Or if they get that fancy mansion or red sports car, it becomes debt they later regret. Or that perfect relationship doesn’t end up working out.
I believe it’s because visualization is ineffective, even detrimental, when used only on the outcome.
What if we use visualization for the process instead of just the desired result?
If we can manifest a joyful way of working right now, rather than always pining for a better future, we will actually give ourselves a higher chance of creating a better life.
There are 2 factors that make this work:
1. Successful visualization focuses on the process, more than the outcome.
2. Visualization is a fantasy, unless tied closely to real-world practice.
Focusing On The Process
Most people visualize only the desired outcomes.
“I’ve written my best-selling book… I’m holding it in my hands… and on Amazon I’m seeing hundreds of positive reviews!”
“I’ve filled my workshop… I imagine myself with a large group of students who are joyfully experiencing transformation!”
“I’ve filled my practice with ideal clients… seeing myself work with high-paying clients on a typical workday.”
These are good pictures to have in your mind insofar as they accomplish these purposes:
- To feel that it is indeed possible
- To help you see what direction you’ll need to work towards
However, it can actually be detrimental to use outcome-visualization the way it’s taught — to merely create the self-belief that you deserve it.
A fantasy can be created, ungrounded from the reality of what it actually takes to achieve your dreams. You might also develop a false belief that you are entitled to it… and when you don’t attain that frequently-repeated vision, it creates even more self-doubt than when you started.
And by failing to achieve your dream, you will even doubt the tool of visualization!
Here is what we all truly “deserve” — to enjoy the journey/process.
And it’s a good process that eventually leads to a good outcome.
Consistent actions in the right direction create miraculous results over time.
In the book The Compound Effect by Darren Hardy, he tells the story of 2 people:
- One who takes a job for $5,000/month, a job that uses only his existing skills.
- Another who starts a business that earns him $10 in the first week, but with repeated improvement in his skills and resulting 10% growth in income each week.
Look at what happens with the wealth of these two people:
- 3rd month: total of $15,000 versus $235
- 12th month: total of $60,000 versus $15,000
- 18th month: total of $90,000 versus $186,000
- 24th month: total of $120,000 versus $2.2 million
These numbers make it clear: consistent actions, with consistent small improvements, create the kind of results that many only visualize, but never manifest. Therefore, visualize enjoying the process so that you’ll do it consistently, with increasing skill and joy!
I’m grateful that my first book (Authentic Content Marketing) received great reviews, but I didn’t use outcome-visualization, except to help me make plans, and then, I used process-visualization to enjoy the tasks needed to accomplish those plans.
Instead of seeing yourself with a best-selling book, visualize the circumstances in which you are writing your book:
- What day and time are you writing?
- Where are you?
- What did you do before you started writing, and how did you get into it? (This helps to anchor the task in reality.)
- What tool are you using to write, and how are you using it?
- What’s the expression on your face as you write?
- What joyful feelings are coming up, as you write?
- What else about your body and action can you visualize? For example, are you taking gentle, easy deep breaths, as you write?
Another example — instead of seeing yourself with a full roster of clients, how about seeing yourself sending thoughtful emails to your prospective clients and referral sources, and doing it from a feeling of connection, joy, and service?
If you focus on the process, you are more likely to attain the outcome.
This is what visualization can really help with: being consistent with the process, and along the way, enjoying your actions!
Learning Visualization through Practice
Many people don’t connect their visualization to what they actually do day to day, hour by hour. Instead, visualization is done as a separate activity, maybe in the morning or evening, reading out loud their dreams and “seeing” in their mind’s eye what they want.
Instead, I encourage you to visualize the process (for example, the action of writing the book) and then when the time comes to do the action, observe yourself as you actually write the book, and ask:
“What don’t I love about this process? How can I visualize an even more joyful process?”
It’s this ongoing dialogue with yourself that makes visualization truly effective:
Step 1. Visualize the process (the actions you’ll actually take toward your desired outcome.)
Step 2. Do what you visualize, and noticing what you’re not fully enjoying. (Know that it’s simply a system that can be improved, no self-blame is needed.)
Step 3. Visualize an improved process.
Step 4. Practice the improved process.
Keep repeating these steps, so that you enjoy your journey more and more, as you make real progress on your biggest goals.
For each little process that you improve, you might want to take an extra few moments and practice it again, right then and there.
Process-Visualization creates the start of your muscle memory. The practice of the actions strengthens that muscle memory. Your mindfulness about the process allows you to see what you need to adjust, in your next visualization.
Eventually you’ll get to an advanced state where you don’t even need to set aside time to visualize anymore. You’ll find yourself being able to easily imagine what outcome you want, and then take actions from a practiced state of joyful productivity.
This post was previously published on www.georgekao.com and is republished here with permission from the author.
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