In 1995, a researcher called Alvaro Pascual-Leone decided to test the power of visualization. He took a group of people who had no experience playing the piano. Over the course of one week, he taught them a simple melody using just a few notes and that they could play on the keyboard using just one hand.
Over the next five days, he had half the participants practice playing the melody on the piano – banging on the keys and refining their performance out loud. The other half of the participants were asked to sit in front of the piano and not play, or even touch the instrument, but to simply visualize themselves playing the tune on the keys.
After five days, both groups of participants had experienced the same changes in their brains – those who had merely visualized playing the piano had the same kind of brain activity as those who had played the keys.
While the ability to play beautiful music is indeed its own reward, it turns out imagining playing it can produce the same changes in your brain.
Keep imaging good things. Keep visualizing yourself doing great things. Because if it’s true that we become what we think, then shouldn’t we think of ourselves in the best possible way. Shouldn’t we visualize our successes so we can become them? Shouldn’t we see ourselves fulfilled so we can become our dreams? Shouldn’t we imagine ourselves living the life we want so we can work towards having that life? Yes, yes and yes!
On Sunday, I attended a workshop where one of the activities was a creative method to figuring out a strategic plan:
- First, visualize yourself reaching some future goal – imagine what it looks like to be at that place in life. Write down not just what it looks like but engage all the senses associated with being in that place – what does it smell like, sound like, feel like even taste like. If you imagine yourself making your first million, what kind of foods do you buy now that you’re rich? What does fancy Swiss chocolate taste like?
- From that place of accomplishment, reflect back on what the past (your present) looks like now that you’ve reached your goal.
- Finally, figure out the steps that would help you move from the present (step 2) to the projected future (step 1)
I thought that was a creative approach. When I imagined myself in my future, I have to say reaching my goals feels good. And until I get there, I am visualizing that success and grateful that the steps to getting there are achievable. It’s a lot but it’s not impossible.
But if our thoughts can exert a physical influence on us, and if our brains can change our actions, we should use it to help, instead of hinder, us, right?
Imagine what you can become and then go work your butt off becoming it!