As we move into a New Year hopefully you’ve set some goals that you are going to accomplish that will make this your best year ever. I recently wrote about a great way to highly increase your chances of completing your goal, and that is to simply write it down. First of all make sure it F.I.T.S and be sure to write it in S.M.A.R.T + P terms.
Now that all of that is squared away another great tool to make your goal a reality is to visualize yourself achieving the goal. Visualizing yourself completing the goal may sound “woo-woo” but some highly successful people you’ve probably heard of credit their success to their visualization practice. These people include:
- Tiger Woods
- Oprah Winfrey
- Michael Phelps
- Jim Carrey
- Arnold Schwarzenegger
- Lindsey Vonn
- Will Smith
- Alex Honnold
The least recognizable name on this list is probably Alex Honnold, and the stakes for Alex’s sport couldn’t be higher. Alex is famous for Free Soloing El Capitan in Yosemite National Park. El Cap is a 3,000 foot vertical rock face, and Free Soloing means Alex climbed it without ropes.
Alex talks about his visualization process in the documentary movie about the climb, “Free Solo”, and he told Jimmy Kimmel in an interview that his biggest training tool is visualization.
Why Visualization Works
Visualizing events empowered with emotion, stimulate our nervous system the same way as experiencing the event in real-time. This creates new neural pathways in our brains that prime the brain to act in the same ways that it would had we physically performed the action or completed the event.
These new neural pathways are clusters of brain cells that work together to create the memories or learned behaviors we’ve visualized. Our brains have achieved a similar result as having performed the event physically just from the visualization process.
How to Visualize
There are a couple of different ways to visualize. One way is to sit in a meditative state and visualize your goal.
A recent study was done on three groups shooting baskets from the free-throw line. After a baseline was taken the group was broken into three groups. For six weeks Group 1 didn’t do anything; Group 2 actually shot free-throws; and Group 3 just visualized shooting free-throws.
After six weeks a second baseline was taken. Group 1 either stayed the same or declined; Group 2 got 24% better; and Group 3 improved 23% just by visualizing the shots in their mind.
Another way to visualize is to actually perform the event or goal and visualizing what it will be like on the day you do the event. Alex Honnold spent two years climbing El Cap with ropes but he was visualizing what each step would be like without the rope when the day actually came.
No matter how you visualize you do need to do a few things to ensure success:
- Know what you want – If you have set a goal this is taken care of. If not make sure you know what you want.
- Describe it in vivid detail – Make sure you describe what you want to accomplish in vivid detail. Include colors, smells, temperatures, people that will be there, if any, and any other details you can include.
- Bathe it in EMOTION – Emotions are energy and are very powerful. What does it feel like? Feel the emotions that go along with this goal and work them into your visualization practice. This is arguably the most important step.
- Visualize daily – Work the visualization into your daily schedule. Make it part of your morning routine if you have one (if you don’t get one) and connect with the visualization throughout the day.
- Persevere – Make it a habit and hang in there. My mentor Mark Divine visualized himself getting a ticket to SEAL Training everyday for eight months and sure enough, it became a reality. Don’t give up.
Visualization is a powerful tool to help you achieve your goals. Science backs up the fact that it works, and many successful people are a testament to its power. Add it to your routine and I’ll see you at the top!
Also if you haven’t attended one of our Big 4 Webinars check the schedule and sign up for one. Visualization is #3 of the Big 4 and we will talk more about it there.