How to Effectively Use Visualization to Achieve Your Goals
Millions of people have tried the “Law Of Attraction” (popularized by “The Secret”) … and no matter how hard they try, they don’t manifest those millions of dollars they envisioned.
If they go into debt to buy that fancy house or car, they usually regret the debt. Or that so-called “perfect” relationship they visualized, doesn’t end up working out.
Visualization is ineffective — even detrimental — when used only to imagine the ideal outcome.
Instead, what if we use visualization to strengthen the process of our actions towards the desired outcome?
If we can manifest a joyful way of working day to day, rather than pining for a better future, we give ourselves the best chance at creating our ideal life.
There are 2 things that make this work:
1. Successful visualization focuses on the process, even more than the outcome.
2. Visualization is a fantasy, unless tied closely to real-world practice.
Focusing On The Process
Most people visualize only the desired outcomes.
“I’ve written my best-selling book… I’m holding it in my hands… I’m seeing hundreds of positive reviews!”
“I’ve filled my workshop… I see a large group of students who are joyfully experiencing transformation!”
“I’ve filled my practice with ideal clients… I imagine myself working with high-paying clients on a typical workday!”
These are good mental pictures to have, insofar as they:
- Helps you feel that the end vision is possible to attain
- Help you see what direction to work towards
It can, however, be detrimental to merely create the self-belief that you “deserve” it.
Your vision may be ungrounded from the reality of what it actually takes to achieve it. You might also develop a false belief that you are entitled to it… and when you don’t attain that vision which you frequently repeat, it creates even more self-doubt than when you started.
By failing to achieve your dream, you might even doubt the tool of visualization!
Let’s take a deep breath.
There’s a better way to use visualization.
Here is what we all truly “deserve” — to improve our journey/process.
A good process eventually leads to a good outcome.
Consistent actions, in the right direction, create miraculous results over time!
In the book The Compound Effect by Darren Hardy, he tells the story of 2 people:
- Aaron takes a job for $5,000/month, a job that uses only his existing skills.
- Barbara starts a business that earns her $10 in the first week, but with repeated improvement in her skills, it results in 10% growth in income each week.
Observe the wealth of these two people:
- 3rd month: total of $15,000 (Aaron) versus $235 (Barbara)
- 12th month: total of $60,000 versus $15,000
- 18th month: total of $90,000 versus $186,000
- 24th month: total of $120,000 (Aaron) versus $2.2 million (Barbara)
Again, consistent actions, with consistent small improvements, create the kind of results that many only visualize, but never manifest. Therefore, visualize enjoying the process so that you’ll do it consistently, growing gradually in your skill and joy!
I’m grateful that my books have received many good reviews, but I didn’t use outcome-visualization, except to help me believe that it was possible, and to make plans. Then, I used process-visualization every day to enjoy the tasks needed to accomplish those grand plans.
So instead of seeing yourself with a best-selling book, visualize the circumstances in which you are writing your book:
- What day and time are you writing?
- Where are you?
- What did you do before you started writing, and how did you get into it? (This helps to anchor the task in reality.)
- What tool are you using to write, and how are you using it?
- What’s the expression on your face as you write?
- What joyful feelings are coming up, as you write?
- What else about your body and action can you visualize? For example, are you taking gentle, easy deep breaths, as you write?
Another example — instead of seeing yourself with a full roster of clients, how about seeing yourself sending thoughtful emails to your prospective clients and referral sources, and doing it from a feeling of connection, joy, and service?
If you focus on the process, you are more likely to attain the outcome.
This is what visualization can really help with: being consistent with the process, and along the way, enjoying your actions!
Learning Visualization through Practice
Many people don’t connect their visualization to what they actually do day to day, hour by hour. Too often, they do visualization as a separate activity in the morning or evening, reading out loud their dreams and “seeing” in their mind’s eye what they want.
Instead, I encourage you to visualize the process (for example, the action of writing the book) and then when the time comes to do the action, observe yourself as you actually write the book, and ask:
“What don’t I love about this process? How can I visualize an even more joyful process?”
It’s this ongoing dialogue with yourself that makes visualization truly effective:
Step 1. Visualize the desired outcome so that you believe you can do it.
Step 2. Visualize the process (the actions you’ll actually take toward your desired outcome.)
Step 3. Do the process that you visualized, while noticing what you’re not enjoying.
(If you observe the process, then you can improve it!)
Step 4. Visualize an improved process.
Step 5. Practice the improved process as soon as possible.
Keep repeating these steps every day, so that you enjoy your journey more and more. You will make real progress on your biggest goals!
Process-Visualization starts creating a bit of muscle memory. The practice of the actions strengthens that muscle memory. Your mindfulness about the process allows you to see what you need to adjust, so that you can enjoy the actions even more.
Eventually, you’ll get to an advanced state where you don’t even need to set aside time to visualize anymore. You’ll find yourself being able to easily imagine what outcome you want, and then take actions from a practiced state of joyful productivity.