background image by @sylwiabartyzel on

Visualize the process, not just the outcome

​Many people try to apply “The Secret” and #LawOfAttraction and it doesn’t work for them, at least not for accomplishing projects.

I believe it’s because visualization is ineffective when used on only the outcome, the desired end result.

Instead, use visualization for the process of getting there…

I believe these 2 factors make all the difference:

1. Successful visualization focuses on the process, more than just the outcome.

2. Visualization is fantasy unless tied closely to real-world practice.

Most people use visualization to dream about their desired outcomes.


“I’ve written my best-selling book… I’m holding it in my hands… I’m seeing the abundance of positive Amazon reviews.”

“I’ve filled my retreat/workshop… I imagine myself facilitating a large community of students/clients who are joyfully experiencing transformation.”

“I’ve filled my practice filled with ideal clients… seeing myself work joyfully with high-paying clients on a typical workday.”

These are good pictures to have in your mind insofar as they accomplish this purpose: To see that it is possible, and to help you see what might be needed to get to that stage.

I think it can actually be detrimental to use outcome-visualization the way it’s typically taught — to only create the self-belief that you deserve it.

The problem is that it easily creates fantasy, ungrounded from the reality of what it takes to achieve your dreams.

What’s worse is that you end up developing a false self-belief that you are entitled to it… and when you don’t attain that vision as you have visualized it, it creates more self-doubt than when you started.

​…and now, you also doubt the tool of visualization!

“Deserve” is most needed in the process itself:

You deserve to enjoy the journey toward the goal.

I happen to have written and published a book that has great reviews (Authentic Content Marketing) but I didn’t use outcome-visualization, except to plan what is needed to be done. I then used process-visualization to enjoy the tasks needed to get to the outcome.

Instead of seeing yourself with a best-selling book, visualize the circumstances (where, when, how) in which you are writing your book in a joyful way:

  • 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 in a feeling of connection, joy, and service?

If you focus on the process, you are much more likely to attain the outcome.

This is what visualization can really help with: being consistent with the process. And enjoying the tasks, all along the way.

Many people don’t connect their visualization to what they actually do day to day. They see it as a separate activity, maybe a morning or evening practice of “seeing” in the mind’s eye what they want.

Instead, I encourage you to visualize the process (as written above) and then when the time comes to do the action, observe yourself as you actually do the process in the real world, and ask yourself the question:

“What don’t I love about this process? How can I use visualization to imagine an even more joyful process?”

It’s this back-and-forth that makes visualization truly effective:

Step 1. Visualize the process
Step 2. Practice what you visualize and noticing what might be even better
Step 3. Visualize the improved process
Step 4. Practice the improved process

…and repeating like this, so that you enjoy your journey more and more, as you truly make progress on your biggest goals.

Process-Visualization creates the start of your muscle memory. The practice of the actions strengthens that muscle memory. And your mindfulness about the process allows you to see what you need to adjust, in your next visualization.

Eventually you’ll get to an advance 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.

 by the author.



Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store
George Kao

George Kao

Authentic Business Coach & Author of 4 Books including "Authentic Content Marketing" and "Joyful Productivity"