6 steps to create your vision board (+ the neuroscience on why they work)
In our article last week we took you through a 4-step process to create your life vision, which is one of the exercises that women find incredibly powerful in the opening module of our Women Rising program. So many of them come to realise that they rarely (if ever) take the time to pause and really think about what they want most for their life, and when they do, it can often be confronting and bring up lots of emotions. However, what’s also true is that many of them feel inspired and excited to get clear on what they want for their life and they particularly enjoy the third step in the process, where they have a chance to get creative and make their own vision board.
If you’ve never created a vision board or you’ve only heard about them in new age books and magazines, you may find yourself skipping over this step. However, what you may not know is that there’s a lot of science to support the effectiveness of vision boards in helping you achieve your goals. Neuroscientist Dr. Tara Swart explains the different ways that vision boards can rewire your brain and help create behavioural change.
The first way that vision boards work is through a process called ‘value-tagging’. When you look at images on a vision board, this primes your brain to grasp opportunities which may otherwise have gone unnoticed. This process is known as value-tagging, which is where the brain imprints important things onto your subconscious and filters out unnecessary information. As Dr. Swart explains, “The brain assigns a higher value to images than written words on a to-do list, and the more you look at those images, the more those images move up in importance.”
Vision boards also work because of the proven and powerful benefits of visualisation, which professional athletes have been tapping into for decades. What we know from countless studies is that the brain sees little difference between something happening and a strongly imagined vision of it. When you imagine you already have the things and experiences on your vision board, your brain begins to believe that it’s true and experience the positivity associated with these things, which makes you more likely to take the actions you need to make it your reality.
The other important way that vision boards have a positive effect on your brain, is through repetition. If you make sure that you look at your vision board regularly (ideally twice a day) and think about your goals, you become more willing to take action towards achieving those goals. Dr. Swart explains that one key reason for this is that usually when you try something new, the brain activates the stress response and releases cortisol and adrenaline, because new things are scary to the brain. However, when you repeatedly look at images that are related to your goals, the brain no longer sees them as new, which means you’re more able to take action and embrace opportunities.
Now that you’re a little more familiar with the neuroscience and reasons behind creating a vision board, we wanted to give you some more guidance and practical tips for how you can create your own if you’ve never made one before (or if you’re looking for fresh ideas).
Here’s a simple 6-step process you can follow.
STEP ONE - CREATE TIME AND SPACE TO BUILD YOUR VISION BOARD
One of the most common challenges that holds many women back is not having the time and space to even consider what they want for their lives. The struggle is real. Most of us have so many different things we’re juggling at any given time, that the thought of having time to reflect and create a vision board can seem like a pipe dream.
So how do you create the space when you’re already feeling time poor and overstretched?
As with most profound changes that happen in life, the truth is, you start with the smallest of steps. Where can you find a few hours to yourself in the next month to dedicate to yourself and create your vision board? Take a moment to look at your calendar for the next 4 weeks, see where there could be some space and schedule it in. If you need to ask for help or hire a babysitter to give yourself that time, go ahead and make it a priority. Getting clear on what you most want for your life and creating a vision for that is some of the most powerful work you can do, so it’s worth it.
STEP TWO - GET YOUR MATERIALS READY
It’s time to get what you need to make your board. This could be a piece of A4 paper, a massive piece of cardboard, an art journal, a pin board, a canvas - whatever works for you. You’ll also need something you can source your images from - this could be a stack of magazines, images you’ve printed out from the internet, or even some of your own photos. And of course, you’ll need scissors and glue, or pins.
A little note here that if this hands-on creative approach doesn’t feel enjoyable and you prefer to do things digitally, then you can absolutely use online tools like Pinterest or Canva to create a digital vision board instead. The thing to keep in mind is that one of the powerful benefits that vision boards have on your brain comes through you seeing these images frequently, so even if you create it digitally it’s worth printing it out and putting it somewhere that you can see it often.
STEP THREE - SET YOUR INTENTION AND CREATE AN INSPIRING AND REFLECTIVE MOOD
You might like to pop on your favourite music, put some essential oils in a diffuser, burn some incense, light a candle or do anything else that will create an inspiring mood. This is about knowing yourself and knowing what type of environment will feel uplifting and get you in the creative spirit.
STEP FOUR - SPEND SOME TIME JOURNALING OR REFLECTING ON WHAT YOU WANT
Take some time to think about your vision. What would you want most if you gave yourself permission?
Write down the things that are most important to you in your life and write freely about the things you would like to have in your life.
Think about your family life, friends, work, creativity, spirituality, community, wellbeing, relaxation, finances, hobbies, home life, vacations, charity, activism, romantic and social life. What would it all look like?
If you haven’t already, download our FREE Possibility Planner for 2023, which will take you through a series of questions to help you get clear on your hopes and dreams for the year.
STEP FIVE - START BUILDING YOUR BOARD
Don’t overthink it. Notice what images, people, words, colours and quotes you’re drawn to, cut them out and arrange them in a way that feels visually beautiful and meaningful to you. You might like to group them into themes that reflect different areas of your life. Many women in our Women Rising community find it useful to create two separate vision boards - one for their personal life and one for their professional life. It’s really up to you.
STEP SIX - PLACE YOUR VISION BOARD SOMEWHERE YOU’LL SEE IT
It’s important to place your vision board somewhere you’ll see it often (ideally twice a day or more frequently), so that your brain can experience the positive benefits and you’re reminded of the clear vision you hold for your life.
So there you have it. A simple 6-step process to create your vision board. If you want to dive deeper into this work, then we’d love you to join the March intake of our Women Rising program. This work on creating your life vision is from the opening module of the program and it lays the groundwork for the profound changes you can experience over the 4-months we have together. Come and learn more about the program and see if it’s for you.