If you’re going to achieve everything you can, then you need to learn to focus and to stay motivated.
It is too easy for us to think of far-reaching goals and to work toward them, only to be distracted by cat videos on YouTube, updating our Facebook page, or watching the latest episode of our favorite television show.
The problem is that our body is designed to keep us alive first and foremost. The attention network in our brain turns our attention to immediate threats and potential rewards such as food, sweets and fun. It is much more interested in keeping us alive and for the moment, as opposed to helping us write that book we wanted or run a business.
So how do you take control of your body and mind so that you can focus on and accomplish your long-term goals?
The key is to remind your body why the things you want to do matter and to find the emotional drive that comes from that.
Work is boring and it is hard for the brain to care about. But what is not boring is having a beautiful house, a cool car and all the money you could possibly want. Or having that beautiful body, being popular with everybody, winning that prestigious award or attaining success and status of respectability.
You need to connect the work to the success and the accomplishment that you desire.
And the way you do this is with creative visualization.
One of the best ways to think of the brain is as a simulation machine. Our understanding of the world is based on our experiences in it and our physical sensations. We move towards things that make us feel good and away from things that make us feel bad.
But then we evolved to realize that sometimes it makes sense to move towards something that makes us feel bad – so that we can feel good later. To accomplish this, the brain creates a representation of that reality in our brain and simulates the future in order to help us work toward a distant goal.
And when you visualize that future and simulate what you expect to happen, you use areas in your brain just the same as though you were really experiencing that thing. Picture yourself eating a cake and you will almost taste the cake as the relevant areas in your brain light up.
That imagined cake is therefore just as motivating as the real cake.
The problem is that when we are writing or entering data, the divide between the action and the goal is huge. It’s often hard to connect the two.
So picture in your mind why you are doing this. Connect the dots and focus on the outcome. This will create an emotional hook and it will ensure that your mind and body are unified in their objectives.
How To Use Creative Visualization
Now that you know some of the basics of creative visualization, it’s time to look at the specific steps of the process itself.
But before you begin your first session of creative visualization, there are a couple of things you must consider. Because visualization is a powerful process, you want to a make sure that your intentions and wants are in sync.
These preliminary considerations are a way to get your mental house in order so that you can maximize the benefits of the creative visualization process.
- Be Aware of What You Desire
In order to effectively visualize, you need to first have a very specific goal in mind. So, before you sit or lie down to begin the visualization process be clearly aware of what it is that you desire.
If you don’t have this goal in mind, you will never get off the ground, so to speak. The universe can’t help you get what you want if you don’t know what it is that you want in the first place.
- Choose to Focus on One Goal at a Time
Another preliminary decision to make before you begin visualizing is choosing what it is that you will visualize. This is important because you don’t want to fragment the power of creative visualization by seeing several different goals at the same time.
Visualization is most effective when one, and only one, need or desire is the focus of the process. When you decide on one outcome and concentrate on that outcome while visualizing, you are much more likely to be successful in getting what you want.
You certainly can, and will, have more than one objective that you want to achieve through visualization. Just remember that each separate objective requires a completely separate visualization process.
- Visualize and then Take Action
In order to maximize the results of creative visualization, it is important that you begin to live your life in a manner that is consistent with your objective, whatever that may be. Creative visualization is not magic. It’s not about wishing for change. Wishing is a passive activity.
Creative visualization, on the other hand is an assertive activity. It’s about taking positive and purposeful action to reach a goal. It’s about taking the responsibility for your life into your own hands.
In order to be able to take responsibility for your life, and how you live it, you have to be able to have the courage to change the way you approach life.
As the funny man Jim Carrey puts it on one Oprah Winfrey Show: “Visualization works if you work hard. That’s the thing. You can’t just visualize and go eat a sandwich.”
The Process of Creative Visualization
As you go through the process it is important to remember that creative visualization is not a formula or a ritual. Instead, it is a highly personalized method through which many people around the world and through history have achieved higher levels of actualization in living.
Therefore, each of these steps should be considered suggestions which you may tailor to your own personal tastes and preferences as you see fit. The process of creative visualization is not a one size fits all methodology.
Step 1: Relaxation
The first step in any creative visualization is relaxation. Tension is the number one enemy of effective visualization. Therefore, it is imperative that you learn how to relax yourself prior to visualizing.
One of the best ways to relax is through controlled breathing. Place yourself in a comfortable position in a quiet location. Close your eyes for a moment and become aware of your breathing. Consciously slow your breathing down.
After that, take in a deep breath and hold it in for a second before exhaling fully. This “cleansing breath” acts as a pattern interrupt and initiates relaxation. Take a few more seconds to be aware of your breathing and then open your eyes.
Next take a few seconds to notice your muscles. Which parts of your body are tense and uncomfortable? Be aware of this tension and acknowledge it. Then, while still breathing calmly, curl your fingers and toes and hold the tension in them for a moment before relaxing those muscles completely.
Move up your arms and legs, tensing and relaxing each part of you limbs in turn, ankles, calves, thighs, wrists forearms and biceps.
Finally, stretch you back and tense your shoulders and relax. Take one final cleansing breath and you are ready to begin the visualization process.
Step 2: Concentrated Visualization
The first thing to do is to visualize what it is that you want. Picture your desire very clearly in your mind. See it in as great detail as possible. Let your mind play with it. The key is to remember that you are in control.
Look at the object or the place or the objective from as many angles as possible. Concentrate on small components or characteristics. Make what you want real in your mind. Make what you want tangible in your mind.
Don’t let your thoughts wander from your objective. Imagine that your power of visualization can make your goal a reality. Hold the object in your mind in the same way you would hold it in your hand.
Next, take a moment to bring your objective into your reality. Visualize yourself interacting with your objective. How would that feel? If your goal is winning a prestigious award, picture yourself receiving the award.
Hear the presenter announcing your name and the award. Then picture yourself getting up from your seat and walking up the stage to accept the award.
Feel the award. How does it feel? How heavy is it? Caress it, press it to your heart and kiss it. Raise it up in the air in front of the audience. See the audience in front of you. Imagine who is in the audience – your family, friends and colleagues.
Then walk up to the podium in front of the microphone and deliver your acceptance speech. Express your deep gratitude to all that helped you get to this stage in your life. See yourself accepting this award this moment and in the here and now.
The point is that you want to make the visualization as real and as practical as possible. This is not a fuzzy daydream. It is a dry run of how your objective will feel and be interacted with in real life.
The more you bring the objective here to you and the more you put yourself into the objective the more likely it will be that you will achieve what you desire.
It is important to remember that you don’t have to visualize with your eyes closed. Again, this is not a ritual or specific technique. If you want to close your eyes, close them. If you want to open them, then do so.
Use your hands to help you visualize. Use your body. If you have pictures, notes or images that pertain to your goal, you can use them. Look at the pictures to make your visualization more focused. For example, you can read your award acceptance speech.
The only non-negotiable point is concentration. This is the time for you to use your powers of concentration to make you objective real. To this end, you need to banish any random thoughts from your visualization. Keep your focus on the goal.
While you are visualizing note any sensations you may be experiencing. Do you feel excitement? Do you feel fear? Are you apathetic or distracted?
Remember how you felt when you visualized certain aspects of your objective. These emotions may be clues to how you really feel about what you are trying to achieve. Negative emotions may mean that you need to do more work on the preliminary steps In regard to this particular desire.
After about 15 minutes of visualizing your objective it is time to make the conscious decision to stop. Empty your mind of all thoughts. Disengage from the goal. Tell you unconscious mind that it should keep working on what you visualized. Take a final cleansing breath and resume your normal activities.
Most people visualize on an objective twice a day for 15 minutes a session. Some people find it convenient to do the process first thing in the morning upon awakening and the last thing in the evening before going to sleep. However, you may visualize at any time during the day that is convenient for you.
Creative Visualization is a powerful tool to train your mind and body to focus on what you really want to accomplish in life.