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Action Boards 101

Updated: Jul 1, 2019

Vision Boards are not only creative and fun, they serve an important purpose when encountering transitions in your life. Turn your vision board into an Action Board and invite new energy in!

A vision board is a collage of images, pictures and affirmations of one's dreams and desires, designed to serve as a source of inspiration and motivation.

Beloved self-help author Jack Canfield states, “Your brain will work tirelessly to achieve the statements you give your subconscious mind. And when those statements are the affirmations and images of your goals, you are destined to achieve them.”


But beyond the concept of Law of Attraction, vision boards introduce visualization, a tool used in science to access new stimulus to bring about change or celebrate change already in process.

The argument for visualization


Motivational speakers often reference the legend of Major James Nesmerth, who became a Prisoner of War during the Vietnam War. The story states that during his imprisonment, he saw no one and had no physical activity for seven years. He was an average golfer at home in the United States and to get through his experience, he envisioned playing a round of golf at his favorite course every day. He was specific, noting the smell of the grass, the warmth of the sun and the sound of the birds. He imagined himself with his club in his hand, hitting his shots and watching the ball land in the middle of the fairway.


The story continues that once Major Nesmerth was finally released, having undergone indescribable physical deprivation and deterioration, he returned home to the course he had imagined all of those years in captivity. Incredibly, he shot a score of 74, twenty strokes off of his average score before the war.


While this tale may be legend, the science behind this concept stands.

“Fostering visualization of any content (curricular or otherwise) by targeting and using the occipital lobe as the central point of processing the information is one of the strongest ways to help that material enter the brain… and stay there even as external stimuli compete for attention,” states Christopher Taibbi, M.A.T., Gifted Education Instructor, in Psychology Today.


John Rampton notes neuroscientist Dr. Michael Merzenich’s beliefs about training the mind for success in Entrepreneur Magazine. “The neuroscience of success can get complicated, but it’s really about how your brain functions in three different areas: reticular activating system (RAS), the release of dopamine and your memory.”

Fantasizing about your perfect world and your perfect life may make you feel better in the short term but will limit your ability to transform your dreams into reality. Convert your vision boards to action boards. Dream about it, envision how you will realistically do it or get it, and then make it happen.

Beware, be specific


Pham and Taylor at the University of California, Los Angeles, studied three groups of students. Group 1: Students were asked to spend a few moments each day visualizing with a clear image how great it would feel to make a high grade on an important midterm exam that would take place in a few days time. Group 2: Students were asked to spend a few minutes each day visualizing when, where, and how they intended to study. Group 3: Control group of students not asked to visualize doing especially well on the exams.


Students visualizing being A students (Group 1), studied less and made lower grades on the exam. They felt better about themselves but achieved less. Students visualizing studying (Group 2), prepared better, studied more, scored higher grades, and were less stressed.


Therapists argue that envisioning your perfect destiny as a result is not the right approach. You must specifically map out how you will reach that result. That is the key to transformation and success.


“Fantasizing about your perfect world and your perfect life may make you feel better in the short term but will limit your ability to transform your dreams into reality. Convert your vision boards to action boards. Dream about it, envision how you will realistically do it or get it, and then make it happen,” writes Neil Farbar, M.D., Ph.D., CLC, CPT, in Psychology Today.


Amy Morin, LCSW, adds in Inc. Magazine, “A 2011 study published in the Journal of Experimental Social Psychology found that fantasizing about an idealized future decreases the likelihood that someone will expend energy trying to turn their fantasy into a reality… In most cases, you need all the energy and motivation you can muster to reach your goals.”


“The way you think is important--it affects how you feel and how you behave. But thinking alone--and staring at a vision board--won't change your life. Positive thinking only works when it's combined with positive action.”

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© 2019 by Audra Potz, LMFT.

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