When you think about a “vision board,” try to eliminate thoughts of tweens with glue sticks and glitter at summer camp. Instead, think of a vision board as a grown-up’s tool to inspire growth and motivate action. But be careful; your board can turn into a whole lotta kitsch if you don’t realize the true point in making one.

Years ago, Martha Beck wrote an article for CNN about the common misconceptions of a vision board. Beck dispelled the mainstream notion of a vision board – a corkboard piled up with ripped magazine ads of size zero models, hunky men with bouquets of roses and red pouty lips. Instead, Beck said, to really work, a vision board has to come not from the influence of cultural norms and material things, but from your un-socialized self – your unique inner being that has innate preferences.

This methodology ensures the words and images on your board aren’t superficial. To post an image of your dream house may be something you want to work toward, but it is going to remain an image of your dream house and nothing more. The board alone doesn’t change anything – it’s the process of connecting with the images that subconsciously influences your choice to make that vision a reality.

Think about the woman you want to become; the impact you want to have in this world; the person you want people to remember. This process will inspire a collage of pictures and words that appeal to your authentic self. The symbolism behind the images will unleash a primal feeling that says: I am in control of my goals.

Start with a blank canvas. Flip through magazines, journals and books to find meaningful words or images. They should evoke a visceral reaction in you – like a smile, a laugh, a heart tug or even something more powerful. You’ll begin to physically and metaphorically capture representations of things that motivate you to feel.

Whether you use pushpins and a corkboard, tape and a mirror, or cardboard and spray mount, the decorative aesthetic should reflect your style. Have fun with it – the process of building your own visual representation of your future self is really exciting. But always remember that the physical mechanism isn’t as important as the meaning behind it.

When you walk away from your creation, keep the visuals in your mind as reminders to focus on your goals. But don’t get so attached that you don’t modify and rotate the images. Want to really make this meaningful? Align your vision board with your yearly goal planning; find inspiration in new things each year and reflect your personal evolution with the visualization of yourself. The beauty of the board is it is adaptable, just as you are in life.

Photo Credit: Kikki-K

What’s on your vision board?