Visualisation is a very powerful technique which improves performance and helps you to achieve things you can only dream of.
There is an area in your brain called the Reticular Activating System (RAS) which cuts out 99% of everything around you so you can cope with life. The conscious mind can only cope with a few things before it becomes overwhelmed, so the RAS is there to reduce the incoming information.
Have you ever experienced the situation where you have bought something new like a car and suddenly they are everywhere? This is because the RAS recognises that this car is important to you, so it allows these specific cars into your conscious mind.
However, after about a week this car is less important to you and the RAS recognises this, so it cuts out these cars being recognised by your conscious mind. You no longer see these cars.
Visualisation can help you achieve your dreams
In the same way when you visualise achieving something like buying a new car, getting married, writing a book, securing a new job, speaking on stage etc the RAS recognises that these are important to you, and it makes you aware of opportunities around you.
I haven’t got time to go into detail but by creating a Dream Board with pictures of things I wanted to achieve and visualising them every day many things appeared in my life as if by magic.
Things like, getting married, speaking in Dubai, writing 2 books, speaking across the world, speaking on a QE2 Cruise to New York, building a successful business, speaking in the Shard in London, speaking at a Nat West Bank Conference, working with Rolls Royce, delivering Mental Resilience Masterclasses across the world. All these have been achieved in the past 7 years from the age of 60 to 67.
These all appeared after I spent time visualising achieving them and feeling the feelings associated with each achievement. I teach people how to visualise professionally in my Mental Resilience Masterclasses and the feedback I receive from these sessions of how many things people have achieved is amazing.
Research shows that we change brain structure through repetition of imagining movements. Brain scans of people playing piano versus people imagining playing piano showed the same degree of changes in the same areas of the brain.
But to achieve the changes involves repetition of the movements – real or imaginary. When we stop doing the work, the brain regions shrink again. This is why consistency is vital. You don’t become an Olympic champion by going to the gym once. It’s important to do consistent visualisation practice to get the best results.
The USA Olympic Team
Research was also undertaken in America with the Olympic team, where they studied the impact of visualisation on their athletes. They put electrodes on athletes and measured the muscle movements as they ran a race.
They then had the same athletes sit in an armchair and visualise the same race just in their imagination. To their astonishment, they found that the same muscles fired off in the same sequence – with much smaller movements, but they were still there.
This is why Jack Nicklaus, the best golfer in history, never hit a shot in practice or in a match without first seeing every shot in his mind ‘like a colour movie’. We now know that he was actually physically practicing the shot even though he was only visualising in his mind.
Even though the muscle movements were tiny, they still had an impact in his game. Nowadays all top sports professionals use visualisation techniques to help their game.
The Basketball experiment
In another experiment on visualisation, four schools were chosen across a state in America and the basketball team from each school was split into three groups. They were all assessed for their accuracy in shooting free shots, where they stand 15 feet from the basket and try to get the ball in the basket.
The first group then had to shoot free shots for an hour a day for 30 days.
The second group had to do nothing.
The third group had to visualise shooting baskets for an hour a day for 30 days.
When they had completed the task, they were assessed again to see what improvement if any had been achieved. The results were staggering. The first group, who actually practised the shooting, improved by 24%.
The second group, who hadn’t practised at all, went backwards by 4%. Finally the third group, who only visualised practising, improved by an amazing 23%. This is remarkable but can be attributed to the fact that muscles are firing off even when visualising alone.
This technique works for a variety of people
More and more businesspeople are using visualisation to help them grow their businesses, with people like Sir Richard Branson, Sir Alan Sugar and Simon Cowell using this technique without even being aware of it.
All high achievers dream of what they want to achieve and this is in fact visualisation. They then put the hard work in to make these things happen, but visualisation is the driving force behind their achievements.
“If you can dream it, you can achieve it.” Zig Ziglar
- Take something you want to achieve, find an image which represents it and print it off.
- Look at the picture at least once a day.
- When you look at the picture, imagine yourself having achieved it.
- Experience the feelings you have as you visualise and connect with them.
- What can you hear as you visualise?
- Can you see movement in the picture?
- What can you touch?
- Can you move around and look around you?
- Repeat this every day and this will come to life in your mind and will increase the chances of you achieving it.
Visualisation is a technique used by successful people in all walks of life. If you really want something to come to fruition, then you must put your imaginative mind to work. See the right result in front of you, rehearse in your mind the game you are going to play, watch yourself accepting your degree at college or walking down that aisle. There are no limitations – the only limit is your own mind, so start dreaming big.
“Go confidently in the direction of your dreams. Live the life you have imagined.” Henry David Thoreau
Thoughts for the week
- This week see if you can experiment with visualisation.
- Pick a few things which you would like to achieve and visualise achieving these.
- Do this at least once a day.
- This takes time but if you keep going with this you will start to see doors of opportunity open in front of you.
- The RAS will start to work for you in amazing ways.
Well that’s it for this week have a wonderful week and start visualising.