The Power of Visualization

Visualization, meditation, mental rehearsal. You’ve heard of at least 1 of them, but have you actually put it to use?


For the sake of avoiding confusion, I’m just going to call it visualization. It’s a practice that has been around for much longer than you and me. It also has a number of benefits that you may not be aware of. How does less stress, improved focus, and a better chance of the outcomes you want to happen sound?


The actual process of visualization seems quite easy. Simply run through the scenario you want to happen in as much detail as possible. Easier said than done. Why? Because our minds are constantly being distracted by outside thoughts. In a span of 10 seconds you might have 10 different thoughts enter your mind. That makes it pretty hard to focus 100% on a single scenario.


To fully harness to power of visualization you need to learn to drown out all of the distracting thoughts. The ones that are completely unrelated to the course of action you want to take. Again, easier said than done. To accomplish this, it takes practice. The first few times you try it you’ll probably end up getting distracted and completely off track within a few minutes. That’s okay. The more you do it, the easier it will become to filter those thoughts out.


So what does the process actually look like? Ideally, you want to start out in an environment that’s as distraction-free as possible. This could be at home when no one else is around, or in a park where everything around you becomes a sort of white noise environment. From there, you simply want to run through the exact series of events that you would like to happen for whatever scenario you are thinking about. It could be about a board meeting, a presentation you have to give, or just your usual work day.


The key to successfully practicing visualization is to imagine everything in as much detail as possible. You want to make the scenario in your head seem as much like reality as imaginable. That means imagining yourself in the exact room or environment, hearing the conversations around you or your own voice, feeling the objects around you, smelling any particular smells. You want it to appeal to as many of your senses as possible. Again, making it feel as much like reality as possible.


Run through this visualization practice a few times, each time trying to imagine it in a little more detail than the last. The deeper you’re able to focus on the scenario itself, the less bombarded you’ll become by external thoughts. Now it’s your turn to give it a try. Think of an upcoming situation you’ll be in and go through the process of imagining all of the steps you’ll take in as much detail as possible. See how it changes the outcome when your thinking begins to influence the actions you take.


Jon Griffith specializes in optimizing performance for firefighters & police. Jon is a personal trainer, firefighter, and former U.S. Army infantryman. He lives in Austin, Texas with his wife and 3 cats.

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