Visualization won’t make things magically happen, but it’s still a powerful tool. It gives you clarity in the face of hard choices. It motivates you to do things that are hard but necessary to achieve your goals. It even helps you shed limiting beliefs about who you are and what you’re capable of. You may not think of yourself as someone who can scale the face of a mountain, publish a book, or plant a million trees, but the more you visualize yourself doing it, the more plausible it feels.
In these ways, visualization can help you define and achieve your vision of an ideal life. And luckily, anyone can do it, anywhere, at any time. Visualization techniques are all about generating a detailed mental picture. This picture can motivate you, clarify your decisions, relieve anxiety, and increase focus. In some ways, our brains can’t distinguish between reality and imagination; brain scans of people doing an activity look the same as those of people visualizing the same activity.
Because visualization can have a real impact on how you think and feel, it’s so important to visualize the future you want—especially if it feels distant or hard to reach. When you imagine it in great detail, you bring it closer in a very real way.
That said, fantasies of your desires aren’t much use unless they lead to action. Visualizing what you want gives you focus and clarity, but it also gives your brain a dopamine hit. That moment of pleasure can make you complacent, as if the fantasy itself is enough. Obviously, it’s not.
So, don’t just imagine the end goal—visualize the process to get there as well, including all the obstacles and failures you might experience along the way. Imagine what will happen if you don’t take action toward your dream, as I did when I thought about taking that boring job after getting laid off. That “negative” visualization is just as important as imagining success. In fact, it’s been shown that thinking about failure or inaction makes people twice as likely to achieve their goals.
About Bridget Hilton
Bridget Hilton creates tools to help teams and leaders connect in the workplace through rich experiences and shared goals. Her keynote helps Fortune 500 companies navigate topics of mental health and wellness, burnout, employee belonging and connection, inspiration, motivation, and goal setting. Her book Experiential Billionaire and card deck Treasure Maps is out now. She is located in Los Angeles, CA and is booking keynotes and workshops worldwide now.