January 1 is traditionally a time for setting goals. But within weeks, many people lose their motivation and abandon their New Year’s resolutions.
If you want to buck the trend and not only maintain your momentum, but also increase your chances of success, supplement your goal setting with visualization.
Harness the Subconscious Mind
Visualization – seeing the goal as already complete in your mind’s eye – is a core technique used by the world’s most successful people. Visualization is effective because it harnesses the power of our subconscious mind.
When we visualize goals as complete, it creates a conflict in our subconscious mind between what we are visualizing and what we currently have. Our minds are hard-wired to resolve such conflicts by working to create a current reality that matches the one we have envisioned.
Visualization activates the creative powers of the subconscious mind, motivating it to work harder at creating solutions. You’ll also notice new levels of motivation and find yourself doing things that normally you would avoid, but that will take you closer to success.
The third way visualization boosts success is by programming the Reticular Activating System (RAS), which serves as a mental filter for the 8 million bits of information that are streaming into our brains at any one time. (To learn more about the RAS, refer to Principle 11 in The Success Principles.)
The RAS thinks in pictures, not words. Daily visualization feeds the RAS the pictures it needs to start filtering information differently. As a result, your RAS will start to pay attention to anything that might help you achieve your goals – information that it otherwise might ignore.
Live in the Moment
Although a daily practice of visualization is vital, we don’t need to spend all day thinking about our goals for this technique to work. In fact, spending too much time in visualization can rob you of something essential – living in the moment.
Daily rituals help to establish the right balance between thinking about the future and living in the moment. Start by picking a time during which you’ll review your goals and visualize your success. Ideally, do this twice a day – first thing in the morning and right before you go to bed. The process typically will take 10 minutes or less.
If you meditate, do your visualizations immediately after your meditation. The deepened state reached during meditation heightens the impact of visualization.
For greatest effect, read your goals or affirmations out loud. After each one, close your eyes and create the visual image of the completed goal in your mind.
To multiply the effects, add sound, smells, and tastes. Most importantly, add the emotions and bodily sensations you would be feeling if you had already achieved your goal. Research has revealed that images or scenes that are accompanied by intense emotion will stay locked in our memory forever. The more passion, excitement and energy we muster during visualization, the more powerful the results will be.
Once you have visualized each goal as complete, it’s time to release. Let go of your goals, and spend the rest of your day being in the present moment.
Be Present Instantly
An easy way to instantly become present is to focus on your bodily sensations. It’s impossible to focus on our bodies and be in the past or the future at the same time.
For example, focus on your left foot right now. What are you feeling? Pay attention to the sensation for a minute. Then notice what you’re feeling in your right foot, and spend a few moments really feeling the sensation. If you were able to pay attention to your feet, congratulations. You were absolutely present.
If you find your mind drifting to the future throughout the day, let go of any fears or worries that arise. Shift your thoughts to what you want the future to look like when you get there. Then bring your awareness back to the moment.
As the saying goes, “Today is a gift—that’s why it’s called the present.” Use visualization to achieve your goals, but invest the majority of your time enjoying the gift of today.