Growing up, I used to imagine my life as a beautiful princess. I married a handsome prince and lived in a magnificent castle. I went horseback riding every day and all the woodland creatures would come when I sang to them. Okay, so I watched a lot of Disney movies. I’m not ashamed to admit it.
Of course, I didn’t bother with the boring details like my parents needed to be royalty for me to be a princess. I didn’t think about the fact that to meet a prince I would have to move to someplace like England. I would then have to hope that the prince was so desperate to marry that his parents would throw him a ball. I would have to figure out how to get invited, find a beautiful gown and arrive in a carriage that used to be a pumpkin. I really thought my life would be a Disney movie. Again, not ashamed to admit it.
We all have pictured ourselves living a fantastic life filled with success and rewards. Did we include the various steps involved in making those dreams come true? That’s the difference between daydreaming and visualization.
Visualization is based on more realistic and attainable goals. It’s setting our sights on a particular purpose and mapping out the necessary action to become successful. There are two types of visualization: Outcome and Process. Ideally they should be used together.
Outcome visualization: This is using your imagination and seeing yourself achieving your goal. You need to include all the details to make this image seem real. What does your success look and feel like? Are you on stage receiving an award? Are you on a speedboat cruising down the Caribbean? Do you see everyone you knew in high school jealous of you now?
Process visualization: This is taking action that will be necessary to make your goal achievable. This is when you create a plan, seek advice, find investors, or know what courses you should sign up for.
Here’s how the process and outcome visualization worked for me. When I moved to New York I was looking for a career change. I had co-owned and managed a Jazz and Blues restaurant in Florida. I wanted to use the knowledge and experience I had gained without owning another restaurant.
For the outcome visualization, I wrote down what my ideal job would look like. I wanted to have my own business. I wanted to use my sales and customer service experience. I wanted to be outside. I wanted the opportunity to see Manhattan.
Writing down our goals helps us focus on what we want to achieve. Notice I didn’t put down what I didn’t want. I only used positive language.
After I had written all of this down I tried to imagine what kind of job would check off all the boxes. Obviously it would be an outdoor sales job. I was discussing this with my brother, Stan. Together we co-owned the restaurant “One Night Stan’s”. He suggested that I look into a job selling wine and spirits. I was the one who worked with the sales reps and did all the buying. He said “I’m sure if you can buy it, you can sell it.”
This type of sales job did match with the criteria I had laid out. It would be my own business because I would be working on commission. I would use my sales and customer service experience, plus, I would get to see all of the city going from account to account.
I looked up the distributors and sent them my resume. I was hired within a couple of months. I was selling wine and spirits to restaurants, clubs and hotels all over Manhattan.
The process visualization I did was to take the necessary steps to be successful. I took wine courses, I attended seminars and I hustled to build an account list. I kept my vision of success and worked to make it happen.
Many people find that creating a vision board helps them stay on track. It’s a fun exercise of placing pictures that represent the desired goals on a large poster. The images are a big reminder of the accomplishments they want to achieve.
My friend Michele had placed a picture of a beach in Hawaii that she hoped to visit one day. She made that dream come true last year without realizing it. She took a chance on an airbnb on an island in Hawaii. She found herself on the exact same beach that she had a picture of. She is already working on expanding her vision board.
A wonderful side effect of visualization is it helps to reduce stress when we are worried about a future event. Going through the mental exercise and seeing everything turn out for the best helps us to stay relaxed. Picturing ourselves walking into a room with confidence and a smile puts us in the moment. We will feel better prepared and know that we will make a great impression. This is a valuable tool to have when preparing for an important presentation at work or going to a networking party. Seeing the occasion play out in our minds is a way of having our own dress rehearsal. We know we will be able to handle the situation with ease.
Visualization has to go hand in hand with real action. You can picture the scene you want all day, but if you don’t take actual steps to get you there, it’s just daydreaming.
Take time to write out your goals. Find pictures that represent what you want to achieve. Put them on a board and place it where you can see it everyday. Take incremental measures that will get you closer to what you want. See and feel positive results. They will happen.
I have to go now. My prince is calling me and wants dinner. Apparently, I forgot to visualize the chefs, maids and butlers.