Confession: Waking up has been the hardest part of my day since I was in kindergarten.
I hit the snooze. Usually between 3 and 5 times. I know that’s bad.
But don’t worry, it’s not all for naught. After I hit snooze for the last time, I do something that sets me up for success:
I visualize my day.
I run through my schedule in my mind. I imagine how the day will play out, what I will accomplish, how I will handle the unexpected. I create a mental image of my day going the way I want it to. If there’s a meeting on my schedule that I’m nervous about, I put myself in that space mentally and imagine what confidence and success feels like in that situation. If I’m worried about having enough time to finish a project, I walk through the steps in my mind that will get me to the finish line. I mentally walk through my goals/tasks for the day, and imagine myself completing them
Now, you might be saying “this is all a bit too woo-woo for me” (that’s what I’d be saying prior to having started this practice!), but visualization is actually a very practical tool that’s backed by science.
Bonus points for the fact that it’s free and you can do it anywhere!
Here’s how it helps:
Visualization is practice
Sometimes called “mental rehearsal” or “mental practice”, visualization has been shown to increase the actual, real life performance of whatever you are visualizing. Studies show that athletes, musicians and even surgeons effectively use mental practice to aid their performance.
Visualization helps you stay focused
When you have an image in your mind of what your day will look like, it’s easier to notice when you start veering off your plan. Once you have the awareness, you’re able to redirect yourself to get back on track.
Visualization helps you decrease stress
There are studies that show that planning reduces stress as much as deep breathing and meditation. Visualization is another type of planning. When you envision your day and anticipate any possible hurdles you may face, you’ll be much less stressed if (and when) things don’t go as planned.
Want to try visualizing your day? Here’s how:
- With your eyes closed, mentally walk through your schedule for the day. (If you need to peek at your calendar on your phone, go ahead!)
- Talk (in your head, or out loud, your choice) yourself through what you’ll accomplish that day.
- If there’s anything you’re worried or stressed about, spend a little extra time visualizing that thing going well.
- End with a mental image of what a day well spent will look at feel like.
- Get up and start your day.
Now, if you think you can’t do this because you can’t possibly imagine what today will hold, then I have a challenge for you. Today, spend 10 minutes at the end of your day planning for tomorrow. Review your schedule and your to-do list, and make a realistic plan for yourself. Then tomorrow morning, before you set foot out of bed, visualize your plan.