Do you have big goals, but you can’t find the energy to make things happen?
Because I’d like to tell you about a quick and easy visualization technique that’ll help you to motivate yourself.
If you browse through my previous posts, you’ll see that I didn’t publish a single thing for 20 months. I’ve been terribly stuck and couldn’t motivate myself to write anything at all.
This visualization technique has helped me to recover from my motivational slump. What’s more, I’m convinced, if it worked for me, it could work for you as well.
So, keep reading and follow the step-by-step process…
1. Commit to Practice 30 Seconds Daily For 30 Days
We all know that we build habits through repetition and frequency.
For this method to work, you’ll need to discipline yourself to practice every day for at least one month.
The good news?
Instead of spending 10-20 minutes a day, this method works with only 30 seconds. Not more.
This makes this exercise incredibly easy, and you won’t have any excuses to not do it.
I know from my own experience that if you promise yourself to visualize for longer than that, you’re likely to fail. It’s not convenient, and the inhibition threshold is too high to stick to it.
So, mark your calendar with an ‘X’ when you start today and add another X for each following day. Keep it rolling, and don’t break the chain.
2. Specify the Task You Want Motivation For
Decide right now, what’s the task you should be doing?
To program your mind effectively, you need to define the precise action or set of actions you’re about to build up motivation for.
Mentally isolate the specific actions you would be taking if you wanted to make actual progress.
Think of, say, a project you wanted to get into. Or the exercise program you wanted to start.
For me, e.g., in order to motivate myself to feed this blog with content, my specific action is: Sitting at my keyboard and typing articles in Scrivener, my writing program.
In short, single out the one essential action that causes you the most mental friction.
3. Define Your Action Location
Now decide where you’re going to take action.
Ask yourself, at what exact place would you perform your task?
This is an important step. The more specific you get, the bigger the impact on your mind. Even if you’ve got a choice of multiple locations, narrow it down to one for now.
For me, it’s at home at my desk, in front of my monitor. Perhaps for you, it’s the bench press in the gym or the computer in your office.
4. Take a Deep Breath, Relax, and Smile
You can practice anywhere you want.
What most important: whenever you practice, take on a relaxed, cheerful attitude. You want to associate your future performance with good, positive feelings.
Therefore, just before you begin your mini-visualization, inhale deeply, put a mirthful smile on your face —even If you need to force yourself— and relax your muscles.
5. Run Through a 30-Second Mental Rehearsal
Here, we begin the actual programming of the mind.
In your mind, run through a quick mental movie of yourself performing your key action at your target location.
Since we only spend a brief moment visualizing this sequence, you can run through it in a time-lapse.
You don’t need a timer. Just estimate 30 seconds.
6. Pretend Your Eyes Are the Camera Lens
Instead of viewing yourself from an external perspective, watch your mental movie as if your eyes were the camera lens.
So, when you think of, say, getting some writing done —with your eyes as the lens— you’d see your monitor in front of you and your typing hands.
You wouldn’t actually see much of your body or your chair.
This camera perspective works better than watching yourself from an external view. The closer you get your simulation to a real-life experience, the more you can trick your mind into believing you’re actually physically doing what you visualize.
7. Add Senses and Feel Your Muscles Move
Pretend you’re actually engaged in the action.
Go through your mental rehearsal and saturate it with colors, sounds, feel, even smell if you can. On top of that, imagine the movements of your muscles.
For example, when I type on my keyboard, I feel my fingertips touching the keys, hear the clicking sounds, and see the text appearing on my monitor.
I also get a sense of how the small muscles of my arms and fingers would move when typing.
Here, again, the more realistic your simulation, the more effective this mental rehearsal exercise.
8. Reward Your Imagined Accomplishment with Positive Feelings
You want to finish your imaginary performance on a high note, with a sense of achievement, and build anticipation for doing it in real life.
When you end your visualization exercise, see yourself completing your task. Infuse that moment with positive feelings.
Wouldn’t you be more confident and happy that you finally made some change, progressed toward your goal? Just think of how relieved, proud, joyful you’d feel in reality.
Tap into those sweet emotions and fuse them with your moment of accomplishment.
That moment of accomplishment could be finishing the last rep of an exercise routine or, for me, it’s pressing the blue “Publish” button in WordPress.
When to Visualize?
In general terms, you could visualize at any time of the day. However, the best time for visualization is at night when you go to bed and in the morning when you wake up.
Let me explain:
1. When You Wake Up in the Morning
Right after you awake in the morning, you’re still deeply relaxed, susceptible to self-hypnosis, and you can access mental imagery most easily.
2. When You Drift Off to Sleep at Night
At night you’ll be relaxed and sleepy again. As soon as you got to bed, play with your mental rehearsal. If you don’t excite yourself too much by the positive infusion (step 8), you could run it in a loop until you fall asleep.
Bonus: Use Habit Stacking with Visualization
In his book Atomic Habits, James Clear introduced a method called habit stacking. In a nutshell, you stack a new habit to an old, hardwired one.
For example, each time you get your morning coffee (old, hardwired habit), you run through your motivational visualization method (new habit).
It works like a charm.
How Clearly Should You Visualize?
While clarity matters, don’t worry if you can’t actually create strong visual mental images.
You can program your mind by substituting vision with your other senses. Focus on sound, touch, and in particular, physical motions.
In fact, mentally rehearsing physical movements is part of the training regiment of many pro athletes. It’s proven to reinforce performances that are imagined.
What if You Can’t Visualize?
You really can’t imagine anything at all?
Here are three alternatives for you:
1. Write About Your Performance
Take 30 seconds to write down what and how you would perform. Write quickly and add good emotions in writing.
2. Talk Out Loud
Instead of writing, talk to yourself about what you’d do, how you would do it, and how, as a result, it’d make you feel.
3. Engage Your Body
Instead of performing the action in your mind, pretend to act in reality. Pantomime and speak out loud describing what you’re doing. It’s kind of like shadowboxing, where you rehearse without physical contact with an actual opponent.
Of course, you can combine these three alternatives.
What’s more frustrating than witnessing your life rush by, your dreams unfulfilled, your potential not realized… just because you can’t convince yourself to take action?
Everyone seems to know this. We are universally tormented by our consciences for what we know we should have done yet did not do.
Beyond Order: 12 More Rules for Life” by Jordan B. Peterson
Perhaps you can’t force yourself to take action overnight. But, you can prime yourself, gradually building up motivation through visualization.
With each repetition, you create momentum. And the mind can’t really distinguish between imagined or real-life action.
The more often you repeat an action, the stronger the resulting habit. Frequency = strength of habit.
And, once a habit is established, it becomes automatic.