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How to supercharge your creativity in 2024 with a vision board

by | Jan 5, 2024

Vision boarding has been unfairly maligned. It can get lumped in with the ‘law’ of attraction as an exercise in idle fantasy, a way for the warm waters of what might be to tempt you away from doing anything about what actually is. 

At Now Go Create, we don’t pretend to understand all the mysteries of the cosmos. But rather than waiting around for the universe to deliver our desires, we reckon we’re better off reclaiming a vision board from the just-think-positive-thoughts posse and using the power of dreams to inspire an itch for action.

But there is a disclaimer: just creating a vision board is not going to make your dreams a reality. You will actually have to plan and take action. But by making one you are setting your goals for the future in a visual way. By having it somewhere you can see it every day you’re keeping your goals in sight 😉

Vision boarding can provide a unique way for us to step outside the immediacy of our deadline-driven work worlds and engage ourselves with the important stuff.

“What do we really want for our lives and where should we put our energies in order to achieve it?”

These are big questions, and it makes sense to use a big part of our intelligence to enagage with them. Half our brains are devoted directly or indirectly to vision and we’re hard-wired to process the world visually. Communications expert Professor Brad Bushman says that “that our brain is mainly an image processor (much of our sensory cortex is devoted to vision), not a word processor. In fact, the part of the brain used to process words is quite small in comparison to the part that processes visual images.”

The occipital lobe is the part of the brain that processes visual information and using images is one of the strongest ways to help material enter the brain and stay there.

As visual creatures, a vision boarding session can be rooted in using the same neural pathways to influence something much more important: how we spend our attention and time.

“Attention and time are two of the engines of action.”

But first we need to get an idea of where we might like to go. And this is where vision boarding comes into its own.

Here are three observations from doing my own vision board for anyone seeking to make their own a success:

1. Make your inner critic work for you, not against you

When we begin any creative endeavour, we go up against our inner critic. This judge that hovers over our shoulder constantly asking, “is this any good?” has the power to shut so many of our early experiments down. First steps aren’t supposed to be good, though our inner critic doesn’t always appreciate that. The thing with the inner critic though is that it’s part of who we are. Our judgements on the things we think are good – and those we don’t – are part of our individual identities. Rather than attempting to shut this voice out, vision boarding begins by harnessing its power. It’s integral to the exploration, the sifting through images, postcards, fabric samples, cuttings, quotes. Your judgement will guide you on the journey of no, no,no,maybe, no, hmm, yes, no, hold on… YES. Your board must first speak to you.

2: Think with your fingers. 

One of my favourite German words is “fingerspitzengefuhl’. It means ‘fingertip feeling’ and usually denotes a wide-ranging intuition, but I like to (mis) translate it as ‘thinking with your fingers.’ This is how each board seems to emerge from the intersection between individual creative preference and available materials.

Unlike most computer-based work, there is a physicality to vision boarding: the sifting and tearing of paper, the fine control of scissors, the satisfaction of fitting images together. At times it feels almost as if our fingers are making the decisions without having to consult with the brain. 

When I watch other people doing this it’s a kind of mental relaxation, a collective expression of engagement from the group once they began doing this. As one creator, deep in the flow of it, said:

“Why can’t we do this every day?”

3: Share your story

Using your judgement and thinking with your fingers to create a tangible vision board is the first step. The next is sharing your story with others if you want to. There can be a particular power in the act of making your dreams known. It feels like speaking up for yourself, breathing life into something which otherwise might have stayed deep inside your thoughts. The whole point of these sessions is to help get the dreams and goals out of our heads and into the real world where we can do something about them. Because it’s doing that gives dreaming its power.

How to do it

Creating a vision board is as simple as it sounds. Think about what you want in your creative nirvana. What will you be able to do, achieve, create – in the next 6-12 months?

Perhaps deliver an amazing customer experience on your website or design new stand-out packaging. Maybe you want to push for a promotion. Or start that side-hustle you keep putting off.

  • All you need is a piece of stiff board (personally I go for A3 or bigger so that you can really go to town) and of course scissors and glue or spray mount. I also use those rubber alphabet stamps and inkpads so I can print quotes and words onto the boards.
  • Then all you need is some time to yourself, a space where you can relax and your stash of inspiration. Grab a stack of magazines and flick through, cutting out any images or quotes that seem to fit. You can add personal or aspirational photos, postcards, and anything else that inspires you.

I used visual journaling, including making vision boards and collaging, extensively as part of my thesis when I was studying creativity and innovation a few years ago. I found it a powerful way to help you go beyond your rational, conscious mind and access other ways of knowing.

Are you and your team ready to prepared to supercharge your creativity?

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