This is a simple and playful technique to help you bring your personal development plans in relation to your creativity to life. In fact it’s a tool you can use for any area of your life that you want to explore and develop.
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.
We can’t help but soak up the visual world all around us. Maybe you swoon over the packaging whilst browsing in Whole Foods. Or like me you have a large collection of random postcards on your pin board just because you love illustration. You can use all this stimuli to help you create a vision board.
You’ll be familiar with mood boards intended to evoke or project a particular style and to sell your ideas. No doubt many of you will already flick through photography and images for inspiration (the CR Photography Annual anyone?) and you might take your own pictures.
Vision boards come from the same school of thought as mood boards and can be a great way to help you gather your thoughts and give you a mental representation of what you want in the future.
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 (maybe the odd Creative Review if you can bear to destroy it) 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.
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.
Learn more about how to harness the creative potential of your brain at our Mastering Creativity six-part e-learning course.