How to Use a Vision Board to Achieve Your Goals

Artist working on a digital tablet in front of a mood board.


A vision board is a collection of images that represent a person's goals, dreams, and aspirations. It serves as a visual reminder of a person's intentions and a source of inspiration and motivation. 

Vision boards are often collages that can include photographs, quotations, pictures from magazines, or other visuals that help convey your dreams and goals. They are also sometimes referred to as mood boards or action boards.

They are highly personalized and often focused on a specific theme or period of time. For example, you might create a vision board for your career goals. Or you might make one that centers on what you hope to accomplish over the next year.

You can use a vision board to help keep you focused on your goals. By creating a visual representation of what you hope to achieve, you may feel more motivated to take the steps you need to follow to make that vision a reality.

What Does a Vision Board Do?

Vision boards can help accomplish a number of different things:

Boost Self-Reflection

Vision boards encourage you to think about the things that you really want to achieve in the future. This can not only clarify your goals but help you envision yourself achieving them. These visual reminders also encourage you to self-reflect by asking questions such as, "How much progress am I making toward my goals?" and "Do I still want the things that I've included in my vision board?"

Regularly asking yourself such questions can help you reflect on both your needs and your progress.

Increase Self-Awareness

A vision board can also be a powerful tool for increasing self-awareness. Because of the visual nature of this tool, it can help you think about your life, goals, and values in new ways. 

As you create your vision board, you'll select imagery and words that speak to your aspirations. As you reflect on your choices, you may find it easier to identify the values that are important to who you are.

A vision board can also help you see areas where you might struggle with self-limiting beliefs about yourself and about future success. As you become more aware of negative thoughts or destructive self-talk, you can look for ways to cultivate a more positive mindset.

Clarify Your Goals

Your vision board puts your hopes and dreams in a prominent, visible place so you are regularly reminded of what you are focused on achieving. This can help clarify your biggest goals in life and prioritize the things that are most important.

Motivate and Inspire

One reason why vision boards can be such a powerful tool is because of the constant motivation and inspiration they provide. In addition to offering positive reinforcement in the form of appealing imagery and affirming words, they can also help you to feel a greater sense of purpose.

When you look at your board, the curated selection of imagery and text that is meaningful to you specifically can help you to feel like you have a worthwhile goal to keep striving toward.

Reduce Stress

Working toward goals often requires learning new things, having new experiences, and stepping out of your comfort zone. It can be stressful and anxiety-provoking at times, which is why some people might never take the necessary steps to attain their dreams.

A vision board can help relieve some of the stress from this experience by familiarizing you with aspects of the process, helping you to feel more comfortable when you need to do things that are outside of your normal routine.

Gain Greater Perspective

Because a vision board distills what's important to you and what you hope to achieve into a selection of meaningful imagery, you may find it easier to gain some perspective on your life and goals. Sometimes seeing these things in a visual format allows you to step back and view your efforts and plans with greater clarity.

Why Vision Boards Work

Research suggests that the brain tends to assign a higher value to visual imagery than to other types of stimuli. Visual representations tend to be more memorable than words, a phenomenon known as the picture superiority effect. Because of this, the information on your vision board may stick out in your mind more than a collection of goals written on a to-do list.

Not everyone believes in the value of vision boards, however. For example, some research has found that only visualizing positive outcomes (without also visualizing the hard work and effort that it takes to succeed) can actually hinder performance and achievement.

The problem with vision boards, critics suggest, is that they may stifle growth rather than fuel it. By envisioning your dream future, you might stop working toward it and instead wait for the universe to manifest it into existence.

Types of Vision Boards

There are many different types of theme boards that you can create, but they often fall into one of three main themes.

Goal Boards

This type of vision board is designed to focus on a clear, specific goal. For example, if your goal is to achieve a specific financial goal, such as paying off debt or saving money, your board would focus on this goal.

It might include pictures that offer inspiration, infographics that provide valuable information, quotes to keep you motivated, and even worksheets where you can keep track of your progress visually.

Theme Boards

Theme boards are less specific than goal boards, but they tend to focus on a specific theme in your life that you hope to bring to fruition. For example, your vision board might focus on your New Year's resolutions, your relationship goals, or your academic or professional aspirations. They tend to focus on goals that may be more long-term or on special interests that you want to focus on more in your life.

Reflection Boards

This type of vision board is centered around achieving goals related to inner growth and personal development. They can be a way to learn more about yourself, your goals, and what makes you happy. They can serve to lift your mood or help you to feel more inspired.

For example, if you've been struggling with feeling the Winter blues, you might create a reflection board full of uplifting imagery that helps you feel more joyful and hopeful about the future.

Ideas for Vision Boards

Your vision board will be highly individual, but some general themes or goals you might choose to focus on include:

  • Professional/career goals
  • School plans
  • Athletics
  • Learning goals
  • Social activism goals
  • Health/fitness
  • Travel inspiration or vacations you want to take
  • Friends/family/social goals
  • Romance/love goals
  • Money goals
  • Happiness/contentment goals
  • Hobby-related goals
  • Reading goals or books you want to read
  • Meditation/mindfulness goals
  • Priorities you want to focus on
  • Big life dreams (Write a book! Move to France! Start a business!)

Benefits of Using a Vision Board for Mental Health

Vision boards may also provide a number of mental health benefits that can potentially boost mood and well-being. There is not a great deal of research specifically on the potential value of vision boards in terms of their efficacy or impact on mental health. However, some evidence suggests that the goal-setting associated with vision boards can have a variety of positive effects.

  • Goal-setting can improve well-being: Research has shown that engaging in goal-setting actions can play a role in improving wellness. In one study, participants who participated in a goal-setting activity reported higher levels of subjective well-being than participants who had not engaged in the intervention.
  • Visualizing can increase success: Studies have also found that visualization can be a powerful tool for achievement and performance. For example, research has shown that athletes who visualize themselves performing a task experience real-world improvements in their athletic performance. Repeating the visualization can also improve both physical and psychological reactions in those specific situations.
  • Foster greater mindfulness: Mindfulness is all about focusing on the present moment and paying attention to how you feel. Creating your vision board can help you become more mindful of the things that are important to you, both in the here and now and in the future. This can be a useful tool for helping you feel more focused and to combat feelings of stress and anxiety. 
  • Greater self-efficacy: Because a vision board is all about what matters to you, you may find that it helps you feel better about yourself and your vision for the future. It can be a useful resource for boosting your faith in your own abilities. Known as self-efficacy, this belief in your capabilities can play an important role in how motivated you are and how hard your work toward achieving your goals.

How to Make Your Own Vision Board

In order to make your own vision board, start by deciding the type of board you want to create and how you want to present it. Some examples of different formats you might utilize for a vision board include:

  • A cork pinboard
  • A whiteboard
  • A wire board
  • A magnetic board

You might opt to purchase items to create your pinboard, but you can also just use things that you already have. An empty picture frame, a clipboard, posterboard, a large piece of cardboard, or even just a blank section of wall where you can hang visual items can serve as a vision board.

What to Include in a Vision Board

Next, gather materials that you want to include in your vision board. Some sources of imagery might include:

  • Clippings from magazines, books, or catalogs
  • Online images printed at home
  • Old postcards
  • Posters
  • Photographs
  • Printed or handwritten quotes and affirmations
  • Scrapbook paper, colorful construction paper, cardstock, fabric
  • Souvenirs
  • Doodles or original artwork
  • Handwritten words or affirmations
  • Printed words, sayings, or quotes
  • Newspaper clippings

The goal is to select images and words that speak to you, offer inspiration, and help you envision the future you hope to have.

As you put together your vision board, you might find it helpful to create a relaxing, inspiring environment that allows you to focus on your mood and vision. Light some scented candles and play some inspirational music as you spend time creating.

Questions to Ask Yourself

As you work on creating your board, ask yourself some of the following questions:

  • What are my values? 
  • What gives my life meaning?
  • How do I envision my future?
  • How do I want to spend my time?
  • What motivates me?
  • What are my priorities?
  • What do I hope to accomplish in the next year? In five years? In ten years?
  • How do I plan to achieve my goals?
  • What tools and resources do I need to achieve my goals?

Keeping these things in mind can help you select the visuals, graphics, photos, words, and other elements that are aligned with your hopes and dreams.

It’s important to remember that your vision board is just that—a vision of a future that hasn’t happened yet. In order to make that dream a reality, you need to commit to taking the steps and doing the work that it will take to make that vision a reality.

Instead of thinking of these boards as mere “visions,” it might be more useful to view them as action boards that detail not only what you want, but how you plan to go about achieving it.

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Verywell Mind uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
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By Kendra Cherry, MSEd
Kendra Cherry, MS, is a psychosocial rehabilitation specialist, psychology educator, and author of the "Everything Psychology Book."