Visualizing Success

At the beginning of 2017, my running coach had me put together a vision board.   The theory behind vision boards is they help to reaffirm your goals and keep your attention on what you want to achieve, helping you visualize your success.  Visualization is a tool used by athletes, entrepreneurs, chess players, anyone who wants to succeed at something.  I was new to the vision board idea but I decided to give it a try.

I came up with a list of things I wanted to achieve.  My list included things like finishing the 50 States Endurance Challenge and 6 World Marathon Majors, reading more books, drinking more water, stretching every day.  Using pictures and words, I put together a collage that represented my goals – my USA map, the 6 World Marathon Majors star medal, a stack of books, a glass of water.  I printed up several copies and posted them where I would see them often.  In my bathroom, I looked at my vision board every morning when I brushed my teeth. I saw my vision board whenever I went to the refrigerator.

At the end of the year, I looked back at my vision board to see how I had done.  While I achieved some things, there were definitely areas where I missed the mark.  On my grade school report card, those would have been the ones where the teacher indicated “needs improvement.”

At first I thought the vision board hadn’t been that helpful.  Then I looked at it more closely and realized I had come up with more of a to-do list.   There wasn’t much visualization going on.   I had missed the visionary boat.  One of the important aspects of visualization is the feelings that accompany achieving a goal.  My vision board didn’t capture any of my feelings.  Honestly, I hadn’t even thought about the emotions associated with achieving my goals.

I decided I would give the vision board another try for 2018.  Last week I put together my vision board for this year.  Instead of listing out all the goals I have, I started by thinking about how I want to feel about 2018 on December 31.  I want to feel I accomplished things during the year.  I want to feel healthier and stronger.  I want to have a stronger connection with my dog.  Using those emotions as a guide, I came up with a list of goals or things I can do to realize those feelings – drinking more water, stretching every day, finishing my 50 States Endurance Challenge, training my dog to compete in various dog sports.  I was able to connect my goals back to how I want to feel.  Everything came together.   It will be a very good year if I feel stronger, healthier, and accomplished and enjoy a better connection with my dog.

In the center of my vision board is the most important goal of all for me – more adventure.  Last year was full of adventure and I have to say that almost all of it was not planned.  I never planned on seeing a marathon monk or meeting my marathon running heroes.  Those things just happened.    To have adventure, I realize I have to be open to new and spontaneous things.  I have left the door open for the unexpected.

This article in Psychology Today explains why visualization works.