Use visualization for success

Have you considered using visualization to achieve a goal, relax or create self-motivation? Try these simple steps when visualizing your personal success.

According to the article "Visualize it," published in Psychology Today by Jennifer Baumgartner, visualization is a "cognitive tool accessing imagination to realize all aspects of an object, action or outcome and may include recreating a mental sensory experience of sound, sight, smell, taste or touch." Visualization is a great technique when it comes to achieving a goal, relaxing or motivating yourself.

Visualization is a skill that has been used in a variety of practices. Teachers have asked students to visualize tests to achieve success. Doctors have encouraged patients to use visualization in overcoming illnesses. Coaches have also used visualization techniques in teaching team members new drills or making the game winning score. The skills and techniques used in visualization can be used by anyone to imagine success in job interviews, weight loss, travel or any other daily activity that can be seen as stressful. 

Have you ever considered that skills can be gained while practicing visualization? Important skills can be identified and targeted for improvement such as stress management, healthy lifestyle choices, decision making, critical thinking, goal setting and resiliency.  

If you haven’t used visualization, Terri Cole suggests in her article "A Step by Step Guide to Visualization," to use the following steps to enjoy the process of visualization:

  • Be specific. The more specific you are in your visualization the better. Imagine your future where you have already achieved your goal. Imagine the scene with as much detail as possible. See a mental picture of it as if it were happening to you right now. Engage as many of the five senses as you can. Who are you with? What are you feeling? What do you smell? What do you hear? What are you wearing? What is around you?
  • Speak it. We speak things into being just as we visualize them into being. Be mindful of your words. Use positive language. For example, instead of “If I get a new job…” say, “When I get my new job…” All of the “ifs” are designed to protect you from disappointment, which does not actually work. So why not go for it?
  • Practice it. Practice going over your visualization at night or in the morning, before or after sleep when your mind is most open. Do not linger on any thoughts that are not aligned with your desired outcome while visualizing. Add an affirmation for example: “I am abundant in love. I’m joyful and healthy.” It is most important to experience the feeling of already having what you want. Most people need to see something before they believe it. Therefore, when they think about getting their dream job, finding their true love or having a healthy body, they simply don’t believe it can happen.

Visualization can also be used in partnership with mindfulness. Michigan State University Extension defines mindfulness as paying attention in a particular way, on purpose, in the present moment and non-judgmentally. For additional information on mindfulness, read the following MSU Extension articles:

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