What do professional athletes, corporate leaders, Oprah, Steve Harvey, and Katy Perry have in common? They all use visioning to aid in their success! Visioning or visualization is the practice of picturing your future successes in great detail. A basketball player, for instance, might picture herself dribbling past opponents, approaching the basket, and making a perfect shot. A professional speaker might visualize himself connecting with the audience, speaking with clarity and enthusiasm, and leaving everyone feeling inspired and energized.
Visioning is powerful. It’s not simply a fad or something to do during corporate retreats. Neurologists have studied visualization and have found it truly works. One reason this practice is effective is because our brains can have a difficult time determining whether something is real or made up. According to neurologist Daniela Schiller, when we visualize something in enough detail, we activate the same regions in the brain that become active when we’re engaged in the real activity. So, if you imagine yourself successfully dribbling down the court and making the layup, your brain will believe this can and will happen, thus supporting your success in real life. This gives a whole new meaning to the phrase, “If you can dream it, you can do it!”
Additionally, if we expose ourselves to the same goals over and over (whether through visualization, a vision board, a daily mantra, or daily affirmations), we prepare ourselves for success. We signal to our brains to be on high alert for certain opportunities. Once we identify an opportunity, whether consciously or subconsciously, we’ll be prepared to capitalize on it.
How can you begin practicing visioning?
When it comes to visioning, there are several approaches you can take. Regardless of which method you decide to try, the important thing is to be consistent, take your visioning seriously, and put in the effort required to get to where you want to go. Here are four ways to make that happen:
1. Create a Vision Board
When crafting a vision board, it’s essential to start with at least one main goal. Then, find visual representations of your goal(s). These could be images from magazines or pictures you print from a website. Select pictures that speak to you. For instance, if your goal is to write a book, you could include pictures of people writing or sitting at keyboards, images of the subject matter you want to cover, or a picture of a favorite author who you would like to endorse your book someday. Arrange your images in a collage on a poster board, look at the board regularly, and use it as inspiration and motivation to achieve your dreams.2. Meditation/Reflection
Use regular meditation or reflection to picture yourself accomplishing your goals. Set aside quiet time to focus on your objectives and the steps you can take to achieve them. Be specific in your visualization. For instance, don’t just think about your goal to start your own flower shop—picture the actual flower shop. See the building and how it's arranged. Picture yourself in the shop, interacting with customers and taking orders. Above all, picture your success. Visualize as many details as possible, and treat the vision as reality.
3. Have a Go-To “Success Image”
Instead of picturing elaborate scenarios or crafting vision boards, you could try a simpler route: create a single “success image” that you call upon whenever you need a shot of motivation. If your main goal is to create a theater program for kids, for instance, picture a group of happy kids acting or performing on stage. Let that single vision drive you and motivate your work. By visualizing the outcome, you’ll be better equipped to tackle difficulties or obstacles, and stay on course.
4. Treat Your Vision as Reality
Visioning is doomed to fail if you don’t believe in yourself or your capabilities. For visioning to be truly effective, you must push your doubt and disbelief aside and proceed as if success is inevitable. Positive thinking is crucial. Picture yourself achieving your dreams and believe, right to your core, that you can make those dreams happen.
In my own life, I have dreamed of presenting a TED Talk, telling my personal stories through a book, and making positive impacts in the areas of diversity, equity, and inclusion. Through goal-setting, visualization, and many hours of hard work, I have turned these dreams into realities. Visioning was one piece of the puzzle, but it was a crucial one! How can this practice help you accomplish your dreams?