Visualization. It’s more than the “think it and you will be it” advice peddled out by self-help gurus over the past generations. It’s more than closing your eyes and imagining the future – or is it?
See it to believe it.
The old adage makes sense. In order to believe something is possible, we first have to see it, to imagine that it is possible. This is where visualization comes in. Visualization is the act of mentally imagining a future event.
Why does it work?
Visualization works because it increases confidence and removes fear.
Oftentimes the brain can’t distinguish between a “real” memory and an imaginary one. After you have visualized delivering that stellar speech or turning in that perfect project, your brain can be convinced that “I already did it once… I can do it again!”
Visualization helps you practice.
Studies show that mental practice – visualization – is nearly as good as in-person practice of new skills. The same part of the brain is activated in both situations – which is why so many elite athletes use visualization.
Visualization tears down your barriers.
When you are under the stress of doing something for the first time, it’s easy to limit yourself. “I can’t do that… I’ve never done one of these before.” “I can’t do that… I haven’t been trained for this.” Visualizing these things ahead of time helps to lower these barriers in your mind. Similar to what we said above… your brain thinks you’ve done it before, and can do it again!
How do I visualize?
Find a quiet place.
This is essential. It’s basically impossible to visualize when surrounded by the hectic crowds of normal life. Find a quiet place away from everyone – or at least semi-isolated. I visualize in my car before work… find what works for you!
Close your eyes.
Shut off all external influences.
Imagine the situation or event.
Incorporate all five senses. What will you be smelling, seeing, feeling, tasting, hearing on the day of the event? Will you be chewing gum? What flavor? Who will be there? What perfume/cologne will you be wearing? Attach strong emotions to it – will you be nervous? Excited? Scared? What music would you attach to your visualization if this were a movie?
Visualize down to the last detail.
It’s best if you do it at least daily up to the big event.
Tips and Tricks for Visualization:
- Picture yourself in a movie theater, watching movie-you perform perfectly.
- Create a literal picture. Are you visualizing buying a car? Go down to the lot and take a picture of yourself with the car. Visualizing a good presentation? Take a picture of yourself on the stage where it will take place.
- Write the goals on index cards!
- Use affirmations. Things repeated over and over and over again tend to stick in your mind more than something you just do once a day.
- Visualize your visualizations coming true. Expect results! Visualization only works if you believe that you will have results.