At some point in your life, you’ve probably heard about the power of visualization and imagination to enhance performance.
Basically, by taking your big dream and making it more vivid and realistic in your mind, you harness the power of mental imagery on your side.
And when I say mental imagery, I’m not only referring to visuals, but also to the emotions and feelings that go with them.
In fact, the more multisensory, detailed, and alive your vision is, the more power you feed to your subconscious mind, and the more your vision imprints itself.
In research directed by Richard M. Suinn, Ph.D., a sports psychologist for several U.S. Olympic teams, it was discovered that skiers who visualized skiing downhill produced muscle patterns almost identical to those found when the skiers hit the slopes.
In another study conducted by psychologist Alan Richardson, a group of basketball players were divided into a few groups in order to test each player’s ability to make free throws with and without visualization. The results were mind-boggling. The group that only visualized themselves making free throws but had no practice was almost as good as the group that practiced 20 minutes every day...
Of course, no amount of visualization can fully substitute for taking action, but visualization can indeed help in enhancing motivation, improving performance, overriding outside influences, and priming your brain for achieving the results you want. I personally attribute a lot of my focus to it.
Even if you don't believe in the visualization process, it would still be wise to envision where exactly you’re heading. Olympic athletes, Fortune 500 CEOs, and world-class entrepreneurs do it, so why don’t you?
The definition of success is different for different people. Let’s find yours.
#1 Draft Your Vision
Grab a notebook or open a new file on your computer and write a draft vision in as much detail as possible.
You can do this by breaking down your life into a few categories and then, for each category, regardless of whether they seem realistic or not, writing the biggest, most profound outcomes you want to manifest in the next decade.
Here are 5 key categories:
1. Family & Relationships
2. Wealth & Finances
3. Health & Fitness
4. Professional & Business
5. Lifestyle & Adventure
Do not limit yourself, and do not concern yourself with how you're going to get there. For now, that is unimportant. Also, don’t just write what you want to do or have, but also who you want to become.
If you're still finding it hard to write your vision, consider the following prompts that can help you generate more ideas:
- What would you do if you knew you could not fail? If anything was possible, what is the first change you would start to make?
- When you were younger, what were the top things you wanted to accomplish in your lifetime? What are the things you’ve always wanted to invent or the places you’ve always wanted to explore?
- Who are some of the people you admire the most? What would you like to emulate about them?
- What are you currently most excited about in life? (Think of the things you absolutely love to do. These can be hobbies, work-related activities, spending time with friends or family, exercise, or anything else you can think of.)
- What do you want more of in your life? What do you want less of? What does not support you?
- What is your legacy going to be? What is your soul mission and ultimate destination?
- What would you like to do before you die? What would you like people to say about you when you die? What would you like most to be acknowledged for?
- Which areas of your life can be upgraded and transformed? For your life to be absolutely perfect, what would have to change?
- What’s one way you could have more fun in your life? What can you do right now that would really put a smile on your face?
- Who do you want to become? What character muscles will you have to grow? What do you value the most?
- What do you really, really want...?
Still stuck? Find yourself a quiet place with minimal distractions. Go for a walk, perhaps, and take a notepad with you. Every time you get an idea, jot it down.
And if that doesn't work, just give yourself a day off and try tomorrow.
#2 Visualize Your Vision
Once you have clarity on your vision, your next step is visualizing and priming your brain for success.
Find a peaceful setting, close your eyes, and imagine a future day in your life. Just play the film in your mind: It can be a glimpse into your day or a longer period of time. It can be a special day or an ordinary day. It can be whatever you see—you’re the filmmaker!
Also, remember that at this point, you’ve already realized your dream. Don’t worry about how you got there; just focus on describing what you see, the vision of your freedom.
What do you envision?
What do you hear?
How do you FEEL?
Are you there now as if it were truly happening...?
Engage all of your senses and think about different areas of your life in that day: work, health, fitness, relationships, and so forth.
Where are you? Are you at home, a beach hotel, on a hammock, or out in nature?
Who are you with? Are you with your partner, or perhaps alone?
How are you looking? Are you fit? healthy? energized? What are you wearing?
What are you doing...?
In my own “day in life” movie, for instance, I was hiking up a snow-covered mountain without an ounce of worry or concern. I was breathing in fresh mountain air, feeling freedom in every cell of my body.
These days, my movie is quite different: I wake up early in my cozy paradise, feeling energized and ready for a new day. My home is my sanctuary, and it vibrates peace and happiness. It is surrounded by nature and….
You get the point. Make it as real as you can.
#3 Refine Your Vision
Once done, open your notebook or document and refine your vision by writing a detailed description of your movie as though you were writing a screenplay of a day in your life.
You can also write any insights, thoughts, and feelings that rose during the process.
- Did you notice any smells or sounds as you went through the process?
- What was your emotional state throughout the day?
- If there were people around you, what were their emotional states? What were they saying?
Aim to repeat this practice on an ongoing basis. You can, for example, combine it with your meditation or simply practice it before/after sleep. And also don’t be afraid to change and fine-tune your screenplay as you go.
One last tip: it’s good to share your screenplay with trusted others, as it can help us internalize our intentions and at the same time enhance motivation.