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.




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;


success revisited


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!