the power of visualization

I’ve heard about the concept of visualization many times over the years, and recently I was reading a book about the power of the mind. It argued that you can heal yourself, improve memory exponentially, and become a better navigator all through the power of mental imagery. In other books, I’ve heard that you can “practice” a sport or instrument mentally and actually become more proficient at it. They cite sports teams that do this regularly. In still other books, I read about visualizing your day in the morning, picturing everything you want to get done and how you’ll do it, how you’ll feel, etc.

I love this advice and implement it as much as possible. Usually I just stick to visualizing my day; that’s fairly simple and doesn’t take much time. But if there’s a commitment or obligation I have that I’m not excited about, I can visualize going, and by the time that thing rolls around, I’m fully prepared. With visualization, you can reduce unpleasant surprises.

I also visualize who I want to be and where I want to end up. Envisioning the end unconsciously makes me act out those things. It’s like the old advice about writing down specific goals. I won’t go looking for those statistics, but apparently people who write down their goals are something like 90% more likely to achieve them than people who don’t, ceteris paribus. Don’t quote me on that, but it was a really high number. I don’t think I read about why that happens, but something about the act of writing it out, internalizing it, helps you work it out in reality.

In fact, one really enjoyable exercise I like to do is to plan out my ideal day. If I had no job and no school, or my dream job, what would my perfect day look like? I wrote it out exactly, from waking up to sleeping, and boy was it a heady experience. I mean, I could taste the coffee whose steam wafted over the vistas of mountains and ocean (cough). I’m hoping that by doing this, I’ll actually build some of the habits I dream about into my current routine. Baby steps, y’all. Baby steps.

otter.

bingo!

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Occasionally I’ll look back over my most motivational posts and say to myself, “Yeah, that’s a fantastic point! I so agree with that! How inspiring!” Aside from being shamelessly self-serving, I love going back to see what I was thinking and feeling in the past. I’m sure most of you have experienced revisiting interests and feeling the desire burn once again. It’s the same for me.

Here are some of my favorite motivational, dream-chasing, kick-in-the-pants posts;

otter.

living with purpose

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In many of the motivational books I read, I see the same advice; make choices everyday that move you towards your goal. This rule applies if you’re learning a language, trying to instill a character trait, or wanting to get fit.

First you define your goal or result, then break it down into smaller steps. After that, you work every day on those steps, and every thought, word and deed needs to be aligned to your purpose.

My purpose, or goal of the moment, is to live in Korea. I can break it down into smaller steps like this;

  • be reasonably fluent in Korean
  • play ukulele (I want to use this in my lessons, so it’s relevant)
  • have an amazing blog while in Korea
  • eat organically and exercise

Each of these steps I can also break into smaller pieces, and each of those into smaller, and so on ad infinitum.

What I love about this advice is that you literally have to make every minute of every day filled with whatever your goal is. I can’t have negative thoughts about learning a language, I can’t have low self-confidence, I can’t skimp on my blogging, and I can’t let myself get lazy, because all those are building habits that are stalling my goal. Instead, I need to constantly be thinking of Korean, I need to be working and planning my blog, I need to practice ukulele every day and try to implement small health improvements where I can.

This also means I can’t fill up my head and time with superfluous fluff that detracts from my goal. So even if I’m watching TV, I ought to make sure it’s Korean or be practicing uke at the same time.

I think that this can get exhausting though – maybe some people would be able to keep their goal fanatically in their minds, but I need some downtime occasionally where I really let my mind as well as body relax. Of course, I tend to do this too much, so who am I to advise it? >.>

Here are my small things that I’m doing to move me towards my goal;

  • practice Korean with my friends when I see them
  • listen to a Korean lesson three times a week
  • practice uke 30min a day
  • carry a blog journal/have intense sessions of writing 2 or 3 posts at a time
  • workout 3 times a week/park farther away and walk more

I also need to have a better attitude towards school, since that is something that is making my life in Korea possible. Ah, school, what a complicated relationship we have.

otter.

success revisited

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In this picture I’m in Taiwan, at the foot of Alishan mountain with a great friend. I count that successful, and I sure as heck wouldn’t have wanted to be anywhere else…take that OCD!

I recently read this article on the All Groan Up site. It reminded me of when I first started thinking about what success means. Success is often viewed as an unyielding standard to which we all aspire. But this definition is wrong. Success is inherently personal in that embodies the dreams and desires of each individual.

I won’t reiterate my idea of success – it hasn’t changed all that much. But recently, I have been losing sight of it. I was glad to read the above article and be reminded that success is measured by my own standards, not some universal constant of which I am constantly falling short.

The All Groan Up site frequently mentions OCD. Not the usual “Obsessive Compulsive Disorder,” but rather “Obsessive Comparison Disorder.” It really is an epidemic, and an insidious one as no one seems to ever label it. People today seem to have an unhealthy fixation with comparing themselves to everybody else. I do it all the time, especially now that I’m in school and surrounded by people my own age. People I “could” be, in other words. Except that I can’t. I’m me, and I will always be me; you are you, and always will be you. I could go off on metaphysical realities and whatnot, but you know it’s the truth. To bring home the point, here are a few quotes.

“The only person you are destined to become is the person you decide to be.” ~Ralph Waldo Emerson

“Always be a first-rate version of yourself instead of a second-rate version of someone else.” ~Judy Garland

“Be yourself. Everyone else is already taken.” ~Oscar Wilde

“Today You are You, that is truer than true. There is no one alive who is Youer than You.” ~Dr. Suess

I feel the last one is particularly poignant…

Silliness aside, I need a strong reminder every now and then to keep the important things in focus. It’s really easy to get bogged down in exams and clubs and mindlessly go from activity to activity without taking a moment to assess my growth. You wouldn’t run a business like that, and you shouldn’t run yourself like that.

So stop every once in a while and ask these questions; am I where I want to be? Am I on the path to my own personal definition of success? Am I making decisions that reflect the person I want to be? Would the person I want to be be friends with the me now?

Good luck!

otter.

my dream again; hello old friend

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When I was in Taiwan, I developed a dream. It was a grand dream, well-cared for, nurtured every day with food, pop culture, music, and language, and thrived in its environment, becoming a large creature full of life and verve.

But the dream shrank as it met American life. The old habits, old ways of thinking stifled it somewhat, and a lack of drive and enthusiasm drained it slowly of life, until it was just the most recent of the dusty things on a shelf in some far way corner of the dreamer’s mind.

I had a dream to go to Korea. It was so strong it consumed me from within, pushing me towards itself with vigor. But it did fade. It’s still there, and it is still my plan – but it’s changed and shrunk a bit. Before, I thought Korea would be my end, my future permanent home. Now, I’m not so sure I want to stay there forever. I love things in America, and my family’s here.

It upset me when the dream faded. I was scared that I had lost a good deal of my passion for life inside it. I couldn’t get excited about anything. But I think it was a symptom of my transition period – without a cause or purpose I was just floating, and my dreams suffered for it.

Fortunately, I started school, joined the Korean Club at my University, and that all changed. Having people who share my dream has breathed new, fresh life into the dusty artifact. I’m eager and excited to move to Korea, and spend a lot of time researching study abroad programs, summer language courses, and teaching programs.

And now that I’m excited about my dream again, I’m more excited about life in general. It feels nice to have that energy back. Once the ball starts rolling, it just keeps going! Huzzah! I’m hoping things like diet and exercise will catch onto the ball too and sort themselves out…but, baby steps, right? Baby steps…

otter.

morning/evening routine revisited

Remember a while back when I was preparing to move out? I made a prospective morning and evening routine to help round out my day. I liked what I had, but once I actually started it, I found some adjustments were needed.

My evening routine is exactly how I want it now. Currently, I;

  • Make tomorrow’s to-do list
  • Quick Journal/Brain Dump (for this, I write down 5 good things that happened that day, and then write a few sentences about how I’m feeling, what I’m planning, etc.; a brain dump.)
  • Pick out next day’s clothes
  • Read fiction for 10-15min (I heard somewhere that reading non-fiction isn’t good as it tends to give you too much information to think about)
  • Read a Psalm/Proverb chapter

This system works very well. Sometimes I have a cup of tea, sometimes not. But no matter what, I turn off the computer and TV and do these things before I sleep. And, amazingly enough, I’ve been falling asleep a lot faster than I used to. Imagine that.

My morning routine, as it stands, is this:

  • Shower/get ready
  • Make lunches
  • Eat breakfast
  • Check emails/FB etc

See? It doesn’t even have five things. I tend to waffle about on the computer if I have spare time before I need to leave. I’m trying to get exercise in there – just ten minutes, but I’d need to do that before showering, and I just can’t find the gumption. I’ll keep trying though. Wish me luck!

Has anyone else gotten a routine going? I highly recommend it, even if it’s only two things that take five minutes. Seriously, it helps a lot.

otter.

apartment living

I realized recently that I haven’t talked about apartment life at all. Sheesh. It’s like it’s not even a big deal (it’s not). Well I won’t go into too much detail (I will). I moved in with my brother about three weeks ago, and have been slowly settling in.

Now, adjusting has been hard. I just about feel at home now, but it was really weird the first few days especially. Originally, I didn’t like living so close to other people. I mean, people could be there when I walk out my front door. People could be at my mailbox. People could be near my car. People is everywhere!!! My deep-seated introversion meant this kept me inside as much as possible. Until school started, I don’t think I went out unless it was absolutely imperative.

Well, three weeks later and I’ve gotten over that. I even kind of enjoy it now. Funny, isn’t it? How something that was so alien and unsettling could become something you look forward to? I really do. I like waving to my neighbors, and I like walking to my mailbox and seeing the kids playing basketball. I even like seeing people walk under my window as I type this. I feel sort of urban, and this could be a taste of what life in Seoul might be like if I ever move there.

Otherwise, I super heart my locale!!! There’s literally EVERYTHING around us. Every fast food, every chain of grocery store, a comic book store like just around the corner, the library and post office also around the corner, a gajillion churches, and town festivals! I love living in a town that, while large, has banners stretching across main street announcing town events. How quaint is that? But seriously, I can drive ten minutes and get anything I need. Huzzah town living!

On another, related note, I am thoroughly enjoying living on my own. Well, with a brother, granted, but I’m in charge of food and stuff. I like it. Sure, it’s hard with school to cook as often as I should, and we still get junk food on occasion and pig out – but all in all, I’m doing better than I thought I would (I made a roast chicken and squash and kale side – YUM). I hate grocery shopping, but that’s good cause it means I won’t spend time getting food not on my list. I am cooking much more than I ever have, and pretty healthily too.

Of course, I’m still far short of where I want to be. I have a great evening routine that I stick to, and my morning routine is consistent if not quite what I had envisioned. I just can’t seem to eat a big breakfast or exercise. That’s the worst – the exercise. I don’t have that much time in the mornings, and after school I’m tired out and need to cook…*sigh

But, that will come. I haven’t even lived here a month. Perspective, girl, perspective. You’ll get there. *nods head to mirror looking determined* Anyone have any tips for making yourself exercise? I don’t like going anywhere to work out, but I’m wondering if that’s what it would take to get me doing it. Maybe take a class? Taekwondo…yoga…windsurfing…

otter.

Also, I’ll be taking picture soon, so you can see what my awesome *cough* pad looks like, man!