“One of the main techniques I used was focusing on the goal and visualising myself competing in the race, before the race even started.” – Michael Johnson
“Create a picture of who you want to be then live into that picture as if it were already true.” – Arnold Schwarzenegger.
“I am not easily discouraged. I readily visualize myself as overcoming obstacles, winning out over set backs, achieving ‘impossible’ objectives.” – Bruce Lee
“ My method is different. I do not rush into actual work. When I get a new idea, I start at once building it in my imagination, and make improvements and operate the device in my mind. When I have gone so far as to embody the everything into my invention, every possible improvement I can think of, and when I see no fault anywhere, I put into concrete form the final product of my brain.”- Nikola Tesla.
Notice any similarities in the quotes above? Yeah, they all involve visualising what you want from life. I know the quotes are pretty random, in terms of the profession of the individuals quoting them but I just wanted to show you the breadth of successful people who understand the concept of visualisation.
This is just a tip of the iceberg of people who have used visualisation and swear by it. The list goes on from Connor McGregor to Albert Einstein and everyone in between.
What is visualisation?
When we visualise something it is as process of imagining our ideals in life. The beautiful thing about visualisation is that is we can imagine and visualise anything we want for ourselves, from the ideal body weight to the perfect job.
We were all born with the gift to visualise and imagine. This may be the single most important fact for our success that sets us apart from the other animals in our world. We can see that it is in our nature to visualise and imagine all we have to do is look at children. They visualise and imagine constantly. Their imagination is a lot greater than us adults.
So why have some humans stopped visualising?
Sadly as we have grown older our environment and outside influences have caused our imagination to dwindle. In our society it is seen as ‘time wasting’ or even stupid to imagine our ideals. When we are constantly told in school to ‘stop day dreaming’ or ‘get real’ we condition our minds to stop using the gift we were born with.
Our minds are like a muscle either use it, or lose it. And the same applies for visualising. If a person has conditioned themselves to stop using their imagination and only see what is in front of them, they find it very hard when trying to visualise a goal, dream, aim or ideal (whatever you want to call it).
For example, take person who has been over weight for a long period of time, worries about it constantly and always thinks of themselves as ‘fat’. Ask them to visualise themselves clearly as a fit, healthy and slim person. Most likely they will find this very difficult to do. This is because they have conditioned their minds to concentrate only on the things they can physically see and how they feel. A child does not have this problem.
If we concentrated only on what we can physically see, we would not have gotten this far in life. Take a plane for example. When a plane sets out on its journey, we can’t see our destination, yet we learn to use navigational equipment and have faith that the destination is there, and that we are heading in the right direction.
Every man made thing, every invention in our world is a product of someone’s imagination. Without visualising we would not be able to cover huge distances in airplanes, cross oceans, drive cars or reach outer space.
Visualising and the race to the Moon;
On October 4, 1957, a Soviet missile launched Sputnik, the world’s first artificial satellite and the first man-made object to be placed into the Earth’s orbit.
This wasn’t pleasing for the USA. In the United States, space was seen as the next frontier, a logical extension of the grand American tradition of exploration, and it was crucial not to lose too much ground to the Soviets.
In 1959, the Soviet space program took another step forward with the launch of Luna 2, the first space probe to hit the moon. In April 1961, the Soviet cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin became the first person to orbit Earth, travelling in the capsule-like spacecraft Vostok 1.
The Soviet Union was dominating the exploration of space and showing off its advanced and apparently unmatched technology.
Then in 1961, John F. Kennedy (then the U.S president) made a very bold statement of intending to LAND a man on the MOON by the end of the decade. This would have been the biggest achievement in human history and something that would have seemed impossible to achieve for the US within a decade.
This was an extremely daunting task for NASA with huge pressure. The whole world would now be watching to see if the U.S held up to their statement and no doubt the Soviet Union would have been hot on their trail.
So what did NASA do differently?
They visualised. To make this goal a reality, an image of the moon was projected onto the ceiling in the work lab of NASA scientists working on the moon landing project. The workers would imagine the moon landing and the image helped them to visualise their goal.
Sure enough Americans Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin landed on the moon on July 20, 1969 before the decade was out!
Now this might seem all a bit crazy to some of you reading, after all we were taught that visualising and imagining is ‘dreaming’ and some people stay away from it due to the fear of failure and letting themselves down, but the reason I tell you this is because of my own experiences of using visualisation.
I’ve always been the creative type. I love all forms of creative art and I studied animation design in university so as you can guess I never had a problem in visualising and imagining. I didn’t realise it at the time, but all the goals and things I achieved in life (good and bad) were the ones that I visualised and imagined on a regular basis. It suddenly occurred to me one day after a strange experience I encountered.
My Realisation of the Power of Visualisation.
Modest Dragon email subscribers would have already heard this story but I want to repeat it for the non subscribers that read the Modest Dragon website.
I trained with weights for years. No matter how much I trained or what I did, I would always have the ‘skinny fat’ body type (this is where a person looks skinny with a t-shirt on, but has a chubby belly underneath). I would bust my ass in the gym 4 days a week and nothing ever changed. One day I stood and looked in the bathroom mirror at myself with no top on. I had enough. It started to get to me that all this training was getting me nowhere.
I remember thinking WTF? Why is it that some people can change their physique but I can’t? (I had a conditioned mind of seeing only what was in physical appearance).
However, I did something different that day that changed the rest of my life and sent me on a mission to learn more about myself and start this blog (among other things).
What was it?
I started to visualise while looking at myself in the mirror. I started to imagine what it would be like if I had the body I wanted. I stood there visualising and imagining how I would feel and look. The more I imagined, the more detailed the image became. I would imagine every detail of this new body. I imagined all the cuts and curves, the individual separation of muscles.
I had no idea about the concept of visualisation at the time; to be honest I did it just because it made me feel better about myself.
The feeling I got from doing this was addictive. It was like an escape from the ‘real world’. And so, unintentionally I started to put myself back in this frame of mind and imagine I had this new body, all the time. I would do this throughout the day and night.
Then something shifted in my mind. Out of the blue I started to research like a mad man. I was reading books and articles on different training routines, workouts, diets, calisthenics programs, body fat percentages, macros, calories, compound movements and much more. I started to implement, and adapt this influx of knowledge I was learning. I had something inside me pushing and driving me to work out and learn more about training and diet. It was like I was obsessed.
There was a burning motivation that seemed to come from nowhere. I lost all feeling of tiredness or lack of desire when it came to training, even after a long day at work I would come back and train in the rain or snow (something that would previously would easily make me miss a training day!) And it all seemed effortless.
Fast forward 8 months;
8 months later I was in the bathroom and I looked in the mirror. What I saw SHOCKED the hell out of me. When I looked at myself, every single muscle, vein for vein was EXACTLY as I imagined it in my mind. No bullshit. It was like the image from my mind was printed on my body. I couldn’t even see veins on my body previously!
I was so happy I took a picture on my phone. Below is the picture I took, it’s a bit blurry due to my crappy outdated Samsung S2 (Being brought up in the Nokia days I find it hard adapting to the new smart phones. I always drop my phones and wreck them so I have now learned not to waste money on them. If it calls, and messages I’m cool with it!)
From a flabby belly and skinny arms, this was an enormous difference for me. I wish I had taken a before picture, but after training for years with no results, I had NO idea that this was going to happen in 8 months! And I continue to improve till this day.
I had literally become EXACTLY what I visualised and I also wanted to find find out what the eff actually happened. Why did this happen now after all the previous years of hard work and zero results? How did it happen? What did I do apparently right this time around? These were the questions running through my mind.
Why visualisation works
I’ve learned after a load of research, that when you imagine something and impress the image into your mind, your subconscious mind goes about finding ways to make it a reality.
The subconscious doesn’t know reality from imagination hence the reason we can get scared from scary movies, even though they are not real. When you think about it, we actually get physical reaction in our body from scary movies like sweating, heart beating faster etc even though our conscious mind knows it’s not real!
So what the subconscious mind does is it tries to make that image a reality. It will start to look for ways to make this true. That explains the constant reading, learning and trying out of different training routines during the 8 months.
What you need to do to make this work;
If your desire is strong and you have a clear detailed image of what you want, I have no doubt you will get what you want. The key is to not worry about when or how, but just allow the mind to work.
One very important thing is you have to take action. What I mean by this is, trust your mind and follow your intuition. If you get an inner urge to read something, go somewhere or do something, then do it.
Don’t sit on your ass expecting to reach your goal by ignoring your intuition and not acting upon it. If your desire is strong enough, all the activities involved in reaching your goal will lead you one step closet and it will seem effortless to you.
Quick tips for visualising your training goals;
1) Get a clear picture of what you want. You need to be 100% clear on your goal. Whether it’s to lose fat, get ripped, build muscle, get stronger etc…
2) Once you know what you want, Take 5 mins when you’re alone and imagine yourself as having reached that goal.
- What will you look like?
- How will you feel?
- What type of person will you be?
3) Now imagine this image as often as possible.
Things to remember:
- You must believe what you imagine to be real. As if you were that person. Try to act like it has already happened.
- Try to be specific and have a detailed image. Don’t worry if this seems hard to do at first. As I said, imagination is like a muscle and it needs to be trained if you have not been using it often. It will grow stronger everytime you use it. You will get better at visualising as you practice.
- Imagine and visualise as much as you can. The best times are in the morning and in the evening (mornings because your brain is in the alpha state when waking up, which gives easier access to the subconscious mind, and evenings because you allow our mind to stew overnight on your images and thoughts as you enter the realm of the subconscious in your sleep).
- You should also visualise throughout the day when possible. This is to deeply impress the image into your subconscious mind.
- It’s the ‘dominating thoughts’ that get impressed onto the subconscious mind. Not thoughts you have once or twice for a few minutes before you go back to your old limited thoughts.
I honestly can vouch for the power of visualisation. When I look back to the major events in my life they all have their roots from what I previously envisioned and imagined (some of it is mind blowing freaky!)
If you use the gift of visualising that you were given at birth, believe in what you imagine consistently, and act on your intuition then you WILL get what you want.
5 Reasons Why Some people don’t get what they want from visualising;
1) They don’t know clearly what they want.
2) They hardly think and imagine what they want. Only rarely and then they go back to their old thoughts of lack and limitations.
3) They put so much pressure on themselves that they become desperate for the outcome and then worry about how, when or why it will come. This causes them to lose faith and give up.
4)They don’t follow their intuition and take physical action.
5) They don’t believe it can happen, and so it doesn’t.
These types of people will be the first to say ‘I tried it and it doesn’t work’. To say that something ‘doesn’t work’ because they have tried and failed is narrow minded in itself. It’s not that visualising didn’t work for them, it’s the fact that they didn’t work for visualising. Their minds and attitude were not used correctly.
As Henry Ford once said “Whatever you think you can or can’t do, you are right.”
What are your thoughts? Have you ever used visualisation to achieve a goal? What was it? Let me know in the comments, it would be nice to hear.
PS- If you got any use from this post or know anyone that can benefit from it don’t forget to share this by using the social media buttons . Thanks!