As part of my morning routine, I click open a picture of Sugar Beach on St Lucia on my computer and just stare at it for a few minutes. I then close my eyes and visualize myself at Sugar Beach, immersing myself in the sights, sounds, smells of being there. I feel the sand in my toes as I walk towards the warm Caribbean water and just submerge myself in this tropical paradise.
This will be my reward for the revenue goal I have set for my business, a goal I now visualize, seeing the success of my business and the eventual reward I will be receiving (on top of happy customers). I then repeat this exercise before I go to bed.
So am I crazy for trying this exercise of visualization? Maybe. Will this guarantee my success and actually visiting Sugar Beach and St Lucia, no, however I believe my chances of success are a lot higher in achieving this goal through the use of visualization!
Let’s go into more detail about visualization and the power of visualization when setting (and achieving) goals.
What is visualization?
Visualization according to the Oxford Dictionary means “the formation of a mental image of something”. This could be something positive (such as a new car) or it could be something negative (such as an injury or illness). It goes without saying that focusing on positive visualizations should be the aim here for everyone.
Visualization has been around for hundreds of years and there is significant evidence of success among the high performers of our society. Successful athletes, artists, business leaders and successful people over time can attribute part of their success to the use of visualization.
Painting vivid mental pictures of their future success, combined with putting in the hard work can be a potent combination for people’s success. Many successful people have praised the use of visualization and how this is an important part of their success. For many, success with visualization has made their ascent to the summit in their sport or profession a lot easier as they have already been to the summit in their visualizations.
So how can visualization help you achieve the goals (or life) that you desire?
1. Have a very detailed visualization using all your senses
Get evocative and have a totally immersive visualization experience. Use all your senses in this visualization. If you have dreams of winning a big race or sporting event, really go deep with your visualization. Feel the warmth of the sun in the outdoor arena, hear the crowd roaring as you power to your win. Visualize your opponents coming up to you to shake your hand and congratulate you on your win. Visualize you nailing a great start or visualize your successful throwing & passing techniques. Visualize celebrations with your teammates. Use all senses to create your ultimate visualization experience.
If you are looking at visualizing an object or activity that you desire (such as a holiday) use this same approach.
Using a tropical holiday example, picture the aqua blue ocean, smell the ocean, feel the breeze and the waves as they gently wash up against your submerged feet. Feel the wet sand with your feet, the warm water against your legs.
The same goes if you were visualizing a new car. Create a visualization with a new car smell, feel the steering wheel in your hands, the conformity of the new seats, adjusting the seat as you reach for the foot pedals. The more vivid the better.
2. Start small when starting your visualization journey
If you are new to visualization, start small first. Let’s say you are starting a health kick and haven’t exercised properly in years. You’ve set up a goal to run 5km however you are scared to begin this journey. A simple visualization you can start with is of you completing a simple 100m jog or of you completing a 1km jog/walk and pulling up fine from this. Once your fitness improves you can expand your visualization of your 5km run and beyond.
Once you get used to hitting the smaller goals then expand your visualization process to take in these bigger goals. Once you’ve got more trust in yourself setting then achieving these goals as well as using visualization techniques will help you once these goals get bigger.
3. Visualization needs to be regular
For better results visualization of your goal (or goals) should be regular. Better yet, make this part of your routine. You might have a morning routine where you wake up and perform some form of meditation, prayer, affirmations for mindfulness. You can add the visualization to this routine.
Don’t be put off if your current position is a long way off your end goal. Keep working at your goal and keep visualization. Work on your daily habits to achieve your goal as well as the daily visualization to achieve this goal. Before long they will go hand in hand, speeding up the process of your success.
4. Visualization can’t replace hard work
Yes visualization can be an important part of someone’s success however hard, smart focussed work is the most important part of the success recipe. Don’t cut corners in your training or education just because you are using visualization. Think of how many forehands Serena Williams must have hit in practice or the number of 3 pointers Steph Curry has hit during practice. We are talking thousands of hours.
Malcolm Gladwell has his 10,000 hours rule for true expertise of a skill, that’s the level of commitment needed to achieving anything significant, visualization comes into the process once this commitment level is realized. Success is the culmination of many things, hard work is one part of it. Make sure your plan is good, you have outlined any resources you need to use, planned out your time management and are ready to put in the work.
Visualization is a great tool to lift you over the top, it can’t replace you cutting corners and not putting in the hard work.
5. Visualization can help during the harder times
Achieving anything meaningful takes time, while the process at times can be tedious. Think of a professional athlete putting in the thousands upon thousands of reps to achieve their success! However visualizing the end goal or the end success can help those tedious practices become more palatable.
Think of a swimmer putting in hundreds of laps of the pool every week following that black line day after day! Having strong visualizations of your end goal can help cope with the tediousness or boredom that may occur during your quest.
What about a popular musician such as Hilary Hahn putting in the hundreds and hundreds of hours of practice, enduring the muscle injuries, muscle cramps, stresses to fingers and hands using visualization of a successful sold out tour to help get through this practice.
You can also use visualization of your reward for some of your goals. Let’s say you have a revenue KPI that if you hit it will treat yourself to a holiday. Putting in the sales reps, getting rejected for some of your proposals, clients reneging or closing their accounts with you can put a dampener on your goals however having visualization of this holiday can help get through the harder times.
Visualization can be a very powerful tool in your future successes and should be an important part of your goal setting/achieving routine. The more vivid the visualization the more helpful this will be to achieving your end goal or result. And for me, once I’ve hit my goal and had my vacation at Sugar Beach, I’ll post some photos and set another goal with a great picture to help spur me to greater things.