It’s nice to dream about positive future outcomes. Sometimes it can provide a sense of motivation, but it’s not without its drawbacks. Like everything else in life we need to find balance. How much fantasizing is too much? Studies have shown that there are optimal ways to practice creative visualization. In this article we’ll look at some proven effective strategies.
If you envision it, you can achieve it
Too many authors would have you believe in this motto blindly. Creative visualization is powerful, but it cannot produce results that have not been earned. Research shows that it’s better to remain focused on practical actions and avoid entertaining pure fantasy. Imagining positive outcomes does not mean abandoning common sense. The best way to envision success is to see yourself putting in the work to get there.
Avoiding the trap
Creative visualization can help us create a clear vision of what we want to accomplish. It is most effective when this vision is based on solid ground.
Remember, the brain on the level of neurons, cannot tell the difference between what is real and imagined. An overly optimistic view can prevent us from planning properly because it causes us to overlook obstacles. By maintaining a mental picture of a desired result, we can be tricked into thinking it has already been achieved.
That’s why we have to be wary of the difference between visualizing positive results and fantasizing. Expecting success as a result of persistent effort can motivate us to move forward. Putting hope into unfounded fantasy will prevent the necessary work from being done. By visualizing proper action we can actualize our desires.
Crafting a strategy
Creating a strategy is a good way to make the most of your visualization practice. The following outline can provide a basis for effective creative visualization.
As I mentioned earlier, it’s not always best to focus on the end result. The only time this method should be used is if the groundwork has already been completed. A professional basketball player would do well to see themselves scoring points in a major game. The same strategy would not work for someone just learning to play. An amateur would get the most benefit from practice by focusing on the basics. Keep this in mind when you are visualizing.
How far along are you in progressing towards your goal? Have you determined a plan so that you can identify actionable items?
Once you have identified the necessary steps you can visualize yourself completing them. By taking the time to mentally rehearse overcoming challenges you are increasing your chances of success.
By focusing on actionable tasks you are doing several things:
- Eliminating self-defeating thoughts
- Reinforcing positive behavior
- Overcoming procrastination
Eliminating negative thinking
We all have our doubts; often they show up when they are least wanted. One of the best ways to remove negative thoughts is to simply replace them with positive ones. Maintain a mental vision of the actions you plan to take, this will prevent worrisome thoughts from taking root.
Creating the pattern for success
Cultivating habits that will help you reach your goals is possible through visualization. One of the most important aspects for creating new habits and establishing positive behaviors is repetition. The beauty of visualization is that you can focus your attention towards building these new patterns without fear of failure. Whenever you try something new there is a chance that you won’t succeed on the first attempt. Visualization allows us to make multiple attempts and get it right before we even try it once in the real world.
A better way to put it is that mental rehearsal allows you to perform in the desired way. As you practice in your mind you are laying the foundation for what you hope to accomplish. You can correct mistakes during visualization so that they don’t occur in the real world. In this way you are actually programming your mind to help you overcome obstacles.
There are several factors involved with working towards the completion of a project. If you’re anything like me, then sometimes it takes effort to clarify the appropriate strategy. This article – “How to avoid procrastination – think concrete” – provides a good explanation and outline on how to formulate a plan to attack your tasks. If you’re concerned that your visualizations might be too abstract, then this article will give you some suggestions on how to frame them.
Here is the quick and dirty version on how to avoid procrastination:
Choose a small task and begin work right away. Once you’ve begun, focus on the details and decide how long you’ll give yourself to work on it. Once you get going it’s safe to motivate yourself by thinking about the end goal.
If you get caught up thinking about the size and scope of the project, bring yourself back to focus on your current task. After getting some work done, then you can consider the scope of the project and reflect on how satisfied you are with your current progress. Rinse and repeat!
The plan for visualization practice
Applying appropriate creative visualization methods can help you get where you want to go. It’s pretty clear that there is a difference between visualizing and fantasizing. Having a better understanding will help you avoid problems when engaged in practice.
I encourage you to take the time and recognize how you can improve your creative visualization practice. With the outline discussed here you will be able to engage in quality mental rehearsal. Please take these strategies and make them your own, it’s the only way to achieve what you’re working towards.
Thanks for stopping by and good luck!