January 8, 2014

Why Visualization is Great for You

Do you have a clear vision for your future? Where do you see yourself six months down the line? What about five years?

When it comes to our personal relationships, career, health and wealth, each of us hope for a bright future. However, if I were to ask you right now to spend a few minutes describing in detail what this bright future of yours looked like, you might hesitate a bit. The truth is that most of us have only a sketchy idea of what our ideal future holds.

When you begin to get clear about what you want and hold a strong vision in your mind of what is to come, you provide your subconscious mind with a well-defined target it can guide you toward.

Clarity is Key

Taking some time each day to focus on your goals can pay off more than you might think. Numerous scientific studies have observed the highly beneficial effects of visualizing future outcomes:

A study conducted by researchers at the Cleveland Clinic Foundation discovered that individuals who spent just fifteen minutes a day over a period of three months imagining exercising their pinkie finger muscle experienced a 35% increase in strength compared to the control group.

The Scandinavian Journal of Medicine and Science in Sports published a study in 2012 exploring the effects of guided imagery on patients recovering from ACL knee surgery. The results showed that patients who supplemented their rehab regime with visualizations of improved muscle function enjoyed significantly better knee muscle stability and less stress compared to those who underwent only the traditional therapies.

Research out of Stanford University noted remarkable progress in gymnasts who envisioned athletic success while under hypnosis. The study’s authors stated that “visualizations under hypnosis enabled nationally ranked Stanford male gymnasts to execute for the first time several complex tricks that they had been working on for over a year. The gymnasts were able to eliminate timing errors in the tricks, to increase flexibility, and, possibly, to concentrate strength.”

And let’s not forget the massive body of research confirming the placebo effect, in which patients symptoms improve- sometimes dramatically- by simply expecting and imagining that they will. This phenomenon is so widely accepted by mainstream medicine that any trial testing the efficacy of new drug must take the placebo effect into account to be considered scientifically rigorous.

Let’s Get Visual

A great way to tap into the power of visualization is through writing. Here is an easy-to-do exercise that will help you line up consciously and subconsciously with your goals:

Take a few minutes visualizing and daydreaming about what your ideal future will look like and then write it all out on paper in great detail.

Describe the contentment you feel when you go shopping, knowing that you can easily afford anything since you have way more than enough money in your bank account. What does your perfect living situation look like? What kind of vacations do you take now that you are so successful?

Give all the wonderful details of how amazing the relationship with your new (or current) partner makes you feel inside. Maybe spend a few sentences detailing the happiness you experience while sitting down with this person at your favorite restaurant for a nice meal and engaging conversation.

How about your ideal career? What will your daily routine look like now that you have the perfect job? How much passion and satisfaction do you feel while at work?

Get specific and get downright pleasant. See it all playing out in your mind’s eye and feel the good feelings around these statements as if they were already true. Don’t worry about grammar and syntax. It doesn’t even matter whether your letters are even legible. The important thing is to visualize and really tune into the exhilarating energy of your ideal future.

If you want to add another layer of benefit to this exercise, once you are complete, go ahead and create an action plan of at least 20 different actions you can begin taking toward the fulfillment of your vision.

Getting in the right frame of mind is a crucial component of success. I’ve found that this exercise, when done just a few times a week, empowers individuals to make significant strides toward their goals.

Believe in your unique vision. Take a moment to stop writing off your hopes and dreams and start writing on them.

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