Train Your Brain to Help You

Why elite performers use visualization to achieve goals

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The mind's eye: see it to achieve it
The mind's eye: see it to achieve it

In business we conduct scenario planning exercises all the time. We do sensitivity analyses.  We communicate in best-case, worst-case, likely-case terms. These are all exercises to strengthen the company’s ability to perform by envisioning the future. Why don’t we do more of this for ourselves?

We can strengthen our own performance in a similar way through visualization. Visualization is a common technique used by those who perform at elite levels–athletes, musicians, actors, surgeons, performers of all kinds where the stakes are high. And I would say the future we want for ourselves is a pretty high stake.  

When you visualize yourself achieving a goal, the brain engages in the same activity as if you physically performed the goal. With visualization, the brain’s Reticular Activating System (RAS) becomes more discriminating in what it raises to your conscious awareness.  In other words, visualization keeps your brain focused on achieving your goal.

The RAS is a bundle of neurons that filters information that’s of interest to you. If you remind the RAS what’s important to you through visualization, the RAS better filters through the 11 million bits of information in your subconscious and raises the most relevant 40-120 bits to your conscious awareness. 

Consider using visualization to play out your personal high-stakes scenarios such as:

  • Asking for promotions, raises, leaves, resignations
  • Prepping for job interviews
  • Delivering feedback (positive and negative)
  • Managing challenging employees or clients
  • Balancing personal and professional priorities day-to-day
  • Rehearsing an important presentation

Do you have 2021 priorities or expectations that would benefit from visualization?  See your success in your mind’s eye. Activate the RAS. It costs no money; it doesn’t hurt (unless you maybe fall out of the chair while doing it); and it puts the brain on your side.

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