In my post about how to get motivated, I explained the seven steps that you can use to kick start your motivation level. Step one is to start thinking about what a perfect day in your life might look like if it went exactly the way you wanted it to go from the moment you woke up until the moment you went to bed.
If you have never thought about doing this before, you might not know exactly how to visualize the perfect day. What I am going to do is walk you through exactly how I do it so you can use what I do to help you visualize what you want your day to look like. This same process will be one of the core processes used here at the Black Belt Project as you and I work our way through the belts to help you visualize not just what you want your day to look like - but your life as well.
Before I do that, I want to take a step back and talk about what visualization is, why it's important and more specifically the secret ingredient you need to make what you visualize something that you realize.
What Is Visualization?
Visualization is creating a mental picture in your head of a something you'd like to see happen in real life. One of the best examples of visualization that I have seen is the pre-flight briefing of the Blue Angels flight demonstration team. You can watch the video of this pre-flight briefing to your right.
Those of you who have seen the Blue Angels at an air show will know that they are an elite squadron of pilots who represent some of the best pilots in the Navy. They set the standard of excellence for pilots for their precision flying. Behind the scenes of this team is a lot of preparation and one of the steps they take is visualizing the show in their heads on the ground before they actually fly.
If you watch the video, you'll notice the flight commander meticulously goes through the routine they have planned for the air show including exactly what each pilot says as if they were actually in the air at that moment. Some of the pilots close their eyes and move their hands as if they are actually controlling the plane during the briefing. This mental exercise is visualization at it's highest level. They are creating an extremely clear and accurate picture of exactly what they are going to do so that when they set out to do it, they have conditioned themselves to be better prepared and carry it out successfully.
Of course, when you visualize the perfect day it won't be as dramatic as the Blue Angels of course, but this is exactly the kind of thing you need to do when you visualize what you want.
Why Is Visualization Important To My Success?
Now that you know what visualization is, why should you do it? Why is this a crucial step not only for motivational purposes but also for life mastery? The reason is that when you create a mental picture of what you want, you gain a better understanding of what you want in the first place. This mental picture that you create works much like a road map. It provides a destination - an end result. And then it's just up to you find the best way to get there.
Life is not unlike a trip. It's a journey. And just like any trip, the first thing you decide when planning a trip is where you want to go. While you could just hop in the car and take off, and that kind of spontaneity has an adventurous quality to it, it's just not as likely you'll enjoy that kind of trip as much as one that you set out to do with a specific destination in mind along with all of the things you might want to do when you get there.
Look at the visualization of your day - and your life - much like a post card taken from your favorite travel destination. The clearer you make it, the more likely you are to wind up there.
The Secret Ingredient That Makes What You Visualize A Reality - Taking Action
Once you start imagining what you want, just picturing it - even if you picture it with great clarity - isn't enough. So what is it exactly that makes what you visualize become a reality?
This is by far the most important part of the visualization process.
In order for your mental images to become a reality, there are actually three steps.
Step one: Clearly picture what it is that you want.
Developing a clear picture of what you want makes realizing it that much easier. Don't worry though if what you want is fuzzy and out of focus at first. Once you think about it more and more, it will sharpen up. But realize you want a clear picture to develop over time. The clearer it is, the better.
Step two: Ask yourself what do I need to do to make it happen?
Once you start creating an image in your mind of something that you want, the second step you should always take is to ask yourself what do I have to do to get it? This powerful question is an important part of why visualization works. That's because once you ask yourself what do I need to do, the brain kicks in and starts thinking of answers. They may not be the right answers at first and that's ok, but possible solutions start being offered.
What you do with those answers is probably more important. You could easily dismiss them all and this tells your brain that while it was indeed asked to picture what you wanted, it's not a serious request. Once your brain realizes that it's not important to you to really figure it out, it decides to move on to other subjects and that clear mental image of what you wanted disappears as quickly as it was formed.
Step three: Take an action step towards realizing it even if it's a small step
So that leads me to the third and most important step of visualization which is the the secret ingredient to making visualization really work in your life. It turns passive visualization into active visualization. That secret ingredient is taking a small action step towards what you are trying to get. Once you create an a clear image of what you want, ask your brain to give you possible action steps and then actually do one, the brain cements that picture in your mind by saying:
BRAIN: "OK. This is a serious request and we need to keep working on it."
And so once you take that action, it's as simple as repeating the question how do I get it? The more you repeat this process, the better answers you get and a clearer image of the end result is formed in your head.
I call this process active visualization because it combines a picture of what you want with action. Those two things combined are a powerful force and once you adopt them, you'll discover just how powerful they are. So I want you to remember the following formula as the key to successful visualization.
VISUALIZATION + ASK HOW + REPEATED ACTION = REALIZATION
This formula pays huge dividends when applied to your life. So the next step is for us to start applying it by developing a clear picture of what we want our perfect day to look like.
Where To Start When You Don't Know What You Want Your Perfect Day To Look Like
Getting what you want out of life would be a lot easier if we knew what we wanted. Obviously, if we had more money or more time, we could get a lot more out of life but those things while visualizations in and of themselves aren't specific enough and they are too far out in the future to get us moving now.
What I recommend then is to just start with one day of your life and ask yourself what do I want out of this one day. But even then, it's a potential road block you might not be able to get over. A day is 24 hours. What do I really want when I don't know what I am really working towards?
So while I want you to think in terms of the "perfect" day as the outcome, it's not important that you have a clear picture of what the whole day looks like completely the first time you sit down and think about it.
But what is important is that you ask yourself the following question:
"If I did have the perfect day, what would it look like?"
Your brain will then get to work and start providing answers.
Here are some things that I thought of for myself:
- I'd get up early and get started.
- I would work out.
- I would eat right.
- I would make more sales calls.
- I would spend more time with my family.
- I would take better care of myself.
The key here is to take note of each idea and write it down in a list. This clears your head and makes it possible for your brain to think of more ideas.
Once you've done this for a few minutes, you need to pick a place to start and for me, it makes the most since to start at the beginning of your day and write down the exact first thing you want to do and then second and so on. If you don't know the second thing or the third thing write down what you do know and then start planning on doing it.
So I look at my list and I say where does it make the most sense to get started. I see the one about getting up early and so I decide to start there.
- Get up
I then ask myself what would be the second thing I would want to do if I was wanted to have the perfect day and so to me the next logical step is to go to the bathroom. After that I might get a glass of water.
This gives me a list that says:
- Get up
- Go to the bathroom
- Get a glass of water
Now granted these aren't the most productive things I could have put on my list. They don't make me any more money or create more time but that's not what is important at first.
What is important is creating momentum and these easy mundane tasks help you do that when you start doing them on a daily basis and realization of a visualization through action creates a clearer picture of what your ideal day will look like. PLUS, it creates momentum to help you keep moving forward.
Once I wake up, go to the bathroom and then get glass of water. I've got to ask myself, if this was the perfect day, what is the very next thing I would do and then put it on my list and start doing it.
Over time, what's going to happen as I keep going through this process is I'm going to get better answers. I'm going to ask more questions like is that the best order to do those things I have on my list? What else can I add? Did I leave anything out?
But none of those things happen if you don't take action and get them out of your head and onto your checklist for the perfect day.
Putting them down on paper makes them even more clear, gets rid of mental overhead and clears your brain to focus and once the mundane tasks you have to do are on there, the more important things will start showing up.
As they do, you will start adding them and continue to ask the question, what would my perfect day look like. Eventually, the answer will be right in front of you on a neat and tidy checklist that covers the entire day and that will also break down the perfect day that you set out to visualize completely and clearly.