So you want to set a vision for your creative business but have no idea where to start?
In your old 9-5 gig, you were told what the goals were, what the job description was, and what success looked like at every step.
You’re the CEO of your very own creative business, which means you call the shots! The decisions you make aren’t just “business” they’re personal too!
This is equal parts thrilling and terrifying.
What if I told you uncovering your business vision could be really FUN, and all you need is a pair of scissors, some glue, a few magazines (or just a Canva login), and a little spark of creativity to get started?
I’m about to walk you through the exact 5-step process I use with my coaching clients to help you get clear on what you want in life and business.
Along the way, we’ll define what exactly a vision board is, how it can help you, where its power comes from, and how to pair this tool with aligned action to accelerate your progress and move you closer to your dream destination.
A vision board is an inspirational collection of images and words that represent someone’s goals or aspirations. For my fellow designers and artists, a vision board is just like the inspiration or mood boards you create to set the tone for your creative projects!
In your business, a vision board is a tool you can use to get clearer on your big vision for your life and your business. It can help you stay aligned and in touch with your goals, values, and priorities as you make decisions, take action, and build both your business and life throughout every season.
Your business vision and a vision board are two different things.
The BIG vision you have for your business is a clear image of what you want your business to look, work, and feel like in the future. It is rooted in your personal goals and aspirations. Having a clear vision can help you stay on track when making decisions for yourself and your business so that every action moves you in the right direction.
On the other hand, a vision board is simply a tool to help you find that clarity and direction around your big vision. Your vision board should not stand alone, and once you complete it, I encourage you to dig deeper into that big vision.
COO Tip: This blog is an excellent resource that will walk you through the vision-setting process beyond a simple vision board. Here you’ll learn how to define your BIG VISION for your business and support it with a clear vision statement, mission statement, and set of core values.
I’ll admit. As much as I’ve always enjoyed creating vision boards (it’s probably the artist in me), I can see why some people are skeptical.
You might be thinking:
“So, you want me to arts-and-crafts my way to success, Erin?”
I get it. Vision boards can seem like a whole bunch of mystical “woo.” But this quote sums it up best for me:
“Where woo meets the work.”
I consider myself to be “woo-lite.” I absolutely think there is power behind practices like visualization, positive thinking, and manifestation. But I fully believe you ALSO need to do the work. In my opinion and experience, manifesting what you want is about looking for the opportunities to do the work and bring your dreams to life.
When you combine your mindset, manifestation, and visualization with intentional action— you’ll find a recipe for success!
Here are four ways vision boards can support your business goals, hopes, and dreams.
Hate to break it to ya, but…
If you keep waiting around for the thing you want for your business to just appear, you’ll always be waiting.
You can’t just sit back, wish for something, and expect things to fall into place. You have to go after it and be proactive.
But what often happens is people WAIT and hesitate because they aren’t 100% sure what they really want! Or, they’re not feeling fulfilled because they’re pursuing what they THINK they should want based on the opinions of others.
Vision boards can serve as a shortcut to getting crystal clear on what exactly it is you want so you can channel your efforts in the right direction.
This vision board exercise will help you create a clear line in the sand when it comes to what you want (and even what you don’t want) so that you can seek out opportunities that will help you move the needle in your business.
It’s one thing to know what you want. It’s a totally different thing to determine why you want it and how much it matters. You need to take time to dig into why you care and how much you want your goals to add fuel to the fire and motivate you to push on when things inevitably get tough.
Vision boards allow you the time and space you need to process and understand what you want on a deep level.
Thinking about your goals is fine. Processing through journaling, writing, talking, or creating is different. It’s more succinct and organized.
You’ll walk away from this exercise feeling clear about your goals and the direction of your life and business instead of being overwhelmed or wishy-washy.
On a cognitive science level, creating a visual representation of your goals is like taking the jumbled mess in your head and making sense of it. This sets your brain up to recognize opportunities that align with what you desire.
You’ve probably experienced something like this before…
Nothing has changed on your morning commute. You take the same exact route at the same exact time.
But recently you’ve been shopping for a bright red Fiat.
Suddenly, you’re seeing cute little red Fiats EVERYWHERE!
How could this be?
This phenomenon is attributed to something called the Red Car Syndrome (among many other names like the Baader-Meinhof Phenomenon or the Frequency Illusion). It’s the idea that what you focus on, you notice more and more often.
That’s because you’ve trained your brain (unknowingly) to look out for red Fiats!
The cars have always been there, but in the past, your brain allowed that information to pass by.
Now, you’re simply aware of them!
The same thing happens when we attune our attention to the things we desire in our business. When you get clear on what you want, suddenly, perfect opportunities open up to you. They were probably right in front of you all along, but you needed to zoom in and pay attention!
You make thousands of decisions each day just to stay alive! Tack on all the business choices you’re confronted with daily, and it’s no wonder decision fatigue starts to set in!
Vision boards can make it easier!
Your vision board serves a physical reminder of where you are headed in your business. This visual cue ensures you remain on course with every choice you make.
With a vision board, you can SEE an image of what your life or business could be. When presented with choices, your vision board acts like a guiding compass, directing you so you can weigh your options and decide what you are or are not going to pursue.
I recommend all my clients take the word SHOULD out of their vocabulary.
Because there are lots of ways to do things in business (and in life).
And while it’s good to explore your options, not every tool, strategy, or suggestion will work for you. It is up to YOU to decide what feels most helpful and what feels like “fluff.”
While I wholeheartedly believe in the power and efficiency of vision boards, you may come across another tool or process that helps you explore and set the big vision for your business.
At the end of the day, it doesn’t matter how you get there, as long as you do it in a way that works for you!
That being said, you never know until you try. So, if you’re even the least bit intrigued, give it a whirl! You might surprise yourself and find the process enlightening.
Many people create vision boards as a way to ring in the New Year. While this is a great practice, I don’t believe you need to wait for any particular season or event to inspire yours!
It can be beneficial to create a vision board annually, no matter what time of year. This can give you an opportunity to reflect on the previous year’s ambitions as you set, modify, or expand on new goals for the upcoming year.
I do caution against creating vision boards too often. Remember, they are big goals that are meant to take time. If you’re knocking off your goals in a few weeks, kudos to you, but maybe you need to challenge yourself to dream BIGGER! Your goals should delight and maybe even scare you just a bit. Be patient and allow time to pass before creating something entirely from scratch.
Now, the FUN part!
Before jumping in, I highly suggest you take some time to reflect. Journaling is one of my favorite ways to do this. If you have a regular journaling practice, it may also be helpful to look back at previous entries for clues about your values, goals, beliefs, and dreams for the future.
Taking time to brainstorm what you want and hope for the future of your life or business will make the process of finding images, words, and quotes that represent your goals easier.
So, what kind of vision board will you make?
Personal or business?
You can create a general life vision board or a more specific business-focused vision board (or maybe you take the time to create one of each)!
First, determine which one you’ll make. Whatever you do, I highly suggest you keep these separate. Otherwise, what often happens is you’ll end up with a weird, hybrid board that isn’t as impactful.
Not to say aspects of each couldn’t show up on both types of vision boards! In fact, it’s only natural that they would. I simply want to encourage you to have a clear strategy and focus for your board to help increase the impact and clarity.
Name it and claim it.
When creating a vision board for your life goals, consider categories such as home, travel, lifestyle, family, friends, career and business, hobbies and activities, and any other significant category that comes to mind.
When creating a business vision board, consider categories like building a team, your ideal lifestyle, your ideal clients, your community impact, your schedule, financial goals, and more.
Then, it’s time to decide what medium you will use to make your vision board: physical or digital?
Throughout college, I was a big fan of the pile of magazines approach. I loved flipping through Seventeen, Vogue, and Cosmo to find inspiring images, quotes, and symbols (although today, my magazines of choice are Entrepreneur, Real Simple, Magnolia, and Coastal Living). You can totally do this too! Cut out images, print out quotes you find online, or even draw your own inspired designs on a posterboard!
Over the years, I’ve explored digital options as well. As a graphic designer, I now adapt to building vision boards on the computer with various tools (Adobe InDesign is my go-to, but Canva is a super user-friendly option even for the less-than-tech-savvy— they even have templates). A digital vision board can be a bit easier to make and a lot less messy! Plus, you won’t rely on what you happen to stumble upon in a magazine.
There are definitely benefits to both, so choose the platform that feels best and makes the most sense for you!
Good intentions aren’t enough. It’s easy to say, “yeah, I’ll get around to that later.” But, in my experience, “later” doesn’t just happen without a bit of planning!
Intentionally carve out time to make your vision board. I recommend adding it to your calendar just like any other appointment.
You may take a full CEO day to make your vision board or just a few hours. Another option is to block off a few windows of time throughout the week to work on the project gradually! Just make sure you give yourself uninterrupted, undistracted time to get in the zone! Have your materials handy, turn on some tunes, and dive in!
Don’t cancel on yourself!
If you wouldn’t bail on a client or a team member at the last minute, don’t flake out on yourself either. If this is a priority for you, make it one!
Sure, you could sit down and knock out your vision board in an hour. But to get the most out of the exercise, you must sit with it. Let it live and breathe for a while to see how it lands. It can be an evolving process instead of a one-and-done check-mark on your never-ending to-do list.
Block off a time later in the week to look over what you’ve created. Maybe something new and inspiring will pop up that you decide to add or adjust on your board!
Whether you choose to create a physical or a digital vision board, don’t let it just sit there!
Instead, make it visible. If you make it by hand, post it somewhere in your office or home where you will see it often.
If it is digital, keep it visible by setting it as the background on your phone, printing it and hanging it up on the wall, or setting it as your laptop screen saver! This ensures your vision board is something you are engaging with regularly so you can keep your goals in mind and align with your values.
A vision board is an excellent way to start capturing and designing the vision you have for your creative business. It is, however, just the start.
Now, it’s time to keep the momentum going and put those goals and dreams into action!
Consider where you can reach out for help and support. You don’t have to do it alone! If you are struggling to make progress on your goals, it could be time to consider bringing in the reinforcements. Seek out an accountability partner or a trusted friend. You might also look into hiring a business coach or taking a self-paced course about the business side of running a creative business!