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A 5-step guide to using visualization to reach your goals with less effort

Updated: Dec 9, 2022

In this month’s blog, I’m going to share a powerful mental technique with you known as "visualization". In psychology, visualization is simply the process of creating a visual image in your mind. When used properly, this technique can give you an advantage in reaching nearly any of your personal and professional goals, and can help you overcome any challenges you're facing.

I think this is one of the techniques every human being should know about. One, because it's relatively easy and everyone has access to it; and two, because we don't use our natural visualization capacity properly and this creates big mental and emotional challenges in our lives. This is a technique used by some of the most successful people in attaining more confidence, mental resilience, and momentum towards their goals. This is why I want you to know about it and use it strategically to improve your personal and professional outcomes.

Why visualization is important:

The reason it's important to strategically use visualization is because of 3 important facts about your brain and how it works:

1) A big portion of your day is already spent imagining your future

Our ability to imagine our lives and our future is an amazing capacity that we all have as human beings. We naturally visualize and represent things in our mind in our daily lives. Research has shown that imagining our future consumes about 1/3rd of our waking time. This means about 33% of your day is spent imagining the future. This is what allows you to better evaluate, plan, prepare, and have a level of control in your life. This also means, what you feel, think, and behave at any given moment is significantly shaped by how you've pictured your future.

2) Your brain reacts to your imagination very similar to how it reacts to your reality

It might seem strange at first, but your brain does not have much of a distinction between your imagination and your reality. This is why when you worry about a possible negative event happening in the future, by for example thinking that you're not going to be able to meet a deadline, your body goes into a stress response. Here, the exact same hormones (adrenalin and cortisol) are released, your pupils dilate, your heart beats faster, and your muscles tense up. Nothing has happened yet in real life, but you feel anxious and quickly look at your calendar to confirm the deadline and go through countless sleepless nights working day-and-night to meet it. In sum, what you imagined as possibly happening (missing a deadline) directed your body's reaction, your thoughts, your emotions, and your behaviour.

This is really important to know because often times, when we're not careful, we tend to imagine negative possible scenarios in our minds. This creates many challenges for us mentally, emotionally, and performance wise. From leading to depression and anxiety, to constant stress, and maladaptive coping behaviours that are counterproductive to the kind of life we want to live. Can you relate? When experiencing anxiety for example, often times we're rehearsing feared scenarios that can possibly happen in the future that rarely serve us, and often times debilitate us from taking the right course of action and from feeling our best.

3) Your brain strives for familiarity

Another important thing to know about your brain is that it tries to reproduce what it already knows - things that are familiar to you, things you've seen before, and what you believe to be true. This is partly why children often grow up to be like their parents, even if they didn’t like a particular behaviour/habit. This is also partly why it's so hard to go beyond