“Dreaming is not enough. You have to go a step further and use your imagination to visualize, with intent! Forget everything you’ve ever been taught, and believe it will happen, just as you imagined it. That is the secret. That is the mystery of life.” ~ Christine Anderson
Whenever you hear a success story from a top performer, in whichever profession they come from, it’s almost always attributed back to how they visualised every single detail of what they wanted before acting out in their mind what they were actually going to do.
Harnessed correctly, visualisation is a great tool in achieving goals.
The key is how to do it effectively so that it works for you.
Is Visualisation like daydreaming?
Often people confuse daydreaming for visualisation, but there are few noticeable differences.
Visualisation is purposeful and has intention behind it. It is a mental image of your desired future as if you are living it right now. Not watching it like a movie, but actually seeing yourself achieving your goals.
For example, as you see yourself acing that presentation to the board, you notice your nervousness as you walk up to the front, you hear yourself make the presentation and respond to questions. You are watching the outcome from an embodied space.
Daydreaming is allowing your thoughts to run wild, aimlessly. It’s unconscious. It’s where you disappear to when you are asked if you are listening. Daydreaming is not living in the present moment and certainly not positive thinking!
How can visualising make a difference in achieving goals?
Ask any elite athlete and they will tell you that visualisation is often the key difference between a silver medal and gold medal. At elite levels, there is often only a fraction of a second between gold and silver. When running faster or better has been taken to the limit, a track and field athlete will turn her mind and use visualisation to bridge the time.
“If you love what you do and every cell in your body is convinced and is totally directed toward one goal, then it’s just a matter of trust….That instinct to compete kicks in, throw in the drama, the meaning of what it is you’re going for and how often this opportunity comes around…That mental rehearsal – gearing up your senses for the perfect performance. And visualisation, because I believe the body will follow.”
Cathy Freeman on visualising her success.
The mind can’t distinguish imagery from reality. Many studies have shown this and that concept alone has helped people like Matthew Nagle, a quadriplegic who has found a way to use mental imagery to change his life.
The more you visualise your success, the more your mind begins to believe that it is not only possible but that is real. This improves your confidence and the likelihood of you achieving that goal.
Visualisation helps you to tackle subconscious beliefs related to your goal attainment and create new neural pathways to behave in new ways.
Obviously, you need to work hard to make the goal a reality (I’m not talking about magic here).
Visualisation, in addition to practice, learning new skills and putting in the hard yards, makes a big difference.
Is there a specific way to visualise goals? What methods or exercises are there?
- Regular and ‘real” practice of visualisation is most important. I recommend a meditation practice first to ground and focus your awareness and then a visualisation as if you were actually living the events. You will find an excellent meditation for goal setting here at Deepak Chopra.
- It’s important to have a sensory experience as fully as possible, with as much detail as possible. It should include all your senses from feelings, sights to sounds.
“You must see your goals clearly and specifically before you can set out for them. Hold them in your mind until they become second nature.” Les Brown