Create your vision board
Why you should have a life vision board
Would you start a business without a business model? Hopefully not. So, how do you think you will live your life without one? Creating a vision board is the first step to reach the life you truly want. Most people will have some rough ideas about what they like in life and where they want to go. Fewer people have made a conscious effort to clarify how their ideal life looks in every area (e.g., health, finance, relationships, career). This is probably why the life coaching industry now is estimated to be around 2 billion $, and multiple courses help design your ideal life.
One of the tools that people found most interesting in my TEDx presentation was the vision board. I received many requests for teaching on how to do it. The vision board helps clarify what you want in each area of your life and acts as a constant reminder that directs your actions. You will find out that it is unlikely to find a successful company without a vision and mission statement. Why should it be different for our lives? Our lives have become increasingly complex, and it is important to have a clear direction.
I printed my vision board and put it all over the places I spend most of my time – my room, dining room, and office. I also put it on the back of my mobile. I look at it even without noticing. However, a few times, I make the conscious choice to spend a few seconds on it, especially when I feel down. The vision board helps you to be pulled by the vision of your future self instead of being hostage of your past.
How to create your vision board?
There are different ways to do it. In the past, it was mostly with papers in a bricolage manner. The advice given was to buy magazines on different areas of your life (e.g., architecture, sport, wedding). Then, cut the images and stick them on a board. This way, you will be limited to the pictures that you find in those magazines. This is why we suggest doing it on a slide (PowerPoint, Keynote, or Google Slides) and search for digital images. However, if you are still in love with the bricolage version, you can print the images you like and stick them on an actual board!
The first step is to select a few main areas of your life. If you need help, you can check the technique of the wheel of life (https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/how-assess-your-life-find-goals-2020-marco-clemente). Once you identify your areas, organize them in different places on the slide.
This is the fun part! Go to Google images, Pinterest or Instagram and insert keywords related to the areas of life that you are working. For example, if you are working on “health” and you want to have a sporty and lean body, you can simply search for “amazing sporty and lean body man/woman.” The next question is how to pick the best image. While you scroll down, find the pictures that instinctively give you excitement and positive emotions. You can use the famous advice from Marie Kondo to check for images that “spark joy.” You can select multiple images for each area at this stage, but we suggest limiting them to 6 for each area.
It would help if you also looked for images of specific goals that you have. Do you want to win an award? Put the image of that award with your picture. Do you want to publish an article in a magazine or newspaper? Put the picture of that journal with your name on it.
Take all the images and put them in the space outside your slide. Then, it is time to drag them inside the slide. Start by placing the pictures you like the most until you fill the first area of your life. Then, move to the next area. I like to align the pictures and overlap them instead of cropping. But this is up to you. Once you finish, you will have a few images left outside the slide. Look at the pictures left. Do they spark more joy than the ones inside? If so, you can start substituting them.
Look at your vision board for few days. How do you feel? Do you feel an uplifting energy when you see it? Are there one or two pictures that disturb you? If so, you can make some changes, but we suggest you do this within a couple of days.
Now you have your vision board. Your life is an ongoing masterpiece; thus, it is your vision board. It is good to review your vision board when needed. However, it is better not to check it before six months. You can also keep it for many years or all your life. This depends on how well you knew yourself from the first time.
When you review it, you may change some images, adding a new one, or re-arrange the size. If you did it seriously the first time, you are likely to keep most of the original pictures. You should also save the images of the goals that you already realized. This will give you more confidence that other goals will do as well.
However, never change images just because you think that a goal cannot be achieved. Some goals may realize within the short term; others may need many years. Trust the process!
A few remarks
Space = importance. When organizing the pictures and deciding which area of life deserves more space, I usually give my students the same advice when they do their one-page CV; The more space you give to a work experience, the more important you are signaling to the reader. For your vision board, the more space you give to one area of life (and even a picture), the more you are giving importance to that.
Put in places where you can see it often. You should be able to see your vision board often. Some of your goals may seem unreachable initially, so they can create cognitive dissonance with your rational mind (the feeling that it is impossible that they will realize). However, the more you see your vision board, the more your brain will get used to those images, and you will realize that you will start to be pulled by your future self instead of your past (paraphrasing Dr. Joe Dispenza). It will help if you put your vision board in the places where you spend most of your time, such as your bedroom and workspace. Also, it will be great to put it on your mobile or on any other objects that you bring with you all the time.
Look at your vision board when you have negative thoughts. In my TEDx, I talked about how to use the vision board during a personal crisis. I defined a personal crisis when there is an event in one area of your life that creates significant negative energy, and that keeps coming back to your mind, even if you do not want it. This can be related to your personal or professional life. When your mind goes back to that event, I suggest taking out your vision board (this is why it would be useful to have it on your mobile) and look at it. When looking at uplifting images of your “future,” your mind will transform the negative energy into positive energy to achieve your goals. I used this technique to lose 11kg in 2 months while experiencing a personal crisis when I was preparing for my TEDx.
I am not aware of any scientific study that answers this question. The web is full of anecdotal testimonies of people who report how their vision boards transformed into reality. Jim Carrey famously reports how he visualized his future 10,000,000 $ check before he was scouted for Dumb and Dumber.
There are also rational reasons to believe that it works. The vision board helps clarify what you want in life and acts as a constant reminder, which helps achieve any goals. Your vision board should be full of images that “spark joy”; thus, they will still make your day happier when you see it.
In my first version of 2016, I put the image of TED talk and Poets & Quants. In May 2019, I did my TEDx in Mantova, and you can see my presentation on TED.com. In April 2020, I was nominated Best 40 under 40 MBA Professor by Poets & Quants. I also have stories for the pictures of my relationships and lifestyle, which we will keep for another time.
Not all the things that I put on my vision board came true yet. I am not financially free, and I do not have three children yet, but let me update you in a few years!