Visualization can improve performance and help you achieve your goals. Sounds good, right? What writer doesn’t want to write better and actually get stuff done?
But it’s important to dispel the myths.
When athletes use visualization to improve performance, they picture the physical action needed to accomplish goals, not what happens when they win. The same should go for the rest of us. The reason for this is twofold.
Reason one: The subconscious mind can’t tell the difference between what you vividly imagine and what really happens to you.
Despite what you may have heard, the act of picturing your life with abundant money will not get you lots of money. I can picture winning the Oscar all I want, but that isn’t going to win me an Oscar. In fact, studies have shown that visualizing what you want tricks your subconscious into thinking you already have what you want. If you already have what you want, there is no reason to work for what you want. That means each day you visualize having your book on the shelves is one more day you don’t really need to publish your book. Each day you imagine the satisfaction of writing is another day you don’t need to write.
Reason two: Visualization can’t change anything outside of your own behavior.
Your thoughts can’t change reality, but they can help you develop good habits. If you’re like me, developing good habits is everything when it comes to achieving goals.
In Rush, the formula one driving movie, one of the main characters visualizes driving the course before he actually races, so that on the day, he will have already had practice.
The night before writing this blog, I pictured myself getting up early, making some yerba mate, and typing up the blog from some notes I scribbled up the day before. When the morning came, the actions felt familiar and I did them instead of wasting hours on the internet.
What habits do you want? Visualize what you want to do, not what you want to achieve. After you visualize doing the task, it won’t be nearly as difficult. Instead of venturing into the unknown, it will feel a bit like confirming something you already believe.
Your mind is powerful. While you can’t reshape the universe with only your thoughts, you can reshape yourself, and that’s the next best thing.