Updated: Sep 26, 2019
By Jennifer Kelly, Coast 2 Coast Training
I was finishing lunch with a former colleague I hadn’t seen in years. We had exchanged career updates and I ended mine with a revelation: my goal was to eventually be self-employed. Her question, “what’s stopping you?”, had the effect of throwing cold water in my face. What was stopping me? As I listed off a litany of reasons why I couldn’t possibly pursue my goal, I had a gnawing sense the real reason was fear.
Fear is arguably the biggest obstacle between entrepreneurs and the pursuit of a business goal. Fear blocked the path to my goal for a long time, until I unpacked that fear through visualization.
Process-focused visualization provides a blueprint of how you can achieve success. Traditional visualization exercises focus on imaging future success where the goal has been achieved. Process-focused visualization is different—instead of mentally picturing success, you picture the stages involved in getting to that success.
By embarking on an imagined journey to success, you tap into self-knowledge and power. You consider more diligently the actions, strategies, and skills you might use to succeed and the day-to-day changes you can make to bring you closer to goal fulfillment.
Below is a three-step, process-focused visualization exercise. In it, you begin by imagining the achievement of your goal, but then look back on the journey to achievement.
Be sure to memorize the steps before you do the exercise so you don’t have to open your eyes to read each step.
Go to a quiet space. Set a stopwatch for seven to ten minutes. Close your eyes.
Where are you and what are you doing? Who are you with, if anyone? What are people saying to you? What are you saying to them? What emotions are you experiencing?
Now visualize yourself at the top of a long set of stairs. The top symbolizes your success. Look down over the stairs that led you to the top.
What were the little things you did day by day to achieve success? What did you do at work and in your relationships? What changes did you make, if any? What strengths did you draw upon? What overall strategies did you use?
Step Three: Visualize how you overcame challenges.
What coping strategies did you use to manage difficult thoughts, fears, and emotional obstacles? How did you handle the challenges you faced? What messages did you tell yourself to help yourself along? What supports did you use?
When the stopwatch goes off, take a deep breath and open your eyes. What insights did you gain from this exercise to move you closer to your goal?
It’s the journey that counts. Process-focused visualization helps us see that very journey, revealing all we need to reach our destination.
Source: © Positive Psychology Products B.V.
Jennifer Kelly, Coast 2 Coast Training
Jennifer is a certified Positive Psychology coach and the co-owner of Coast2Coast Training (C2C), a coaching and training business specializing in workplace and personal wellness. Jennifer is also a certified instructional facilitator and designer. C2C’s course, Happiness @ Work: Crafting a Better Work Life, is available online.