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5 Steps to Creating a Vision Board to Inspire Your Year

By Marcia Smalley December 09, 2023 Mindset

What better time than the start of a new year to envision new possibilities! Most of us get ready by buying a planner or a calendar. Empty pages filled with promise. But there’s another way to prepare for the year ahead. You can ask the counterpart to your Intellectual Planner Self, your Right-brained Imagination, to help you create a Vision Board.

You’re right… this exercise isn’t a new concept. But it’s a trusty tool. And it’s especially fruitful if you’re longing for change and can’t seem to think or plan yourself any closer to making it happen.

A vision board opens channels to ideas you may not realize you had.

Visioning Coaxes Your Dreams into Reality

Planners and calendars are perfect for scheduling and staying organized. Vision boards are intended to give your wildest dreams some breathing room.

They’ve been called Creativity Collages, Image Banks… they’re a vivid reminder that too often we skip the dreaming and scheming phases of creating change in our lives.

We’re socialized to take ACTION, and we often jump into that too quickly. We’d rather make action plans, problem-solve, figure stuff out!

Vision boards give us the needed permission to wonder “What if…”

Breathe Life into Your Intentions by Paying Attention to Them

When you make a vision board your subconscious mind runs the show, your playful self cuts loose, and your inner critic takes a nap.

Selecting words and images representing what you want or who you want to become allows your outer life to fall in line accordingly and informs you about what you need to pay attention to.

Take 5 Simple Steps

Ready to start the fun?

STEP 1: Choose Your Format

You have some options. You can make cards to put on your desk or tuck away for your eyes only. Or use a bulletin board with push pins.

You may want a poster board to hang in your hallway. Then everyone can hold your vision for you. Or maybe a banner that hangs from your ceiling sounds about right.

You get the idea. There’s no wrong answer for Step 1. 

STEP 2: Ask Yourself What Your Heart Truly Desires

Take deep breaths into Step 2. Get to the feelings beneath what you want.

If you want a million dollars, for example, ask yourself WHY? Deep down, what will that bring you? Security? Peace of mind? Freedom?

Don’t rush this step. Get to the essence of what you want. Give your subconscious a chance to identify what’s truly at the heart of your desires.

Most importantly, don’t filter, judge, or criticize what you come up with.

STEP 3: Find Images That Speak to You

Do this leisurely. Magazines or the internet are great sources. So are photos, your original art, or doodles.

It’s very important in Step 3 not to try to figure out why you are drawn to an image or a phrase. Or to talk yourself out of it. Just use it. The feeling behind it came to you in Step 2.

Your creative self knows things your logical self doesn’t. And remember, that’s the side of you that’s doing this activity.

STEP 4: Place What You’ve Found or Created on Your Card or Board

Use glue, tape, pins, or whatever else works for the type of project you’re creating.

STEP 5: Put Your Board Where You’ll See It

You don’t have to build a shrine, stare at it for hours, or memorize it. It will still serve its purpose.

Your subconscious mind is amazingly effective.

Take note of when or how something from your board manifests. (Hint: It’s like getting a surprise that doesn’t feel that surprising.) Write these things down or make a Vision Card Journal or Log.

You can use your shiny new planner to make your lists and set your appointments. But playing with a vision board yields another level of information.

Watch what happens. Maybe this year you’ll create what your heart truly desires. I hope you do!

Let’s Have a Conversation:

Have you ever created a vision board or other tool? How do you feel about having some fun with one this year? Let’s have a conversation!

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Mary Lou Harris

I was introduced to the vision board about 20 years ago as part of a women’s retreat. It was a great experience and opened the creative process. The items I identified on my board were interesting, but the path it took me had nothing to do with what Envisioned that day but what became crystal clear several days later. A wonderful and positive exploration of the possible. I recommend it for anyone.


My vision board is on my computer. Does that work?

Marcia Smalley

Yes! The method you use to display your vision is not nearly as important as the activity itself.


I have never done a vision board, but maybe, now is the time. At 64 there are so many things I always wanted to do, but never had the time. The things I desire aren’t position, money, or prestige. Joy…beauty….peace. These are what I seek now!

Marcia Smalley

Nancy, it sounds like this is indeed a perfect time to play with a vision board. Enjoy the process!

Nancy Sarsfield

Hmmm, I like how this is an outline that I never thought of. I think of things and then I think, I am too old, not healthy enough. This might be just what I need to put that spark into some kind of fruition. Thank you! I am interested in how this works out for me…..:))

Marcia Smalley

I’d love to hear how this works out for you as well, Nancy! Cheers to “sparks!’ Thanks for reading.


I have never created a vision board but I think this is the year to do it. We just retired and moved back near family. We are in a new town and are exploring parks for walking, kayaking and bike riding nearby us. We both love to get outdoors, I love to hike more than my husband AND I love to socialize more. So I think my vision board would include finding trails and people to do that with. Im also trying to reconnect with old friends now that I’m back home. Thanks for the idea – I’m a bit creative so this might be the thing to get the wheels turning.

Marcia Smalley

Wonderful, Jil! Congratulations on your retirement and enjoy the process. Thanks for reading.

The Author

Marcia Smalley is a certified retirement coach and life coach, a writer and a teacher. She delights in helping mid-life women step confidently into their next act and design a joyous, expanded life. Marcia provides coaching support to women who are navigating retirement or other life transitions and writes a monthly e-newsletter to her entire online community. Please visit her website at

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