Have you ever realized that another year has gone by, and you haven’t moved an inch closer to fulfilling your goals, whether it be starting your business, learning a new language, or traveling to Europe?
Do you feel like there are only 24 hours in a day and finding extra time to work on your dreams is a luxury you can’t afford?
We all have big goals and dreams we wish to achieve, yet so often, they can get lost in the cacophony and busyness of our daily lives.
If you tend to get caught up in the whirlpool of your job and family responsibilities, overflowing email inbox, and piles of laundry to do – you’re not alone!
Good news? We’ve got you covered.
In this blog post, we discuss how to create a goal-setting vision board that actually works to break out of that vicious cycle and share different techniques that help to fulfill your potential and transform your mindset.
Let’s start with an incredibly important reminder: you are the architect of your reality.
While life is a highly unpredictable, ever-changing thing that’s mostly out of your control, one fact remains the same: you always have the choice of what mindset and attitude you’re going to approach it with.
You can either: believe that your dreams are unrealistic or childish and give up on them OR set an intention of showing up each day and putting in the extra effort to move closer to achieving your goals.
A goal-setting vision board is a great resource to lean on throughout your self-development journey.
In simple words, it’s a visual representation of your dreams and aspirations in life, usually a collection of pictures and photos, inspirational quotes, and empowering words that remind you of your goal.
Once created, such collage is put in a place you see daily, i.e., your bathroom mirror, bedside table, or a wall next to your desk.
Now, you might be thinking:
“An arts-and-crafts project will magically make my dreams come true? Does it even work?”
To answer shortly: Yes, it does, but it all depends on your input.
The psychology behind goal-setting vision boards is quite simple. You prioritize those aspects of life that you pay the most attention to. The deeper and more frequently your focus is directed on your dreams, the clearer it becomes what to work on:
Let’s say you’ve been dreaming of spending holidays in southern Europe, but money has been an issue. Yet, you know that if you saved enough, you could buy flight tickets for the upcoming summer.
With a vision board to serve as the constant reminder of your priorities, it might be easier to decide not to go out multiple times per week and save the money you’d otherwise spend on Uber rides, fast food, or drinks.
Each time you choose to stick to your goal, you come an inch closer to living your dreams.
Your vision board can serve as a visualization tool to help you stay on track towards your goals.
Visualization is commonly used in business, self-development, and sports by athletes, and it helps to:
- improve one’s physical and mental performance,
- increase focus, productivity, confidence, and creativity,
- stay on track and maintain your course of action,
- decrease adverse effects of stress or anxiety.
Visualization practice boils down to maintaining a daily habit of imagining, in great detail, who your future self is, what you might feel, and what experiences you can live, thanks to succeeding in achieving the goal your present self set out to fulfill.
You can use your vision board to help you get in tune with exactly how your dream future looks and feels as part of your visualization practice.
The process of creating a goal-setting vision board is not only about finding cool pics and arranging them aesthetically. Mainly, it involves:
- gaining mental clarity on your life direction,
- spending time on setting your goals as precisely as you can,
- defining your core values,
- formulating your beliefs and putting them into words,
- connecting to the thoughts and feelings you wish to experience.
That means delving into a vulnerable mental headspace, where you become authentic and honest with yourself, where you come across limiting beliefs or insecurities and still keep going, persevering with self-love and empathy.
If that sounds a bit intimidating and overwhelming, worry not!
Remember: the world is your oyster, and it starts with a mindset shift.
An iconic American psychologist and researcher, Carol Dweck, spent a significant portion of her career examining people’s beliefs regarding their intelligence, skills, and abilities, which, she noticed, can be placed on a “fixed vs. growth mindset” spectrum.
While growth mindset individuals believe that their skills can be developed continuously and success is attained with their hard work, fixed mindset individuals view their current abilities as unchangeable, therefore, impossible to improve.
As a result of such belief, those with a growth mindset:
- are more eager to take risks and work on various skills,
- set ambitious goals,
- treat failure as a valuable lesson
- look for new ways of achieving mastery,
- are open to receiving feedback,
- view personal development as a never-ending journey
- focus on the process
- compare themselves and compete only with the best version of themselves
And those with a fixed mindset:
- have a tendency to stick to “the one thing they’re good at”,
- set relatively easy goals,
- see failure as proof of their innate incompetence
- are less likely to work on mastering their skills,
- stay in their comfort zone, avoiding those activities that are not their forte
- dislike receiving feedback
- focus on the goal
- compare and compete themselves to others
Maybe you can identify with one or the other side of the spectrum more. Either way, remember that you can always change your beliefs with empowering tools and techniques like visualization, self-affirming habits, and a vision board!
Step 1: Define Your Goal
By this point, you might feel completely lost, not knowing what goal to choose or quite the opposite. You see your final goal (aka the destination) precisely, and you can’t wait to create your vision board.
Regardless, I invite you to put some time aside to set your objective mindfully.
While grasping the moment and jumping headfirst into your goals is tempting, it often ends in burnout and disappointment. Making sure you understand not only your final desired state but also know how to get there increases your chance of success.
For starters, reflect on these questions:
- What area of your life you’d like to change/improve?
- Do you lack abundance at work, in a social context, or in personal development?
- How can you become a healthier version of yourself this year?
- What new things have you always wanted to try?
- How is your professional life? Do you have any career goals?
Once you identify specific ventures to take on or areas of life that need improvement in your opinion, ask yourself: “What do I need to do to get there?”.
That’s where the SMART goal framework comes to the rescue. The acronym stands for a goal that is:
- S: Specific – the objective is crystal clear
- M: Measurable – you can track your progress
- A: Achievable – make it challenging yet possible to accomplish
- R: Relevant – double-check that it is what you truly want, not what others expect
- T: Time-Bound – pick a deadline to add a sense of urgency
Treat it as a point of reference, the quality control that ensures you come up with empowering goals which will set you up for success instead of disappointment.
An essential part of a goal-setting process, often underrated or omitted, is gaining a clear understanding of your motives. What do I mean by that?
Let’s say it’s January 1st, and your New Year’s resolution is to start a gym membership motivated by the energy of a clean slate and new beginnings.
But when you show up to your workout session, you suddenly remember all the reasons why you don’t enjoy this form of sport, whether it be feeling intimidated by others, the loud music, the time spent on commute, etc. After all, you realize that all you were trying to do was adhere to societal standards, the expectation of “getting ripped” at the gym and fit in your friend group, and succumbing to the peer pressure of those who love going to the gym.
We’ve all gone through something similar, I’m sure. So, rather than repeating this mistake in the future, ensure your goal aligns with your core values, sense of purpose, and personal preferences.
- What matters most to you?
- What is your “why” behind the goals you set?
Gaining such clarity leaves no place for complacency or ambivalence. It’s the push you need to put you on the right trajectory.
Now, there’s nothing left but to create your vision board!
Remember: this is YOUR project, so there’s really no right or wrong way to go about it. Your goal-setting vision board is the visual representation of your dreams, not someone else’s.
So tap into your creative self, perhaps by:
- getting crafty as you did when you were a child,
- grabbing some old magazines and cutting out the pictures which illustrate your goal
- looking through some newspapers and finding words that you find empowering or inspiring
- going digital and using apps like Pinterest for inspiration.
When your collection is ready, it’s time to assemble everything. If you prefer a digital vision board, then with a simple tool like Canva, you can play around with different fonts, sizes, colors, backgrounds, aesthetics, etc.
If, at any point, you feel tensed or frustrated, treat it as a sign to take a break and come back to it later. Be easy on yourself and let go of expectations to create something perfect.
The creative process is hardly ever linear. Sometimes the best idea, much like a good wine, takes time to mature and fully come to its final form. I even encourage you to come back after a couple of days to your first draft of the goal-setting vision board and look for ways to spice it up.
For example, if your vision board focuses on meeting new friends, consider adding:
- inspiring quotes about the value of friendship,
- a sentence describing what kind of friend you’d like to be to others,
- photo of an adventure you’d love to go on together.
Perhaps a particular color or an art piece makes you feel seen and not alone, and for you, that’s a reminder of the companionship you’re looking for. If so, add it to your vision board.
Once again: it doesn’t have to make sense to anyone but you.
Maybe you want to start your own business but lack the confidence to do so. If that’s your case, try writing down self-affirmations that challenge any limiting beliefs you might have, i.e.:
Transform the unhelpful thought: “I am not talented enough to succeed” into its positive version like: “I am motivated and willing to put in the hard work to succeed”.
Then, put it on your vision board. You might now believe it right away, but research shows that self-affirmations are highly beneficial for your neuro-psychological functioning, helping to:
- boost motivation
- maintain a positive self-image
- increase a sense of self-competence
- decrease defensiveness and anxiety
See this list of positive affirmations for success to get inspired.
Just like with anything else, practice makes perfect. Once your project is ready, it’s time for the real deal: spending time daily looking at your vision board and connecting to your goals.
Make sure to put it in a visible, central place you use daily at home. Then, look at it after waking up and before going to bed. Imagine the emotions, physical sensations, and thoughts accompanying your dream.
And never, for a second, think that you’re incapable of achieving those things. The goal-setting vision board is just a taste of what your future holds. As Oprah Winfrey once said:
The beauty of vision board is in the fact that it’s totally customizable and fully depends on your goals and dreams. Take a moment to reflect on those adventures you want to embark on and connect with them.
Relationship Vision Board
Want to find a romantic partner? Visualize taking them on a date, showing them your favorite places, and cooking your staple dishes. Feel the sea of love and acceptance you give to one another.
Travel Vision Board
If it’s the southern European adventure you crave, feel the delicious taste of Italian foods, the sand and salty water of Spanish beaches, or the amazement when sightseeing old French monuments.
Career Vision Board
Do you need a sense of direction in your career? Rather than beating yourself up about having a dull or unfulfilling job, ask yourself what tasks can bring you the most joy and what skills you’d like to develop. For example, working with other people may be more attractive to you, or perhaps your forte is dedicating your focus and energy to independent creative projects.
Language Learning Vision Board
Always wished you could speak fluently in another language? Don’t wait for the perfect time to do so, as it may never come. Imagine attending classes with other people or going on a student exchange. Visualize ordering food at a restaurant, reading a book, or sharing a story effortlessly in that language, whether it be Spanish, German, or Japanese.
Entrepreneurial Vision Board
Are you tired of your corporate job and keep daydreaming about opening your bakery? Can you list the pastries, see the space, its regular customers, or the hired bakers that elevate the quality of your place? Instead of limiting yourself, open up to the pure excitement and the spark you feel when thinking about that reality. Let yourself see how attainable it can be if you put your mind to it.
Go For Your Goals
Whatever you desire, a goal-setting vision board can be a physical reminder of the future version of you, the one who invested time, resources, and energy to make your dreams come true and fulfill your potential.