As children, our imaginations guide us. We are able to visualise whole worlds around us – and it doesn’t matter whether those worlds are realistic, sensible, or practical.
In fact, the more fantastical, the better!
Somewhere between childhood and adulthood, we stop being guided by our imaginations. Our dreams become smaller, confined to the limitations of what is “feasible” or “attainable”.
But losing our ability to imagine, to visualise, and to manifest also means we lose touch with ourselves: with our creativity, our wonder, and our passion.
We can begin to feel as though we lack purpose. We might feel unmotivated, lethargic, and overwhelmed. Perhaps we have no direction and feel stuck in the weeds of day-to-day life.
In this blog, I’ll be exploring the practise of visualisation and how it can help us to reawaken our imagination and creativity. We’ll explore what it is and how we can actually apply it to our daily lives as busy business leaders, and rediscover the focus and motivation necessary to achieve our goals.
The four major benefits of visualisation
- Focus and direction. Often a loss of passion and motivation comes from simply being too busy, too distracted, and not dedicating time to self-care. Our brains are all over the place, jumping from one thing to another, constantly under fire from the different demands of running a business. Setting time aside to practise visualisation is another form of self-care, but one with ongoing benefits. It allows us to consistently work towards our goals, even when we don’t consciously realise it.
- Motivation and passion. The hardest part about rediscovering our passion and motivation is the first step. Once our brains have a taste for these feelings, generating more of them is much easier.
- Build self-confidence. Envisioning yourself as the most successful version of yourself means you show up as this confident version – even when you haven’t yet achieved your goal!
- Reduce anxiety and help us to feel more in control. Through the practise of visualisation, we ensure both our conscious and subconscious minds are on the same page, working together to achieve our goals. This means we’re more likely to spot and anticipate potential problems and creatively imagine solutions to overcome or avoid them.
Some people describe visualisation as a “mental rehearsal.” The key is to actually believe what you’re visualising is going to happen – you’re not hoping it will, you’re rehearsing for when it does.
How do you practise visualisation?
Intentional visualisation is the practise of intentionally creating a detailed picture in your mind of what you want to achieve. It’s not just daydreaming!
For some people, practising visualisation might be as simple as closing their eyes and repeating intentions. For others, it might look more like journalling: writing down a description of exactly what they want. You might repeat an affirming phrase in your mind, create a vision board, or conjure a mental image of yourself achieving your goal.
The two most important aspects are as follows:
1: Being crystal clear on your goals
If you’re uncertain about what exactly your goals are, your chances of achieving them are uncertain too. You can use techniques such as journalling or mental fitness to calm the mind, gain control over your thoughts, and clarify your goals.
Whilst there is no one-size-fits all when it comes to visualisation, an easy way to begin might look like this:
- Find a quiet place to sit or lay down where you will not be disturbed.
- Close your eyes and focus on your breath. If you practise mental fitness, you may want to use some of your techniques, such as touching the brow or the tips of the fingers together, to relax into a calm headspace.
- In your mind, begin to conjure an image of you in the future, when you have achieved the goal you are working towards. Perhaps you’re two stone lighter; perhaps you’ve won the award for best dental practice; perhaps you’re simply happier and more motivated. How do you feel in this scenario? What do you look like? What exactly is happening around you? Be as specific as possible.
- Repeat this practise as often as you can. It doesn’t need to take hours – it can take mere minutes. What’s important is your presence, your intention, and your clarity.
2: Using present-tense language
This is a crucial part of successful intentional visualisation that many people miss. Let’s take an example: perhaps your goal is to win an award for your dental practice of the year. If you use language like, “I can’t wait to win the award for dental practice of the year”, you are constantly setting the achievement in the future. You’ll always be in a position of waiting.
However, if you reframe the language you use to sound more like this: “I am so proud to have won dental practice of the year,” you effectively trick your subconscious into thinking it’s already happened.
This is known as “structural tension”, which describes the relationship between a vision and current reality. The subconscious mind is eager to close the gap between your current reality and your vision, and as such will start to embody all the traits (such as passion, determination, and intelligence) necessary to get you to that vision.
Our brains are incredibly powerful. Our subconscious mind will believe whatever we tell it and act in accordance with the reality it perceives to be true. If we act as though we have already won dental practice of the year, feel all the emotions we imagine we’d feel in that moment, and use our creative imaginations to believe it without needing to hold the award in our hands (yet!), we attract more possibility and opportunity to this end.
Does it really work?
The short answer is: yes. A quick Google search will tell you that many famous athletes, actors, philosophers, scientists, doctors, psychologists, writers and artists have used visualisation to centre their focus and achieve their goals.
But my question to you is: so what if it doesn’t? The practise of visualisation is about more than just achieving your goals. The four major benefits I described earlier in this blog: focus, motivation, self-confidence, and control are yours to leverage immediately, not just when you get to where you want to be. If a practise makes your everyday life more joyous, improves your wellbeing, decreases stress and increases motivation, that to me is a success.
If you’d like to learn more about visualisation, I highly recommend the book The Secret by Rhonda Byrne and the accompanying documentary of the same name. Follow along on my LinkedIn page to be notified every time a new blog like this goes live.