I’m sure you’re familiar with the concept of “believe it and you will see it”. However, today I’m going to explore the alternative to this – namely, that you also need to “see it to believe it”. So the big question is: can you truly see what youmost want in your life? Can you see your future successes and achievements? If not, you may need to begin the practice of daily visualization.
In Becoming an Expert, Alejandro Reyes describes visualization as “recreating all the images, sounds and feelings in your mind surrounding an activity in order to practice in a perfect environment”.
Personally, I’m a huge believer in using visualization to improve performance of all kinds and in all areas of life. Why?
Firstly, I have seen the benefits of using visualization in many areas of my life – from managing extremely emotional and stressful situations with grace and calm, to improving my athletic performance, to delivering professionally at a level of excellence and extreme competence when the pressure is high!
Secondly, there is substantial scientific evidence to support the benefits of creating mental images of future events through visualization and improving performance.
One of many examples that proves the effectiveness and success of using visualization was a study done by Australian Psychologist, Alan Richardson. He took a group of basketball players, none of whom had ever practiced visualization and divided them in 3 groups and tested each player’s ability to make free throws. Then:
- the first group practiced free throws every day for 20 days
- the second group practiced free throws on the 1st and 20th days
- the third group also practiced free throws on the 1st and 20th days but in addition to this they spent 20 minutes visualizing their free throws every day
The results were astounding. There was significant improvement in the 3rd group that essentially only visualized their free throws and they were almost as good as the 1st group who actually practiced.
Clearly from even just this study, it is evident that visualization works!
How can you use visualization effectively in your life?
Well the good news is that anyone can do it and it’s a simple process. But it does of course require consistent practice.
Here are 6 basics steps to follow as you get started with this success practice:
1) Find a quiet place.
Find a quiet place and eliminate all external distractions and relax.
2) Quiet and prepare your mind
Quiet and prepare your mind to explicitly focus on what you desire and what to visualize. Deep breathing and meditation will greatly assist you in learning to quiet your mind.
3) Create a detailed image of what you desire or plan to accomplish.
The more detail you use the better – see it, smell it, taste it, touch it, hear it, and lastly feel the emotions of achieving your desired outcome. Think and Grow Rich author Napoleon Hill explains why connecting with those feelings is so important. He says that “your subconscious mind recognizes and acts upon only thoughts which have been well-mixed with emotion or feeling;” and, “you will get no appreciable results until you learn to reach your subconscious mind with thoughts or spoken words which have been well emotionalized with belief.” So make sure you connect with those feelings of success and achievement!
4) Don’t worry.
Don’t worry at any point about how any of this will happen, just focus on it happening!
5) Be consistent.
Be consistent in your visualization practice, doing it at least every morning and before going to sleep every night.
6) Act on the thoughts and ideas.
Act on thoughts and ideas that come to you through visualization or “randomly” at other times and as you listen to and act on these “feelings” and “synchronicities” believe that your efforts will place you in the right place with the right people.
The reason all of this works is because through visualization you are strengthening the paths for that skill in your brain. In addition we know that our thoughts are processed by the mind and determined to be real regardless of the reality or truth of the thought. So rather than focusing on the obstacles and challenges that may hold you back, see yourself achieving what you most desire and use the way your brain works to your advantage! Because the reality is that if you cannot see yourself achieving what you want, your most likely won’t.
But remember, just visualizing isn’t enough. You need to take consistent, focused, intentional action towards the outcome you want.
Today, it is very rare for any truly successful, high achieving person, regardless of their industry or position to not regularly use some form of mental imagery. Why? Because it works! So take 10 – 15 minutes every day to visualize yourself succeeding and achieving all that you most desire and be prepared that this will be a key part of your future success.