As I've come to learn, there's nothing more important than allowing yourself to look into the future, creating a detailed picture of what you want to achieve. Growing up as an athlete, I was always taught to visualize the process, and allow the result to manifest from that visual. "Mental rehearsal" was the gospel. As I studied more and more about mindset and habit change, and began implementing that knowledge into my own life, I quickly realized that visualizing the process may not be as strong as once thought.
Because the process changes all of the time, it's been proven that visualizing the outcome, as if you've already completed the task, is a much more powerful weapon. Essentially what you're doing by visualizing the desired result, is working backwards from the "finish line" to the now, allowing yourself to see what needs to be done in order to reach that plateau.
In the past, I would visualize the path, neglecting the outcome... as I had been taught, the outcome would take care of itself. It's true, we can't control the result, but if we don't train our minds to see a detailed picture of that result, the path means nothing, and is a waste of time. The path is important, but the result gives meaning to our daily steps.
I had a session today with a college student who's in a stage of her life where she doesn't know what she wants to do, but feels the pressure of trying to figure it all out. This is normal, of course, but it's being magnified because she hasn't ever looked into the future and seen happiness and success for herself. By neglecting this end result, she feels trapped in the struggles of today, with little hope of breaking through.
To alleviate the pressure, we had her close her eyes and allow her mind to wonder into the future, only seeing success (whatever that meant for her). We created a detailed mental picture of what it felt like to be successful and fulfilled. Her future career in this visual was irrelevant... all she needed to see was the finished product. In her visual, she had made it through all the struggles to reach this level, and could feel the reward with every ounce of her soul. Until today, she's only focused on what she doesn't have, and all the pain that's been holding her back. Permitting her mind to see the future and the probable outcome immediately took the pressure off of her short term struggles.
If you know what you want (and WILL have), visualize that finished product. If you don't know exactly where you're going, make yourself look, see, and feel a successful future. Our daily steps we've been taught to focus on mean nothing if we don't have a passionate long term goal. Knowing what that goal is just isn't enough. See it happening. Feel it in your bones. Mentally live it!
This has been bothering me for a week, so I thought I needed to share. The details of what this student was working on is unimportant, as it only applies to a small number of you. However, the message is universal, and needs to be understood.
"Anne" called me last week, explaining how excited she was about about her game. After a long practice session, she stumbled upon a technique that began to change her mindset. I was blown away because this concept is advanced, and not taught by many. It's not something many just find on their own. In her specific sport, this technique is rarely used (primarily because it's power isn't understood by many). I wasn't sure if she was ready to add this to her game, but she wasn't going to let go, so we agreed to move forward and explore it's capabilities.
I was extremely excited to help with this part of her mental game, as I know it to be critical for reaching the next, 1% level. She, also, couldn't wait to begin practicing it in more detail.
What she found in practice, was the beginning steps of a more complex technique that was guaranteed to improve her focus. I spent 90 minutes on the phone with her, explaining in detail how this will help her mentally and physically, and how much time she can expect to struggle before she began to feel comfortable with the approach. I sent her an email as a follow up, just to make sure she had the key points in writing. She would be in town over Spring Break, giving us a week or two to work in person, and allow me to watch her use it in competition.
Everything was set. She was ready. I was ready. The 1% was at her fingertips.
Two days after our detailed phone call, I received a text: "Too hard, can't do it. I quit."
Two days of practice. Two days of practice. "I quit" after two days of practice?
Of course, I'm going to kepp pushing Anne, but his scenario is too common, unfortunately. Greatness will only happen for you after struggle... lots of struggle.
I was working with a student last week, talking about his goal setting, and how important it is for them to be lofty. The conversation soon turned into a mild debate about why he should keep striving for them.
"I've never done it before. Because it hasn't happened means it never will," he kept saying.
STOP RIGHT HERE!! Read his quote again, and think about it for a second.
Nothing's ever happened before it's happened. There has to be a first time! If we don't believe it will happen, it never will. Know, with unwavering certainty, that your goals, passions, and motivations will manifest.
Our path should always be about the steps we take, whether we achieve or not. Keep stepping towards those dreams, continue laughing in the face of fear, and keep asking...