Monday, December 27, 2010

Visualize Your Way to Success

We're moving into the New Year and, like many, you are likely beginning to think of what you want to achieve over the course of this brand-spanking new year!  There may be some hesitation in creating this new vision for yourself though, given that you may not have managed to realize the goals that you set for yourself this past year.  What can you do this year to make it better, to increase your odds of success?  Take a lesson from professional athletes, sit back and 'visualize' your way to success!

If you can't picture what 'success' for you looks like, it you can't visualize (in detail) taking the steps needed to accomplish it, then you are missing out on a very powerful tool in helping you not only reach, but quite possibly exceed, your goals.  Trust me on this - if you can't 'see' it, you likely will never achieve it.  Our unconscious mind has difficulty in deciphering reality from fantasy.  Therefore, it tends to try to deliver whatever images and scripts you feed it.  The clearer the picture, the more successful.

Soviet sports scientists conducted a study on the effect of mental training and conditioning (which included visualization) on the performance of world-class athletes at the 1980 Olympics.  They divided the athletes into four groups.  Group 1 received 100% physical training and conditioning, Group 2 received 75% physical and 25% mental conditioning, Group 3 received 50% physical and 50% mental, while Group 4 received 25% physical and a whopping 75% mental conditioning.

Certainly, researchers were expecting the athletes receiving 100% of their training through physical conditioning to perform the best.  However, they found instead that Group 4, those receiving the greatest level of mental conditioning, showed more improvement than Group 3, Group 3 showed more improvement than Group 2 and Group 2 showed more improvement than Group 1. Clearly then, the mental training and conditioning proved to be significantly more important to their overall success than physical conditioning alone.

In another experiment, researchers took a look at Basketball free-throws.  The subjects were divided into three groups.  Each was tested for their free-throw accuracy prior to beginning any conditioning.  Group 1 physically practiced their free-throws for 20 days. Group 2 didn't practice in any way for the 20 days, while Group 3 spent 20 minutes per day visualizing themselves throwing free-throws successfully.  The results?  Group 1 improved their scoring by 24%.  Group 2 (who had done nothing) showed no improvement.  Group 3 - who had only visualized themselves throwing - improved by 23%.  Mentally practicing their free-throws resulted in an almost identical level of performance improvement as had the physical practice.

Now imagine the results of combining the two - physical and mental practice.  This is a Key Success Strategy.  Consider now though, what messages are you replaying in your unconscious mind?  Do you clearly see yourself succeeding at each task or do you visualize yourself failing, or messing up in some way?  What are you programming your brain to live to?  Our perceptions of what we can do, can be, can have... help to determine what we do, be, have in our lives. 

If you can't imagine yourself wowing your audience, getting that promotion, making over $100,000 a year (or more!), then you likely won't.  How often do you catch yourself starting sentences with... I'm not... I can't?  Consider that each of these statements is sending a visual image of that failure to your unconscious mind, telling it that you should be less.

Andre Agassi, tennis great, once said he had won Wimbledon already 10,000 times, before ever actually competing in it, because he had visualized it over and over in his head since he was 5 years old.  For him, winning Wimbledon in actuality was just a repetition of what he had already accomplished in his mind and knew he could do.

Your Assignment?  (you knew this was coming!)  What one 'thing' do you want to achieve, to do better?  Craft your visualization.  Make it as detailed as possible, adding more to it each time you walk through it.  Add in as much texture (what can you feel, hear, see?) as you can.  The more detailed, the more realistic, the more 'real', the more powerful.  Run over the visualization until the script becomes as comfortable to you as putting on your favourite pair of jeans.

This Success Secret may just prove to be the key to unlocking potential that has been largely untapped, by breaking through hidden barriers and negative scripts, helping you to live more fully to your potential.  Let's hear it for a New Year and a New Start!

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