Some years ago, I created a vision board and filled it with images of planes, lush landscapes and luxury hotels. My goal at the time: To travel more and have the funds I needed to do so. About two months later I received a call from a client who told me they were looking for someone to travel to a series of seminars taking place across the country and write about them. I ended up traveling – and not on my dime -- to visit such places as Houston, New Orleans and San Juan, Puerto Rico.
While that might have been a lucky coincidence, it was enough for me to buy into the power of vision boards. At the very least, I had zeroed in on something I really wanted to do so I recognized a good opportunity when I saw it.
If it helps you to set aside financial fears and instead focus on a goal, a picture might not only be worth a thousand words—it might be worth thousands of dollars.
That's one of the benefits of creating a vision board, experts say. Taking the time to curate a collection of images that represent things you desire in your life allows you to ponder what's most important to you. "A vision board is a great way for women to see what they dream for the next chapter," says Tracy V. Burnell, mental health therapist, author of the devotional God, Walk Me Through This and a facilitator of vision board workshops in the Washington, DC area.
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Dreaming of the next chapter may be one of the best things we can do as we enter pretirement, that period in our lives where retirement is no longer some event in the distant future. Here's how a vision board can help you bring your ideal retirement to life.
How retirement vision boards work
Proponents of vision boards believe that the simple act of curating the images and focusing on them helps you to be clear about what you value most in life. The images also help you to visualize your ideal future. That, in turn, inspires you to take steps to bring those things into your life.
When it comes to money, TD Bank did a survey some years ago about whether visualization could help people achieve their financial goals. They found that people who visualized their financial goals were less anxious about budgeting than those who did not. That same study found that 82 percent of small business owners who used a vision board to map their business goals had accomplished more than half of their goals by the time they took the survey. If it helps you to set aside financial fears and instead focus on a goal, a picture might not only be worth a thousand words—it might be worth thousands of dollars.
Have you ever created a vision board? How did things work out? Share your thoughts with other Sisters readers in the comments below.
To create a vision board to help you build your ideal retirement, you need a poster board or something else to put the images on, markers, scissors, and tape or glue. You can find images in magazines or brochures, or you can download and print out images from the Internet.
As you start collecting your images, consider the following tips:
Create time to self-reflect. Before you start cutting out pictures, give yourself time to ponder what retirement means to you. For some, it may be a life of leisure, while others may want to use retirement to start a new business. Ask yourself if there are aspects of retirement that you're worried about. "This self-reflection helps women see where they have been and how their retirement lifestyle will look," Burnell says.
Envision your financial success holistically. Think of how your life in retirement would look each day if you were financially secure, whether you are on a dream trip or simply headed to the grocery store. "Look for images that show the importance of family and friends, faith, maintaining health and wellness, new hobbies and having financial stability," Burnell says.
Embrace the power of words. Some people are inspired with images. Others are moved by words. Let your vision board incorporate both, Burnell says. Add positive affirmations and motivational quotes to help you remain energized about achieving your goals, she says.
Pay attention to how you feel. Some people look at their vision boards every day. Others just look at them periodically, so they don't obsess over them. I happen to fall in the latter camp, but there is no right answer. The key is to make sure you feel good when you look at it.
Follow it up with a plan. While a vision board can be a powerful motivational tool, you have to be willing to take steps to turn your financial dreams into reality. Whether you refine your budget to increase your savings or start a side hustle to knock out some debt, come up with one action that will help you to move closer to the life you're portraying on your vision board. AARP's This is Pretirement website can help you come up with next steps.
The key is to use the vision board as a source of inspiration to stick to your goals. "A retirement vision board is more than just a picture of your dream vacation," says Burnell. "It's heartfelt."