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The Case For A Realistic Board & 2 More Unexpected Vision Boarding Ideas

Emma Loewe
July 22, 2020
Emma Loewe
mbg Sustainability + Health Director
By Emma Loewe
mbg Sustainability + Health Director
Emma Loewe is the Senior Sustainability Editor at mindbodygreen and the author of "Return to Nature: The New Science of How Natural Landscapes Restore Us."
Focused Young Woman Choosing Color Sample For Moodboard On Wooden Table
Image by Alberto Bogo / Stocksy
July 22, 2020

Vision boards are basically adult scrapbooks that map out the future instead of the past using a combination of photos, art, and inspirational mantras and quotes. Erica Lasan, a coach who specializes in finding joy and purpose in hard times and life transitions, thinks they can be a wonderful tool for connecting people with their goals and dreams. When I connected with Lasan, I was struck by three points that she made that go against the grain of traditional vision boarding but make total sense. Here are her fresh takes on how you can better set goals using a vision board:

1. Keep it real and look to your own life for inspiration.

Much of the vision board inspo you'll find online is a hodgepodge of highly stylized magazine cutouts. While Lasan uses these clippings sometimes, she likes to mix them with images from her own life. While doing so may feel counterintuitive at first (it's a vision board, not a reality board!), it can help keep things grounded in gratitude.

"One thing about our society and our culture is that we focus so much on trying to aspire to the lives of others and forget to be grateful for the life that we have," Lasan says. "Your life is magazine-worthy! There are so many beautiful things that happen in your life on a regular basis."

So the next time you start a new board or refresh the imagery on your existing one, consider adding personal photos that remind you of positive experiences you've had and want to have more of.

2. Make sure it speaks to you.

In the same vein as the last tip, it's important that your vision board speaks to a future you truly want. In an age when ads, TV, social media, friends, and family are always telling us what we should want, this one's easier said than done. Before you add anything to your board, get quiet and consider if it actually brings you joy or if you were just raised to think it would. Take a few deep breaths as you work to decipher which ideas come from the inside versus the outside.

"At some point," says Lasan, "I had to break myself away from those ideas that I'd basically been indoctrinated to believe based on the experiences of others that are not remotely close to my experience... I was so busy trying to be the way that other people expected me to be that I didn't even really prioritize what it was that I wanted."

When used this way, your vision board can be a tool for self-discovery as much as a pretty reminder of your goals.

3. Get creative with the presentation.

Lasan's vision board isn't a board at all but a coffee-table-esque book filled with seven foldout panels. Each section contains photos, Scripture, and words that speak to a particular life theme (such as spirituality, wellness, family, etc.). She chose to package it in this way in part so that she could always have the vision out on display where she could see it. Lasan looks at the book every day and does more in-depth check-ins to see how she's tracking toward her goals once every few months.

If displaying a big board on a wall doesn't appeal to you or you don't have the materials for it, feel free to explore different displays like books, cards, or online collections—anything you feel excited to revisit often.

For more insights into Lasan's approach, check out her six-week vision course or her abridged vision boarding class for newbies. Now feels like an especially impactful time to do this work, as so many of us are in limbo mode, unsure about what the future holds. These boards are one way to hold onto positivity and hope moving forward into the unknown. "Because ultimately, you don't base your vision out of fear; you're basing it on faith," says Lasan. "Having vision and faith means acting in accordance with things that are unseen until they're done."

Emma Loewe author page.
Emma Loewe
mbg Sustainability + Health Director

Emma Loewe is the Sustainability and Health Director at mindbodygreen and the author of Return to Nature: The New Science of How Natural Landscapes Restore Us. She is also the co-author of The Spirit Almanac: A Modern Guide To Ancient Self Care, which she wrote alongside Lindsay Kellner.

Emma received her B.A. in Environmental Science & Policy with a specialty in environmental communications from Duke University. In addition to penning over 1,000 mbg articles on topics from the water crisis in California to the rise of urban beekeeping, her work has appeared on Grist, Bloomberg News, Bustle, and Forbes. She's spoken about the intersection of self-care and sustainability on podcasts and live events alongside environmental thought leaders like Marci Zaroff, Gay Browne, and Summer Rayne Oakes.