Over the years, there are three things that have consistently shown up on my vision boards: New York City. A big, cozy-looking library in a nice home. And the ocean.

Whenever I see an image of each, my heart still swells a little.

New York is my unofficial home. I’m a writer and dream of being surrounded by my own book collection one day (my second book comes out in April)! And being surrounded by natural beauty always makes me relaxed and at peace — which is why I moved to Miami last year. 

As you can tell, I’m a big fan of vision boards! But the mistake we often make is adding something that feels unachievable or out of reach. When we look at it, we don’t feel close to it — we feel its stark absence in our life. That can make us not just feel disconnected from our vision, but it can make us feel bad.

And if we’re talking law of attraction here — for which vision boarding is a big tool — the universe responds to our energy, not words or images. Our vision boards are supposed to make us feel good, inspired, hopeful… not isolated, dissatisfied, or even desperate. For example:

  • I had a friend who sold her house before moving, and her vision board had the number she wanted to sell it for. She got a lot less, but it was a swift, easy sale.
  • A colleague of mine has been single for a few years… she wants to meet her soulmate and her vision board for the past 3 years has had engagement rings on it.
  • I met a guy who dreamed of backpacking across Asia for 6 months but hadn’t yet left the United States. He was constantly scrolling his phone for pictures of places he wanted to visit.

It’s not about any of these goals being unrealistic (heck, the future belongs to no one, anything is possible!). It’s about making sure your vision board makes you feel good, which puts you in the highest vibration (“good vibes”!!) to allow positive things to flow to you. This way, you’re an at-ease, open channel, not stressed out or disappointed that life isn’t going your way.

A light, high vibration has major manifesting power. 

My friend who packed up and moved wanted a big sale because she thought she needed the money to rent her dream home in Austin. It made her anxious. But she didn’t need nearly as much as she thought! She’s in a place she loves and is just grateful that she had a quick buyer with no headache. She got the secret goal (behind the perceived goal) that she wanted without even knowing it.

My colleague Jackie told me the diamonds on her board made her feel anxious, not optimistic — especially because her mom is pressing her to get married soon. She’s switched it to a path in the woods she can imagine taking Sunday walks with a boyfriend. That feels much better (and closer) to her and her dream. It’s simply more her

Chris, who had the big backpacking goal, kept putting it off because of the sheer size of the endeavor. I asked him what felt more achievable in the short term — and he decided to book a week-long trip to Colombia, his first international adventure!

Here are three questions to ask yourself when vision boarding:

How does this image make me feel?

Ideally: light, optimistic, eager, excited, creative

What will looking at this every day inspire me to do?

Ideally: think bigger, remember the larger picture of your life, take action

Who wants it?

Ideally: Just YOU! Not your mom, spouse, BFF, or boss. It has to be your vision for your desires to come to satisfying fruition, fast. 

Vision boarding, like any other tool for manifesting — affirmations, visualizing, journaling about future events — has to boost your mood. Think of how you approach life with a boosted mood versus a mood of despair. Everything is easier, lighter, better. Life goes your way. You can handle any outcome. 

Set yourself up for success. Your joy is your power. You want to lean into it! So let that vision board feel like a warm hug, not a reminder of everything you don’t get to be, do, or have yet.

What’s a perfect image for your vision board right now?

Susie Moore is Greatist’s life coach columnist. Sign up for free weekly confidence injection on her website or check out her YouTube channel for actionable advice that’ll make you feel fabulous, fast.