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Visualization

Happy spring everyone! I’m feeling the pull of the season change in a big way. Time to stretch, move, cleanse, re-focus and repeat. Anyone else? This is the part of the year I get really motivated to get things done and set some new goals. Recently, I sat down and tried to think on what motivates me and how I want to achieve it. I realized that it all starts with my mindset. I am a visual person, so I know I have to get my head in the right place in order to achieve anything else physically or emotionally. This is referred to as “mental training” and scientists and doctors are discovering it can be a game-changer when it comes to success.

Published in Psychology Today, you can find studies that prove that using your mind to visualize goals is almost as good as doing them! In one specific study of weight lifters, they saw significant data that the brain was activated in the SAME way when lifting hundreds of pounds vs. when they were just visualizing it. Say whaaaat??!  In the same vein, there have been other studies that show statistical increase in muscle tone for those who visualize a muscle being used while working out vs. those who don’t. Incredible! Note to self: picture 6-pack abs anytime I’m exercising and maybe one day I’ll have some!

There are tons of ways to use visualization and even more ways it applies to our productivity. I recently listened to a podcast on the Goop channel (Gweneth Paltrow’s health-conscious company) and she interviewed a woman named Bonnie St. John. I had never heard about her before, but as the podcast continued, I learned that Bonnie was the first African American to win medals at the Olympics in 1984…with one leg! She also graduated magna cum laude from Harvard and had a number of other incredible life achievements. Talk about motivating. During the interview, she was going through a few of her favorite “life hacks” for her listeners in order to have a big impact on their focus, drive and goals.

The one tip that really stuck with me was an exercise to help push you through the mindset of limiting factors. She calls it “reversing.” This is a good one for all of you visual people out there. Here’s how it works: take a note card and write a limiting factor or obstacle that you’re facing on one side of the card. Then on the other side of the card, write the complete opposite. One of the examples she uses was writing “I need a higher degree, but I don’t have time or money to go back to school” and then on the other side write the opposite: “I have time and money to go back to school.” Her point is that writing the complete opposite statement suspends your brain’s belief in the negative obstacle that you THINK is true, but it doesn’t have to be. If you stop that pattern, you make room for ideas or ways to make the opposite come true. Very, very fascinating stuff. To learn more about her ideas and work, Bonnie’s book is called Micro-Resilience: Minor Shifts for Major Boosts in Focus, Drive, and Energy.  Check it out or find the podcast for more inspiration!

Other random ideas of how I use visualization in my daily life/goal setting:

  • Making a vision board using pictures and quotes

  • Write out a to-do list of things you want to get done during the day and check them off

  • Write out a goal list that includes the who, what, when, where, why and how you’re going to do it. Turns out, the more specific you get, the better. Paint the picture for yourself so it’s easier to move through the steps to get there.

  • Make a list of 10-20 things that you want to do before you die (must have a big picture, right?)

  • And now I’ll be visualizing my muscles working at the gym so I can burn more fat :)

Are you a visual person? How do you visualize goals and put that into motion? I would love to hear how you achieve this. Let me know next time you’re in for a tune up!

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