While I was interviewing one of the Team for an upcoming article we got to talking about mood boards. He was planning of making one to hang on his wall for daily inspiration – I refrained from telling him that I had a million online versions on my Pinterest account – but it did get me thinking.
When we have goals in mind, whether it be a promotion and the lifestyle that comes with it, or the way that you want you wedding to look (the reason for my Pinterest obsession) humans naturally seek out visuals to help motivate us towards that goal.
The fact is, that very few of us are capable of processing information without a visual element to it. Think about it, when you read a book you imagine the characters, you form a mental image of how you imagine the characters would look. Or say your pal calls to tell you they’ve dyed their hair from blonde to black – you immediately demand a photo because in your head that person has blonde hair and your brain needs visual help changing that information.
The human brain is wondrous, but the way we think can actually be quite limited. When we learn new information our brains immediately seek to categorize it and file it away with similar information. When we go to remember that new information we retrieve it via synaptic relays, the strength of that neural pathway determines how capable we are in using that information. So now you know that scientific explanation behind why practice makes perfect – how can this help you visualize and achieve your goals?
Well visualization might seem similar to daydreaming or fantasizing but there are crucial differences that makes visualization a powerful tool for goal setting. When you fantasize you only experience the euphoria of the end of the goal, the reward or accomplishment phase, you’re on the stage performing for thousands, you’re on a yacht in the Seychelles, you’re looking trim and fabulous in your wedding dress – but what makes visualization different and powerful is that you imagine the processes you require to get you to that reward.
Sports psychologists have long been encouraging athletes to use the power of visualization to enhance their performance, athletes from Wayne Rooney to Muhammed Ali – and you can bet Floyd Mayweather is visualizing winning his fight tomorrow night every punch, every duck and every weave.
It’s undoubtedly a multi million dollar business, with books like The Secret and How Winners Win topping best seller lists the tricks of visualization have gone from psychologist strategy to mainstream media.
So I asked around The Interactive Team HQ to see what people visualized throughout the day and how it helped them.
Suzanne, a colleague in another office, had been working towards a target all week, and when she hit it the office erupted into cheers “you can only do your best,” she said modestly. What did she visualize when working towards her target this week? “I have a Mulbery handbag that I really want to get, that’s my long term goal at the minute, every time I hit a target I think of that.”
Our Head of Recruitment, Stacey Smith, has this tip “when I’m having a bit of a dip in my day and things are just getting a bit nuts, I shut my eyes for a moment and I picture my house. I walk through the halls of my five bedroom dream home, I put my Chanel clutch down on the granite workbench in my kitchen and I make a coffee from my shiny coffee machine”
Managing Director, Gilles Baudet, shared a more business focused visualization that he focuses on frequently “I see the people that I brought on Top Gun as Directors, I think about what steps going forward I need to take each day with each person to get them to that stage. It absolutely motivates me, and I hope it motivates them too to know I take their careers so seriously.”
My visualizations are nowhere near as progressed as my colleagues, and not even close to that of Managing Director, Gilles Baudet’s, but I’m getting there. Instead of fantasising of fitting perfectly into that wedding dress I’ve begun acknowledging the process of getting there. To whit I now have a graph beside my desk where I can check off every glass of water I drink, so I can say to reach my fantasy, I need to do x, y and z and it will become a reality.
With visual reminders, both mental and physical I’m that much closer to making it a reality, and you could be too. Good luck!