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Wednesday, 30 July 2008

The subtle tricks to creating an effective vision board

You must have been living under a rock if you missed the hoopla of The Secret last year, and the associated buzz about the Law of Attraction.  I know my readers range from the strongly skeptical to more woo woo than Jeffrey Osborne.  But I hope all of you like a post that I just did for Martha Beck's blog on The subtle tricks to creating an effective vision board.  More than a simple collage, creating a vision board can be a very powerful exercise for imagining your positive, joy-filled future.

I created my own board as research for the post, which I filmed for you this morning.  The video runs about 5 minutes (forgive my shaking, I was using the hand-held Flip camera and my cinematography resembles The Blair Witch Project at times).

Enjoy the post, and please share any tips for creating effective vision boards that you have learned along the way.



If you have been around the field of personal development in the past 20 years, you have surely heard of vision boards as a great way to graphically illustrate your hopes and dreams, as well as increase the likelihood that you will get what you wish for.

Martha was recently on Oprah talking with Louise Hay and Cheryl Richardson about the Law of Attraction.  Helping to demystify  "the secret behind The Secret," they discussed practical ways to attract more of what you want in your life and less of what you don't.

Martha and Cheryl brought their own vision boards as examples.   Martha's included elements of friends and spirituality, as well as a picture of a dog that now hounds her to go for a walk.  Cheryl's included a picture of a man representing her future groom (who later appeared, and married her).  The show also featured two young sisters, Dominique and Brittany, who demonstrated that you are never too young to put the Law of Attraction to work.

If I would have known about vision boards at age 12, I would look like Cheryl Tiegs, be married to Tony Orlando, and have the Bay City Rollers play at my wedding.  It takes the expression "Be careful what you wish for; you just may get it!" to a whole new level.

But since I am putting together my first vision board at the age of 41, I tuned into a conversation with Martha and Master Coach Theresa Anderson for some tips on unconventional ways to create an effective vision board.

The basics

The mechanics of creating a vision board couldn't be easier:  get a piece of poster board, glue, magazines  and scissors and cut and paste to your heart's content.  If you are really motivated, go to the scrap booking section of your local art store and get some fancy stickers, colored paper or other creative materials.

Beyond the basics - how to make the experience much more powerful

What these basic steps fail to take into account is the impact of our social selves on the visioning process.  If we let our brains run the show, we can end up with a board with more bling than Mr. T, but devoid of real purpose and emotion.  This is unlikely to attract much of anything except dust on a shelf.  Instead, consider these tips to super-charge your vision board:

  • Create the "anti-vision board," either literally by creating a board with images that make your stomach turn, or just by thinking about all the things that you don't want in your life.  The metaphor Martha used when describing this is the feeling of jumping in a deep diving pool, then pushing off the bottom to shoot up and see how high you can go.   When you know what you don't want, it can help clarify what you do.  It is related to Chapter Two of Finding Your Own North Star which I wrote about in a prior post, Was Nancy Reagan right?  How just saying NO can change your life.
  • If you just grab the magazines lying around your house,  you may miss images that represent a future you haven't yet imagined.  Instead, go to a bookstore that has a really great magazine selection and play the Hot-Warm-Cold game:
    • Get as calm as you can by relaxing, breathing deeply and imaging an extremely positive experience in your life (a "+10 for those familiar with the scale).
    • Stand in front of the magazine rack and squint your eyes so you can't read the words but you can see the outlines of the images.
    • Grab any magazines that jump out at you, regardless if they make sense to your rational mind (Bug Collectors Today, Maxim, Off-Road Vehicles and Martha Stewart Living may be odd companions, but don't question it!)
    • Go sit somewhere comfortable and leaf through the images.  Weed out those magazines that truly don't resonate with your body.
  • Feel, don't think your way through the exercise. Our rational minds imagine our futures in neat, organized steps.  So it is very tempting to search for images by thinking things like: "What is the logical next step in my career?' or "What kind of man would make me happy?" or "What tropical destination is most affordable for a family of five?" Martha says: "To act without thinking is almost unthinkable in our culture!  Powerful action can occur without any thought."
  • Observe your process of making the vision board; it can clue you into the way you operate in life. So if you take too much time looking for the "ideal images," you may find that perfectionism gets in your way in general.  If you never make time to complete the exercise, you may find that you spend so much time taking care of everyone else's needs that you neglect your own.

While doing these things, watch out for these 5 DON'Ts: read the rest here.

(Bonus list, at bottom of rest of post, in case you don't make it over there)

Other fun, inspirational sites to stimulate your creative thinking and collect images:

  • istockphoto - use keywords to search from a gigantic database of beautiful photo images (this is a paid service since it compensates the photographers who contribute photos, but the quality is exceptional).
  • Our favorite creativity coach Christine Kane wrote a post about her own experience with a vision board, which she followed up with How to Make a Vision Board which got a healthy 97 additional comments from readers!
  • PostSecret is an amazing blog project where people create anonymous postcards with their deepest secrets.  It is another great place to get inspired by hand-created images, and the power of the authentic voice.
  • 2008 Design Trends has some beautiful web design images that can stimulate your design eye.
  • The cool picture of the day site has some really unusual and creative photos.


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Pam, how can I get the code to embed your video elsewhere? If that is ok...



Hi Kelly!

The original link in YouTube is here -- you can get the embed code there.

Thanks for stopping by.



Well done! Loved that you included the video.It's a visual practice, so it makes sense. I can easily see you on Matt Lauer's schedule and also can imagine you having a show on O TV. No problem! Your voice, btw, is one of our gifts. Use it, my dear.:)

Colleen Wainwright

That is the sweetest, most generous, open-hearted tour I've been on in a long time. Thank you, Pam!

The first thing that popped into my head when I watched you start in your "family" section was Vision Board/Feng Shui mashup!

Off to Google those particular possibilities. (Damn. Leave it to the Virgo to complicate matters.)

Colleen Wainwright

Holy crap. There's, like, an entire quadrant of the Internet carved out for this flavor of vision boards.

Okay. If/when I do it, I'm just going to do it my way. So there!

Joyce Schwarz

Great start. You're creating on the video what I call an "OVERVIEW" board. It's just one of the many types of vision boards that I show in my upcoming book "THE VISION BOARD" Unlock the Secret to An Extraordinary Life by Harper Collins, Fall, 2008. There are dozens of other kinds of boards that focus in on sectors of your life, family, love, relationships, new business, Prosperity, and maybe most important Gratitude and Giving boards done for you and by you for you and your favorite charity and non-profit group. Check out some of the early previews on my blog www.visionboard.info. And to those of you who want to do it YOUR way -- go for it-- but consider delving into what's called VISIONING and creating a VISION STATEMENT (see my blog) --creating the board is only one step of a five step process that will change your mind and change your life-- it has for thousands of my clients and hundreds in my book including celebrities, VIPs and real people like you and me!

Joyce Schwarz

PS send me your pictures of your boards at www.ihaveavision.org after you sign up for the free newsletter-- I'm starting to create the workbook that goes with the book and who knows you may be FEATURED IN IT and win a trip to HOLLYWOOD!

John Fritz

Any vision that does not include chocolate is merely an hallucination :)!


Juanito, your vision board would basically be an adult version of Charlie and the Chocolate factory.


Shama Hyder

Okay...totally awesome! Here is the stuff I have had on a vision board that's come true!

- a diamond ring (umm-getting married!)

- a dress (small thing-but pretty cool!)

- a beautiful home.


Hi Pam! You've done a fantastic job promoting this, ...I can't recall if I've ever been anticipating a blog before, but your pre-chat about it got me talking about it and anticipating it. It also resurrected my own memories of creating vision boards, which I love to do. Thanks to you, I am resurrecting this practice!

The thoughtful sharing of your vision was a pleasure to listen to and once again I realize why I love to read your blog and have enjoyed meeting you.


That is so cool! I didn't quite realize that I was building anticipation by twittering about the post, but now that I think of it, it is a fun way to get people excited about an upcoming post.

I REALLY enjoyed making my board, in fact after a few hours, I realized that I was spending so much time experimenting that I wasn't actually writing the post. Oops!

Have fun with yours!


"Build it and they will come."

Derek Pollard


I used to scoff it these type of things, but in the last year I've opened my mind and already seen great changes. I've read about vision boards a few times so this it it... I'm committing to making one with your advice.

Many thanks.


That's cool Derek, I appreciate your comment.

Some of these things get a bit skewed by over-the-top marketing promises or new age hype. At the core, I really think there is something to them.

Spending an afternoon thinking about what I love and want in my life as I was doing my own board was a really wonderful way to spend time. So even if all your dreams don't come true, it sure puts you in a positive zone!

Enjoy, and please share how the experience went after you do it.

All the best,


Marcia Francois

How cool - I just posted pics of my two vision boards a couple of weeks ago



I've found the coolest and most effective tool to help with the visualization process - a great vision board software called Mind Movies Creator.

It was created by Ryan Higgins to help others visualize and manifest the life of their dreams. See a video and find out why here http://www.squidoo.com/vision-board-software

A Mind Movie allows you to create a vision of what you want, together with your Favorite song… the one that makes you feel good, the one that makes you want to dance, the one that makes you smile and sing along.

It’s like a 3 minute slide show/movie of your perfect life.

I’m trying it out now.

I’m having fun making my own vision board/mind movie.

And because it’s a software, no need to cut up magazines!




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