The Easiest Motivation Technique You Haven't Tried Yet

By , SparkPeople Blogger
When it comes to goal-setting, I’ve been around the block. I’ve been setting all kinds of goals since I was just a kid. But these days, most of my goals are health and fitness related: Run a half marathon (did three last year), score first place in a race (so proud of that one!), cross experiences on my bucket list (like the Krispy Kreme Challenge and hiking to the bottom of the Grand Canyon), grow more of my own food each year (my garden continues to expand), etc. I also set a lot of career goals, and I’ve had a lot of fun and interesting successes in that area, too (hello self-on-a-shelf in Target stores!).  I figure I’m a goal-setting, goal-getting machine. When I set my mind to something, I work hard and I make it happen.  
In late December last year, I still hadn’t decided on any new goals for the 2012, so I went to a free goal-setting workshop hosted at my local Lululemon store for some ideas (I know, I know as if I needed more reason to bask in their delicious clothes). I didn’t expect to have any epiphanies during this hour I spent writing down ideas and talking with strangers about my goals. But sometimes, inspiration hits you in the face when you least expect it.
We started by sitting in a circle and closing our eyes. The workshop leader led us through a visualization technique starting with the question, “Where do you see yourself in 10 years?
“Great,” I thought. I’ve been asked that vague question before (usually in a job or college interview). “This isn’t going to get me anywhere. I need some ideas right now!”
But as she continued, my know-it-all attitude changed. Eyes closed, we were led through a visualization exercise while she asked us to envision our lives 10 years in the future with prompts such as:
  • How old are you?
  • Where do you live?
  • With whom do you share a home?
  • When you open your eyes in the morning, what do you see, hear, smell and feel?
  • Who is there? How do you spend your time during the day?
  • Where do you go and how do you get there? Who or what do you see along the way?
  • What do you do for a living?
  • How do you move your body? What kind of exercise do you do?
  • What do you look like when you see yourself in the mirror?
  • What brings you the most joy on this day?
  • Who do you share your time with? Who do you visit, call or talk to?
  • How do you feel when your head hits the pillow at the end of this day?
  • What are you excited about doing tomorrow?
  • What is your idea life? Are you living it?
We sat quietly for about 10 minutes, and with each question, my vision became clearer. It filled with more details and color, and somehow—without even thinking about it—I had answers to all of her questions instantly as she asked them—even though I had never before thought about what my life will be like a decade from now in anything more than very general terms. The whole exercise was so entertaining and eye-opening to me. I loved this daydream! It could be anything I wanted it to be and it was my ideal life. It seemed so real and so natural and I just couldn’t wait for this life to happen. When the exercise was over, I felt this sudden change come over me. I wanted this life right now! How could I make it happen sooner? I don’t want to wait 10 years! We then used our vision as a starting point for setting our goals for the next year, but we didn't stop there. We also set goals we planned to achieve within five years and 10 years in order to help us live our ideal lives.

I would normally think that was a bunch of new age hippie stuff (no offense to the hippies because I’m pretty crunchy myself, but you get where I’m going). But when I sat down and really did it, it made me realize how many more goals I have in life besides being a faster runner or climbing the corporate ladder. In fact, it made a lot of that small stuff fall back to the place where it belongs: a part of your life, not your whole life.

What I did realize is that the vision of my life 10 years from now was far different than my life as it is today. I focus so much on the here-and-now, just getting through my to-do list each day that I never take much time to step back and look at the bigger—or in this case, future—picture.

Besides getting some good ideas for goals to strive for in 2012 (such as completely paying off my student loans so I have more financial freedom to reach other milestones), I feel more motivated than ever to make this year my best year yet. Two weeks into January is when many people start giving up on their resolutions, but I just remember my vision and it keeps me going strong. Being fit and healthy and maintaining a healthy weight all fits into that picture and allows me to do so many things on my life list.

The mind is a powerful thing, and so is the imagination or your ability to visualize. They say that your mind doesn't truly know the difference between things you imagine and what you experience in reality, which is why visualizing yourself as the successful person you want to be can be so helpful in getting you there. No matter what your goals may be: short-term, weight-loss, health and fitness, or life in general—there is power to envisioning yourself where you want to be. It only takes a few seconds or a few minutes of your time, but I promise the effect is much longer lasting. With a little daydreaming, you may just find yourself more motivated than ever to make that goal a reality instead of just a dream.

Do you ever visualize yourself reaching your goals? Do you think visualization can be a powerful motivator?