Your imagination is a POWERFUL thing and, in the right circumstances, can be used to your advantage. It gets you wishing, wondering what is out there. Imagining what can be.
Imagining and imagery are one in the same and I’ve always known they’re crucial in sport psychology and mental training. If an athlete cannot see himself (or herself) making the game-winning shot, kicking the game-winning field goal, or making the tournament-winning putt, it’s not going to happen. Seeing is believing.
If you cannot see it happen in your mind, it WILL NOT happen in reality.
I always say sport psychology is life psychology – it is simply more specialized towards athletes. The concepts of imagining and imagery are every bit as important and applicable to life as they are to athletics.
Let’s take the popular weight loss example – it is one thing to say you want to lose weight, BUT…
- Can you see yourself looking into the mirror with a reflection that’s 10-15 lbs lighter?
- How is it going to feel when you’re able to wear clothes that haven’t fit in years?
- What will it mean to you to have people complimenting you left and right on how great you look?
- How is weight loss going to change your attitude? How will you feel about yourself as a person?
- Can you imagine having energy to do ALL the things you want to do…from sun up to sun down?
You want to know the secret to motivation? There it is…plain and simple. Don’t think about what you’re going to get done – IMAGINE what that’s going to DO FOR YOU. Honestly, people do not want to lose weight, have more energy or make more money. They want what’s underneath the hood. They want the feeling.
Nothing significant or great will happen if you cannot see it in your mind first.
One thing essential about imagery is to incorporate as many of the senses as possible. Think about the last time you were driving along in your car and heard a song that reminded you of something. I’ll bet what you remembered wasn’t some ordinary, run of the mill day. It contained an emotional component and you were able to recall incredibly vivid details. What it looked like…felt like…smelled like…tasted like…sounded like.
Imagery is no different – it is simply taking this level of vivid detail and applying it to the future instead of the past. And if you want to get something done, create an emotional attachment to it. IMAGINE IT. See the specifics. It will move you.
Every now and then I get asked what I think about during long hours of training for Ironman. The answer is simple – I think about how it is going to FEEL crossing the finish line. And when I think about it, I can hear the crowd cheering and announcer calling my name. I can taste and smell the sweat (yep, gross!). But most of all, I imagine the deep sense of pride and satisfaction I’ll have from trying my best and accomplishing a goal. Sometimes I get emotional during training just thinking about it.
I may not know a lot, but I do know that passion and drive and change and growth and accomplishments and risks and rewards and realizations and successes beyond comprehension are NOT grown from logic – they’re grown from emotion. Trust me – there is NOTHING logical about Ironman (why in the heck would you want to do 140.6 miles in a day, anyway?). It’s ok to let yourself be emotional! Living your entire life being “logical,” can lead you to be paralyzed by fear instead of driven by desire.
So, what is it you would like to get done – now, or in 2013? Can you see it? Can you REALLY see it? How will it feel? What will it do for you? Are you able to imagine it?
If you can, then get out there and do it. You’re ready! When the mind is willing, the body is able.
“A vision without action is just a dream. An action without a vision just passes time. A vision with an action changes the world.”
– Nelson Mandela