Sometimes your goals are so big, they don’t seem possible. Your most powerful tool is your mind … if you can visualize it, it can happen. The best way to predict your future is to create it.
We’ve all seen the inspirational posters that tell us to imagine success. They may seem trite or overly simple, but the truth is that many of the top people in their fields use visualization techniques as part of their road map to success.
Athletes use it to gain an edge over their competitors. Fortune 500 companies and high-powered CEOs use it to help them close deals, become more confident, lower stress, and solve problems.
Working out in your head
But how does that help in the business world? Well, brain scans show that thoughts produce the same mental instructions as actions. Visualization impacts many cognitive processes in the brain, such as perception, motor control, attention, planning, and memory. In essence, you are training your brain for actual performance. This could be a presentation to a big client, getting that promotion, or even asking for a raise.
Imagine meeting that big client and delivering your presentation. See the room. Hear his/her voice. Smell the coffee. Use all your senses to put yourself in mind and actually “see” the whole process from start to finish. And do this more than once. The more you visualize the event, the more you will be ready when the time comes to actually deliver the presentation in real life.
So, exactly how do you put this into practice?
- Setting a Goal – What do you want to make happen? Set your goal – just be sure to focus on the positive rather than the negative. In other words, focus on what you want, and not what you don’t want. The basic idea is to focus on what you CAN control and not on what you can’t.
- Practice, Practice – Then practice some more. Visualization does not come easily to everyone. In fact, most people struggle with it. Closing your eyes to bring up crystal-clear images is usually a skill that takes time to develop. Everyone has the ability to visualize – it just takes practice.
- Be consistent – Set aside a few minutes every day to practice your visualization. It helps if you commit to the same time each day rather than trying to fit it in whenever you think about it. Find a time that is stress free. Many people find the best time for them is first thing in the morning before they have had time to think about the oncoming stress of the day. The way you start the day is the way you move through the day, which is why morning routines are so important—if you start your day with purpose, you’re going to move through your day with purpose. Carving out a few minutes each morning for visualization will set you up for success and make it easier to make strides towards hitting your goals throughout the day.
Even if you do not feel it is working, keep at it. It will become easier until, one day, you will not only be able to see that crystal-clear image, but you will also be able to hear, feel, and smell it as well. Even if you do not think it is working, stay with it. Your brain will reap the rewards – and so will your career.
Visualization is simple. It’s the practice of creating a mental image of an event that hasn’t happened yet, and—this part is key—picturing what that event will feel like. It’s not just enough to picture yourself hitting a goal; you need to fully embody what it will feel like once you hit that goal.
And what about using it as preparation … This strategy is impactful when you have an event where you need a specific outcome, like a meeting. Michael Phelps visualized his races, and you want to visualize every part of that meeting—what you’re going to say, how your clients are going to react, what you’re going to do if you hit any speed bumps during your presentation, and, most importantly, what it’s going to feel like when you walk out of that meeting, contract in hand.
- Write it down – If you’re not great at visualizing things in your head, no worries! Writing it down can be a great way to bring your visualization to life. Sit down with a journal and start writing out the entire experience of achieving your goal. How will it play out? What are some of the obstacles along the way—and how do you overcome them? How does it feel once you hit your goal?
- Turn it into art – Create a vision board. Vision boards are great; not only is the act of creating a vision board a visualization exercise, but once the board is created, you’re reminded of the visualization you’re trying to bring to life every time you look at it.
This visualization tool is a collection of images and words that inspire you and represent your goals. It serves as a visual representation of what you want to achieve.
Place your board somewhere you’ll see every day. That way, you’ll be constantly reminded of what you’re working towards.
Ready to give it a shot? Here are 3 steps to visualize easily
- What is something you would like to see happen in your life?
- Close your eyes and visualize yourself making that happen. Really see it.
- Set a concrete time for you to visualize the same thing again. Tomorrow? What time tomorrow?
If you did the same thing tomorrow, and the next day, and the day after that, can you see it making a difference?
Let me know how you do with this? If you need help … simply ask.
Remember, “You only have control over 3 things in your life – the thoughts you think, the images you visualize and the actions you take.”