Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Mentally Live It!


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!

3 comments:

Rettakat said...

I appreciate this, a lot. I've been preoccupied lately, and have let this aspect slip. And have found it doesn't take very long AT ALL to slip when my mind isn't in the game.

So thank you for this. I needed to read it.

Dayne Gingrich said...

I know the feeling. As long as you keep coming back... you'll be gr8!

spldbch said...

Over the past few years there has actually been some scientific research on mental rehearsal. Studies show that the same brain pathways are activated when imagining yourself doing a task correctly that are activated by actually doing that task correctly. Essentially, visualizing yourself doing something successfully increases your ability to actually do the task in question successfully.

So I'm thinking that with mental rehearsal, it's not just visualizing the process without the outcome. It's visualizing the entire process, including it's successful completion.