Visualisation is a powerful mental tool that you can use to help you achieve your goals.
It is more important than what we think it is. In fact, we have all used it unconsciously sometime in the past and are probably still doing it without being aware that we are doing it. Life coaches often recommend this strategy to clients who want to maximise their potential.
Without vision, nothing can be achieved. Take for example someone who doesn’t know what he wants in life, someone who’s lost and confused. It’s obvious that he wouldn’t be able to successfully attain that thing or state he desires, no matter what it is.
Now take someone who knows specifically what he wants in life and is taking specific steps towards it. The want here means he sees his future self doing something and being somewhere. That’s vision. It’s a vivid image that directs all his actions towards a goal. If you imagine a future without taking any action, that’s just daydreaming.
Successful people use visualization strategies.
Media mogul Oprah Winfrey, award-winning actors Will Smith and Jim Carrey, and female skier Lindsey Vonn are amongst notable and successful people who are using visualisation to help them realise their personal goals.
The power of visualisation isn’t just limited to accomplished celebrities and top sports figures. A TD Bank Study cited by Forbes magazine reveals that those who visualise “their financial and business goals are more confident that they will achieve them than people who don’t.” Among those business owners who have used visualisation when building their business, 76% of them said their business is at a point where they pictured it would be.
So how can we use visualisation to reach our goals, be successful and happy?
Here are a few steps to practice visualisation to help you achieve what you want:
1. Find out what it is you want
Be very clear and specific about what you would like to have and achieve. If you already know what you want to achieve, set a timeframe for when you want to have it. Specify the tools or skills you need, and create a concrete plan. Remember to put every detail down on paper.
In an article on Entrepreneur, former NFL linebacker for the Chicago Bears Matt Mayberry shares his practical tip for writing down what you want to achieve: set a stopwatch or a timer for three minutes when writing your goals. The time limit gives you less time to worry and brings out your deepest desires.
You can also try few tools for vision, mission and purpose like the Wheel of Life , or you can get the help of a professional life coach to gain clarity.
2. Prepare for the visualisation practice
What blurs our vision are our fears and worries about the future? Some goals can create anxiety. The fears create futile patterns of dreaming about something, getting started, then letting go in the middle of the process before even reaching your goal. The fear associated with taking risks makes you think goals are too hard, too difficult to achieve, or even impossible. It’s important to recognise that this negative self-talk comes from beliefs that have been programmed into our subconscious at a young age.
To make sure that you are not hitting any of these limiting beliefs, you need to reprogram how your brain is processing your thoughts.
For instance, you might start visualising your future self-living in a tropical island working remotely, but then a limiting belief will come and tell you “it’s impossible to do and it’s too hard to achieve.”
To properly visualise your future, you need to do it in a meditative state to go deep in the layers.
Start your regular meditation process by taking a few deep breaths. Close your eyes and focus on the sounds around you. Shift your focus toward your body and your physical sensations. Turn your attention toward your breathing. Keep doing this for a few minutes until you enter a meditative state, then direct your awareness toward the future and see what you will be seeing, hear what you will be hearing, and feel what you will be feeling at that specific time in the future where you want to achieve your goal. The key here is to engage your senses and connect them with your vision.
Alternatively, you can reinforce that vision by looking at your future self from a third perceptual position where you play a movie of yourself achieving that goal.
3. Practice critical visualisation
Of course, there will be obstacles, but you should never let the fear of these roadblocks drain your energy, leaving you powerless to achieve your vision. In this case, researchers Heather Kappes and Gabriele Oettingen in a Forbes article suggest trying critical visualisation, which takes into account realistic obstacles and setbacks that one may encounter on the road to attaining their goals. The keyword here is “realistic.” The setbacks should be determined by facts and not by fears.
4. Visualise daily
Practice this visualisation exercise every day. It only takes about five minutes, including getting into the meditative state. Five minutes is just literally .34% of your day, and the benefits are well worth it.
How does visualization work?
The brain doesn’t know the difference between something that you have done for real and something that you dreamed about, or have envisioned yourself doing. It’s only you who knows that it hasn’t happened yet. But by visualising yourself achieving your goal and doing what you want to do is like training the brain to really do it, which will most likely lead you to achieve your desired result.
Remember that it's important to know exactly what you want and to enter the meditative state, especially if you have a tendency to go toward the negative thinking, to reprogram how the brain processes thoughts, feelings, and experiences.