I often ask people how many hours a week they train their body. Although I get a variety of responses, the answer is usually a number between 1 and 5 hours. I then ask, “How often do you train your mind?”, and get either a blank stare or a, “Huh?”.
At this point I’m going to assume you’re familiar with the powerful effects of visualization (also known as mental imagery), which is “an experience that occurs in the absence of the appropriate external stimuli”. For example, imagining a perfect golf swing while standing at the first tee or seeing a NASCAR racecourse in your mind before starting the engine.
Elite athletes, business professionals, highly trained military, world-renowned speakers and politicians are just some of the folks who credit visualization as a key component to their training regimen … and their ultimate success in their careers.
Considering how effective visualization has been proven to be, I wonder how many of you have looked closely at trying visualization or how many of you are actually practicing it?
The Science of Visualization
In a groundbreaking University of Chicago study, Dr. Blaslotto took a group of people and split them into three groups and tested each group to see how many free throws they could successfully make.
- Group #1 practiced free throws every day for one hour.
- Group #2 visualized themselves making free throws (and did no actual shooting).
- Group #3 did nothing.
He tested each participant to see how many free throws they could make before the study began. After 30 days, the first group improved by 24 percent, the second group improved by 23 percent and the third group had no change.
What’s amazing about these results is that the second group improved just as much as the first group … without touching a basketball in 30 days!
Many of us are aware of the power of visualization but most don’t make the effort to practice it regularly. It’s like reading a book about the most effective workout routine for getting lifelong results … and then sitting on the couch and doing nothing about it.
“Your imagination is your preview of life’s coming attractions.” – Albert Einstein
In the end, if you want to benefit from what visualization can do … you actually need to practice it and make it a habit. Visualization is just like any other skill. It will be tough at first but, with practice, you can master this skill and be effective at getting results. Including visualization as a part of your training routine can significantly improve your performance, and confidence in many areas of your life.
You need to remember that visualization isn’t purely visual … its more like getting a “feel” or a “sense” of the experience you are trying to replicate. Below are a few tips to effective visualization in your everyday life.
- Relax. Take a few deep breaths and think about a result you would like to produce in your life.
- Get clear. Clarity is power. The clearer you can make the goal the more power you will have to create it. Think about the body you want, the relationship you want, a place you want to travel to, the business success you want, or perhaps fun stuff you want to do.
- Add the senses. See the customers served or the project completed, imagine the smiles, or hear the congratulations. Imagine the clothes you are wearing and how they make you feel. Take in your environment, the landscape and the weather. Notice all the details and how they make you feel.
- See your best self. Think about the character traits and emotional states you need to embody in order to achieve the vision in your mind. See and feel yourself as confident, certain, fun, vibrant, bold, focused, or passionate.
- Play the script out in your mind. What do you say to yourself in that moment? What are the smells, the sounds, the tastes, and the looks in peoples’ eyes? Imagine a situation looking through your own eyes (first person view), and also imagine watching yourself from the outside (third person view). For example if you want to bench press 300 pounds, imagine putting the weight on the bar, how it feels in your hands, the smell of the gym and the chalk on your hands. Imagine going through the motions and finishing the lift to completion and how you feel. Then, imagine watching yourself perform the movement perfectly as if you were watching yourself from across the room.
- Do this for 1-2 minutes in the morning and right before bed.
- Remember to focus on the feelings and you will condition your body to have more certainty and confidence when it comes time for the actual event.
- If you start by thinking, “I can do this!”, you are more likely to achieve the end result than if you say to yourself, “Why am I doing this?”. Visualization is powerful is that you can literally create your future with your mind. You are conditioning your mind to bring about your biggest goals. So … have the imagination of a child!
Visualization in My Life …
I know that visualization works because I’ve used it in my life. A few of the things I have visualized in my life (and then made a reality) include:
- Sharing a stage with Tony Robbins
- Becoming partners with Tony Robbins
- Having my image on a massive billboard in New York City’s Times Square
- My Mom winning the lottery
- Healing a debilitating back injury
- Cutting my body fat in half while gaining 28 pounds of muscle in 100 days
- Speaking with an endless list of celebrities (from Brad Pitt to Jennifer Lopez)
- After losing over 100K in a business deal, gaining in it all back in less than six months
NOTE: There are more tips you can use from NLP (neuro-linguistic programming) techniques and state management to optimize you performance in future articles on TodaysFitnessTrainer.com.
Eli Wilhide is a lifestyle coach and personal development expert. After being involved in over 2500 seminars with the Tony Robbins organization he is now sharing his knowledge and experience with people from all walks of life. Visit www.eliwilhide.com for more information or get in contact with him by clicking here.