Visualize this thing that you want, see it, feel it, believe in it. Make your mental blueprint, and begin to build.
~ Robert Collier
The phrase “seeing is believing” might be more impactful than you or I could ever realize. Every book, scientific article, podcast, or conference will teach that to be successful, you must set goals. Unfortunately, most people set goals and never see any real results. In my experience, you can set goals and make action plans, but if you lose sight of your goal, your dream will turn into a wish.
Visualize the Big Moments
Michael Phelps is the most decorated Olympian ever. He has won 28 medals, 23 of which have been gold. He accomplished this even though his grade school teacher told him that he wasn’t focused enough to accomplish anything in life. Proving his teacher wrong, Phelps developed the intense focus needed to win. In every race Phelps swims, he had already won the race in his mind. Phelps visualizes every single aspect of each race down to every stroke and breath. This dedication to visualization paid off in the Beijing 2008 Olympics.
In the summer of 2008, when Phelps was representing team USA in the 200-meter butterfly, he was competing for his 10th career gold medal. He already held the world record, so most people believed he would win by a comfortable margin. Right after starting the race, disaster struck. Phelps’ goggles started filling with water, and soon he couldn’t see at all. For any other swimmer, this problem could prove disastrous, but for Phelps, this was not a problem at all.
Due to his visualization, Phelps had mentally trained time and time again for this event. His extreme focus in training allowed him to swim the race completely blind. He knew exactly where each wall would be and at which exact moment he needed to reach for the finish line. After an intense race, Phelps won his 11th career gold while swimming sightless.
Why do Successful People Visualize?
Visualization is an activity that we all partake in, whether we are aware of it or not. Have you ever woken up on Monday morning and instantly felt a sense of dread? If you have, you probably made small assumptions about how your day will go. Because you visualized a bad Monday, you automatically experienced the stress that would come with it.
Visualization is a tool that we use subconsciously to prepare for what is coming next. It’s part of our fight or flight response. If you can control what you prepare for, you can control your quality of life. Walking into a meeting with a negative bias will change the words and facial expressions that you use and perceive others using. So, if you visualize a meeting as being fun and exciting, there is a better chance that you will think it’s fun and exciting. Let me explain why.
The Science Behind Visualization
The great Henry Ford is well known for quoting “Whether you think you can or think you can’t, you’re right,” While he wasn’t a brain surgeon, his hypothesis can be partially proven through science. According to research using brain imagery, visualization works on the cellular level in our brain. Neurons, the electrically excitable cells that transmit information, 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 or clusters of cells in our brain that work together to create memories or learned behaviors. These neural pathways prime our body to act in a way consistent to what we imagined. All of this occurs without performing the physical activity, yet it achieves a similar result. Basically, when using visualization, our brains create a pathway for use next time we perform the action.
How to Make Visualizing Goals a Habit
Step 1: Know What Your Goals Are
The first phase of visualization is to decide what you are going to visualize. Be very focused while you are visualizing. Our brains work the exact same way for positive and negative thoughts, so only focus on positive aspects you want in life. I highly recommend that you break your visualization sessions into three parts. The first part is being focused on your day from beginning to end. The second part deals with your week and the goals associated with it. The last part is visualizing big goals, projects, and steps to complete them. Any pattern of visualization will work, but always try to incorporate long and short term goals.
Step 2: Make an Action Plan
Once you know what you are going to visualize set aside time for what is important. I visualize my goals for at least three minutes a day. I am 100% sure that you can find three minutes in your day to visualize what you want in life. So, hold yourself accountable to your three-minute visualization Decide that for the next 10 days, during breakfast or on the way to work, you are going to visualize for at least three minutes. I promise you that the 30 minutes you spend over the 10 days will be well worth the investment.
Step 3: Visualize Your Day and the Success in It
Now, you should have a pattern for visualization and a set time to visualize what you actually want in life. I beg you to go and add this incredibly impactful activity to your daily routine. All you need is three minutes, and your mind and body will start to help you achieve any goal that you set for yourself. If you end up liking this short activity, you should add some other impactful activities, like meditation and affirmations, to your morning routines. Here are the links to learn more about affirmations and meditation. Please start visualizing today, you won’t regret it!!!