand this similarity because I think it will help in understanding how many of us with a disability do not see our disabilities as something bad. Having a disability is a way of experiencing the world, it is my way of traveling, and it’s something that I usually enjoy.

What I do not enjoy, however, is when the world is inaccessible; when the disability equivalent to a broken ATM happens. When I can’t join in a telephone conference call and there are no chat options. When I can’t hear in a classroom and so I have to memorize the textbook and hope it covered everything the lecturer said.

But it’s not my deafness that bothers me. It’s narrow path that the world is currently walking along, one which is simply not necessary, because it’s not hard to make a path wider.

red dawn oregon california (5 of 7)

I wasn’t going to write about the “inspiring” story that’s going viral now, where the basketball player tossed the ball to a boy with a disability – who played for the opposite team (you can watch it here). I’m just kind of sick of this stuff, frankly – the “inspiring” pieces floating around like glitter-slathered flotsam. All those kings and queens with Down syndrome. I just don’t know what to make of it, and I’m skeptical.

Besides, I wasn’t going to write about it because That Crazy Crippled Girl already wrote a brilliant, smashing piece that said everything I would have far better than I ever could – here’s the link, if you haven’t read it yet. I posted that on the blog facebook page the other day and that was where I was going to leave it.

Only…  a little conversation opened up in the comments there and on other threads that had me thinking a little. Scratch that – they had me thinking a lot.

There were the comments about how people with disabilities just aren’t ever going to be happy no matter what, there will always be disagreement. I’m not sure I agree with that – the one thing that I’ve always heard loud and clear (no pun intended) is that we want to be treated equally. Because we ARE equal. We are all human; we should be treated with equal opportunities, rights and privileges. We’re not asking to be passed the ball because we want some pity, not asking for a job because we have a disability; we’re asking for a shake just as fair as everyone else. Let the playing ground be level (which may necessitate some accommodations) and let us have our chance. That’s it.

But one of the comments was really interesting because Ginger spoke of competition and how much it sucked growing up, saying:

…then I start to wonder about… our culture of winning and losing. I realized that this bothers me more than the letting someone win. I kind of just hate that winning is so important. I stopped doing a lot of awesome things that I loved because the team didn’t want me there. I was making them lose. Yeah I learned a lesson: quit unless you’re really awesome and help your team win. I wonder what it would be  like to play just for the sheer love of the game? I wish there were more avenues for all of our children in that direction.

The Dignity of Loss is not something I find appealing. The dignity to screw up. To learn you’re not great at something but if you love it you can find new ways to do it. To find people who will play the way you play. Isn’t that how we find our community? I don’t have any answers really… I kind of hope that I raise [child with a disability] her like I do all my kids which is in a way that doesn’t make winning the end all anyway. And I guess that I kind of saw that in the gesture at first…that maybe the kid who passed the ball did so because for a moment he recognized someone who loved the game and wasn’t getting a chance to play. That maybe he realized winning wasn’t everything after all. Nor was losing.

I really thought that was a different way to look at it and it gave me a long pause. Then she goes on to say,

What this kid did would be awesome if we knew he’d do it for ANY kid who wasn’t getting to play. What makes the video grating, I think, is that he did it BECAUSE the other kid had a disability as opposed to because the game should be about love of the game not wining or losing. That’s what warms everyone’s hearts. If he did it with any other kid people would think he was nuts.

 There. I think she nailed it for me.

What do think about it all?

– some more conversations can be found on Rich Donovan’s facebook page and Louise’s blog, Bloom.

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