It’s the time of year when many of us are setting our goals for the year and creating vision boards. For a change of pace, instead of using images of other people from magazines or the internet, use your own photos to manifest positivity throughout the year!

We often think of our photos as containers of our memories. Just looking at one snapshot can unleash a flood of details about other things that were happening in your life at the time of the exposure. And since photos are most often made during times of excitement, joy, or to mark important milestones or accomplishments, they are the perfect tools to help you keep those positive feelings front and center while you work toward new goals.


Most often the raw materials for making vision boards comes from magazines or stock photos. So you’re trying to use photos of other people to help you manifest what you want that may (or may not) look like that picture. I don’t know about you, but in me this creates the impulse to COMPARE my life as it is to that ideal life, being lived by STRANGERS, and to feel bad about my life NOT being like this. The last thing you want is for your vision board to give you Instagram envy.


To avoid this, using pictures of yourself may be the most important thing you can do to help bring your vision board into reality.




Because you need to picture yourself as if your goals have already been accomplished and get used to where you’re going. When you see yourself in photos that represent exactly what you want, and you’re in them, you will start to believe it! You will start to see yourself that way. And in your mind it will be as real as if it’s already happened. Photos have that power. The more specific and subjective you can be about this, the better.


So dig through your photos and look for the ones that resonate with you and with what you’re trying to manifest with your vision board. Have you already traveled a lot and envision more travel to even more exciting locations this year? Choose one of your favorite photos from one of your favorite trips for your board. Do you have fitness goals? Grab a photo of you when you felt like a million bucks and put that on your board. Important note: pay attention to how the pictures make you feel. Did you find a photo you really want to use but it gives you a little anxiety or sadness when you look at it? Those are not feelings that you want to generate when looking at your vision board. Maybe there’s someone in the photo who doesn’t make you feel great, even in the background. Can you cut them out or choose a different picture that gives you the good feelings that you want to have?


These are the photos I have on my vision board right now.

This one is from a time I was invited to be on a local morning tv show to promote an exhibition I had curated. One of my goals this year is to get back on tv, but this time to promote my own business and to encourage viewers to archive their photos. This photo reminds me not just of one of the times I was on television, but also that I am an expert in my field who can speak with authority about my work as I did that day!

Another photo on my board is this snapshot of me from when I was in graduate school and had done a brief study abroad in Paris. Travel is on many of our vision boards, right? And I had so many travel photos to choose from. But this one is more than just travel – this study abroad term was when I (unknowingly) came up with the field of research I’d pursue, so this time is inexorably tied up in my memory with my academic research. Another goal I have this year is to do some research and academic related travel, which this photo reminds me of.

The third photo is me and Sailor living the chill life – not only a reminder to slow down and be present, but also one to help me manifest more relaxation time more often, and always poolside.

So maybe you’re saying that you don’t have any photos of yourself living the goals you’re aiming for this year. That’s ok, now you get to have some fun!


If you can’t find any photos that you already have, grab a friend or a selfie stick and go out and make some photos of you “living” your dream. It doesn’t have to be elaborate or expensive. Are you envisioning a tropical vacation in Fiji? Spritz your face with a mister, put on a tropical shirt, and take some photos in your favorite sunglasses in front of a palm tree (maybe you’ll have to visit a botanical garden or greenhouse to get that one just right)!


Is one of your goals to have more romance in your life? Take some sexy selfies! AND get comfortable taking selfies, because as your goals start to come to fruition, you want to document yourself celebrating so you can have even more photos to draw from next time. Use your imagination and have fun “living” your dreams now!


If it makes sense for a goal you’re working on this year, take your “before” pictures now (don’t hang those up on your vision board though, just hang on to them for later in the year)!


Here are some apps I love that can really bring your vision board to life:


  • Use Snapchat’s new sticker option to cut out a picture of yourself that you can then insert into any photo of your choice – no photoshop skills needed! Check out a free stock photo site like Pexels for backgrounds to insert yourself into! And get specific when you’re searching for stock photos.
  • If you’re shy about selfies, check out the app B612 – it really works magic (and it doesn’t reverse the photo once it’s been snapped – so what you see when you’re composing is the photo you get). It’s available for all mobile platforms, just search your app store.
  • Quick is an app that lets you add text to your photos for when you want to add a motivational phrase to one of your photos.
  • PicCollage is great for adding several photos to one frame
  • Most importantly, I use the Free Prints app to print pictures straight from my phone, and you get 85 free per month.


Take your photos beyond the vision board. Place them where you spend most of your day to remind you of your goals and keep you in a positive mindset while you’re working at them. Put a photo in a frame on your bedside table or on your desk at work so you see it first thing in the morning, last thing at night, and throughout the day. Change your desktop background and the background image on your phone (PicCollage is great for that).


Though your vision board is generally something that you do once a year, I recommend keeping the images on it fresh and updated. Have you accomplished a step along the way to your big goal? Take a picture and update your vision board! When you take a picture throughout the year that represents a milestone in one of your goals or that represents something else you want to manifest – print it and put it up!


Last but certainly not least – declutter your photos. I know full well that if I had put this first, you might have stopped reading immediately because it may feel overwhelming! Obviously in order to put your own pictures on your vision board, or anywhere around your environment to harness positivity, you have to be able to find the pictures you want.


You also ought to feel good about the pictures you have, which may mean purging some photos that don’t give you good feelings. Yes, I have advocated for holding on to your photos after a breakup, but only until the intense emotions pass so you can evaluate your pictures with a mind toward what you want to keep to tell your story. Hell, one of the pictures on my vision board was taken by my ex husband, and another was just a day or two after a different breakup. But for me, now, that’s not part of the story that these images tell. What I see in them are examples of how I want my life to look and instances when it has looked that way!


Decluttering the extra photos that no longer carry emotional weight is one way to make sure you can always locate the pictures that make you happiest so your photos can always help you harness positivity in your life.


PS: My favorite coach for manifesting is Denise Duffield Thomas. I’ve listened to her course, Lucky Bitch, so many times since I discovered her around this time last year, and it’s my most recent listen that has inspired this post. If you’re looking for an injection of positivity in your daily life to start the year off right, I highly recommend checking out her free manifesting course at the link above.