Success begins with a goal.
Over 2000 years ago, the philosopher Aristotle wrote about how to live a good life. The key, he said, is planning for the things that make us happy. The first step is defining clear, practical goals.
Of course, it takes hard work and determination to reach the destinations we have in mind. But many of us remain stuck at the goal stage, lacking clear intentions about the outcomes we aim to achieve.
There are countless reasons why we might not make it past the goal-setting stage. Setting specific goals is hard, and we’re up against so many challenges: fear and self-doubt about our ability to achieve the goals we set for ourselves, natural uncertainty in our lives that makes the future feel unclear, and our own impatience to check off what we set out to do.
So how do we move past these very real challenges?
There’s one option we can practice from the comfort of our own couch: visualization.
For our founder, Liana, “Visualization literally changed the trajectory of my life.”
The daughter of a two-time Olympic gymnast, Liana learned the power of visualization during her gymnastics career. Today, she practices visualization daily in her life as a mother and entrepreneur.
Let’s paint a picture.
In three days, you have an important departmental meeting – and a supervisor you’ve disagreed with in the past is running it.
It wouldn’t be uncommon to imagine everything that could go wrong.
If this has happened to you before, you know it starts feeling very real – very fast. Your palms might get sweaty, your mood might shift (you might even snap at your husband for something that usually wouldn’t set you off!), and you could feel your heart start to race. That’s a huge shift for something that hasn’t even happened!
These physiological changes happen because our minds can’t tell whether the meeting is happening in real life or it’s all in our heads. This is how powerful our minds are. They can make our bodies physically respond to things that haven’t even happened!
The power of visualization is that you can take these natural responses – and use them to create success in your life!
Seeing is believing.
When we visualize our goals, we see the possibility of achieving them. Visualization allows us to catch a glimpse of success, and from there, draw motivation.
Visualization also takes the worry out of the situation at hand. It’s often easier to imagine disasters than things going well – but if we take the time to draw out the path to success, the steps we need to take to reach our goals become clear. Fear is a huge obstacle that holds us back, but visualization lets us take away fear’s power and replace it with positivity.
The science of visualization
Visualization is a well-researched self-development technique supported by substantial scientific evidence and the well-documented success of countless individuals, from Oprah Winfrey to Tiger Woods.
In a study looking at the brain patterns of olympic skiers, esteemed sports psychologist Richard Suinn found the patterns activated when the athlete practiced on the mountain were similarly activated when the athletes only imagined skiing.
Here’s how it works.
Neurons (the kind of brain cells that communicate with other cells) interpret our imagination of events similarly to how they interpret real-life action.
When we visualize, these neurons “perform” the action – whether it’s making a three-point throw or nailing a sales call – and in doing so, create a new neural pathway (a cluster of cells in our brains that create memories and learned behaviours). These pathways prime our bodies to act in the ways we’ve imagined, since we’re already “taught” our brains how to do it.
How to visualize
Visualization isn’t just for athletes: it’s something everyone can benefit from without even leaving the couch. Here’s how:
First, think about a situation and set a clear, specific goal – as specific as you can possibly make it!
Next, close your eyes and pretend the situation is happening. Envision the details: Who is around and what are they wearing? What plants are in the room? How does it smell? What sounds are occuring? Use as many of your five senses as possible in your visualization.
Imagine the situation playing out perfectly, identifying each step you take to achieve your goals.
Finally, hold the moment of success in your mind for as long as you can, again taking note of the smells, feelings, and sounds around you.
Sounds easy, right?
Kind of. Visualization can be hard at first. If you’re used to imagining how everything might go wrong, your mind might start to wander off and spin a different story. That’s natural! Visualization is like exercising a muscle: the more you practice, the easier and more efficient it becomes.
If you’re struggling, visualization can be made easier by using an anchor like Rocking Vibe’s North Star necklace.
Anchors can improve mindfulness exercises in a variety of ways.
First, wearing the same anchor during both your visualization practice and the actual event allows us to physically connect the practice to the achievement. Much like wearing your lucky socks, the associations created during visualization practice will resurface during the event itself, creating a bridge between our visualization and real life.
Second, mindfully noting the feeling of the anchor against our skin can be a great cue to return to the visualization when our minds begin to wander, drawing us back into the practice itself.
Third, as we visualize our moment of success and are mindfully aware of our anchoring tool, we associate it with the practice. The next time we’re made aware of the anchoring tool – like when we see in the mirror – we’ll be triggered in to that mindful state and reminded to re-envision that important moment.
Our North Star necklace was designed to help its wearers find their path forward. We believe our mindfulness in creating this piece is shared with all the people who invest in it – we’ve poured our mindfulness into it, giving it the power to spark positive visualization practice.
Remember that it’s all about practice.
Sometimes, it’s important to re-visualize an important event until we truly believe our desired outcome is possible and we’re brave enough to take steps toward action – because we’ve already unlocked what that success is going to feel like! Even though we’ll never be able to completely erase negative emotions like fear and self-doubt, we can teach our bodies to reflexively shift away from fearful states and into ones where anything is possible.
The time is now!
Visualization doesn’t guarantee success, and it doesn’t replace hard work. But when combined with ongoing effort and a support network, it’s a powerful way to achieve behavioural change and manifest the success you desire.
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