We are less than a week away from the New Year and you know what that means: Resolutions for all!

As we think about how we’re going to ring in 2011—somewhere in between partying like it’s 1999 and trying to work off the extra holiday pounds we packed on these last few weeks—most of us are making mental notes of what we’d like to accomplish in the coming year.

Whether we deem them “goals,” “resolutions,” or just “shit I’d like to get done,” it all boils down the same way. We’d like to do better, accomplish more, and be happier in 2011 than we were in 2010.

For many, resolutions end up going something like this: We write them down, tweet them, or Facebook them. We buy gym memberships, a refrigerator full of vegetables, remix our resume, perhaps even a journal, and we set off to change our lives for good. However, in a matter of weeks most of us become overwhelmed, get sidetracked, or just lose steam. Before we know it, we end up right back where we started. Planning to do better, and pissed at ourselves that it hasn’t happened yet.

This time last year I found myself preparing to enter 2010, praying it would be better than 2009. As the New Year approached, I felt utterly stuck. My teaching job was less than fulfilling, and even though I loved writing, I saw no conceivable way of ditching my day job to follow my passion. On top of that my relationship was in a weird place, and I was approaching 30…fast. Needless to say I desperately needed a change, and I was willing to try just about anything to make it happen.

Instead of merely wallowing in self-pity (again), I decided to channel my inner Oprah and create a vision board.

Vision Boards are collages of words and images that represent what you’d like to see happen in your life. Want to travel the globe, earn more money or quit your day job to pursue your passion? Put it on the board. Want to buy your first home, find a loving relationship, or go back to school? Put it all on the board!

Vision Boards operate hand in hand with the “Law of Attraction” (putting the right kind of energy out to attract what you want) and helps people remain focused on what they want to accomplish by being a constant visual reminder of their goals.

Just after I celebrated the dawn of the new decade, I sat down with a pile of magazines and an empty poster board. Instead of just haphazardly gluing things onto the board, I took a little time to figure out exactly what I wanted to accomplish that year. I narrowed my intentions to a few categories—health/weight loss, writing, home, and travel—and set out to create my board.

As I poured through magazines, I looked for words, phrases, and images that spoke to the goals I set for myself. Since I had been feeling so stuck, I chose images that spoke of being free, of being a woman in charge of her own destiny.

When I was done, my board was a testament to my willingness to go after my dreams. It illustrated my need to live a healthier life, pursue writing wholeheartedly, and embrace the possibilities of my impending 30s. I included phrases like, “It’s a time of incredible change and growth” and “Following my curiosity. Like Alice in Wonderland,” and made sure to include images of women writing, a sack of cash, and a filled passport. When it was all said and done, I placed my vision board on my bedroom wall, which served as a constant reminder of my goals.

With my board complete, I entered 2010 on a mission to change my life. Like many others high off of New Year’s resolutions, I started strong. I implemented a workout regimen, I overhauled my diet, and I began writing regularly. I made great progress within the first few months of the year, but like always, I lost steam. However, instead of throwing all of my goals into the wind, the constant reminder of my board kept me focused on working even harder to get back on course.

Even though I sometimes fell off, I never gave up. I continued working toward my goals and soon had some successes to celebrate. I dropped nearly 30 pounds, and instead of just being content with my teaching job, I pursued my passion to write. Despite obtaining my MFA in writing five years ago and having multiple opportunities to pursue my dream, I had never taken full advantage of the possibilities. In 2010 I ditched my fears of failure and kicked my career goals into overdrive. The vision board, and my renewed focus, helped me to secure several writing opportunities that have moved me closer to my dream of leaving the classroom to write full time.

What are you currently dreaming about that you just haven’t done yet? Instead of just dreaming, why not join me in creating a vision board for 2011 and start living the life you want. Ready?

Creating your vision board only takes a few short steps.

Step One: Sit down and brainstorm. What would you like to accomplish this year? Be clear, specific, and set attainable goals. Don’t say you’re going to save $20,000 in 2011, for example, if you only make $40,000 per year. Instead, try saving a small amount per check. You can do it if you make your goals reachable!

Step Two: Get creative. Here’s the fun part. Gather together your magazines, glue, markers, pictures, paint, or any other thing you plan on using to create your board. Make your board as fly as you are and you’ll be proud to look at it (and it’ll continue to inspire you on the hard days).

Step Three: Show off your vision board. Find a prominent place to hang your board so that it’ll serve as a constant reminder of what you’d like to accomplish. I hung my board in my bedroom, across from my bed. When I’m lying there meditating on my life, I can see it and draw on its inspiration.

Step Four: Get moving. Whether you want to lose weight or find a new career, you need to put your vision into action. Because you’ve set attainable goals, it’ll be easier to make an action plan to reach those small goals. As the successes pile up, you’ll be inspired to keep going until you’ve checked everything off of your list.

Creating a vision board isn’t a cure all. After all, as the Good Book says, “Faith without works is dead.” So creating your board is just the first step in creating the life that you want. However, it is a powerful tool to help you hone in on exactly what you want out of life, and remind you to continue working toward it.

What do you want to accomplish in 2011? Share your plans and let’s motivate each other!

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