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Published on August 12, 2020

13 Visualization Techniques to Help You Reach Your Goals

13 Visualization Techniques to Help You Reach Your Goals

Broadly speaking, visualization is 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 visualization 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.

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 race 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.

2. Establish Triggered Visuals

Our minds are notoriously good at connecting experiences together; 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 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.

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3. Create a Vision Board

Our first two examples 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 narrow 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!

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 visualization technique is 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.

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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.

8. Rehearse Potential Situations

In many fields, it’s beneficial to use visualization 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.

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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 cloud your judgment too much.

11. Flesh Out Your Visualizations With Sensory Experiences

At this point, you have the strategies and direction necessary to engage in positive visuals 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? Who is around you, and what are they wearing? Is there music playing in the background, or can you hear the ambient noise? What are you smelling?

The richer your visualizations are, the more powerful they can become.

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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.[3]

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, “who am I kidding? 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.

Bottom Line

Through visualization, 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.

More Tips on How to Reach Your Goals

Featured photo credit: Simon Migaj via unsplash.com

Reference

More by this author

Jayson DeMers

Entrepreneur and Productivity Expert

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Last Updated on September 24, 2020

How to Take Advantage of the 80 20 Rule to Succeed in Life

How to Take Advantage of the 80 20 Rule to Succeed in Life

The world of productivity has several hacks or tricks to help you manage your time: to-do lists, the Pomodoro Technique, Parkinson’s Law… All of these strategies are great strategies in their own way, but one strategy stands above all the others: the 80 20 rule.

This particular strategy has been used the most and is regarded as the most helpful in developing time management and other concepts in life.

But what’s so special about this rule? How does it give you success and how do you use it? Let’s explore the specifics.

What Is the 80 20 Rule?

Many people regard this rule as the 80 20 rule, but it has a proper name: the Pareto Principle[1]. The principle was named after its founder,  the Italian economist Vilfredo Pareto, in 1895. Pareto noticed that people in society were divided into two categories:

  • The “vital few,” which consisted of the top 20 percent with respect to money and influence.
  • The “trivial many,” otherwise known as the bottom 80 percent.

As he researched this further, he came to discover that this divide didn’t apply only to money and influence, but other areas, too. Virtually all economic activity was subject to his previous observation.

He observed that 80% of Italy’s wealth at the time was controlled by only 20% of the population.

Since the development of this rule, humankind has used this particular ratio in all kinds of situations. Even if the ratio isn’t always exact, we see this rule applied in many industries and in life. Examples are:

  • 20% of sales reps will generate 80% of your total sales.
  • 20% of customers account for 80% of total profits.
  • 80% of the revenue will stem from 20% of the workers.

Either way, I’m sure you can piece together why people call this rule the 80 20 rule over Pareto’s Principle[2].

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Make Your Life and Your Business More Efficient with the 80-20 Rule - Salesforce Canada Blog

    In terms of how this particular rule will be able to work for you, it’s a matter of applying this rule to how you spend your time. For us to see success, the goal is simple.

    We need to set it up in such a way that 20% of our input is responsible for 80% of our results.

    Another way to think about it is we use 20% of our time on activities that give us 80% of our results in a given area of life.

    How Does the 80 20 Rule Work?

    To best explain this, let’s visualize a bit.

    In an ideal world:

    • Every employee would contribute the same amount of effort to work.
    • Every feature that’s released for an app or product would be equally loved by users.
    • Each business idea you come up with would be a hit.

    In that scenario, planning would be a breeze. There wouldn’t be any need to analyze anything so long as you put in the effort.

    But that’s not reality.

    Yes, the effort is certainly an element, but what the 80 20 principle states is that everything is unequal. Invest in 10 start-up companies, and you’ll find only a few will pass year two and make it big. You’re in a team of five, and there’ll be one person doing more work than others.

    We wish our lives were always one-for-one in terms of input and output, but that’s simply not true. Understanding this is key to understanding how the 80 20 rule really works.

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    So how does it really work?

    It’s a matter of focusing on what’s giving you the most in your life for little of your time.

    Going back to the few examples I’ve presented above, consider this:

    • If two start-ups you invested in are making it big, focus on having a more direct hand, and see if you can help them prosper more.
    • If 20% of sales reps are giving you 80% of your sales, focus on rewarding those and keeping their spirits high and motivated.

    These scenarios can go on and on, but the idea is to place your efforts on the 20% that is actually making the difference in your life. Another term that’s good to know is the diminishing marginal utility[3].

    Pareto didn’t come up with this one, but the law goes as follows: each extra hour of effort or worker will add less “oomph” to your finished results.

    Eventually, you’ll hit a point where you will spend a lot of time on small and unimportant details, similar to perfectionism.

    So before hitting that point, you want to have a laser focus on the most important details, from family and relationships to your work or business. Prioritize the activities that are going to move you forward the most, and be wary of adding extra time, effort, or more hands into those particular tasks moving forward.

    How to Take Advantage of the 80 20 Rule

    So now that you have an understanding of the 80 20 rule and how it works, what is the best way to take advantage of it?

    Depending on where you are applying this rule, this can be used in all kinds of fashions.

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    For example, you can apply this rule to goal setting, as demonstrated by Brian Tracy in this video:

    Or you can apply it in terms of general productivity as explained in this article: What Is the 80 20 Rule (And How to Use It to Boost Productivity)

    The core of this rule is that it forces us to ask ourselves the questions we wouldn’t consider otherwise. It helps us to place our focus in the right places with regards to all things in life.

    In short, the 80 20 rule places us in charge of our lives and helps us set out on our goals and dreams. With this in mind, here are some things you can consider concerning this rule.

    1. Focus on Your Big Tasks First

    While this is the essence of the 80 20 rule, it’s still worth mentioning. Why? Because so many of us feel intimidated by the biggest task. We instinctively avoid it and opt for smaller tasks first.

    We think that if we complete enough small tasks that we will feel motivated to finish that really big one later. But that’s really false hope at work.

    Once we finish off a lot of small tasks, we either feel drained, or we tell ourselves we’ll do this the next day.

    Instead of doing all that, bite the bullet and tackle the largest task first.

    If you need help with prioritization, check out this article.

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    I argue this by challenging you to ask yourself this one question:

    “Is the task I’m about to do the top 20 percent of my activities or the bottom 80 percent?”

    I’m sure you’ve seen time and again you or other workers spending a lot of time on one task for most of the day. In those kinds of grinds, you’re barely getting ahead and have next to nothing to show for it. That’s because they’re putting all their attention on work that’s in the 80 percent.

    It’s normally the big tasks that are part of the 20 percent.

    Another way to think about this is that everything we do starts a habit. If every day we spend our energy on low-value tasks, we will always prioritize those.

    2. Stretch This Into Personal Life

    While I’ve been talking about business and setting goals, remember you can use this in other areas of your life, too.

    Take your personal life and ask yourself some of these questions:

    • How much TV do you watch on a regular basis? What sort of shows are you legitimately into? These questions can help you in recognizing what shows you are watching purely for consumption. By applying the 80 20 rule, you can cut back on Netflix, TV, or YouTube video consumption and prioritize other areas of your life.
    • What does your wardrobe look like in terms of colors? Are there specific colors that you like? Knowing what you wear most times will help you in sorting out your wardrobe significantly. It also saves you time to come up with what to wear every morning.
    • How many newsletters do you actually read? This question can help you in figuring out which newsletters to unsubscribe to and can clear up a lot of space in your inbox. It can also relieve pressure from having to check your emails constantly.
    • How much time do you spend on your phone every day? How much of that time is actually doing something meaningful? These questions can help you in clearing out various apps that aren’t helping you with your goals. In fact, this can curb the need to check your phone constantly.

    Final Thoughts

    The 80 20 rule is the productivity hack that many of us need, and for good reason. As you can tell, it’ll help you to focus and prioritize the more important aspects of your life.

    Not only that, but it’ll maximize those outputs at the same time and ensure you’re not spending too much time working on them. All you need to do is start asking questions and taking action.

    More Techniques to Help You Succeed in Life

    Featured photo credit: Austin Distel via unsplash.com

    Reference

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