A wise man named Marcus Aurelius once said, “Our lives are what our thoughts make them.” If we want to achieve great things in life, we have to think great things about ourselves and see ourselves excelling in our minds. That’s exactly where visualization comes in.
As a little kid, any time I wanted to dance in a recital, compete in a pageant or participate in a science fair, my dad had me visualize myself being successful. He knew that this was a fundamental first step to performing well and achieving my goal. It also gave me a chance to see where I could fail and what hard work it would take, without my dad having to say it.
Now as an adult, I still believe in the power of visualization and its ability to make our dreams a reality.
If you’re interested in trying it out for yourself, here are a few strategies to try using:
1. Practice External Visualization
Find a quiet cozy spot to lie down and close your eyes. Imagine you are sitting in a movie theater watching a scene from your life unfold: the scene of your goal being accomplished. If you aspire to become an accomplished musician, perhaps you could imagine yourself performing in a symphony at Carnegie Hall.
If you aspire to be a pro football player, you could imagine yourself wearing the jersey of the team you want to be playing for, running down the field and scoring touchdowns. Whatever you hope to do with your life, you can visualize what achieving that goal would be like. Be specific in your visualization, thinking about what you might see and hear, how you might feel, what the setting might look like around you, etc. The more detailed you are the better.
2. Practice Internal Visualization
This is similar to the above practice, but instead of visualizing the scene unfolding as an outsider looking in, this time you will actually be right there in the scene. Picture yourself stepping right into the movie screen so that you are there in the middle of the action. While you’re there in your scene, notice everything that is going on around you.
Who else is there? What’s being said? What’s going on? Where is it happening? Again, it helps if you can be as detailed as possible in this exercise.
3. Practice Varied Visualization
In addition to the two forms of visualization previously explained, varied visualization is another important tool. Think about the possible ways a situation could unfold and rehearse in your mind how you would react in each of those potential cases. Never visualize yourself failing; only imagine yourself reacting to bad situations differently. For instance, if your goal is to win a triathlon, you need to be prepared for a variety of circumstances that could come up on race day.
What will you do if it’s pouring down rain? What will you do if you get boxed in by the other athletes?
What will you do if you get a cramp? Visualizing how you will react in each of those situations goes a long way towards making you feel prepared and confident going into the competition.
4. Make Goal Pictures
Beyond using visualization techniques in your mind, you can also use concrete tangible pictures to help you visualize success. For instance, if your goal is to save up enough money to travel to Hawaii, find a scenic picture of Hawaii in a travel magazine or brochure, cut it out and tape a picture of you overtop of it to make it look like you are actually there. If your goal is to learn how to surf, cut out a picture of someone riding a wave and paste a picture of yourself overtop of it so it looks like you’re the one who’s out there surfing.
If you want to graduate with a degree in business administration, visualize yourself walking up on that stage and accepting your diploma or being able to tell friends and family of your achievement. Whatever it is you want to do, find a way to create a picture of yourself doing it. You can even draw a picture of it and hang it some place you will see it often, such as over your desk, on your bathroom mirror or by your nightstand.
5. Use Affirmations
As a runner, affirmations were a huge contributing factor to my success. I took a pack of index cards and on each index card, I wrote a positive affirmation about my abilities as a runner, such as “I run like a world class champion,” “I’m a fighter and fighter’s fight!” or “I’m strong enough to tackle any hills that come my way.” I looked at these affirmation flash cards over and over before races and eventually, they became so ingrained in my mind that I believed they were true. The great thing about affirmations is that they work for whatever goal you’re trying to pursue, whether it’s athletic, the performing arts, your business or even your personal life.
No matter what goal you’re trying to achieve, visualizing success in your mind goes hand in hand with experiencing it in the real world. Put the above strategies into practice today and what is now your dream can soon become your reality.
Alicia Lawrence works for an Internet marketing company and blogs in her free time at MarCom Land. Her work has been published by the Association for Business Communication, Business Insider, and Spin Sucks.