Sometimes it’s not enough to have a goal. Sometimes you have to picture yourself achieving it.
My mother grew up in the tenements of the Bronx in New York City and was the first in her family to go to college. One of the requirements she faced was having to take a course in public speaking. She was petrified. “I had never spoken publicly before,” she told me, “and I had no idea how to do it.”
She woke up with a stomachache at the mere thought of it. Fortunately her teacher gave her three crucial tips: write key points on note cards, practice before a mirror and visualize speaking before the class. See and hear yourself confidently delivering your talk.
It worked. “For the first time in my life,” Mom recalled, “I was able to speak in public, something no one in my family had ever done before.” It was a breakthrough, and the practice of visualization cracked open the door.
In his book Positive Imaging, Norman Vincent Peale writes that visualization “consists of vividly picturing, in your conscious mind, a desired goal or objective, and holding that image until it sinks into your unconscious mind, where it releases great, untapped energies.”
For more than 20 years, I’ve researched and written about the power of the mind to fulfill our dreams. I’ve explored how visualization works and just how effective it can be. My most recent book, The Miracle Club, takes up this topic. What I’ve discovered is that visualizing for positive change is easier and often more powerful than we realize. Here is how it works.
Keep it real. Visualize something that’s achievable. At age 53, I’m not going to be recruited to do space walks for NASA. Think of at least two or three things that you can do right now that will move you forward. Remember it’s not about daydreams or fantasies but attainable concrete goals. If you dream of one day starting a dog-grooming business, have you got the skills? What are the next steps to get them? Let’s say you want to go to med school. Are you taking the right courses in biology and chemistry? See to the things you can do. Authentic dreams are actionable.
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