Ojo! Make Your Goals a Reality with This Simple Visioning Tool

Recently, my youngest sister and I sat on the floor of her tiny Chicago studio apartment, both of us recovering from colds, the icy Midwestern air swirling outside. With candles lit and some canela on the stove, we slowly ripped pages out of magazines, our ideas for the next twelve months floating in our heads.

Every year, I participate in a simple ritual I’ve come to love and share with others: creating a vision board for the new year. I’ve done this for a decade, a practice I’ve come to appreciate both as a visioning tool and art project. There is also something about them that reminds me of the altares that spring up in people’s homes. Vision boards are generally accessible, easy to do across ages, language barriers, and artistic talent, and don’t take a lot of money to make.

Simply put, vision boards are collage-like illustrations of goals and they’ve become popular replacements to the typical list of New Year’s resolutions. This used to be one of my solo rituals but I’ve since done them with friends and family. Making vision boards in community has strengthened the tradition for me.

There are lots of examples and directions for vision boards online, along with writings trying to make sense of why they work (or don’t). My advice is to try different approaches and then follow your own rules for what works best. Here are the guidelines I follow:

  • I save up plenty of my own magazines but also grab random ones along the way when I see them to give me a variety of imagery. I especially look for Spanish-language or Latinx-focused publications to fit my life.
  • Along with magazines, my only materials are: a poster board, scissors, a glue stick and clear matte tape.
  • I try to intentionally set a day aside for this project but when I’m pressed for time, I spread it out over a few days.
  • First, I go through all my magazines not looking for anything in particular. I rip out pages with anything that draws my attention. I do this quickly, in a near-trance. Sometimes it’s a specific image that calls to me, sometimes it’s a color or pattern. Could be anything. I don’t go in with any preconceived ideas.
  • I focus on visual representations but occasionally cut out words.
  • After I have a pile of pages, I go through and start cutting down my images. I trim large color blocks to make up my background.
  • I lay them out on my poster board, editing rearranging as I go, clumping like themes together or moving things around for my own aesthetic pleasure. This is probably my favorite part — it fulfills the art-maker in me immensely.
  • Once I have a general idea of where everything will go, I start pasting and taping everything down, editing more if necessary.
  • I hang it up. I’ve alternated between putting it away (like in a closet or behind a door) or leaving it in a visible place.
  • Throughout the year I might glance at it but I really don’t stress about it. I leave it be until the end of the year when I review what and how things may have manifested.

One of my biggest core principles is to remain as abstract as possible because it leaves things open. Now, of course this leaves room for interpretation. I’ve had a lot of things that were two-dimensional images on my vision board become reality: travel, seeing In the Heights on Broadway, working on a ship and more. But, hey, I’m a visual person.

Connect with me on Twitter at @_OliviaMunoz or email me at olivia.munoz.writer@gmail.com.