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Don’t Fantasize, Visualize!

by Beth on June 30th, 2012

Visualization can be an effective way to help us achieve our goals. It lets us “rehearse” desired outcomes by imagining the future the way we want it to be. Sports psychologists train top athletes to use visualization in order to achieve optimal performance. Sara Blakely, the founder of Spanx, is a big believer in visualizing your goals. She imagined herself being on Oprah 15 years before it happened. She saw herself sitting on the couch having an exciting conversation with Oprah. She just didn’t know what the conversation was going to be about!

Visualization helps your subconscious mind figure out ways to create the future you want. It generates positive thoughts that crowd out negative self-talk. And when you visualize achieving your goals you experience positive emotions, which will make success more likely.

When you believe something is possible it motivates you to work toward your desired future. But you do have to take action! Visualization works when you use it to contrast future goals with your current situation. The discrepancy between where you are now and where you want to be serves as an incentive for action.

Fantasizing about what you want isn’t the same. When you focus solely on a positive future, but don’t contrast that future with where you are now it won’t motivate you to change. Motivation comes from focusing on the discrepancy and what needs to happen to make the desired changes.

Fantasizing is like visualizing without taking action. You can spend your time daydreaming about something you want, but if it doesn’t motivate you to do something it won’t be effective. Visualizing is believing something will happen, whereas fantasizing is dreaming about something you lack that you don’t believe you will ever achieve. It can lead you to dwell on what you don’t have, rather than motivate you to work to achieve it.

If you want some help realizing your goals, try taking 5 minutes a day to imagine your ideal future in detail. See it in your mind’s eye as if it already exists. Then get to work making it happen!


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