By Jas Singh
Psychologists have proven beyond question for some time that visualization is a key component for success in any calling.
In recent years, it has even become the basis of intense scientific research. Hundreds of academic papers are produced on it every year and some have even attempted to quantify it’s impact with precise scientific equations!
It’s been my personal experience that most of the people that I have worked with who have become super-achievers practice the art of visualization – whether they realise it or not.
Think of all the famous people in the world and what they say when reach the pinnacle of their careers or win outstanding awards. The sportsman who wins player of the year. The actress that wins an oscar. The entrepreneur who has become a billionaire. The response – often when interviewed on the spot – is usually the same: “It’s something I’ve always dreamed of, ever since I was a child and as long as I can remember.”
Visualization works. We all need to be crystal clear as to what we want and where we are going in order to get there. The more clearer the vision, the more likely we will achieve it.
We all want things. Many of us are desperate for them. A few even pray for them. But how many of us can close our eyes and already see and feel exactly what it will be like? How many of us can convince ourselves in the moment that we are in possession of our goals already?
The exact neuroscience mechanism of visualization is still hotly debated but the reasoning is essentially the same. The more uncertain of something the greater the impact of fear, the more likely you are to quit. The clearer the outcome (such as in visualisation) the less the impact of fear, indecision and quitting.
As the old saying goes often you have to see it to believe it. And believe it to have it.
In recent years, visualization has even become a well publicised training tool in the fields of business, politics and sport. Olympic athletes and worldwide sports stars such as the tennis player Andy Murray have even attributed their career defining wins to the impact of visualisation.
So what can we all do, right now to improve how we visualize?
Here are a few suggestions.
1) Make time
Visualization requires consistency and effort. It’s not something you can just do between calls or whilst your mind is full of what you next need to do at work.
To visualize effectively it needs to become an important habit. Something that becomes a dedicated part of your daily routine. Something you enjoy and something that requires nothing else other than you and your undivided attention.
However the great thing is, it doesn’t need to be something you do at the crack of dawn in a yoga-like position. It could be on the commute to work. Or before you retire at the end of the day. A lot of people also “dream” and visualize when in the shower!
Developing the perfect picture takes time.
2) Get real
Visualization doesn’t just have to be an isolated activity that you do in a darkened room on your own in total silence. To build its realism and impact it’s often beneficial to try and make your vision penetrate all aspects of your life.
Write it down – in as much detail as possible. Build a vision board of what your achievement will look like (something many highly successful entrepreneurs regularly do). Talk about it to others – one of the simple reasons sports psychologists are successful is just because they get athletes to talk about their visions out loud.
Even go one step further and celebrate it. One of my favourite stories ever is of Jim Carey who in 1990 as a young struggling comic pulled over one night on the way back from another failed audition. Reaching for his check book he wrote himself a check for $10 million and dated it for 1995.
By 1995 films such as Ace Ventura, Pet Detective, The Mask and Liar Liar had netted him over $20 million.
Want to buy that dream car? Book in a test drive and imagine you own it. You’ll be inspired to then take action.
Make your vision happen. Start getting real.
3) Get inspired beforehand
Just like you wouldn’t eat a Big Mac and expect to break the 800 metres world record, you can’t expect to build an inspiring vision if you approach visualization with a mind that is full of fear, doubt or indifference.
Just like our bodies, our minds needs warming up before a work-out.
It needs inspiration.
Do something that inspires you and the momentum will pass over to when you are visualizing. Listen to that song that moves you. Watch that favourite movie clip. Read that letter from your daughter.
Get inspired and visualization is easy.
4) Forget about how
Although visualization is not the only necessary ingredient in success, it often doesn’t work if you are trying to reason at the same time. Dreamers dream first, and then plan later.
Not only does reasoning often interrupt with the visualization process, often it can actually even cancel it out. By focussing on the fact we do not have the necessary answers, we become doubtful and our vision less believable.
Reasoning is often the enemy of faith.
It’s often why the great leaders over time have not succumbed to criticism and doubt on behalf of others. Whilst others spent their time focussing on reasons and excuses, leaders were obsessed in making their visions even more clearer. And then finally from vision to reality.
Dream first. Believe you will have it. Then figure out how.
It’s often said that visionaries change the world. The truth is it’s not visionaries who change the world, but visions.
When spotting the visionaries of the future, hiring managers should go deep to see how strong the vision is – how clear, how persistent, how old.
The great visionaries can tell you every intricate detail.
How clear is your vision?
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