Why a Vision Board Just Might Be Your Secret to Success

"There is power in what you fix your eyes upon."

Steve Prezant/Getty Images
Steve Prezant/Getty Images

What do Oprah Winfrey, Kellan Lutz, Denny Hamlin, and Katy Perry all have in common? You guessed it. They all have made use of what has become popularly known as the vision board—as have many other famous celebrities, athletes, and high achievers.

There is power in what you fix your eyes upon. A vision board enables you to focus your view on a particular outcome you want to create. You could call it a viewfinder.

What is the view you hope to find in your future? Whatever it is you focus on, good or bad, is what you will produce more of in your life.

“What you focus on grows, what you think about expands, and what you dwell upon determines your destiny,” writes business coach Robin Sharma.

In other words, what you focus on becomes your reality. That is a powerful principle. What occupies your mind will ultimately determine the types of decisions you make day in and day out. And this is what makes a vision board such a wonderful tool for aiming your focus in the direction of your dreams.

A vision board is your canvas of future possibilities, a visual representation where images of what you want to see manifested in your life are gathered together so they can be reflected back to you on a consistent basis. It could be a bulletin board with pushpins, a poster board where you paste images with a glue stick, a decorative framed shadowbox where you collect photos or small items, or a picture ribbon board where you can easily insert and reinsert your favorite pictures.

The key is to display images of how you want your life to look in the future. Being able to actually see what your conscious mind desires to achieve will help your subconscious mind to go to work on your behalf to make it possible. As you’ve heard said, “You will see it when you believe it.”

Begin with the End in Mind

Any author, artist, inventor, or entrepreneur will tell you the heaviest lifting comes at the beginning of any endeavor—from constructing the outline of a book to drafting the blueprint for a building to crafting a strategic business plan, you must begin with the end in mind. Creating a life you love is no different. The destination you dream of—or the journey you dream of taking to get there—is that end you are beginning with.

According to the Oxford Dictionary, vision is “the ability to think about or plan the future with imagination” or a type of transcendent discernment, “a mental image projecting what the future will or could be.” It is something you can see in advance of the actual event.

With those ends in mind, you can begin scanning your environment or a pile of magazines or scouring the internet for images that represent them—and thereby giving them even more substance. Waking up and being alert to what you’re looking for is a huge part of beginning well. It is beginning from a place of strength.

Begin gathering pictures of how you want areas of your life to look. Look for visual representations of the transformation you’d like to see. Just by being awake and aware, you’ll begin to notice images of what you’re hoping to see—and often in unexpected places! You pass a bulletin board in the coffee shop, you see the cover of a pamphlet in the checkout line, you notice an ad in the newspaper. Begin training your mind to see what you’re looking for. Find images that capture your attention and grab hold of them.

How a Vision Board Works

Assembling your vision board is simply creating a blueprint or template of your envisioned future. A vision board will help you to not only focus on what you truly want, but also to eliminate whatever activities will distract you from achieving it. It will help you clarify and prioritize what is most important to you. This is what makes the vision board exercise so powerful. It helps focus your attention on what you want to the exclusion of everything else.

A vision board helps your brain’s information filtering system—known as the reticular activating system (RAS)—tune into the opportunities that will move you closer to that desired reality.

“Your RAS is responsible for filtering all the incoming information that your brain receives,” writes author and expert Tristan Loo, “and it also acts as a receiver for information that is tagged as important.”

According to biologist Samuel Audifferen, “the human brain can store up to 100 trillion to 500 trillion bits of information.” Added to that massive amount of information, your RAS doesn’t distinguish between what is a real event or an imagined one. A vision board allows you to exploit this phenomenon by enabling you to reprogram your RAS to seek out stimuli in your environment that resonate with your dreams.

Your subconscious mind responds to pictures and images that trigger an emotional reaction. Each picture on your vision board should therefore produce a positive emotional reaction when you look at it. Add words and phrases to the pictures that will increase the emotional draw to those pictured goals. Your vision board is only limited by how far your creativity and imagination can take you. Refuse to place limits on yourself as you construct your vision board! Keep it positive and motivating.

What Your Vision Board Should Do For You

The items you choose to include and how you choose to display them should resonate energetically with the emotions you want your board to elicit. How does that future state feel? Look for images that provoke a feeling of being empowered, loved, prosperous, peaceful, healthy, strong, respected, engaged, accomplished, and so on. These represent a state of being you’re envisioning moving into—kind of like a geographical state where you hope to live one day.

What does that look and feel like? What elements, colors, words, or arrangements might help stimulate that particular feeling? Arrange your pictures, words, and phrases on your board in a way that gives you a deep emotional connection to your vision.

Once your images are secured, add your own writing or, if you have a flair for drawing, accentuate your board with whatever artistic features will draw your attention and focus. Be creative and experiment with generating a positive energetic pull. You want your vision board to not only capture your dreamed-of destiny, but also to inspire your imagination and spark a passionate, emotional charge within your soul.

The vision board should charge you with renewed passion whenever you look at it. Over time, as you move closer toward your desired future, some of the images may not make as much of an emotional impression as they once did. When you notice this, update your vision board with fresh images that still inspire you.

Your vision board should always be a work in progress—a dynamic mirror of the deepest longings of your soul that changes as your dreams and desires change.

When it comes to creating your future, the energy you put into it is the energy you will get back out of it.

This article is excerpted from Hello, Tomorrow!: The Transformational Power of Vision (Charisma House, 2018) by Cindy Trimm. 

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