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Welcome to the NABI Blog. Our Blog is intended to inform, explain, clarify and raise awareness on current business topics and issues. Do you have a story you would like to share on our blog or be featured in our newsletter? Simply send an email and tell us what you want us to know. We want to hear about your success stories.


Is Visualization the Key to Success? Chelsey Tattrie
nabi_visualization


It seems that successful people all have their own cache of the ultimate, time-tested “secrets to success”. They range from straightforward advice, to theories that are slightly “out there”, to completely outrageous suggestions about how one can succeed in just about anything. One theory growing in popularity suggests that an easy, but vital component of success lies in visualization. But how exactly is visualization tied to success? 

The visualization “secret” starts with dreaming big. You begin to see your process and your end goals as real, actual events. Then, you place yourself in them. You visualize in vivid sensory detail what the realization of that goal will feel like. If you’re the goalie on a hockey team, you might imagine yourself in the middle of a shootout. You can hear the chant of the crowd, smell the sweat from under your helmet, feel the slide of your skates under you. You dive to the right, land hard on your pads, and feel the satisfying crack of the puck in your glove. 

The idea is that, in imagining this scenario, you are somehow pulling yourself closer to reaching the goal, without having taken any real action yet. Somehow, achieving the win in your mind helps you achieve the goal in real life.  

So, is there any truth to this theory? Is visualization the key to success? 


A lot of successful people seem to think so. From Olympic athletes, to A-list actresses, to renowned scientists, there are scores of successful people who speak to their ability to visualize their success. Most of them have said that the visualization process is a sizable factor in their greatest achievements. Jim Carrey, Oprah Winfrey, Kanye West, Will Smith, Lindsey Vonn, Muhammad Ali, and many more have credited their success to the power of visualization. 

Still, it seems suspect that something so easy could be so effective. According to Bo Bennet’s simplistic definition: “Visualization is daydreaming with a purpose.” It doesn’t require any obligation, investment, or even much effort. It’s simply directing your mental energy to your goals. It’s positive thinking, but directed and focused positive thinking. 

So where does the magic really happen during visualization? There are several theories about how this “secret” really works in practice. 

First, there’s the idea of “like attracts like”, touted by well-off stars like Steve Harvey and Denzel Washington. According to this idea, positive thinking manifests positive action, just like repelling negative thoughts repels negative events. You are what you think, and you are what you feel. 

And then, of course, there’s the explanation offered in The Secret, a self-help book penned by Rhonda Byrne. It also addresses the law of attraction, and offers a process known as “ask, believe, and receive.” The book received a great deal of criticism (in particular regarding its scientific evidence), but the idea as a whole was well-received and very popular.

A more scientific approach says that visualization is like conditioning for your brain. Just like an athlete trains physically for an event, he should also be training mentally for the event. Multiple articles and experiments have proven that sitting down and visualizing a task activates the same regions of the brain that are activated when you actually perform the task. Other experiments have suggested that for physical activities, the mental aspects of training are actually more important than the physical aspects. 

On a rational level, the theory makes sense. Visualizing your success makes your goals more real, more motivational. It also instills a greater sense of self-confidence; if you’ve imagined yourself achieving something, you’re more likely to believe you can actually achieve it.

So, how can you put this visualization technique to use for yourself? Here are a few tips from high-profile advocates of visualization:



Focus on the process, not necessarily the end goals

Visualization is easier to achieve when you’re looking at short term goals. It’s seeing the next step ahead, and watching yourself conquer it in real time. Bill Rancic, author of You’re Hired: How to Succeed in Business and Life, says: 
“What I think a lot of great marathon runners do is envision crossing that finish line. But for me, I set a lot of little goals along the way to get my mind off that overwhelming goal of 26.2 miles. I know I’ve got to get to 5, and 12, and 16, and then I celebrate those little victories along the way.”

Make your visualization physical.

Do whatever you need to do to bring your visualization into the physical world one step at a time. Make a vision board, write an advance autobiography of your future successes, or… write yourself a cheque.

Before Jim Carrey had any real success in Hollywood, he was struggling to get by. He wrote himself a $10 million cheque and carried it around in his wallet. Not much later, he found out he was going to make $10 million from Dumb and Dumber. 

Don’t just dream it; live it. 

Arnold Schwarzenegger has had success in multiple career paths including athletics, acting, and politics. His secret? He says: “What you do is create a vision of who you want to be — and then live that picture as if it were already true.” So, don’t wait; put it into practice starting now.

Visualization is a no-cost, low-effort solution with big ripple effects. There’s nothing to lose from giving it a try, so go ahead and let your mind wander a little bit at your desk today. You never know what’s going to come of a daydream!





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