Posted | 15 comments


“Your vision will become clear only when you can look into your own heart. Who looks outside, dreams; who looks inside, awakes.” – Carl Jung

I realized sometime last summer that I have a bit of a block (understatement of the year) when it comes to articulating my dreams for my future. Sometimes it’s a matter of clarity. Other times it’s a matter of feeling worthy of what I want. Either way, I was stumbling in circles with no nerve when it came to stating them out loud.

As you know, I write. I share my experiences on this website. On my own, I jot down thoughts and feelings and ideas that are for me alone. Writing gives shape and clarity to what I’m currently going through. When I tried to use writing to project what I wanted to happen in my future, it just didn’t work. It felt contrived at best and like flat out fantasy at worst. I felt extremely disconnected from the process.

In other attempts to map out my future, I’ve talked to close friends and trusted advisors. In all these cases, they were nothing less than loving and supportive. It didn’t matter. I just felt stifled and stupid as I shared various ideas.

As summer turned to fall, I began to think about vision boards (also known as dream or action boards). Yes, I know the concept has been around forever. Like you, I’ve heard lots of people talk about how amazing and insightful they are. My friend Holly wrote about the ones she made (sadly, she’s taken her amazing website down), so I called her up and asked her to explain just how this vision board thing worked.

Holly said she had made vision boards around various “themes” such as her career aspirations or particular experiences she wanted to have. She also had a vision board that was random unrelated items that would make her life better such as having a maid or getting a new car.

At the time, the “theme” idea was too scary for me to even attempt. However, the idea of having a maid was appealing, so I printed out a photo of a maid and pasted it on a piece of poster board. For the next few months, anytime I would think of something I wanted I would print and paste it on my board.

Even though I had been pasting down random pictures of maids and Venice and elephants for the past few months, I still felt a lot of resistance. I realized that I could continue to circle the drain on this whole articulating my future thing or I could just be brave. I decided to be brave.

As 2012 drew to an end, a couple of close friends of mine and I acknowledged the value we garnered from time spent together. We made a vow that we would nurture the friendship by hanging out at least once a month for a meal and some type of planned activity. Without thinking, I agreed to host January and suggested we all make vision boards. My friends liked the idea. It was set.

Now that I was on the stick for creating a successful event, I got serious about the whole vision board thing. I read a few articles on the internet. I gathered up magazines (thanks to everyone who donated), bought supplies, planned the menu, and thought a lot about how to make this vision board idea work. I decided that I really needed to delve in deep, so I purchased a oversized sketch book to have multiple pages to paste the images I chose.

Since one of my goals for this year is generating more income, I decided this would be the theme of my first vision page. While my friends cut out images and words that had meaning to them, I cut out numbers and dollar signs and pictures that represented how it would feel to make more money. I dutifully pasted them on a page of my vision book.

As we worked, we shared words and quotes with each other and talked about how different photos made us feel. At the end of the night, we all felt like we had barely gotten started. Calendars were checked, families consulted, and a date was set for a second vision session the following week.

Everyone came away from the experience feeling like it was time well spent. Both Pam and Jennifer decided to choose images that resonated strongly with them and to allow time to reveal what each of their boards mean. I stuck to my themes. After filling several pages with income images, I’ve moved on to other themed pages such as family, friends, fitness, fun. Since that night, my vision book sits on my desk and every now and then when I have the inclination, I attach a few more images.

I’ve heard stories of people sticking a photo of Oprah on their boards only to find themselves on her show or of pasting a particular house on the board and finding themselves living in it long after the board had been forgotten. I’m open to having that kind of thing happen to me as well. It makes me very careful about what I choose to paste.

The larger benefit for me though has been in stating what I want my future to look like. I may not be able to say it or write it but I’m finding that as a clip and stick, form and shape and clarity are coming into my life. It’s bringing up various long buried feelings which gives me the opportunity to address them as they surface. My vision book is also giving me focus and informing the decisions I make in my everyday life. I find I spend more time working towards those things I’m thoughtfully pasting down. I also feel a lot less apologetic for wanting what I want.

If you’ve made a vision board, I’d love to hear how it went for you. Please leave a comment below. If you’re interested in making a vision board, I’ve included a few links to get you started.

Martha Beck, the queen of vision boards.

Pam Slim’s take on vision boards.

A step by step guide from Christine Kane.


  1. I love this post. I love ALL of your posts but for me, this one was very timely, indeed. I just completed a few of these boards for an exercise I was doing to help me get some clarity on a facet of my business that I am developing right now. Turns out I had just decluttered my home throwing all those piles of magazines (I never had time to read) in the recycle bin. Of course, isn’t that always the case? I took the three magazines remaining in my home and got to work, being very careful NOT to touch the Oprah Magazine because somehow I knew I’d want to keep that one intact to smile at when I’m old and gray. I gained so much from this exercise even the part I resisted. Especially the part I resisted. Thank you for sharing your story. My next project is “soul collage.”

    • I was in the same boat. I got rid of stacks of magazines in the fall only to need them a few months later. Luckily, friends came through. I’ve been amazed at what I’ve discovering through this whole process and look forward to what else I’ll learn. I need to apply this to my work, as well. I haven’t gone there, but the time is right. Soul collage? I’ll be in touch. ; )

  2. Loved hearing about your vision board experience. The links you posted we’re great too. This ALMOST makes me want to try again with a new board (since I tore down and shredded my last one), but I tend to fall into the trap that Pamela Slim warns about: Don’t get frustrated that you don’t have it yet.

    • I’m learning that waiting for the right time and trusting that where I am us where I’m suppose to be and listening to that inner voice are all difficult things to do. It’s only when we let go and give up control that we can be granted what we are suppose to have. Holly, let go.

  3. I’m still not sure what my large vision board means but I have no doubt that it will become clearer as time goes by. And I am still toying with the idea of creating a book with themed pages. In the meantime, I have a vision board story to share with you. Remind me the next time we are together!

  4. I love the clarity I’ve found in the past with vision boards, although I only tried this once or twice. Hmmm….with recent revelations on how visual I am, you’ve made me think about starting one again! 🙂

    • I know after I finish this round it’s something I’ll revisit. I hope you will try a new one.

  5. For me too the vision board helps me see what I cannot clearly articulate. I didn’t realize that until I read your post. Thank you.

  6. I love vision boards! I have create one to be my guide for this year, I have two that are above my jewelry bench and I have one that is for the 5 and 10 year plan. I find it really helpful to have a guide and reminder! 🙂

  7. I love vision boards although it’s been a few years since I’ve done one. And you’re right Denise that often people close to us won’t understand or see our vision. Especially if they aren’t entrepreneurial. So we reach out to those who do.

  8. Thank you for sharing your vision board. I had clipped a bunch of photos and stuck them in a box on the top of my closet. Years later, I looked in the box and the majority of the items had materialized!

  9. beautiful writing, denise. i love vision boards, and have created one version or another for several years, most recently while facilitating my mindful eating support group. i have found, however, that i am drawn to words more than pictures, so my end results always reflect that (a gorgeous splash of written ideas atop a few images). i recently reviewed my last two, and was amazed to see how much has materialized in my life!

    • I’m trying to be more open to images, but I end up with a lot of words on mine too. I’m glad to hear that you’ve seen results. Makes me feel hopeful.

  10. Excellent post, Denise. It’s truly amazing what can happen when we put it out for the universe to take care of. And I love the Jung quote… will have to nick that one! 😉

  11. Fantastic post, Denise! I love it because I too am a writer but sometimes having a visual representation is so much more powerful. You’ve totally inspired me and I never even thought of having a scrapbook as a vision board. I think I might even buy a small notebook to carry around in my purse with me so I can look at it wherever I go!


  1. Boundaries | - [...] putting my boundaries in writing. This scares me, just like writing down my goals, populating my vision boards with…

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *