Two weeks ago, I spoke about the importance of visualizing success. However, equally as important is visualizing how we’ll manage potential obstacles and challenges.
Not only does Lindsay Vonn visualize her success, she also visualizes the hardest parts of each race. She’ll run through the most dangerous aspects of each course in her mind’s eye over and over again. By doing this, she builds “muscle memory” and confidence to navigate the treacherous parts of each race.
Perhaps most importantly, she uses visualization to train her mind to perform under the intense pressure that accompanies being an elite athlete in a high-stakes race. She visualizes herself standing at the gates at the top of the run and the immense pressure and anxiety she’ll feel. She’ll visualize herself breathing into the stress and staying focused on the moment directly in front of her.
She visualizes herself managing the immense pressure and the mental noise that would otherwise derail her success.
By visualizing stressful scenarios and how and who we want to be in those scenarios, we create subconscious programming that allows us to be more successful in those situations. When we experience stress that we’ve anticipated and visualized, we’re more adept and confident at managing whatever that stress is (a hard employee review, a disgruntled client, a conflict with a spouse) because we’ve already practiced it.
This works for important situations obviously, but we can also use this in our day to day. I visualize my workdays the night before each day. Juggling a fulltime job while building a business can be a lot and I’m very good at talking myself out of doing the very things that I want to be doing at the end of a workday. So I visualize it.
I see myself going through an entire workday. I visualize myself taking a break to take Sunny for a walk, have dinner, maybe some other movement, and then I visualize the exact moment I get hung-up. I sometimes think that working on the couch with the TV on in the background is a good idea, but it never is. I often get sucked into whatever show I have on in the “background” and put my work off until tomorrow, frequently telling myself that there’s always tomorrow.
I visualize the mental resistance I’ll feel forcing myself off the couch to work at my desk. I visualize choosing to sit at my desk, even when it’s pitch black and snowing (the perfect couch snuggle time) and working on the business that I love. I visualize the mental resistance I’ll feel of not wanting to do it, and I visualize myself doing it anyway.
I’m priming myself for success because I’ve already rehearsed overcoming the roadblocks in my mind. I know what to do when that situation arises, and I know how to handle my mental resistance.
The next time you find yourself anticipating a stressful situation, visualize yourself navigating every aspect of the challenge, including how you’ll feel, the mental resistance or nerves you’ll feel, and finally visualize reaching a successful outcome by moving through the challenge. By doing this, you lay a neural pathway, priming yourself for actual success.
The body leads the mind.