Vision boards and their functionality

3. 4. 2023

Article is inspired on a research, but the first word is author's personal input:

"Everybody is nowadays talking about vision boards, there are "Let's Make a Vision Board" themed parties, and it became a huge trend in the modern community. 

Vision boards have been with us for quite a while. Their functionality is based on science, but... there is always a but.. A lot of people don't actually understand their point or how to use it in their favor. Fast forward, you see a lot of boards full of magazines pictures, art pieces and the "pitch perfect" life from Hollywood. Or from the Hollywood's movies, to be accurate. Vision boards became a trend that's full of superficial, materialistic things people want to have, to be able to show off, instead of truly pursuing what they want or authentically need in their lives. It lost its true function. It really should be about personal, authentic growth. About keeping happiness in your life. 

It's a shame, I am a big fan of seeing what my next steps should be, seeing the directions and get my focus back, when I get distracted. Vision boards help me.

But I am also realistic and down to Earth. That's why, my "vision board" works. It's just not as fancy as you'd expect (I really don't want to spend the whole day on creating it. When I know what I want this year, I write it down to keep my head on it, or see it on paper to make it a real thing, and that's it. I get easily distracted, so then I just take a look at it and I am back on track). But it only includes goals I am capable of reaching in my next chapter. Goals that give me satisfaction during the process, not overwhelm or feeling of failure.

And no.. I don't dream small." 

Do vision boards really work?

Some people believe that it’s a waste of time, but some find it extremely helpful. In my opinion it’s based on personality type and neither of these answers are right or wrong. You can choose for yourself what works best, customize the vision board to your needs or simply try to find another way to hold yourself accountable and motivated. 

When we mention “motivated”, what is motivation? Is motivation really important for achieving your goals? I honestly don’t feel motivated 100% of my time. Science says, motivation is not always present. You can’t rely on motivation to work toward your dreams. Motivation can’t be controlled, it honestly comes and goes. Just like emotions. What is there though and always will be is discipline

Discipline is a decision. It’s a decision that comes from your logic and it’s something you can control. Discipline is a driving force that helps you to make the right choices and go with the path that’s right for you in the long term. It’s the opposite of emotional based decisions, or decisions made by pleasure

Pleasure is also a driving force, the difference is, it usually decides to go with the choice that feels good at the moment, but it’s not good for you in the long term. 

Both are up to you. You can always choose between pleasure - comfort, or discipline - discomfort. In my opinion they both bring endorphins afterwards, only with discipline it can be harder to begin with, just because it requires the extra step and usually does NOT come with motivation. 

For example.. I am super motivated to watch Netflix tonight.. But what is that going to bring me in 10 years? So, instead of taking the path of pleasure, I am going to go with the discipline option and work out instead, which is going to make me healthier and stronger in the long term. At the end of the day.. I think mentally I will feel better after working out, than after watching TV all day. But of course, watching movies is fun. What I am trying to say - both decisions will feel good today, but are they both going to be helpful in a year or two? 

In the last article - "Goal Setting Guide - an article for a successful year" , we talked a lot about getting to know yourself deeper and what are the differences between purpose and passion. What is a dream and how to turn it into a goal. Now we made clear that motivation isn’t  quite necessary to achieve your goals, but discipline is crucial. We also know that pleasure can give us a good feeling, but will prolong the final destination. 


Vision board 101


What is a Vision board? 

Vision board is a visual expression of your goals. It is supposed to wake up the feelings you have when you think of being that person, having that career, living that life - shortly, achieving the goals. Therefore, it is supposed to motivate you. Although we are smarter now and we know, motivation isn’t enough to achieve your goals. Without discipline, a vision board is just a piece of weirdly put together collage decorating your wall, totally not matching your furniture.. When you make a vision board, keep all what we learned in your mind.

I think vision boards can be a good grounding tool throughout the year. It should be there for you to keep your focus straight, what to do next or to reflect on how far you’ve come. 

To have a vision board as a tool of accountability and productivity, here are some to do and not to do’s points:



  • Plan goals that are too far to achieve
  • Unrealistic goals
  • Too many goals
  • “The dream life” vision board
  • Vision board for life or more than a year



  • 1-3 goals max
  • Short term goals that will get you to the big picture/vision
  • Year to year


When you make a vision board, you see all the fancy stuff, like expensive cars, big houses, millions of dollars on your account, traveling the world…all that big stuff. But, how close are you to that? Is this your life-long life ultimate goal, or is this something you can achieve this year? 

The best things take time as well as the things that last forever. Take your time, don’t focus on the ultimate life goal. Focus on those steps you need to take in between. Turn those into a goal worthy of a vision board. 

Every year reflect on how far you have come and use it as a ladder that takes you to the life you desire. Every year create a new vision board, with next steps. It’s good to know what kind of life you want and have an ultimate goal, but don’t forget life happens, life changes, you change, so don’t be afraid to change your life goal too. 

That’s why focusing only on the big outcome can lead to never making it happen. 


  • It overwhelms
  • Makes you feel like cannot be not real
  • On the way you stop wanting it, because you changed your mind about it, because it overwhelms you, it takes too much time, and it discourages you


We naturally gain motivation from achieving. From marking tasks off. If you create a task that takes 20 years to complete.. It will make you feel like you’re a failure, you won’t get any good feeling about yourself and you only end up putting too much pressure on yourself. In most cases, people will give up. 

So when creating a vision board, try to understand what are your needs this year, what else you can improve. Only give yourself one or three tasks to accomplish (depending on what the task is and what does it take). Don't try to build a castle within a year. Build the foundation first. Next year focus on the walls, then give it a roof. But every year, see where you are at. Reflect and decide if you need more time to make the foundation stronger, or if you can move on to building the walls. 

To close this mini article, I’ve prepared some videos and articles you can watch and read. Reminder - stay creative, customize your board to yourself. Even if it’s gonna be a paper of 4 words or an entire wall decorated with pictures. It’s completely up to you. There is no such a thing as a formula in life. You need to be able to follow it, not anyone else. 



My favorite motivational speaker, Mel Robbins shares her insight about vision boards. I think she is right, but I also think it only depends on how you understand goal setting.  Anyways, I always love her input. How about you? 

vision boards YouTube

Another one from Mel Robbins, this time it’s about intentions. And that's how I understand vision boards. They should be as intentional as your daily intention is. If your goals are not or can't be intentional, don’t put them on your vision board. 


intentions YouTube video


Research from one of my favorite sites proving how the brain works when it sees things. Aka vision board is based on science. 

article psychology today


And finally, not everyone is a fan of paper, color pens and magazine pictures. Here is a great free tool you can use for your goal setting board. Go wild, or stay simple. Make it yours! And most importantly -  FUNCTIONAL. 




Author: Nicole Kleinova


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