If you spend anytime reading about personal development you will come across the concept of visualization. I first stumbled across the concept in depth when reading the book The Miracle Morning. Visualization plays an essential part in the SAVERS routine outlined in the book. As I began creating my morning routine, visualization was the hardest part for me to implement, and even now it’s the thing that’s the most hit or miss in my processes. However, as hard and awkward as visualization can be, I’ve found it to be a powerful tool, especially when used with the appropriate expectations. In my experience the power of visualization shows up when used to better focus your day and goals. I’ve written before about the importance of desired states of being, and in order for visualization to work for me, I have to have a good sense of my desired states of being.
What visualization can and can’t do:
Visualization won’t tell you what you want; you have to do the work to figure that out for yourself. Visualization will not create things that don’t exist in your life. You cannot use visualization to imagine things into existence. Visualization won’t create something out of nothing, and it won’t set your goals for you. I’ve found visualization to be a great tool for managing my emotions, focusing my time, and increasing my awareness of opportunities that fit my desired states of being while filtering out things I don’t actually want. Every day you are presented with a lot of decisions and choices. Starting my day with visualization allows me to make better choices throughout the day by continually putting in front of me what I really want out of life. Visualization empowers me to say no to more things, even good things, that don’t fit for me right now.
On a practical level my practice of visualization has two parts --
I visualize my day:
Whenever I use visualization I spend part of the time imagining my day going just like I want based on what I know lies ahead for that day. I picture myself getting to work smoothly without getting hung up in traffic, getting to work with all the necessary things I need for the day, being patient with coworkers, staying focused and efficient in my tasks, and ending the day satisfied with my effort. I picture myself making my way home, again with no traffic, and being present with my wife and daughter during dinner and family time after dinner. Spending time first thing in the morning picturing my day going as planned allows me to more quickly catch my emotions or reactions when they start to bring things off the rails. It allows me to see how much control I really do have in my own life. When emotions start to creep up within me as a reaction to things happening in my day, I’m able to quickly catch myself and think, “no this isn’t what we decided on and visualized this morning”. It doesn’t always work, and of course any given day is full of unexpected things, but visualization allows me to be in the right frame of mind to deal with those things as they come up.
I visualize my life:
I also spend time visualizing my day going the way I want in a more perfect world. I’m not talking about imagining my perfect vacation; I’m talking about imagining doing the work I want, spending time with the people I want, based on the schedule I want. You may not actually know what a day would look like if you had everything you wanted from your job and time. Do your best to envision this. This isn’t the place to let your logic side take over and talk yourself out of what a great day would look like. Envision your day leaving the house you want, wearing the clothes you want, getting into the car you want, to go to the job you want working with people you like in that office you’ve always imagined. For me, my goal is to retire early by investing in real estate. So often times I’ll imagine leaving my house and getting in my truck and driving to an investment property to take a look. I’ll imagine having a meeting with investors to present a project, and heading over to another project to get some subs started on a job. I haven’t done most of what I’m visualizing, and if these things come to be, more than likely they won’t be like I’ve imagined them, but that’s not the point. Let me give you an even more practical example. Before my daughter was born I sold my truck. I don’t regret many things I’ve done in life sofar but selling that truck was one of them. So since then I’ve wanted another truck, but it hasn’t been in the cards financially. At some point I started envisioning myself driving a truck again. I envisioned a Ford Raptor, which is my dream truck, or a big F250. Some time ago the opportunity came up to purchase (for a great deal) a 2005 Toyota Tacoma and I jumped on it. I wasn’t shopping;, the opportunity simply came my way. I believe that opportunity would’ve come my way with or without the Raptor visualization; I also believe if it hadn’t been for visualization I wouldn't have recognized that opportunity for what it was and moved on it -- it would’ve passed me by. I’m not driving the truck I envisioned in my morning routine, but I’m driving a truck now. The power of visualizing isn’t in getting the thing you want, it’s in making you more aware of the opportunities that cross your path that will bring you the things you want.
Visualizing owning your day doesn’t only include things going well. Part of my visualization includes things I anticipate might go wrong, but I visualize myself reacting to them in a way that I can be proud of. I know about a lot of the things that pop up in my day that derail me, and it’s not so much the event itself that is frustrating so much as my reaction to it. I spend some time visualizing a situation that I think might happen (or has happened in the past) and how I could react to it better.
At first visualization was an awkward process for me. It took me a lot of time to get to a place where I was comfortable and less distracted during this time. However, after some focus and practice it has become a normal and essential part of my daily routine. I even find myself in rare moments of quiet going to that place of visualization. Visualization, like any positive change or habit takes practice. Start with a few minutes and you’ll be surprised where it can take you.