How to Use Visualization to Achieve Your New Year’s Resolutions
New Years Resolutions, 90 day fitness challenges, the Whole 30, new gym memberships! Everyone is super amped up right now about their 2016 goals. All this New Year’s Resolution chatter got me thinking abut what I would offer as advice t0 someone who is determined to make self-improvements this year.
Surprisingly it wasn’t hard to narrow it down to one thing that I would recommend. It’s a tool that you should use regardless of what your goal is (fitness, business, personal). You’re probably familiar with the practice of visualization. Athletes and business tycoons have been using mental imagery to help them achieve their goals for decades.
Visualization techniques are also common amongst everyday ordinary people like you and I. However, when I discuss visualization techniques with most people, their approach differs quite drastically from mine. Let me explain.
For simplicity’s sake let’s use physique goals as the example in this article. What do most people want? Abs. As a coach that’s all I hear about, day in and day out. Ok, cool, you want abs. For years you’ve been gathering a mental database of “ideal body” visuals from the internet and magazines. Now all you have to do visualize your face on those chiseled bodies and that will provide you with enough motivation to reach your goal. Right? I really wished it worked that way but I can assure you that it doesn’t.
I’m going to explain the visualization process that works for me. I have used this approach for everything from sports, business goals, improving relationships, training, hitting PRs, body composition goals and even embracing the newest phase of my life, pregnancy.
I have one disclaimer before I break down the steps for you. You must have realistic goals for this process to work. For example, when I learned to ride motocross in my late 20’s I wasn’t visualizing being up top the Canadian Motocross Nationals podium with a trophy in one had and a bottle of bubbly in the other. That’s a pipe dream not a realistic goal. I simply visualized learning to be a confident, technical skilled recreational rider. If you feel that you might be in need of a reality check you should read my article, Stop Chasing Inappropriate Goals. You can find it HERE.
Step 1: Establish What you Need to Change
Deconstruct your goal. Break it down into the steps that are necessary to obtain that goal. This may require some education and research. News flash, everything is a learning process!
Now ask yourself; what are you currently doing and what change is going to be required? Using the example of getting lean & muscular enough to have visible abs, you’re going to need to exercise and follow a diet consistently, manage stress, sleep and recovery well, manage social pressures, temptation and probably some other unforeseen obstacles (life loves to throw curve balls). You need to identify and accept these facts before you can start the visualization process.
Step 2: Visualize Yourself Executing Change
Now that you understand the reality of what you need to d0, visualize yourself executing these new habits. Going to the gym, grocery shopping, educating yourself about nutrition, prepping your food etc. Focus on what you need to do to achieve your goals and make a plan rather than google searching fitness models during your lunch break.
Step 3: Visualize Your Attitude and the Energy you Give Off
Now that you are visualizing yourself executing change; ask yourself what kind of attitude you want to have throughout this process and how you want others to perceive you. You don’t want to be dragging your ass and pouting on the way to the gym, and you definitely don’t want to be the person who bitches and moans to co-workers about their diet every day. That shit gets old real fast and it doesn’t attract positive reinforcement from others, or positive people for that matter.
Visualize yourself with a positive attitude. I’m not saying that executing this is going to come easily at first but the wrong attitude is only going to make things significantly more challenging.
Step 4: Fall in Love with the Process of Becoming the New You
By visualizing yourself chipping away at your goals and overcoming obstacles with a positive attitude you are essentially creating a blueprint for your new and improved lifestyle – the new and improved you!
Fall in love with the process of becoming the new and improved you. Don’t misinterpret this as disliking the current you. You need to love her/him too but make the new you your role model.
Step 5: Connect and Call Yourself Out.
Now that you have visualized and fallen in love with your true potential, meditate on it daily. The stronger you connect with this vision the easier it will be to identify what current behaviours are holding you back. You must call yourself out on theses behaviours. While this may sound like a Jekyll and Hyde scenario at first, having a strong connection with the new you will provide heightened self -awareness of how you may be sabotaging your goals.
I’m going to add one more tip here for those of you who are considering throwing in the towel once the New Year’s hype starts to dwindle; if you feel like you want to give up, visualize not accomplishing your goals and the potential negative outcome. This can be equally as powerful.
Start Visualizing Today!
Anyone who has made great self improvements will tell you that success is a process, a journey so to speak. The steps outlined above can be applied to any situation that may arise throughout your journey.
In my experience, visualization techniques work best if you focus on the journey, and the emotions associated with it, rather than simply fixating on the destination.