At home, at school, or at work, any bit of success often begins with a goal. It could be starting a small business, losing weight or shaping up, getting a college degree, reorganizing a closet—whatever! No matter how big or small, setting goals for ourselves gives us focus, inspiration and a feeling of purpose.
Of course, we all know that life has a funny way of presenting us with stumbling blocks that can thwart us from achieving our goals when we’re not careful. All throughout Season 6 of Productivity Paradox we have talked about all of those different stumbling blocks and the steps that we can take to overcome them… But did you know that, when it comes to achieving our goals, research has indicated just one single tip that can help us to accomplish what we set out to do?
No matter how big or small, setting goals for ourselves gives us focus, inspiration and a feeling of purpose.
While I talk a little bit more about visualization this week on Episode 078 of Productivity Paradox, today I want to share just how visualization can work for you when it comes to finding success through the achievement of your goals—no matter what they might be!
First, let’s talk about what visualization is (and what it’s not!) in terms of adopting it as a tool for productivity… When it comes to those big dreams especially, there’s a difference between having high standards and simply day-dreaming of something you’re not truly committed to working on. In regard to success, detailed visualization is what works best and is the first step to planning your actions in the pursuit of your goals.
We can break down detailed visualization by thinking of it as being made up of two ideas, Process Visualization & Outcome Visualization:
Process Visualization is essentially exactly what it sounds like in that it involves imagining all of the necessary steps (the process) that you will need to take in order to achieve the goal you have in mind. Outcome visualization, on the other hand, involves imagining yourself actually achieving your goal, and it requires the creation of a detailed mental image of the desired outcomes (the benefits) of meeting your goal while using all of the senses. In effect, the two go hand-in-hand!
…Not only is it important to imagine yourself achieving the outcome of the goals that you have in mind, but in order to set the pursuit of your goals into motion, you need to imagine all of the smaller steps along the way to make detailed visualization work for you to ensure optimal success.
Now, I totally understand when I hear someone say that the idea of visualization seems a little silly… but research has shown that visualization works because of the influence that visual imagery has on the brain—most specifically in terms of neurons, the excitable cells in your body that interpret imagery in everyday life.
When it comes to mentally preparing an image in your mind (visualization), your neurons interpret the imagery as equivalent to real-life action! This then generates an impulse in the brain that tells those neurons to “perform” the movements associated with the imagery and creates a new neural pathway that prepares your body to act in a way that is most consistent to what you visualized.
You know the old adage “seeing is believing?” When it comes to visualization, it rings true. If you’re having trouble breaking down a stumbling block, it’s often because you can’t clearly see each step you need to take… That’s where visualization can help!
So, how do you start to visualize more effectively toward the achievement of your goals? The next time that you’re working on a goal you’ve set for yourself, I encourage you to create a mental image of a future event.
Visualization is often called mental rehearsal, and athletes like Olympic medalist Michael Phelps use it to rehearse techniques and practices that they will need to succeed, so they can then act them out without thinking… Seeing themselves complete the action, whether it’s dunking the winning basket, or swimming with precision to go faster than anyone else, lets them do less physical practice while being able to compete at a high level.
And I think that we can all agree… especially in Michael Phelps’s case… that this tactic seems to have worked out pretty well for him, right?
You can easily translate the power of visualization into your own life in the pursuit of your goals, too! Rather than picturing yourself having the perfect game or swimming the perfect laps, you can instead imagine yourself giving the perfect speech to a large audience, exercising and meeting your next fitness goal, or sitting down and writing a bit each day until you’re a best-selling author!
No matter what, visualization techniques help bring focus and inspire motivation needed to succeed… And it only takes a few minutes to do. While it works best upon first waking up or, after meditation or prayer, visualization works well whenever you are feeling relaxed. For me, I personally find it easiest when I’m just waking up or during the last few moments before I fall asleep because my inner critic tends to be just a bit quieter… But you can experiment and figure out what works best for you!
Curious about how to incorporate visualization techniques into your life? I encourage you to check out Episode 078 of Productivity Paradox where I will walk you through a visualization exercise and talk a bit more in depth about the research surrounding visualization.
If you are someone who already uses visualization techniques to help in the pursuit of your goals, I’d love to hear what has worked best for you! Be sure to share your experience in the comments below!