Broadly speaking, visualization is all about generating a mental picture that helps you achieve your goals. In some cases, it serves as motivation. In others, it allows you to relieve your anxiety and increase your focus.
In any case, the right visualization techniques can help you succeed—no matter what you’re aspiring to achieve.
What Are Visualization Techniques For?
Let’s take a look at some of the common ways visualization techniques are applied:
- Motivation – Most of us have experienced difficulty in finding motivation. Visualization can remind you what you’re trying to accomplish, and inspire you to keep working hard to achieve your goals.
- Confidence – Picturing yourself in a successful or powerful position can conjure feelings of confidence that you’ll be able to achieve this. It’s a neat mental trick that yields a powerful effect.
- Rehearsal – In some applications, visualization can be used to rehearse a scenario before it unfolds in real life, essentially giving you a “practice run.”
- Anxiety Reduction – Visualization is also beneficial for stress management if you can use it to assuage your intrusive thoughts or clear your mind of distractions.
13 Best Visualization Techniques (And How to Use Them)
Now let’s dig into the most powerful visualization techniques—and how you can use them to get better results in your personal and professional life.
1. Visualize Yourself Succeeding at Your Goal
This is the easiest visualization technique and the one that most people start with. Simply visualize yourself succeeding at your goal.
You might picture yourself crossing the finish line of a marathon race or see yourself shaking the hand of the CEO after a major promotion. As long as you have some kind of visual in your head, you’ll be able to derive motivation and confidence from the experience.
2. Establish Triggered Visuals
Our minds are notoriously good at connecting experiences together; it’s why even a faint whiff of a scent can trigger a powerful memory and a flood of emotions. You can set yourself up for success by creating your own triggers.
For example, you can spend time exposing yourself to some kind of sensory input, like listening to a song you love while visualizing something positive. Then, when you need to perform, you can replicate that sensory input and capitalize on the visualization.
For example, you might train for a powerlifting competition with a specific playlist, and play that playlist during the competition to call up the visuals you rehearsed.
3. Create a Vision Board
Our first two examples involve the classic form of visualization: internally visualizing a scenario. However, some people suffer from a condition known as aphantasia, rendering them unable to conjure mental imagery.
If this describes you or if you simply prefer something more tangible, consider creating a vision board. A vision board is typically a collection of photographs and images that remind you of your goals and narrow your focus.
For example, if you’re trying to lose weight, you might create a vision board of images of your goal body. Put it somewhere so that you can see it regularly. This works similarly to an analytics dashboard commonly used in business. That which is measured and monitored is improved!
4. Write Yourself a Check
Another effective visualization technique in a physical environment is to write yourself a check (if your goals are monetary in nature). For example, if you want to become a millionaire by age 40, you can write a check to yourself for $1 million and have it framed.
This is a strategy famously used by comedian Jim Carrey, who wrote himself a $10 million check dated 10 years in the future.
5. Use a Notecard to Make Your Goals Physical
If your goals aren’t monetary in nature but you’re still looking for a way to make your images more grounded in the real world, consider writing your aspirations down on a notecard.
The best way to frame these messages is with intention and confidence. Instead of writing “My goal is to improve my relationships with my family,” write, “I will improve my relationships with my family.”
Again, put these notecards where they’ll be seen regularly to consistently remind you of their existence.
6. Create a “Happy Place”
This visualization technique is best applied as a way to mitigate stress and anxiety. If you frequently find yourself overwhelmed or unable to perform when trying to accomplish something, consider coming up with a “happy place” you can visit and use as a method to destress.
For some people, a happy place is being isolated on a boat in the middle of an open pool of water. For others, it’s in the middle of a mosh pit at a punk rock concert. It doesn’t matter what your happy place is, so long as thinking about it soothes your negative feelings and eases your racing thoughts.
7. Convert Your Desires Into Beliefs
Most people frame their visualizations as things they want to happen, rather than as things they believe will happen. If you want to be successful, it’s important to make the change. Converting your desires into beliefs is an important and effective visualization technique.
If you’re already visualizing hypothetical scenarios, all you need to do is shift the way you consider them. Instead of imagining them as a form of wishful thinking, convince yourself that this is a form of predicting the future.
This is what is going to happen if you stay committed to your goals.
8. Rehearse Potential Situations
In many fields, it’s beneficial to use visualization as a way to rehearse potential situations you may face—especially if those situations are stressful or unpredictable.
For example, let’s say you’re planning to initiate a difficult conversation with your boss about a topic that’s been bothering you for months. Visualization can help you imagine your boss’s response to everything you might say and plot out different branches that the dialogue could follow.
If done right, this can help reduce your stress, making the worst-case scenarios seem more manageable, while simultaneously equipping you with better skills for navigating the situation as it unfolds.
Just be careful not to rehearse so much that you become unprepared to deal with developments you didn’t see coming.
9. Visualize Multiple Potential Options
Most of the time, the best way to utilize visualization is to picture a single option; you win the race, you lose the weight, you get the promotion, etc. But it may also be helpful to visualize multiple potential options.
What are all the ways this could pan out? What are the best-case and worst-case scenarios?
Again, this is a way to moderate your fears. Just don’t spend too long visualizing negative outcomes, or they may come to dominate the narrative. Always shift back to a more positive mindset.
10. Put Yourself in Someone Else’s Shoes
Chances are, there’s someone you look up to or someone who has achieved your desired goals in the past. Consider using visualization to put yourself in their shoes. This visualization technique allows you to establish a connection with their strongest (or weakest) moments.
For example, what was Steve Jobs thinking when he was originally ousted from Apple, and how was he able to recover? What was Muhammad Ali thinking when he beat Sonny Liston?
Choose a role model you find interesting, and study their path to success or victory—just don’t let survivorship bias cloud your judgment too much.
11. Flesh Out Your Visualizations With Sensory Experiences
At this point, you have the strategies and direction necessary to engage in positive visuals that motivate, inspire, and empower you. Now, let’s focus on a couple of strategies that can help you improve the quality of those visuals.
One key way to make your visualizations seem more “real” and allow them to affect you more strongly is to flood them with detailed sensory experiences.
What is the temperature in your visualization? Who is around you, and what are they wearing? Is there music playing in the background, or can you hear the ambient noise? What are you smelling?
The richer your visualizations are, the more powerful they can become.
12. Add Positive Energy Into Every Instance of Visualization
Positive thinking is shown to have massive psychological benefits, such as reducing your stress and improving your mood.
Accordingly, you should be framing your visualizations with positive thoughts. If you feel a negative thought intrude your mind in response to your visualization, combat it with a corresponding positive.
For example, you might think to yourself, “who am I kidding? I’ll never be able to accomplish that.” Meet that negative thought with a positive twist: “I may not have been able to accomplish that in the past, but I can now” or “I may hit some major obstacles along the way, but I will accomplish this.”
13. Picture a Happy Memory From Your Past
Most visualization techniques are all about the future, setting you up for success or helping you play out hypothetical scenarios. But it’s also occasionally useful to visualize the past.
Think of a happy memory or a place you used to love; visualize yourself surrounded by people who have loved and supported you, and imagine how you felt in those moments.
It may be just what you need to get through a tough situation.
Through visualization, you’ll be able to boost your confidence, motivate yourself, and decrease the stress and anxiety you feel as you face new challenges head-on. The more you practice it, the easier it’s going to get.
More Tips on How to Reach Your Goals
When it comes to being effective vs efficient, there are a lot of similarities, and because of this, they’re often misused and misinterpreted, both in daily use and application.
Every business should look for new ways to improve employee effectiveness and efficiency to save time and energy in the long term. Just because a company or employee has one, however, doesn’t necessarily mean that the other is equally present.
Utilizing both an effective and efficient methodology in nearly any capacity of work and life will yield high levels of productivity, while a lack of it will lead to a lack of positive results.
Before we discuss the various nuances between the word effective and efficient and how they factor into productivity, let’s break things down with a definition of their terms.
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Effective vs Efficient
Effective is defined as “producing a decided, decisive, or desired effect.” Meanwhile, the word “efficient ” is defined as “capable of producing desired results with little or no waste (as of time or materials).”
A rather simple way of explaining the differences between the two would be to consider a light bulb. Say that your porch light burned out and you decided that you wanted to replace the incandescent light bulb outside with an LED one. Either light bulb would be effective in accomplishing the goal of providing you with light at night, but the LED one would use less energy and therefore be the more efficient choice.
Now, if you incorrectly set a timer for the light, and it was turned on throughout the entire day, then you would be wasting energy. While the bulb is still performing the task of creating light in an efficient manner, it’s on during the wrong time of day and therefore not effective.
The effective way is focused on accomplishing the goal, while the efficient method is focused on the best way of accomplishing the goal.
Whether we’re talking about a method, employee, or business, the subject in question can be either effective or efficient, or, in rare instances, they can be both.
When it comes to effective vs efficient, the goal of achieving maximum productivity is going to be a combination where the subject is effective and as efficient as possible in doing so.
Effectiveness in Success and Productivity
Being effective vs efficient is all about doing something that brings about the desired intent or effect. If a pest control company is hired to rid a building’s infestation, and they employ “method A” and successfully completed the job, they’ve been effective at achieving the task.
The task was performed correctly, to the extent that the pest control company did what they were hired to do. As for how efficient “method A” was in completing the task, that’s another story.
If the pest control company took longer than expected to complete the job and used more resources than needed, then their efficiency in completing the task wasn’t particularly good. The client may feel that even though the job was completed, the value in the service wasn’t up to par.
When assessing the effectiveness of any business strategy, it’s wise to ask certain questions before moving forward:
- Has a target solution to the problem been identified?
- What is the ideal response time for achieving the goal?
- Does the cost balance out with the benefit?
Looking at these questions, a leader should ask to what extent a method, tool, or resource meets the above criteria and achieve the desired effect. If the subject in question doesn’t hit any of these marks, then productivity will likely suffer.
Efficiency in Success and Productivity
Efficiency is going to account for the resources and materials used in relation to the value of achieving the desired effect. Money, people, inventory, and (perhaps most importantly) time, all factor into the equation.
When it comes to being effective vs efficient, efficiency can be measured in numerous ways. In general, the business that uses fewer materials or that is able to save time is going to be more efficient and have an advantage over the competition. This is assuming that they’re also effective, of course.
Consider a sales team for example. Let’s say that a company’s sales team is tasked with making 100 calls a week and that the members of that team are hitting their goal each week without any struggle.
The members on the sales team are effective in hitting their goal. However, the question of efficiency comes into play when management looks at how many of those calls turn into solid connections and closed deals.
If less than 10 percent of those calls generate a connection, the productivity is relatively low because the efficiency is not adequately balancing out with the effect. Management can either keep the same strategy or take a new approach.
Perhaps they break up their sales team with certain members handling different parts of the sales process, or they explore a better way of connecting with their customers through a communications company.
The goal is ultimately going to be finding the right balance, where they’re being efficient with the resources they have to maximize their sales goals without stretching themselves too thin. Finding this balance is often easier said than done, but it’s incredibly important for any business that is going to thrive.
Combining Efficiency and Effectiveness to Maximize Productivity
Being effective vs efficient works best if both are pulled together for the best results.
If a business is ineffective in accomplishing its overall goal, and the customer doesn’t feel that the service is equated with the cost, then efficiency becomes largely irrelevant. The business may be speedy and use minimal resources, but they struggle to be effective. This may put them at risk of going under.
It’s for this reason that it’s best to shoot for being effective first, and then work on bringing efficiency into practice.
Improving productivity starts with taking the initiative to look at how effective a company, employee, or method is through performance reviews. Leaders should make a point to regularly examine performance at all levels on a whole, and take into account the results that are being generated.
Businesses and employees often succumb to inefficiency because they don’t look for a better way, or they lack the proper tools to be effective in the most efficient manner possible.
Similar to improving a manager or employee’s level of effectiveness, regularly measuring the resources needed to obtain the desired effect will ensure that efficiency is being accounted for. This involves everything from keeping track of inventory and expenses, to how communication is handled within an organization.
By putting in place a baseline value for key metrics and checking them once changes have been made, a company will have a much better idea of the results they’re generating.
It’s no doubt a step-by-step process. By making concentrated efforts, weakness can be identified and rectified sooner rather than later when the damage is already done.
Understanding the differences between being effective vs efficient is key when it comes to maximizing productivity. It’s simply working smart so that the intended results are achieved in the best way possible. Finding the optimal balance should be the ultimate goal for employees and businesses:
- Take the steps that result in meeting the solution.
- Review the process and figure out how to do it better.
- Repeat the process with what has been learned in a more efficient manner.
And just like that, effective and efficient productivity is maximized.