The Blogging from A-Z Challenge continues today. Throughout April I’m posting about my life as a writer, including my inspirations, frustrations and celebrations.
The quote above, from Muhammad Ali’s The Soul of a Butterfly * is one of my favourites. I generally have no trouble with the first part-conceiving ideas and goals. I’m inspired by the things I see and hear every day and things come to me all the time. It’s the self-belief part that I struggle with.
One of the things I do to try to convince my ‘heart’ that I can accomplish my goals, is to visualise achieving them. Some people like to do this through meditation. I usually do this in my informal ‘introspection time’ just before I fall asleep. With my eyes closed and my body relaxed to the point of almost drifting off, I reflect on how my day went and remind myself of what’s going on tomorrow. Then I take a few minutes to imagine myself succeeding in something that’s important to me.
I do this every time I work on a piece of writing for a competition, for example. I visualise myself getting up early and working hard, completing the story and submitting it. Then I picture getting a letter or email to say my piece has been accepted for publication and allow myself to imagine exactly what that feels like. Focusing on the possible end result gives me the motivation I need to carry on, even when the task is difficult.
It might sound self-indulgent and perhaps even a little ridiculous. But it’s not the same as magical thinking. Visualising your goals is obviously not enough to make them happen; you have to take action. You have to dedicate time and energy to your goal, and if it’s worth accomplishing it’s unlikely to be easy. However, visualising victory can affirm your belief in yourself and give you the confidence to pursue opportunities.
Some scientific studies have shown that ‘pre-living’ something is very similar to actually experiencing it. Visualisation uses similar brain regions as perception and memory do-the visual cortex and auditory cortex which process information we receive from our senses, and the hippocampus, which is linked to memory.
“[…] imagining an act can activate and strengthen regions of the brain involved in its real-life execution, improving performance. For instance, imagining playing piano can boost neuronal connections in regions related to the fingers.”Your brain on imagination: It’s a lot like reality, study shows
So, visualisation is like a dress-rehearsal for the real thing, helping us to be more prepared. It certainly makes me feel happier and more focused.
Before you go…
Do you visualise yourself achieving goals? Do you have any other techniques for improving motivation and confidence?
*The quote is thought to have originated from Jesse Jackson in 1983.