“Today we will drive to the parking lot at your school, and by using the tool we learned about in the Tony Robbins recording*, you will make the basketball into the basket on your first shot!” dad said. I was not sure what to expect as we drove to the parking lot at Thompson Elementary that breezy spring afternoon, but I was certain my petite 4-foot-tall frame and poor hand-eye coordination would be my down-fall in making the basket. I got out of the car and walked to the hoop, carefully positioning myself a few feet in front of the hoop on the center of the faded white spray painted line.
I took a deep breath and closed my eyes.
“Now, before you throw the ball, keep your eyes closed and picture yourself making the basketball into the hoop on the first try,” dad said.
While holding the basketball in front of me, I took a moment to gather my thoughts and visualize making the basket. My thoughts transcended all of my 10-year-old worries and I focused on being present and fulfilling my goal. As the elementary school kid who spent many gym classes making failed attempts to throw the basketball into the hoop, spending more time running after the ball than hearing that crisp “swish” as the ball went through the net, this was a regular challenge I faced. I was determined to use this new tool to reach my goal.
I opened my eyes.
And it happened. I made it happen.
It felt like magic.
This experience is one of the most memorable moments of my childhood. Embedded within this lesson about the power of visualization is also the idea that where there’s a will, there’s a way. If you have the will and can visualize yourself accomplishing a goal, it can and will happen. It was not until many years later when I was in college that I began to appreciate how much visualization has played out in my life. As the years have passed since that day in the parking lot and I have set goals to get into college, study abroad, hold leadership roles, travel, become a better friend, go to graduate school, and get a full-time job, visualization has become intrinsic to the process of setting and achieving all of my major life goals.
There are a few key steps to take after setting a goal to use visualization to achieve the goal:
1) Clear Your Mind
Effective visualization can only happen if you can clear your mind and really focus on your goal. [Tweet This]
Practicing this type of focus is also helpful with developing the skill of compartmentalization, but that is a topic for another blog post.
It can also be helpful to find a physical space where you are able to be calm, center yourself, and think without distraction (yes, that means sans-technology). Separate your thoughts from everything else going on in your life and think about why you have set this goal and how it will improve your life.
2) Picture It Happening
You have decided to set a new goal for yourself. Great! Now what? Once you set a goal and before you determine HOW you will achieve the goal, take a moment to close your eyes and envision yourself in achievement-mode.
How will you feel when you have accomplished your goal? Do you foresee yourself having grown and developed as a result of the work you put in to achieving the goal? Have you positively affected others’ lives? Have you gained new friends, mentors, and teachers along the way?
Taking time to visualize your goal “happening” will help you build confidence before you set out on the journey toward achieving your goal. [Tweet This]
3) Phone a Friend
You are convinced this is the right path for you, but can others see you accomplishing this goal? I have found throughout the many years I have used visualization that an important part of setting new goals is “trying them out” on your closest friends and family.
By talking through new goals and describing the visions you have of yourself accomplishing a goal, close friends and family will often share valuable perspectives with you that will enhance your journey toward goal-achievement.
Start to ask friends what they think about your new goal. They may say, “Wow! That is so YOU! This really makes sense for you.” This type of response can really boost self-esteem and jump-start your journey to making it happen. Oppositely, they may not share a perspective that this goal makes sense for you and may even provide critical feedback.
Absorb the feedback and consider the questions they have posed. Dig a little deeper with some questions about why they do not share your vision.
This does not necessarily mean you should change your goal, but considering the support as well as the criticisms you receive is important to solidifying your vision before you begin to take the next steps toward achieving your goal: creating your timeline of to-do’s (think micro-to-macro planning) and tackling your first identified task.
The journey toward goal achievement is often filled with frustrating detours that can make what initially seems like a quick, traffic-free trip down the highway seem like a trip that will never end.
Sometimes you may even feel like you want to turn around and go back home before arriving at your destination.
The most important thing to remember when using visualization is that creating a mental picture of what it will be like to achieve the goal is what will keep you going when you have no idea how the detour will lead you back to achieving your goal.
Once you experience the power of visualization, you will never forget the confidence and feeling of accomplishment you gain from using this tool.
*Awaken the Giant Within
Question: If you have used visualization in your process of setting and achieving goals, what steps have you found to be successful in implementing visualization? You can leave a comment by clicking here.
Question: If you have not used visualization, but want to implement it with your next goal, please share your goal and a few sentences about what you visualize when you think about accomplishing the goal. You can leave a comment by clicking here.