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Last Updated on May 12, 2021

13 Visualization Techniques to Help You Reach Your Goals

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13 Visualization Techniques to Help You Reach Your Goals

Broadly speaking, visualization techniques are all about generating a mental picture that helps you achieve your goals. In some cases, it serves as motivation. In others, it allows you to relieve your anxiety and increase your focus.

In any case, the right techniques can help you succeed—no matter what you’re aspiring to achieve.

What Are Visualization Techniques for?

Let’s take a look at some of the common ways visualization techniques are applied:

Motivation

Most of us have experienced difficulty in finding motivation. Visualization can remind you what you’re trying to accomplish and inspire you to keep working hard to achieve your goals.

Confidence

Picturing yourself in a successful or powerful position can conjure feelings of confidence that you’ll be able to achieve this. It’s a neat mental trick that yields a powerful effect.

Rehearsal

In some applications, visualization can be used to rehearse a scenario before it unfolds in real life, essentially giving you a “practice run.”

Anxiety Reduction

Visualization is also beneficial for stress management if you can use it to assuage your intrusive thoughts or clear your mind of distractions.

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13 Best Visualization Techniques (And How to Use Them)

Now let’s dig into the most powerful visualization techniques—and how you can use them to get better results in your personal and professional life.

1. Visualize Yourself Succeeding at Your Goal

This is the easiest visualization technique and the one that most people start with. Simply visualize yourself succeeding at your goal.

You might picture yourself crossing the finish line of a marathon or see yourself shaking the hand of the CEO after a major promotion. As long as you have some kind of visual in your head, you’ll be able to derive motivation and confidence from the experience.

This kind of visualization can help counter procrastination, which often plagues our goals. If you find yourself struggling with this habit, you can also check out Lifehack’s Fast-Track Class: No More Procrastination.

2. Establish Triggered Visuals

Our minds are notoriously good at connecting experiences; it’s why even a faint whiff of a scent can trigger a powerful memory and a flood of emotions. You can set yourself up for success by creating your own triggers for the subconscious mind to act on.

For example, you can spend time exposing yourself to some kind of sensory input, like listening to a song you love while visualizing something positive. Then, when you need to perform, you can replicate that sensory input and capitalize on the visualization.

For example, you might train for a powerlifting competition with a specific playlist, and play that playlist during the competition to call up the visuals you rehearsed.

3. Create a Vision Board

Our first two visualization techniques involve the classic form of visualization: internally visualizing a scenario. However, some people suffer from a condition known as aphantasia, rendering them unable to conjure mental imagery.[1]

If this describes you, or if you simply prefer something more tangible, consider creating a vision board. A vision board is typically a collection of photographs and images that remind you of your goals and narrows your focus.

For example, if you’re trying to lose weight, you might create a vision board of images of your goal body. Put it somewhere so that you can see it regularly. This works similarly to an analytics dashboard commonly used in business. That which is measured and monitored is improved!

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4. Write Yourself a Check

Another effective visualization technique in a physical environment is to write yourself a check (if your goals are monetary in nature). For example, if you want to become a millionaire by age 40, you can write a check to yourself for $1 million and have it framed.

This is a strategy famously used by comedian Jim Carrey, who wrote himself a $10 million check dated 10 years in the future.[2]

5. Use a Notecard to Make Your Goals Physical

If your goals aren’t monetary in nature but you’re still looking for a way to make your images more grounded in the real world, consider writing your aspirations down on a notecard.

The best way to frame these messages is with intention and confidence. Instead of writing “My goal is to improve my relationships with my family,” write, “I will improve my relationships with my family.”

Again, put these notecards where they’ll be seen regularly to consistently remind you of their existence.

6. Create a “Happy Place”

This is one of the visualization techniques best applied as a way to mitigate stress and anxiety. If you frequently find yourself overwhelmed or unable to perform when trying to accomplish something, consider coming up with a “happy place” you can visit and use as a method to destress.

For some people, a happy place is being isolated on a boat in the middle of an open pool of water. For others, it’s in the middle of a mosh pit at a punk rock concert. It doesn’t matter what your happy place is, so long as thinking about it soothes your negative feelings and eases your racing thoughts.

7. Convert Your Desires Into Beliefs

Most people frame their visualizations as things they want to happen, rather than as things they believe will happen. If you want to be successful, it’s important to make the change. Converting your desires into beliefs is an important and effective visualization technique.

If you’re already visualizing hypothetical scenarios, all you need to do is shift the way you consider them. Instead of imagining them as a form of wishful thinking, convince yourself that this is a form of predicting the future.

This is what is going to happen if you stay committed to your goals.

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8. Rehearse Potential Situations

In many fields, it’s beneficial to use visualization techniques as a way to rehearse potential situations you may face—especially if those situations are stressful or unpredictable.

For example, let’s say you’re planning to initiate a difficult conversation with your boss about a topic that’s been bothering you for months. Visualization can help you imagine your boss’s response to everything you might say and plot out different branches that the dialogue could follow.

If done right, this can help reduce your stress, making the worst-case scenarios seem more manageable, while simultaneously equipping you with better skills for navigating the situation as it unfolds.

Just be careful not to rehearse so much that you become unprepared to deal with developments you didn’t see coming.

9. Visualize Multiple Potential Options

Most of the time, the best way to utilize visualization is to picture a single option; you win the race, you lose the weight, you get the promotion, etc. But it may also be helpful to visualize multiple potential options.

What are all the ways this could pan out? What are the best-case and worst-case scenarios?

Again, this is a way to moderate your fears. Just don’t spend too long visualizing negative outcomes, or they may come to dominate the narrative. Always shift back to a more positive mindset.

10. Put Yourself in Someone Else’s Shoes

Chances are, there’s someone you look up to or someone who has achieved your desired goals in the past. Consider using visualization to put yourself in their shoes. This visualization technique allows you to establish a connection with their strongest (or weakest) moments.

For example, what was Steve Jobs thinking when he was originally ousted from Apple, and how was he able to recover? What was Muhammad Ali thinking when he beat Sonny Liston?

Choose a role model you find interesting, and study their path to success or victory—just don’t let survivorship bias[3] cloud your judgment too much.

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11. Flesh out Your Visualizations With Sensory Experiences

At this point, you have the strategies and direction necessary to engage in positive visualization techniques that motivate, inspire, and empower you. Now, let’s focus on a couple of strategies that can help you improve the quality of those visuals.

One key way to make your visualizations seem more “real” and allow them to affect you more strongly is to flood them with detailed sensory experiences.

What is the temperature in your visualization? Notice who is around you and what they are wearing. Is there music playing in the background, or can you hear the ambient noise?

The richer your visualizations are, the more powerful they can become, so pay attention to every little detail as you close your eyes for each visualization.

12. Add Positive Energy Into Every Instance of Visualization

Positive thinking is shown to have massive psychological benefits, such as reducing your stress and improving your mood.[4]

Accordingly, you should be framing your visualizations with positive thoughts. If you feel a negative thought intrude your mind in response to your visualization, combat it with a corresponding positive.

For example, you might think to yourself, “I’ll never be able to accomplish that.” Meet that negative thought with a positive twist: “I may not have been able to accomplish that in the past, but I can now” or “I may hit some major obstacles along the way, but I will accomplish this.”

13. Picture a Happy Memory From Your Past

Most visualization techniques are all about the future, setting you up for success or helping you play out hypothetical scenarios. But it’s also occasionally useful to visualize the past.

Think of a happy memory or a place you used to love; visualize yourself surrounded by people who have loved and supported you, and imagine how you felt in those moments.

It may be just what you need to get through a tough situation.

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The Bottom Line

Through visualization techniques, you’ll be able to boost your confidence, motivate yourself, and decrease the stress and anxiety you feel as you face new challenges head-on. The more you practice it, the easier it’s going to get, so don’t wait to get started.

More Tips on How to Reach Your Goals

Featured photo credit: Artem Beliaikin via unsplash.com

Reference

More by this author

Jayson DeMers

Entrepreneur and Productivity Expert

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Last Updated on September 27, 2021

8 Reasons Why Goal Setting Is Important to a Fulfilling Life

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8 Reasons Why Goal Setting Is Important to a Fulfilling Life

The importance of effective goal setting cannot be overstated on our personal journeys towards success. This is why there are countless articles out there on how to set your own SMART goals and even why it’s a skill commonly taught to a small degree in classrooms.

Learning the importance of goal setting and the benefits of sticking to those goals can be the defining factor determining whether we truly embrace the importance of goal setting. The more willing we are to embrace this method, the more likely we become to reach our personal definitions of personal and professional success.

Thus, this article is going to walk you through some of the benefits you’ll see from learning to set goals for yourself and answer the question — why is goal setting important?

1. Goals Guide and Align Our Focus

It’s hard to get to where you want to be in life if you don’t know what you’re aiming for. Some people believe avoiding goals means living a more care-free life. How many times have you heard the phrase “If I have no expectations, then I can’t be disappointed”?

But is that really what our lives have come to? Living just to avoid disappointment? It doesn’t seem like an overly optimistic view in my opinion. And since you’re reading this article, I’m willing to bet that you agree with me.

Without goals, we lack a degree of direction and focus. Sure you may be able to avoid disappointment, but just avoiding disappointment doesn’t mean you are necessarily happy.

Without goals, we will pointlessly waste our time, energy, and efforts. Listen to anybody who is the top of their field and they’ll tell you something like this,

“Yes talent is important, but often your success depends much more on what you decide to do with that talent.”

And what you will do with your talent largely depends on your focus.

Your goals give you direction. Your goals give you something to shoot for. This direction and target you create in your mind will help you to progress towards your main life goals rather than simply wander around aimlessly. These goals will help you align your actions and behaviors as you continue moving forward.

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So, why is goal setting important? Because it gives you direction, alignment, and purpose!

2. Goals Help You Avoid ‘Shiny Object Syndrome’

Basically, shiny object syndrome is always being in pursuit of the next big thing, constantly switching your goals based on what you feel is most fun and interesting at the given moment, but never actually giving yourself time to accomplish any of those goals.

You don’t get anywhere because you continually change the direction you are heading in. This is one of the consequences that may result if you decide to live a life without goals.

Your goals can sometimes help you to create mental barriers, or blinders, that help you to remain focused on what you think is important and avoid the things that are second priority. When you outline goals for yourself, you are better able to avoid things that distract you from achieving and accomplishing those goals.

Setting goals helps you to step around the other shiny objects because you’ve taken the time to make some mental notes that remind you what it is that you want from your life. Your goals act as subconscious deterrents to anything less than your main priorities. This is what helps you to reach your personal definition of success.

So, why is goal setting important? Because not only do goals tell you what you want from life, but they also help you realize what you need to give up and avoid to achieve that.

3. Goals Turn Our Largest Goals into Manageable Steps

A lot of us have big hopes and dreams. It’s one of the things that make our lives exciting!

But a lot of us never take the time to figure out how we can effectively get from point A to point B. So, sadly, we never fully achieve those goals. We look at our dreams and convince ourselves that only a select few people ever achieve them, so we write ourselves off as people not meant to reach that level of success. Looking at the end product of a goal can be intimidating, daunting, and discourage us from even pursuing them.

Thankfully, goal setting helps us break large intimidating goals into smaller ones. These small steps and more achievable goals will help us to build momentum and will encourage us to keep working towards the next phase of our goal. The form the foundation from which we can begin building the life that we truly hope to have for ourselves, our families, and may even for our communities depending on how big your goals are!

Whenever I get talking about this aspect of goal setting, I can’t help but think about the mountain climbing analogy, and that the easiest way to climb a mountain is simply step by step.

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So, why is goal setting important? Goal setting gives you a list of manageable steps that you can take in order to take your life from where it is now to where you want it to go both effectively and efficiently.

4. Goals Encourage You to Take Action

This builds on the last benefit of goal setting. Not only does effective goal setting help you break down your larger goals into smaller, more manageable ones, but it also encourages you to actually begin taking action on those goals. After all, a plan is completely worthless if you aren’t willing to invest the effort required to execute it.

Setting your goals and putting your plan in place motivates you to begin taking action towards achieving them. These goals give you something to plan and work towards. Essentially, they help propel you forward.

What I like to do is write out and place my goals somewhere that I’ll regularly see them. This constantly serves as a reminder of my top priorities. It allows me to focus on taking small progressive actions towards achieving these goals daily.

This ensures that I don’t fall into the trap of setting a goal, beginning to work towards it for a while, but then having my motivation fade resulting in me falling off track. This is exactly what many people see happen when it comes to their “New Year’s Resolutions.”

If you want to learn about how to take action towards achieving your goal, here’s how: How To Take Action Towards Your Goals Right Now

So, why is goal setting important? Because goal setting actually motivates you to stop thinking about your goals and actually get out there and achieve them!

5. Goal Setting Helps You Continually Improve

This is something that a lot of personal development and self-improvement writers talk about, continual improvement. For those of you who are not aware of the term, continual improvement is exactly what it sounds like — taking small steps towards improvement as frequently as you can to develop into the person you want to become.

What’s the point in improving a little bit each day if you’re not improving in the areas that you want to improve in after all?

The goals that you define for yourself will inevitably shape you into the person who you want to become. They’ll shape your character. Your goals can help you measure your progress as you strive for this type of development.

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Essentially, having goals helps you determine where you started, where you are now, and how much further you need to go. In this manner, your goal setting can serve as milestones and benchmarks that help you determine how well you’re progressing towards your most important goals!

So, why is goal setting important? Goal setting helps you make improvements each day that will slowly transition you into the person you want to become.

6. Goal Setting Keeps You Accountable

Not only does setting goals help you measure your progress, but it also is a means through which you can keep yourself accountable. Too many goals fail because they lack this crucial aspect of outlining accountability.

For example, if I have the goal to do 50 push-ups, that’s great. Most people would support that goal. However, this goal lacks accountability. When do I want to accomplish this goal by and what steps do I take to get there? These are important questions that the original goal leaves unanswered.

A much more descriptive and specific goal could be to do 50 push-ups within the next 3 months by starting at 5 push-ups, and then adding 5 each week. This goal outlines the deadline as well as the steps I’m going to take to achieve it. This plan will keep me accountable because if I fail to retain my progression schedule, I will know that I’m not going to achieve the goal on time.

Additionally, it can serve as a marker helping to signify when something is impeding my progress that I may not have initially accounted for. This tells me that I need to re-evaluate what I’m doing and figure out what adjustments I can make to facilitate my success.

So, why is goal setting important? Setting goals is key to keeping ourselves accountable and on-track towards accomplishing our goals according to the schedules and deadlines we set for ourselves.

7. Goals Make You Feel Good

Trust me, the progress you feel as you set and achieve goals can become super motivating and super addicting (in a good way)! The dopamine release you get from achieving your goals is like a little reward for our brains that continually motivates us to try and hit that next goal!

Having some clearly defined goals will help you to feel better about yourself and your life in general, especially when you stick to those goals, actively work towards achieving them, and end up accomplishing and surpassing your initial expectations. I’m not the oldest book on the shelf myself, but I can attest that there are not many feelings quite like the one you experience when you truly get on a roll!

Additionally, our goals give us an endpoint to shoot for. Rather than progress for progress’s sake, you can actually see where you’re heading! That’s so much more rewarding. Think about a long car trip as a kid. You ask “if you’re there yet?” ever 20 minutes. It seems like the drive drags on forever.

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If you don’t know where you’re going, you risk the journey becoming tedious. It doesn’t tend to be much fun wandering around aimlessly. Goals make us feel good about where we’re directing ourselves.

So, why is goal setting important? Because setting goals and accomplishing them plain and simply make us feel better about ourselves and our lives!

8. Goals Help You Live Your Best Life

I’ve talked a lot in this article about how goal setting helps us progress towards our top priorities and live the way we truly want to live. So I think it’s fit to end the article with this goal because, in the end, I feel it’s the most important one.

Setting your goals and clearly defining what they mean to you will help you live a life that is tailored to your beliefs and values. Your life will become directed towards the things that you most want to achieve.

Life is a tricky game and only in very rare circumstances are things handed to us on a silver platter. Often it takes a great degree of work, planning, and effortful execution of both.

There is no point clinging on to things in your life if they don’t bring you happiness or help you accomplish something that, in some way, aligns with your goals.

Simply put, setting goals helps us live a life that allows us to pursue the challenges and rewards that we truly want to achieve.

So, why is goal setting important? Because our time is always limited, and setting clearly defined goals can help ensure that you make the most of your life and live to the fullest! Find out more here: How to Use SMART Goal to Become Highly Successful in Life

Final Thoughts

These are just a few of the benefits of goal setting that outline why it truly is so important. If you take a moment or two, I bet that you can even think of a few more benefits yourself that you could add to this list.

If I could leave you with something, it would be this:

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Goal setting has the potential to take us to some amazing places in life because we all have talent and ambitions. To achieve your biggest dreams, you need to be willing to sit down and create a life design uniquely tailored to you that will help you achieve them!

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Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

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