If you're over 40, you'd know first hand that this is a time of massive transition.  A lot of us are facing corporate downsizing and needing to work out what our next steps will be. Others are coming out of longterm relationships and thinking about life as a single. And overall, for many of us at midlife, we're asking those big questions of "Who am I?" and "Why am I here?" These are just some of the examples of the major life cross roads that are typical for our age group. While there are so many approaches and ways to get through to the other side, many of these "fork in the road" moments can feel incredibly overwhelming. If it seems like you're in limbo land and unsure what to do next, creating a vision board could be the perfect stepping stone for determining your new direction.

Vision boards became household names in 2006 when the book and movie "The Secret" was featured on The Oprah Winfrey Show. "The Secret" explained a new age thought process called The Law of Attraction which basically assumes that whatever we think, we will attract into our lives and one of the main tools of this "law" is the vision board. In its simplest form, it's just some poster board, with magazine picture clippings and affirmations glued onto it. The point of it is to create a collage of images that encourage and inspire you. You're literally cutting and pasting your hopes and dreams onto a piece of paper and through just putting your vision out there, the things that you desire will supposedly manifest.

So, does it work?

If you do a quick search online, you'll come up with plenty of raves about the effectiveness of this technique from people who swear it's how they found their dream partners to others who are certain it made them a millionaire. But others warn that this type of technique is nothing but wishful thinking. In an article for Psychology Today, Dr. Neil Farber, suggests that they can even be "detrimental" because they don't emphasize the importance of taking action [1].

vision boardCredit: Susan Paget

I take the position of both sides and find that visualizing mixed with action creates a winning combination. For me, vision boards are an awesome way to be creative with goals and to get clued in on what directions we can head, especially when we're at a midlife fork in the road. I've done several of these through my life and at the very least, they're a fun thing to do, especially with like minded friends. At the most, they've absolutely provided a pathway to things that I would do in the future. There's no magic when it comes to this though. For me, this technique is an artsy way of putting goals out there. Some of us don't gel with writing out timelines and projections of what we want from our lives. The simple act of cutting and pasting pictures that make our hearts beat a little faster is really the same type of thing, just in a different form.

Here are a few tips for making a vision board.

magazinesCredit: Susan Paget

1. The basic ingredients

The basic ingredients of a vision board are practically kindergarten-esque. All you need are a pair of scissors, glue, a bunch of old magazines (I prefer travel, art, adventure types rather than tabloid) and a piece of poster board. To make this an "experience" pour a glass of wine, light a candle and put on your favorite music, it doesn't necessarily infuse anything "new-agey" into your piece, it just adds a bit of atmosphere and emphasizes the fun factor.

2. What should make the cut

While you'll want to clip pictures that obviously demonstrate what you're after, don't hesitate to also cut out images that give you an emotional response. For instance, the last time I made a board, I saw a flash of pink fabric that reminded me of dressing up and going to a great party. I clipped a bit of that and put it on my board to forecast my love of having stylish fun.

Cutting picturesCredit: Susan Paget

3. To hide or not to hide

When I first started making vision boards, I was pretty shy about what I wanted to put out there. I'd stick them in the back of my closet and forget about them. That was until I'd clean the closet and revisit what I'd done. Every time, something on that board would've arrived in my life, perhaps not in the same form as on the board, but the feeling of it - whether I wanted to love my job or travel somewhere - had happened. Those kind of results made me feel a little more secure with what I was doing. I also started to love the look of vision boards. Even if you're not an artist, they're just about always inspiring to gaze at. Now I post them on my fridge or take pictures of them with my iPhone and use them as screen-savers. It really is up to you and what you're comfortable with. The "magic" with a vision board is that it actually is all in your head. Once you start dreaming about the way your life can go, you start thinking more expansively. If you can start putting actions behind those dreams, it doesn't matter where the actual board is stored.

Journal Vision BoardCredit: Susan Paget

4. Bonus  tip: Go beyond "the board"

You don't need to be literal when it comes to what you paste your images on. I recently covered a blank journal with a collage of clippings and I'm toying with the idea of taking one of the pictures on my iPhone and having it put on a coffee mug. I'm thinking a t-shirt or a canvas bag could be good fun too.

Have you made a vision board? What happened? Post your comment below.

How To Find Your Purpose After 40: The Secret To Unlocking Your Unique Gift To The World
Amazon Price: Buy Now
(price as of Nov 25, 2016)
My book explains how to use vision boards as a tool for finding your purpose, especially if you're over 40.