There’s a fantastic reason why every image you choose for a vision board should be special and full of significant meaning. According to neuroscientist and executive coach Tara Swart, the images we look at on our vision boards prime our brains to recognize opportunity.

How does that work? Our brain has the ability to do what is known as “value-tagging.” This process imprints important things onto our subconscious. Images in particular are assigned a high value by our brain. The more we look at these images, the more we allow the imagery to imprint in our minds. (If you look at a vision board before you go to sleep, for example, you may find that some of these images make their way into your dreams!)

As these images imprint into our minds, the brain starts to filter out data that is irreverent. The images are now embedded in your psyche. They act as a visual directory and start to pattern your thoughts. This allows you to manifest your dreams — the same dreams within your vision board.

Vision boards have the power to change our lives. If you are putting one together for the first time, here’s what to consider in making a vision board that manifests your dreams into reality.

Follow the Four Quadrants

A common mistake made in creating a vision board is thinking just about material things you would like to have or own. Mindset and manifestation coach Efia Sulter encourages beginning by thinking about the kind of person you want to be or become.

Need a little nudge to unlock this inner person? Making this discovery, Sulter says, is often done by organizing a vision board into four quadrants. These four sections cover the following areas of life:

  • Fitness and health. This includes physical and mental wellness.
  • Relationships. Think family, friends, and community, as well as love and marriage.
  • Leisure. Travel is often found in this section, along with creativity.
  • Work and finances. Here you may detail intentions for your career path and ambitions, education, and income growth.

Organizing a vision board makes it easier to visualize each area of our lives. It also helps you gain a deeper sense of clarity.

“When you know what the next level version of yourself feels like then you can work back from there to create an incredibly intentional and powerful vision board, where your desires are in alignment with where you’re going,” Sulter says.

Setting Intentions

The intentions you set for a vision board are personalized to reach your specific goals. Intentions should be positive, actionable, and relevant to your character.

Shandice Stallworth, purpose-driven writer and owner of a marketing company called Seeds By Shandice, says to think about your “why” behind each goal. The next level version of yourself often has new goals and aspirations. This means we may need to upgrade our mindset and habits to get there.

Prior to starting a vision board, Stallworth encourages writing down your vision. Divide it up into short- and long-term goals. A good example is setting a long-term goal of doing a TED Talk presentation. Writing and publishing a relevant opinion piece online, or in a print journal, is a short-term goal that can help you reach the long-term goal. Both goals fuel each other and are part of a bigger picture.

Setting intentions, and thinking about your why, enable you to view your vision board as a marathon, not a sprint.

“The ability to reflect on what we desire to accomplish and who we wish to become in the process is a reminder to stay present along the journey rather than solely focus on the reward and destination,” Stallworth says.

Picking Images That Evoke Emotion

You’ve examined the four quadrants, set your intentions, and understand your why. Now it’s time to pick out images for the vision board.

Keep in mind the emotional impact of curating imagery. Aligned life designer and marketing strategist Samantha Warren recommends honing in on photos that express emotions you want to associate in the next level version of yourself.

Seek out imagery with emotions that make you feel happy, joyful, and authentic to your true self.

“A vision board allows you to get inspired, activate the law of attraction, and manifest the life of your dreams,” Warren says. “The real magic of the vision board comes from the feelings that arise while you’re making it and every time you look at it.

Include a Picture of Yourself

While all vision boards are personalized for each of us, the one image each should have in common is a photo of you.

You, yes, you! Sulter always tells her clients to include a photo of themselves on their vision board. Even if the vision board has inspirational images of other people, it gives a nod to your subconscious mind that you are the focus of this board.

“Remember that your subconscious mind can’t tell the difference between what’s real and what’s fake,” Sulter says. “Don’t be afraid to dream big!”