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Using Visualizations to Propel Achievement


The amount of our endurance is directly proportionate to the clarity of our vision. 

When we have a crystal clear picture of what we want in life, and we spend a lot of time thinking about it, then there is naturally a strong connection to how doing the short term sacrifices we’re asking ourselves to make today forward us toward that future. 

It thereby creates a context for action to take place and our discipline engages almost automatically. That then inspires and empowers us to do the hard work necessary that it will take to achieve that vision. It gives us a “reason” to set specific targets and goals, layout a plan, and then execute the actions that will make the vision a reality.

However, if we have a cloudy picture of what we want for our life or future, then there is at best a convoluted connection to how the sacrifices we’re asking ourselves (or others) to make forwards us towards that future.

There is no context for action and so it becomes almost impossible to “motivate” ourselves. In that scenario we don’t have sight of the long term payoff and so we typically procrastinate or get distracted from doing the hard work it takes to be successful. When we don’t do the necessary work, then we ultimately don’t achieve our long term goals.
On the surface we might then think that the reason we didn’t hit our targets was because we didn’t take the right actions – which would be true. But a part of the underlying reason why is because we never had the compelling vision to inspire us to take the necessary actions.

What we have learned at Southwestern is that most people then struggle not just from a lack of discipline; but also a lack of vision. 

We either don’t have a clear enough picture of what we want in our life or we don’t spend enough time thinking about it. 

If you can see the vision, then you have a reason to do the work to earn it.  

If you can craft the vision, then you’ll develop the confidence to work a plan that makes it come true. 

If you can clarify the vision, then you will catalyze your own action. Which is why one of the first orders of business when we coach a client is that we take them through a series of different questions and exercises to clarify their life vision. 

And when we talk about vision, one element of a great life vision is being able to see actual pictures of what you want your future to look like. It’s a “visualization” if you will. We often encourage our clients to put together vision boards. 

Another simple but powerful exercise you can do is to add a visualization or two to your overall life vision by writing out a future scene of exactly what you want to accomplish in your life. 

The more clearly you can see it, the more likely it is to come true. And if it’s ever going to become true in real life, you first need to be able to see it in your mind. 

One technique to help you create stronger visualizations is to write in a way that is V.A.S.T.  

That is that when you write out a visualization, you write a future picture or scene you want to live into that describes the following elements:

V. Visual – Something that you can see. What is around you? What does it look like? Describe the setting. Describe the colors. Who is there with you? What can you see?

A. Audio – What can you hear? What sounds are happening around you? Is there a noise in the background? Is there music playing? Is there a specific set of words you will be hearing from a specific person in your life?

S. Smell – What can you smell? Are you outdoors or indoors? Is there food? Is it a certain season of the year? Smell is one of the most powerful triggers we have so if you can associate a specific scent with achieving your goals then it will have a very visceral effect on you. 

T. Touch – What can you touch? What are you physically feeling with your hands? Most importantly is how are you feeling inside? What emotions are you experiencing? 
The VAST technique is a modified version of something I learned from one of my speaking coaches, Craig Valentine the 1999 World Champion of Public Speaking about how to improve your storytelling. 

It serves not only as a good strategy for telling stories though; but also for creating them. 

Your vision is the purpose of your life.
Your visualizations are part of the future story of your life. 

Your ability to write that story often precedes your ability to live it. 

The more clearly you can see it in your head; the more likely it will come true in your life because the more willing you are to do the work it will take to get there. 

In that way, our endurance is directly proportionate to the clarity of our vision.


Daily Discipline Habit #3 – End Your Day With Vivid Visualization

How you end your day is as important as how you start your day.

Unfortunately, for many of us we just wind down watching TV and then shut our mind off at the end of the night with no real intention about how we wrap up a day.

How to end my day was another habit I learned from an Ultra-Perfomer when I was fairly young.

And it has been the single most powerful success habit in my own life that I have done each and every night for the past 12 years.

I fall asleep thinking about the future.

Think about what you want. EXACTLY what you want. Work to see in your mind as vividly as possible what it is that you want for your life.

What do you want your life to look like? What is your next most inspiring goal? What house do you want to have? What do you want to accomplish? What car do you want to drive? What trip do you want to take? Etc.

But don’t just think about it in some cloudy or vague way. SEE it. See it as a picture. See the colors of the situation. What can you see? What can you hear? Who is with you? What can you touch? What can you hear? Where are you? And how do you feel?

What was once a scene of getting my black belt, later became the moment of getting a full ride scholarship, then it turned into getting a massive summer paycheck at Southwestern, after that it was seeing myself on stage at the Toastmasters World Championship of Public Speaking collecting my trophy, then it was imagining a giant room of people at a Southwestern Consulting seminar, then it was walking through an airport and seeing a book with my name on it and a New York Times bestseller burst right on the cover.

They were all seen as scenes in my head, first. That was long before they ever actually came true. It seemed stupid to me at first too. But it doesn’t any more.

Now I have the confidence of knowing that virtually every Ultra-performer does the exact same thing in their own life when they lay their head to sleep.

Do you?