Psychologists and top performers in any field attribute a lot of power to the positive impact visualization has on the human life experience.
Even if we haven't experienced it (“it” being using visualization to manifest dreams into reality) for ourselves, we've all heard it works.
So, let’s talk about why.
The Science Behind Visualization
A study on brain patterns showed that weightlifters’ brain activities when they were actually lifting weights were strikingly similar to when they were imagining themselves lifting the weights.
This led psychologists to note that mental exercises were almost as effective for performance as the actual physical exercise.
They also noted doing both forms of exercise can produce better results than doing one without the other.
Real-life Examples of Visualization
- Jim Carrey wrote himself a $10 dollar check and kept it in his wallet until he actually earned it from his several acting gigs.
- World champion golfer, Jack Nicklaus, said, “I never hit a shot, not even in practice, without having a very sharp in-focus picture of it in my head.”
- Mohammed Ali would utter to himself on a regular basis, “I am the greatest.”
- Steve Jobs visualized the way Apple would be marketed to the public before the public ate up the products.
How Visualization Works
But, it’s not as easy as sitting around and daydreaming. As Jim Carrey famously said:
“Visualization works if you work hard. That’s the thing. You can’t just visualize and go eat a sandwich.”
It’s imagining the possibilities of reaching your goals, visualizing yourself having the confidence to take every step necessary to get there and then actually doing it.
Seeing is believing. And, when you don’t believe in whatever you’re doing, you won’t have much energy to do it. When you don’t have energy for action and hard work, what do you really have?
Hopefully, you'll at least have a sandwich. We all need to eat.
But, we all know you want more than a sandwich. You want the winning combo of mapping out your dream and pursuing the hell out of it.
When we think of our biggest dreams, our brains have a tendency to focus on all of the obstacles that will exist to get there.
If we put a magnifying glass to our obstacles, they take over the entire picture. We freak out and succumb to mediocrity out of fear.
It's a scary thought, but it's a reality.
Visualization is more of a process than it is an act. Obstacles will always exist.
Visualization is about continually pulling our minds away from the pain of the struggle and pushing them toward the serenity of reward. The process requires discipline, follow-through and faith.
And with that said, positive thinking doesn't suggest you can stick your head in the sand and completely ignore the existence of the negative.
A wise friend once told me it's okay to let your mind wander to negative thoughts, as long as you confront and reason with them. That way, if and when sh*t hits the fan, you can keeping moving forward.
All dreams don’t have to have end-goals of becoming famous. They could be as simple as:
- Repairing a broken marriage after years of emotional pain and separation
- Quitting a safe but soul-killing job and starting over
- Moving across the country to be with someone you're endlessly in love with
- Finally kicking smoking or other drug and alcohol abuse habits
- Immigrating to the US as a refugee and starting four companies
Whatever it is, believe it can be done. And keep this very important point in mind along the way:
“Experience has taught me that you cannot value dreams according to the odds of their coming true. Their real value is in stirring within us the will to aspire. That will, wherever it finally leads, does at least move you forward. And after a time you may recognize that the proper measure of success is not how much you’ve closed the distance to some far-off goal but the quality of what you’ve done today.” – Justice Sonia Sotomayor
In every day of your dream weaving and chasing, find a way to make it memorable.