I typed vision boards in my Google search bar, wondering what the buzz was about.

References to Oprah, Ellen DeGeneres, Jack Canfield and Jim Carrey populated the search results. Blogs, interviews and YouTube videos boasted how Vision Boards helped them set crazy goals and get to where they are today. 

In the midst of the dream board cheerleading, an article from Psychology Today that told me to scrap vision boards because research shows they don’t work.

So what’s the truth? 

What Happened When I Dared To Dream

The first time my husband and I made a vision board, we were told to dream up the big things we wanted, find pictures and put them on the board.

Vision Board #1…

The first time my husband and I made a vision board, we were told to dream up the big things we wanted, find pictures and put them on the board.

The facilitator said to put words or quotes that we find motivating or desiring, and used words like “manifest your dreams” and “attract the things you want”.

It kind of sounded like a hokey magic wand formula, but we needed a financial breakthrough. So for fun, secretly hoping it would work, we Googled pictures of a shimmering mansion with a grand pool, a snazzy car my husband said we should own one day, a dog, a pile of cash and the level of our direct marketing status we wanted.

The vision board sat on our shelf for a month — a bright yellow cluttered collage that looked gaudy against our apartment decor.

It drove me batty.

It felt more like a Santa list from a glorified Wish Book than something that made my heart smile. I certainly wasn’t sure where God fit into the picture.

I chucked it a year later when we moved. Nothing had “manifested” like we were told was supposed to happen. In fact, neither of us even wanted a dog anymore.

Vision Board #2…

It was Day 2 of an entrepreneur mindset conference that was rocking our world. We had come back from a break to our banquet room to see all the chairs cleared in stacks at the side of the room. Rows of brightly coloured poster boards and clusters of magazines stacks, glue sticks and scissors lined the room instead. My husband and I sat on the carpet of the energy-charged hotel room as people filed in.

Our anticipation grew as upbeat music pumped through the speakers.

Again, we were prompted to visualize arriving at the goals we wanted, the things that would make us happy and what symbolized success to us.

For an hour we flipped through magazines, tearing out pages that jumped out at us. We cut out pictures, words and quotes, and pasted them in an arrangement on the board.

When we took this picture after the conference, our hopes, energy and were sky high.

How the Vision Board Worked for Me

Because of the tools and breakthroughs we experienced in the conference, we were clear on what we wanted and what we were going to do about it.

It felt like we truly believed in our dreams and business ideas for the first time!

We were ready to risk failure trying rather than stay comfortable.

That year we both made our first huge investments into our dreams that brought us farther than we ever would have done figuring things out on our own.

Many of the dreams are a work in progress. Many of the actual pictures on our board are far from reality, some are getting closer, but they still represent outcomes we’re working towards. 

Still, things about the language, process and direction around the Vision Board still felt off to me.

That unsettledness – and how cluttered my board looked – still bothered me enough that I tossed the board months later.

It wasn’t until a couple years later that I understood why.

As I developed my Dare to Decide purpose coaching framework, I read dozens of articles about how others who created annual vision boards and researched the psychology of goal setting, visualization and dream realization. 

My vision boards hadn’t worked because they weren’t aligned with my values, my heart’s focus. They were too big and broad, neglecting the things that truly mattered to me. They were focused on HAVING and ACHIEVING when I needed transformative journey of BEING first.

This revelation inspired me to give it another go, using principles that were meaningful to me and my clients.

Vision Board #3

Looking at this finished vision board made me smile. I instantly felt what I wanted to feel: peace; delight, quiet trust and confidence. Openness to the people I’m called to impact and anticipation for how I wanted to fill my days.

The way I put Vision Board #3 together felt different.

I felt EXCITEMENT, not just apprehension.
“There’s a picture of someone reading books — I so need to do that again. And there’s one that just got published. That’s going to be me soon.”

I felt VULNERABLE
“God, I’d really like another baby. Dare I put this on my board? What if others see it and it doesn’t come true?”
A gentle whisper followed, Go ahead, put it on and trust me with it.

I felt DELIGHT
“Our family needs to get out of the house more on mini adventures. Like that hiking picture. Ooooh, I really want to do more workshops this year. Not just serious ones. I want it to be creative, fun and intimate. Like the people seem in this picture.” 
As that picture went on the board, I smiled, picturing the people I felt called to inspire and support.

This experience felt like a dance with God. It felt like a fun, interactive prayer as I admitted my own desires, began to visualize things He’d been speaking into my heart, and stepped towards another season of my calling.

It was as much a vision of who I’m becoming, not just big things I want to achieve.

Here’s What to Avoid and to Remember When Making Your Vision Board

Don’t Post What Others Want for You
Do Be True to Yourself

Just be you – it seems simple enough. But I’ve heard so many stories from women who’ve spent so much of their time setting aside their own needs to take care of family, invest in others, pay the bills or make progress in her book, blog or business.

And then she peeters out.

#burnout. 

She does all the diligent things, step after step, until her body, mind or emotions says ENOUGH.

Been there!

Each person’s story and journey is different. Sacrifice and bringing hope or help to others are important pieces of living a fulfilling life. But each time we put aside ourselves to take care of someone or something else, at the expense of who we truly are, we cut off expression or livelihood of our core being.

How do you serve and live your caling without sacrificing your identity?

It feels selfish to take care of our own needs and wants. Yet doing so would ignite the very energy, heart and humanness that our family and calling needs.

If your vision board is full of tentative, nice-to-have desires, that’s not going to cut it.

If you put on things your vision board because someone else wants them for you, or that’s their interpretation of success, you’ve just created someone else’s dream board. And that’s not going to get you far. That’s why a red Farrari is no longer on my vision board – it’s on my husband’s.

What would bring joy and delight to your heart? And what would that look like on your dream board?

Don’t Build Your Ego
Do Include Pictures That are Aligned with Your Values

My first two vision boards had a lot of pictures related to stuff or status, because those were a lot of the prompts that were given when I made them.

I realized that’s part of what irked me.

Fancy houses, dreamy vacations and responsibility-free life seemed more about ego than purpose. I’m not a stuff or status kind of girl. I like peace, practicality and simplicity.

Having the freedom to spend time exploring with my family, investing into others, reading a book without a million things on my mind or writing my book without interruptions motivates me more than anything else. The things I put on my board clashed with what was most important to me, or they were too far off for me to imagine it could be my reality.

What are you hungry for in life?

Don’t Fake it Till You Make It
Do Give Yourself Permission to Believe In Your Dream

We like to think we’re in full control of what we want, can have in life. The commission to believe we’re made for greatness and that we can do anything we set our minds to sounds alluring. But what happens when both both your conscious mind and unconscious mind are at war?

Just like an iceberg, its usually what’s unrealized below the surface that leads to your demise.

If you put a dream too grand that your subconscious doesn’t believe it’s possible, or that you feel you don’t deserve a certain dream, you’ll find yourself stuck or resenting those pictures on your vision board. 

Now, there are tools and paths to tuning into and reprogramming your subconscious, but without that, you’ll quickly find yourself sabotaging the grand dreams on your board.

What dream is out of reach enough to tantalize you, big enough to excite you, and desireable enough that you could believe “This is reality for others; it could be reality for me.”?

Don’t Make the Sky the Limit
Do Include Smaller Perimeters 
Along with The Big Dreams

There’s a place for dreaming big.

However, part of the power vision boards letting your mind know what to focus on. It’s a visual message to the reticular activating system (RAS) part of your brain that’s like setting a target for a missile. Once the course is set, that’s all it “sees” and it will dodge barriers and bust through obstacles to get to its destination and intended purpose.

If all the dreams you have in your vision board are sky high, vague and so out of reach, your RAS gets confused as to what you’re actually going to accomplish.

The more focused your intentions are within a specific time frame or content, the better your RAS can filter out everything that’s not relevant or helpful along the way. Like when you’re house hunting and you see For Sale signs everywhere instead of the unmanicured lawns a landscaper might see. 

It’s also the way creativity thrives.

We wish we had endless freedom and resources to be creative, but the more we have, the more our intentions meander and take their sweet time.

Give it a deadline with limited resources, and creativity flourishes in a way that will surprise you (with a bit of nail biting and choice words along the way). Try focusing your Vision Board and you’ll have a better understanding of what you truly want and what could be attainable for you.

Don’t Make It All About You 
Do Invite Others Into Your Story

Sometimes we’re trying fit a faith-led God-sized dream in a DIY lifestyle. Your purpose and dreams thrive best when they’re bigger than you and not all about you.

You’ve been invited to participate in a divine story — one that, at its core, saves lives, bears hope and inspires people to know they are loved, valued and understood.

Creating your ideal life is more possible than you think – but will it be meaningful when you achieve it?

Are you meant to achieve it alone?

Maybe there are people who are meant to be part of your story. What would their picture look like on your board?

Don’t Assume It’s Helpful to Only Focus on One Area of Your Life
Do Remember to Create a Holistic Life That’s Sustainable

There are 8 areas of your life that are essential to feeling fulfilled, connected and successful. These areas vary for different people but generally they are: spiritual, family/spouse, personal, wellness, avocational/community/social, recreation, finances, vocation/career. 

I don’t think a balanced life is realistic in every season or even every day. Some dreams, launches, sickness, life-change demand more time and energy for a season. But when that season is over, we can lean into another renew its vitality.

When one area is neglected to focus on one of the other areas over the long term – months, years or decades – it depletes your energy and happiness, more importantly, your true sense of fulfillment. Unfortunatley, many people don’t realize this until they’re on their deathbed.

Signals that you’re neglecting your purpose in one or more of these areas can be loneliness, boredom, lack of energy, resentment, depression, jealousy, and feeling insignificant or inadequate,  But you have the opportunity to create your holistic life. 

What pictures on your board would represent well-rounded vitality in what you give and receive in relationships, projects, learning, environment and wellness?

Don’t Avoid Dealing With Your Baggage
Do Discover How You Can Experience Now What You Want to Feel Through Achieving Your Dreams

Did you know that almost everything you do is driven by either a desirable feeling you want to have or an undesirable feeling you want to avoid?

If you don’t heighten your awareness of what those feelings are truly about, you’ll only keep chasing the things you think will make you happy. You’ll keep avoiding hard work, pain and discomfort that actually helps you thrive.

Without renewing your mind and replacing your limiting beliefs, you’ll keep finding yourself stuck or drifting in life – and repeat the same cycles of shame, inadequacy and defeat.   

What do you want to feel (and not feel) most in this season of your life? What picture represents that?

Don’t Forget to Create an Action Plan
Do Take Your Next Best Step

“Attract and manifest the life/things you want!” I heard this messaging around every vision board pep talk I encountered but found it misleading. 

I thought it meant, “Try hard; talk about it, and will it into being, and it will all come together.”

Uh, that didn’t work very well.

Once we know our next steps, whether it was the only step we know or part of a series of steps, we’re responsible for taking them.

It shows us, God, the world and our dream that we can be trusted with both the dream and the next step.

We’re going to need to show we can fight for it and show up for it even when we don’t feel like it. Our vision requires us to believe in it even when we temporarily doubt it, taking steps in the fog when clarity hasn’t arrived yet.

Along the journey, we separate our identity from the outcome, realizing we become better versions of ourselves, growing and learning with each action.

The actions are the ground we till, the seeds we sow, the nurturing that helps it grow. Then the reaping we celebrate.

And maybe… just maybe… like I did, you’ll look back on your vision board to realize the vision was just as much about who you’re becoming than what you wanted to accomplish.

Sooo… what’s going on your Vision Board?

Join me February 1st for Vision Board (Purpose in Action Board) Workshop. Find details here.

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