Envisioning yourself

Manifesting your dreams and goals through vision boarding

woman cutting paper

Editor's note: This story originally appeared in the summer 2021 issue of ASU Thrive magazine.

Life transitions, such as the start or end of a school year and beginning or end of a college career, are a great time to take stock and reassess how you’re doing in life. Am I living the lifestyle I want to live? Do I have a healthy work-life balance? What would help me live more fully? Am I spending enough time doing things I like with the people I enjoy the most? 

As you prepare to graduate from college and enter a professional career and/or transition from virtual to more in-person activities, now is a great time to evaluate what is going well for you, what you’d like to focus more on and how you can live a more balanced, fulfilling life. Vision boards are a great way to do all of this.

Portrait of

Michele Gaines

A vision board is a physical or digital representation of your dreams and goals. Using a collage of pictures, quotes and other inspiring images, a vision board helps you identify your priorities, refocus your energy, increase productivity, focus on your personal growth and stay motivated. Here, ASU's Mary Lou Fulton Teachers College wellness coach Michele Gaines shares her six tips to create a vision board with intention to help you manifest your goals into reality.

Take a moment to reflect on all that is already going well for you

Take at least five to 10 minutes to assess things that are going well and areas you’d like to improve. The wellness wheel’s eight dimensions of wellness (physical, occupational, emotional, environmental, social, intellectual, financial, spiritual) can be a great tool to holistically evaluate your current well-being. You can also write down any other categories that you’d like to prioritize, such as mind, body, soul, or love, career, relationships, health and wealth. 

Decide what you want to attract more of in your life

We often focus our energy on what we don’t have enough of rather than what is already going well for us.Take a moment to express gratitude for the things that are already great in your life so that you can continue to flourish in those areas and use your strengths to build on any challenge areas.

Dream big! Write down your goals both big and small

Sit quietly, close your eyes and imagine your dreams and goals coming to life. Focus on what you want to feel like in those moments. See yourself in those moments of achievement and spend time thinking about the energy you want to feel and exude, who you want to be around as well as how you want to feel emotionally. So often we spend the bulk of our time thinking about the achievements and goals themselves rather than how we want to feel and experience the process of achieving and experiencing the accomplishments and results of those goals.

Decide if you want to create a physical or digital vision board

For a physical vision board, I recommend using poster board, stickers, markers, magazines and a color printer. Or you can create your own vision board online using Canva, Google Slides, Picsart or any other photo editing platform to organize your goals digitally.

8 dimensions of wellness on a color wheel

The wellness wheel’s 8 dimensions of wellness (physical, occupational, emotional, environmental, social, intellectual, financial, spiritual) can be a great tool to holistically evaluate your current well-being.

Tap into your creative and artistic side

Yes, we all do have that side to us! Now that you have a clear sense of your goals, search for images, pictures, colors, words, phrases, lyrics and anything else that reflects those dreams and goals. Take your time and enjoy the artistic process. You can use magazines, newspapers or search online for inspiration. Plan on spending the most time on this section as you search for inspiration. I like playing music and chatting with friends who are also making their vision boards so it becomes a fun social activity and so that I stay motivated to actually finish it. Remember it doesn’t have to be perfect because you can always decide to make another one! The important part is you are creating something that reminds you of your goals! Take your time, have fun, and don’t rush through it! Be sure to dedicate enough time for this activity. I recommend at least an hour but once you get started you may find yourself wanting to spend more time on it because it can actually be a lot of fun dreaming big and tapping into your creative side.

Keep it visible

You finished, woohoo! Hang your vision board somewhere that you will see it daily and often, like your bathroom mirror or at your desk. Take a picture of it so you have a copy of your vision board in your phone and you can refer to it at any time. If you decided to create a digital vision board you can set it as your desktop wallpaper or phone lockscreen. The more you view your vision board, the more likely you will be reminded of your goals and motivated to take the steps to achieve them! Complete a new vision board once you achieve your goals or create new ones and repeat as often as you see fit.

Happy manifesting! Once you do this activity and see its benefits and results firsthand, you’ll be totally hooked. 

Learn more about the wellness program in Mary Lou Fulton Teachers College.

Michele Gaines is the wellness coach in the Mary Lou Fulton Teachers College, where she works with students, faculty, staff and alumni in the college to support their wellness as they pursue studies and teaching.