This month I’m turning my attention to some well established methods to create the reality we desire. Namely, clarity and visualisation with an added twist.
Let’s start at the beginning of any successful growth or change process – being clear on what we want. This clarity is a major ingredient in personal success and wellbeing, yet too easily do we focus on what we don’t want, what’s gone wrong or what is missing. Making the growth or change we desire very difficult to achieve.
To instead turn your attention to what you do want and be really clear on what that looks like for you is incredibly empowering in implementing a positive reality for yourself. It allows you to find and start walking down the path towards the positive reality you desire rather than simply away from a negative one with no real idea of the best road away from it.
Then, once you have the clarity, to take it a step further and visualise the reality you’d love to be experiencing will increase your chances of making it your actual reality even more.
This is about vividly imagining what you’d like to enjoy – close your eyes, relax and internally see yourself doing the things you’d like to have or be capable of. The more detailed your visualisation the better, and the more you internally experience this ‘reality’, the stronger your memory of it becomes and so, the more chance you have of achieving it.
So to, in your mind’s eye, see yourself performing a certain skill, such as public speaking or a yoga position, something equally tangible like performing in a new job or enjoying a relationship or perhaps to really see the happier you with greater joy, confidence or balance across your life, will move you closer to being able to perform and manifest those skills.
Visualisation is not new. It is, indeed, a very well established method for making changes for the better, and has for many, given great results. However, more recently it’s been discovered that to utilise visualisation alone may actually reduce your chances of success rather than boost them.
This is caused by the finding that when we experience the success through our visualisation, it can diminish our drive and determination to actually implement what we want in reality. Outside our own heads.
One example of this was observed in individuals needing a hip replacement. The more positive a picture of the coming rehab they had, the slower the recovery was found to have been one year later. Another example was that the easier new graduates thought it would be to get a job after graduation, the lower their income was a year later.
The obstacle getting in the way of their progress was the fact that their positive fantasies induced the feeling that they already had achieved the goal. In other words, the reward is there already, reducing the need to actually achieve it. To actually put the work in.
So with very effective visualisations, we can get stuck in our own fantasies!
Yet, visualisation is so effective in so many ways. It gives us clarity on what we want increasing our chances of getting it manyfold, it reduces self doubt as it feels possible to achieve something that we’ve seen ourselves do and it can give us the motivation required to take the steps necessary to achieve what we desire.
So how do we overcome the risk attached to effective visualisation that, equally, has been found and proven?
Here comes the added twist to the traditional visualisation theories – we should also visualise the blockages and how we will overcome them.
The theory WOOP, developed by the Social Psychologist Gabriele Oettingen, offers a simple four step process on how to achieve this along with the all important clarity and visualisation techniques:
WISH – The thing you wish to achieve. Write it down and be specific and realistic, using as few words as possible, with a deadline if relevant and including its benefits (i.e. this is your clarity).
OUTCOME – Visualise yourself experiencing the wish (i.e. traditional visualisation).
OBSTACLE – Identify the biggest barrier within yourself that may get in the way of you achieving the goal. Again using as few words as possible. Visualise this and really see what happens when it goes wrong.
PLAN – Increase your implementation intention by writing down what, how and when you’ll do something. Use the barriers in your plan and say, if this happens, I will…. and visualise what you’ll do then.
In a nutshell, ask yourself the simple but awaking question What is it that is holding me back from achieving my wish?, then identify how you’d deal with it if it happens and drastically increase your chances of making your wish come true.
Good luck and, as always, I’d love to hear about your progress and if you have any questions or thoughts they’re always welcome too.