- Visualization is a tool our brain uses to focus our attention on the things we want.
- Visualization is powerful because it roots us in the details and helps us experience the moment of success before it actually happens.
- Creating a physical representation of your visualization (a visualization board) can help maximize the power of visualization and help you clarify what you want to achieve and the steps you need to take to get there.
Picture this: you are 27 years old and preparing to be interviewed for the job of your dreams. You have worked hard, proven your ability, and demonstrated innovation and ingenuity. But you don’t feel prepared for the interview.
What are you doing?
Conduct a mock interview, of course.
Identify a friend to play the role of the interviewee and imagine how the real day might turn out. This, of course, helps you prepare for some wacky questions or potential pitfalls to avoid, but it also helps you imagine the best of times.
You imagine yourself accepting the offer and the feelings of elation that follow. You imagine the look on your spouse’s face when you share the news. You feel the peace of mind that comes with increased income. The next day you crush the interview and experience those feelings twice.
It is the power of visualization.
Visualization is not a new technique, and it is even one of the most pragmatic of entrepreneurs to use, often without realizing it. Whether you are preparing for your dream interview or imagining your dream vacation in the Maldives, Visualization is a tool our brain uses to focus our attention on the things we want. Beyond a vague New Year’s resolution to “increase my income” or “grow in my career,” visualization anchors us in the details and helps us live the moment of success before it actually happens.
For example, you can set a goal to increase your annual sales by 35%. Then you create a vision board of what that 35% extra income means in your business and your life. Does this sound like a reinvestment in a diversified project? Is this a safety net for future sales declines? What does it do?
Maybe it sounds like peace of mind or the ability to take time out to spend time with family. It might sound like the financial freedom you need to have some creative brainstorming time. Visualization responds to Why so you can focus on logistics: how, when and where.
But emotions are fleeting and even visceral memories can seem distant when the pressure of everyday life sets in. This is where the physical representation of your visualization comes in: the visualization board.
Here are some tips to get you started.
Let go of your preconceptions
Forcing a viewing session might seem, well, forced. It may seem unnatural to take the time to think about how you will feel about a distant goal once you achieve it, but research continues to show its merits.
In a 2003 study, researchers compared two groups of people: those who performed virtual exercises in their heads and those who performed physical exercise, in this case finger abductions.
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In the physical group, strength increased by 53% versus 35% in the virtual exercise group. But the results worsened, with a 5% increase in the virtual exercise group almost four weeks after the study ended. Visualization is a tool commonly used by great sportsmen like Tiger Woods and Michael Jordan.
Prepare yourself physically
Just like stretching before a workout or performing speaking exercises before giving a speech, you also need to prepare yourself physically to create a vision board for setting goals.
Brew a cup of tea or coffee, find a comfortable place to lie down, and play some of your favorite hits in the background. Take a few minutes to take a few deep, measured breaths through your nose to calm your mind and release any tension in your body.
Even a quick five-minute guided meditation can go a long way. It sounds different to everyone, so do whatever works best for you. The point is, you feel calm, relaxed, and excited to start visualizing your brighter future.
This is the fun part, or it should be.
Visualization is about letting yourself be felt without restraint. But without practice, visualization can be embarrassing at best and crippling at worst. Start by asking yourself a few questions and write or record your immediate response. Do not modify it.
- Where do I see myself at the end of next year?
- What’s the biggest thing I want to accomplish?
- What is the one thing in life that no longer serves me? What would it be like to no longer be present in my life?
- Where am I when this goal is achieved?
- What is my first feeling? What does my facial expression look like?
- How would I tell my friends and family? What would their responses be?
The idea is to capture the sensations around accomplishing your goal so that you can experience it as if you were right there.
Getting your hands dirty
Improve your visualization by making it permanent. Create a vision board that represents the specific emotions and images that come to mind when you imagine your goal has been reached.
If a 35% increase in income gives you peace of mind and time to devote to creative or family tasks, add photos, designs, or even colors that remind you of those feelings. Again, there is no right or wrong way to create a vision board, so make it your own.
When you set big goals for yourself, the key is to review them often.
Maybe your trajectory has changed and you need to update the timeline. Maybe the lens definition has changed slightly and you want to adjust the look of the final image. Maybe you’re just feeling the Monday blues and need a reminder of what you’re working towards.
Whatever your goals, the power of visualization can help you clearly understand what you want, what it looks like once you’ve achieved it, and how to stay motivated along the way.
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