How To Use Visualization In The Goal Setting Process
You’ve got a goal in mind – now what?
As many of you know, it’s not enough to have a goal. Without a process for achieving that goal, it’s just a wish. For me, visualization is a core part of my goal setting process. If you’re able to visualize yourself achieving your goals, you’re more than likely able to reach those goals. Reaching the positive goals that you’ve set for yourself goes a long way towards in reducing your stress levels allowing you to manage your stress before your stress manages you.
In today’s post, I’m going to talk about the importance of visualization and the role that it plays in the goal setting process. First, I’ll define what visualization is, then I’ll walk you through the steps that I use to visualize my goals while also providing prompts to assist you in your visualization efforts. Ready? Then read on to find out more about visualization and its role in the goal setting process.
What Is Visualization?
Visualization is a fancy term for the word imagining. Using your mind to imagine what a specific point in time in the future will be like is what’s being done when you visualize. Visualization is more powerful than daydreaming, because daydreaming is wishing or dreaming about a fantasy situation without putting intention behind it.
For example, you think to yourself, “what would life be like if I won 100 million dollars in the lottery?” And then you start fantasizing about taking trips around the world, shopping sprees and the like – that’s a daydream. A daydream can be something that’s fun to think about but has a small likelihood of happening.
Visualization on the other hand allows you to imagine and shape (in your minds eye) a moment that will actually take place in the future. According to Webster’s dictionary, visualization is both:
The formation of mental visual images.
The act or process of interpreting in visual terms or of putting into visible form.
In other words, when you visualize something, you’re able to manifest it and take the steps that will allow it to come to pass.
“If my mind can conceive it, and my heart can believe it - then I can achieve it.” Muhammad Ali
Visualization motivates you to put forth the effort to achieve.There’s a quote by Napoleon Hill that I love which states, “Whatever Your Mind Can Conceive and Believe, It Can Achieve.” Muhammad Ali said something similar when he stated, “If my mind can conceive it, and my heart can believe it - then I can achieve it.”So, this concept is not new, but it’s around because it works. Seeing something in your mind’s eye as if it’s truly happening ignites a fire throughout your body which encourages you to take next steps.
Visualize Those Goals!
Once you’ve figured out what your goals are, then you should write them down and as part of your planning, write out the steps needed to achieve each goal. Then it’s time for you to visualize. Ideally, you’ll plan your visualization session at a time and place where you won’t be disturbed. Think about the goal that you wish to achieve.
Visualize yourself carrying out the steps for that goal.Think about yourself as if you were actually doing each step.For example, when I wanted to brush up on my Spanish for a trip to Santiago, Chile, I came up with a plan to practice my Spanish. Part of that plan included using an app called Duolingo each day leading up to my trip.So, I visualized myself opening up the app, doing Spanish language exercises on the app, and practicing my Spanish.
These sessions motivated me so that when the time came for me to do my daily lesson, I was pumped up and enthusiastic and did the lesson instead of putting it off.As a result, I was able to get my Spanish in good enough shape to speak with locals in Santiago, which really added to the cultural experiences of the trip.
Now, if your goal has a lot of different steps, I don’t want you to be overwhelmed. It’s perfectly fine to visualize one step per session. You could visualize taking the first step towards your goal and once you achieve it, go on to visualize the next and so on.
Another thing that I recommend doing when you’re visualizing during the goal setting process, is visualizing the final achievement of your goal. To do this you should think about what it will be like when you achieve your goal.
Below are some questions that you should ask yourself when you’re visualizing the day that you achieve your goal. These questions will help make what you’re visualizing become real in your mind. And the more real things feel, the easier and faster it’ll be for you to achieve your goal.
Questions For Visualization
How do you feel?
Think about what you’ll feel the minute you’ve achieved your goal. Are you happy? Excited? Triumphant? Do you feel like you want to jump up and down and run around while shouting the word victory?
Whatever you’re feeling at that moment it’s okay. There might even be a twinge of sadness if this is a long standing goal; and if there is, it’s okay to feel a bit of that too. But not too much because you don’t want to de-motivate yourself.
When you visualize what you’re feeling at that moment, try to feel those actual feelings inside of yourself. Try to picture what your facial expressions and body language will look like at that moment because of those feelings.
Feel your environment – is there a chill in the air? Is it warm? Are you sitting down – then what does the chair feel like beneath your bum? The more you can feel as you visualize, the more real it becomes.
What do you see?
Where are you when you’re achieving your goal? At home? At work? Someplace else? What kind of a day is it – hot, sunny, cold, rainy? Is there equipment that you’re using to achieve this goal? What does it look like at that moment? Who are the people that you see around you when you’re achieving your goal?
Think about and visualize everything that you see around you at that moment your total environment. If you’re standing up at that moment, I want you to see the ground beneath your feet.
What do you hear? What do you smell?
The more senses you can incorporate into your visualization session, the more real it becomes. And you know the drill, the more real it becomes, the more likely it’ll be that you reach your goal. So, thinking about the environment that you’re in when you achieve your goal – is there music? Is it quiet? Are there other people talking in the background? Is there perfume in the air? Or just fresh air? Whatever it is, visualize it.
When you’re having your visualization sessions, you can choose to either incorporate all your senses in the visualization to make a more complete picture or you can choose to focus on one sense per session. I advise trying to incorporate as many of your senses as possible into every visualization session.
Other Visualization Enhancements
Vision boards are a great way to enhance your visualization process. You can create a traditional vision board or use an electronic one dedicated to your goal. The images and words that you put on the board should be related to your goal and the steps necessary to achieve that goal.
Each time that you have a visualization session (which should be everyday), start by looking at your vision board in order to get yourself into the right frame of mind about what you’re going to think about during your visualization session.
During the session think about the elements that are on your board and incorporate them into your visualization.
I love affirmations! Some people think that they're corny or too "woo woo", but I believe that they really can help you get and maintain a mindset that will allow you to do what you want to do and hit those goals. For each goal that you have, you should write a positive affirmation that corresponds to it. You should review and think about your affirmation before and after each visualization session to get yourself in the right frame of mind and to maintain it.
Also, if you have your affirmations in your phone, purse or wallet you can look at it whenever you want, wherever you are which helps reinforce what you want to achieve.
Engaging in regular visualization sessions will keep you motivated and engaged with your goal. Visualization makes your goal feel more real and will really increase the chances that you achieve your goals. It’s all about making time.
How do you incorporate visualization into your goal setting process? Let me know in the comments section – let’s talk!
Cassandra Martin-Himmons is a trainer, wellness coach and consultant who believes in empowering her clients and providing the tools that they need to make positive changes in their lives to manage their stress and increase their self-care. In her spare time, she enjoys papercrafting, volunteering and travel. Connect with her on Instagram or Linked/In