Big or small, goals give us purpose and keep us headed in the right direction. They are a blueprint for our lives and experiences, goals add interest to our everyday lives giving us something to look forward to outside of our routine. Of course, we must apply a lot of thought, planning, work and determination to reach our destination.
One might want to:
- lose weight, run a marathon, or dance on broadway
- ask for a raise, get a promotion, or be the leader in their industry
- quit smoking, sculpt a chiseled physique, or learn to surf
- start a new business, sail around the world, or build their dream home
Aristotle described the process this way:
- “First, have a definite, clear, practical ideal; a goal, an objective.
- Second, have the necessary means to achieve your ends: wisdom, money, materials, and methods.
- Third, adjust all your means to that end.”
Often, we can remain stuck in the contemplation stage of our goal, we want a change in our lives and cannot figure out how to bring the change into reality. We start out with good intentions and perhaps even a plan, but then we can’t seem to make it happen, what’s missing? When we are in the contemplation stage it is important to identify the values that will move us into the preparation and action stages of our goal. It is through identifying the benefits and values of a specific goal that helps us to move into preparation and ultimately action.
There are countless reasons that we might stall out before moving into creation:
- fear and insecurity
- negative social pressures
So how can we respond to these challenges and move into preparation and action with the definite purpose of our goal?
Visualization is a mental exercise that has been employed by many successful athletes, artists, actors and entrepreneurs over the years — Seeing Is Believing!
Before we can achieve a goal, we first must have an idea of what it looks like and feels like to have it as a reality. To paraphrase the old adage: we must see it before we can believe it. The human mind is capable of great miracles and the art of visualizing is a valuable tool to assist us in our quest for new experiences. Actually, utilizing all of our senses makes this experience more powerful — seeing, feeling, touching, smelling and practicing the new experience however you process information on as many levels as possible will make the exercise more valuable.
Visualization is simply a technique for creating a mental image of a future event, it is an exercise of projecting success.
When we visualize our desired outcome, we begin to “see” the possibility of achieving our goal and feel the accomplishment. Through this mental exercise of visualization, we can catch a glimpse of what might be our new reality. When are able to step into our “future”, we are motivated, physically and mentally excited which prepares us to move in action in a new direction with purpose and a taste of our new life experience.
Visualization is not dreaming or hoping for a better future, it is an exercise in creating your future. It is a method of performance improvement supported by scientific evidence and used by successful people across a wide range of fields for many years. When you can visually and emotionally experience yourself in a new situation, doing a new task or living a new experience, you can begin to feel the experience — feeling and seeing a new experience add life to a new possibility. It is similar to preparing for a test, studying, reviewing and planning to ace the test. Putting in the time and effort to make the grade, to pass the test, to reach your goal is a form of visualization – it takes time, energy, planning, going through the process in your head first to make sure you have everything you need to succeed.
Athletes, for example increase their performance by improving motivation, coordination and concentration. Studies show that visualization also aids in relaxation, builds confidence, reduces fear and anxiety. “Visualization helps the athlete’s performance and do it with confidence, poise, and perfection.” Sports legends like Michael Jordan, Larry Bird, Tiger Woods and pitcher Roy Halladay have used visualization to improve their performance and achieve their personal best.
Why Visualization Works
According to research using brain imagery, visualization works because neurons in our brain can and will interpret imagery as equivalent to a real-life action. When we visualize an act, the brain generates an impulse that tells our neurons to “perform” the movement. This creates a new neural pathway that primes our body to perform in a way that is consistent to what we imagined. All of this occurs without actually performing the physical activity, yet it achieves a similar result. The more real we can imagine and visualize the goal as having been achieved — by feeling, hearing, sensing the desired result — the better the actual outcome.
Putting the Pieces Together
The power of visualization is available to all people. You do not have to be an elite athlete, a ivy league graduate or astronaut to benefit from visualization; you can use it to help study and pass an important exam, become a better parent, to climb Mt. Kilimanjaro or improve your cooking skills. The uses for improving your life with visualization to help you achieve your goals is limited only by your imagination. There are many courses that teach a variety of visualization techniques such as The Silva Method, which has been around for decades.
The Silva Method has classes all over the world, with many years of research from prestigious institutions like:
- Duke University, North Carolina
- Trinity University, Texas
- University of Texas, Texas
- Wayland Baptist University, Texas
- C.W. Post Campus of Long Island University, New York
- Canisius College, New York
The Silva Method utilizes an optimized curriculum that includes the Centering Exercise, guided meditations, visualization techniques, and intuition-enhancing tools. There are different ways to approach visualization, each of which serves a distinct purpose, but for greatest effect, they should be used together. One method is outcome visualization which involves seeing yourself having achieved your goal. To do this, create a detailed mental image of the desired outcome using all of your senses.
Visualization is not a guarantee of success, it is another tool in the box to work with. It is a powerful way to achieve positive, behavioral change and create the life you desire. Visualization is a tool to be used in the same manner that you study, work with a day planner, goal setting, mastermind group and do your daily chores. It is a powerful tool that can have a profound affect on the outcome of your goals when you learn to utilize it and make it an integral part of your routine.