There is a lot of written about the power of visualization. Writers from Napoleon Hill, Wallace Wattles, and one of my favorites, James Allen to more current thought leaders like, Jack Canfield, Jen Sincero and Amy Cuddy, have talked about visualization and how it is important, even vital to us achieving our goals.
What is visualization?
One way the dictionary defines visualization is: the formation of a mental image of something.
So, in the case of achieving goals, you would form a mental image of your goal completed. For example, if your goal is to complete a 5K run, you would visual yourself crossing the finish line, getting your medal, feeling tired but accomplished, your family beaming with pride, and…
How can that help us achieve our goals?
Well, through regular practice of visualization we can shift our mindset. If we use the 5K run example again, creating the visual of completing the race and how elated you feel, can help you motivate yourself on a day when you know you need to train, but really don’t feel like it.
Athletes have used visualization or mental rehearsal as a technique to drive success for many years. The techniques are not limited to athletics. This works on any goal in any area of your life.
For the purposes of today’s blog post, I want to share a few quick steps you can take to begin practicing visualization. We will come back to this topic again soon and take a deeper dive into to more fully understand how and why it works, but for now here are steps you can take now:
Use Post-it notes and index cards. Write your goals and affirmation statements on Post-it notes and index cards. Stick the Post-it notes up in various places where you will see them often. Ideal places are on your bathroom mirror, on the refrigerator, at the bottom of your computer monitor, etc. Place the index cards in places where you will see them throughout the day, like in your pocket, in your purse or bag, and in your car.
Be specific – “I will run for 30 minutes today” and affirming, “Every step takes me closer to completing my 5K run”
Every time you read one of the Post-it notes or index cards, create that mental image of you completing your goal and imagine how you will feel.
By repeatedly seeing your written goals and affirmations, they become more and more real to you. Your goals are not just something that you hope for – by fixing the goal in your mind, reminding yourself repeated and thinking about how you will feel when you complete your goal, you become more invested in the process.
Develop a vision board or visual map. Now I know that right now some of you are rolling your eyes! I get it, I felt the same way until recently. I always thought that vision boards were more of a “nice-to-do” rather than a “need-to-do”. I honestly couldn’t see how cutting out pictures and graphics and pasting them on a board would get me anywhere. But when I read an article by Jack Canfield about how he used a vision board and the success he achieved, I was willing to give it a try. And I have to admit, it has been a powerful tool in helping me to move from thinking about my goals, to visualizing my completion of my goals and my success. In an upcoming blog post I will go into more detail about vision boards, but for right now, here are some ideas for creating a vision board:
Find pictures/photos that align with your goals. If we continue with the 5K race theme, maybe you can find some photos of a race and more particularly of people crossing the finish line, etc.
You could also find or create graphics/statements that are affirming like, “If it doesn’t challenge you, it won’t change you” - Fred DeVito or “Don’t stop when you are tired. Stop when you are done” – Unknown. Paste these on a board and place the board where you can see it every day, preferably several times a day.
Use the photos and quotes as visual aides to re-enforce your vision of success. The more you do this, the more real it becomes.
Create visual triggers. This could be that every time you see your running shoes, you form the mental image of crossing that finish line. And every time you come back from a run, as you open the door, you imagine yourself coming home after your 5K race to tell your family about your success. You create a mental image of their faces beaming with pride. So, your running shoes are a trigger, and coming through the door after your run is another trigger.
Why not try this technique of visualization with just one goal and see how it works? Be intentional and serious about it. Put in the time and work needed and you will see results. I know this has worked for me and I know it will work for you.
And in case you are wondering, I have no plans to run a 5K race anytime soon, but if and when I do, I know I will use visualization as one of my most powerful tools.