Retirement Create a Vision Board for a Picture-Perfect Retirement

by Deborah Ziff Soriano | May 16, 2018

Picture this: you pedal past Appalachian vistas on an epic bike tour along the Blue Ridge Parkway, or pull trays of your soon-to-be-famous chocolate scones out of the oven at your very own bakery and cafe.

Individual visions of retirement may vary, but everyone faces a common challenge: How do I transform these golden-years dreams into a tangible reality?

First you have to bring the dream into sharp focus. Creating a vision board — a collage of inspirational images and words that holistically represents your ultimate goals — can be an enlightening and effective bridge to get you from here to there.

“The purpose of a retirement vision board is to create a sense of realness for your future life,” says Deborah Williams, a life coach at “It’s a way to actually ‘see’ where your goals will take you.”

Remember, setting up a retirement vision board isn’t reserved exclusively for individuals on the cusp of retirement. Individuals in their 20s, 30s and 40s can also benefit from the exercise, Williams says.

“The sooner you can work on defining what you want your life to look like, the more likely you are to achieve it,” Williams says.

It’s a way to actually ‘see’ where your goals will take you.
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See it, believe it, achieve it

Take a tip from the pros: Top athletes will often visualize themselves winning before a major competition to help them grab that golden ring. And many experts insist that this same method can be applied to other endeavors — including a satisfying and successful retirement.

“If created with intention and purpose, your vision board can work wonders toward making your desires a reality,” says Zane Roebuck, co-founder of the stationery and lifestyle website “It will make you focus on your goals. Therefore, you’ll take control of your life, steering it in the right direction...It’s your go-to source for inspiration and motivation.”

Prepping to create your vision board

Before launching your blue-sky project, identify potential retirement wants, goals and needs. You should be specific, Roebuck recommends.

“Random, pretty images won’t do the trick,” she warns.

These can be big goals — like international travel — but little things could be on the list, too, like reading classic novels or getting through a must-watch movie list.

To get started, Melissa Colleret, lifestyle designer and coach at, suggests asking yourself this fill-in-the-blank question: “Wouldn’t it be cool if _____?”

The focus, she adds, should be on values and experiences, not material items. Collaret said you could break it down by thinking of experiences you want to have, things you want to learn, or ways of contributing to your loved ones and community. Examples she gives include driving the road to Hana in Maui in a convertible with your best friend, learning Spanish fluently by your 60th birthday or writing a book for the fun of it.

“Overall, the vision board images should be more about the lifestyle that you look forward to and not about the acquisition of more things,” Williams, the life coach, says. “Expressions of self-worth and family deserve space on your board and not designer clothes or the latest tech gear."

laptop with vision board

How to create your vision board

Grab the art supplies to put together a physical board or design a digital board within apps like Pinterest or Instagram.

If you choose to go with a physical board, collect the following: a large piece of paper, poster or cork board as the base. Magazines or printed images snagged from the internet. Pins or scotch tape. Scissors.

Now, lay out the images and words on the poster like a puzzle.

Consider the following tips as you proceed:

  • Inspiration matters: “When choosing images, make sure that you feel deeply connected to them,” Collaret advises.
  • Photos with all the feels: Find pictures that represent how you want to feel or qualities you want to possess — a photo of someone you admire, for example.
  • Be grateful: Roebuck suggests sprinkling in images depicting those things for which you are thankful or fill you with a sense of pride. They’ll remind you to be grateful for the good things in your life.
  • Go big: Add images and words that represent the “big picture,” Roebuck says, or goals you want to accomplish in your lifetime.
  • Know what’s important: Choose key areas or core values to zero in on the most important aspects of your life. Examples could include: relationships, health, livelihood, financial freedom, fun and environment, Collaret says.
  • Make a statement: Consider adding a “vision statement” or a summary of what your board represents, Collaret says.
    retirement vision board pinned up

    Next steps

    To keep you motivated to take the steps needed to achieve your goals, Collaret recommends hanging your vision board someplace where you can easily see it every day.

    Update your vision board as your goals evolve. Collaret uses a cork board because it’s easy to make changes. She suggests revisiting your vision board at least once a year.

    Of course, a vision board won’t produce the desired results unless it’s backed by action. “Visualization works the same way compound interest does, which means you can’t only think of having money in the bank — you must actually take action and put it there,” Collaret says.

    Of course, a vision board won’t produce the desired results unless it’s backed by action.
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    Is the scene you create on your vision board guaranteed to come to fruition? No. Like all things worth having, bringing a great retirement to life will require a sustained, multifaceted effort. But regularly seeing it and adding to it can keep you inspired and focused, motivating you to take the steps to achieve your goals, whatever shape they take.

    Deborah Ziff Soriano

    is a Chicago area-based freelance writer, is visualizing a future where she no longer has to change her toddler's diapers. Her work has appeared in U.S. News & World Report, the Chicago Tribune, AAA Magazine and various college publications.