There is something so incredibly powerful about self-efficacy. Without noticing, we humans tend to put a heck-of a lot of faith into forces beyond our control (fate, the universe, and religion alike) while under-acknowledging our role in our own lives. Enter: the power of visualization. We’re talkin’ vision boards, meditation, “The Secret,” and beyond. Visualization, at its core, is the idea that we can manifest *things* (job promotions, love connections, big vacations, etc.) through the power of our own mind. Okay… so visualization isn’t a cure-all, nor is it magic. It isn’t going to wipe away all of life’s problems by itself. However, harnessing the power it can afford you is a helpful tool in creating the life you want. Let’s dive further, shall we?
As the name implies, this form of visualization is, well, all in your head. This technique often goes hand-in-hand with meditation and mindfulness—it involves picturing your ultimate goal in your mind. The frequency at which you perform this technique (as well as the settings) vary.
Instead of letting your mind wander, this version of visualization has you create a controlled environment before proceeding. Example: you can take a few minutes while going through your morning routine, to picture our ideal version of the day. You have (most of) the facts—work schedule, appointments, kid drop-offs, etc.—in your head already. Allow your controlled environment (your itinerary) guide your thoughts on your optimal day.
Like the self-guide, you’re in a controlled environment, but in this scenario, you’re not setting the parameters. The best way to go about utilizing this technique is to find a guided meditation (audio book, podcast, internet video) that you can play for yourself. Ensure this guided visualization keys into your needs (i.e., a YouTube guided meditation that suggests selecting a word, feeling, or goal to focus your energy on) before proceeding. This technique is awesome for those looking to let go of some control.
We could probably re-name this one “Let-Your-Imagination-Run-Wild” Visualization. It’s often described as playing a movie for ourselves in our minds… and we’re the director. You might be doing this (consciously or not) before bed; thinking about the exciting possibilities of the future and playing out various scenarios of “getting” there and “being” there in your head. This works very well for those able to use an important meditation tactic: the ability to recognize/acknowledge negative or unhelpful thoughts (ex: “This cool thing could happen for me! However, there are many ways it could go wrong…”) and let them go.
This is where you put your thoughts on paper (or Word document, or easel, or bedroom wall…). Internal visualization is a great first step; the visualization process is often more effective for those who express their goals tangibly. The muscle memory associated with writing your goals out translates into mind memory (an oxymoron, we realize) and physically seeing out goals each day helps us to keep them alive.
This technique involves drawing a map, complete with actionable items, to your goal. Lay out your journey, step by step, as each new “point” on the map to create a path to success. Bonus: do this on poster board to hang up somewhere in your house!
This goes hand-in-hand with the technique above, but it’s much broader. Use your artistic skills (you crafty kid, you) to feature your goal. Graphic designers, painters, sketchers (not the shoe), sculptors: create a piece of art for your home that will remind you of your goal—in an über-aesthetically-pleasing way!
It’s a habit we may have lost over the long years since childhood. Set aside some time each evening (or morning, depending on your preference) to write about your day, reveal your plans for the future, and repeat goals to yourself.
One of our favorites—mostly because it’s entirely up to your discretion! Make a collage out of magazine clippings, print out photos from your camera/the internet, or draw out your own big board of *all* your “big wants” in life. Oh sure, it may feel juvenile… but it’s the good kind of juvenile. The one that makes you feel “reconnected” and not “regressed.” Put it somewhere you’ll see it (your office, your side of the bedroom, that place in the backyard you spend a lot of time in).
The power of visualization really comes down to mental training. It’s not the whole cake, but it’s a good starting slice. Sometimes, it’s the little things that push us just enough and get us where we need to be. To quote Henry Ford: “Whether you think you can, or you think you can’t—you’re right.”