The hill gradually got steeper as I pedaled my way up. Like a slog through mud, my legs were exhausted, my shirt was drenched, and I seemed to be both inhaling and exhaling at the same time. All the while, my eyes stayed focused on what was in front of me: the blinds.
I was taking an at-home spin class and the instructor was having us imitate a climb. However, his pep-talk was lost on me. The music was dulled. I was deep in thought, letting my body do the work while my mind focused on something bigger – the future.
In that moment of pain, I envisioned the many things I was working towards. Financial wins for my business, weight loss achievements, exhilarating trips to be had, and more. With each rotation of the wheel, my vision grew more vivid. And with it, so grew my determination. I was riding towards a better future and I wasn’t stopping until I got there (or it got to me).
Smile on my face, mouth open, gasping for air, covered in sweat, I would surely have looked insane to anyone walking by. Yet just like that, our time up the hill was over. We had reached a “flat road” and could take the resistance off. I sat down. Panting, I was somehow more energized than when I had started the class.
I’ve taken spin classes many a time in the past. And one factor that I’ve found to always play a role in the workout is self-talk. If you’re talking poorly to yourself the entire time, it’s incredibly challenging to push through the sprints and climbs. However, when you’re building yourself up or picturing something amazing, you find yourself at the top of the hill with energy to spare.
It’s no different with your goals. When you believe in and actively encourage yourself, you have a much easier time with things. When you beat yourself up or doubt every move you make, your struggle is that much greater. I know this from personal experience.
Visualization helped combat my chronic doubt
I started my blog, QuickBooost, three years ago. It’s changed and grown a lot since then, but one thing that has always haunted me is self-doubt; being unsure of my direction, questioning my strategy, and bouts of frustration were common for me, if not my norm.
Some periods of doubt lasted longer than others. There would be times where I’d be in a bad mood for several days in a row. Moping around the apartment, I’d sulk and complain and woe is me. It’s gotten progressively better over the years though which I attribute to a number of things. Too many to count, actually.
That said, I will say that there’s one thing that has been tremendously helpful for myself in the past three or four months: visualization. If you’re not familiar with visualization, congrats! You’re now entering the world of the woo-woo mystical.
How it (briefly) works
I’m no expert in visualization, so I’ll share what I know as of today and how it’s helped me. For more on the topic of visualization, I recommend The Power of Your Subconscious Mind by Joseph Murphy or The Secret by Rhonda Byrne.
In short, visualization involves imagining a bright, specific future for yourself. A story from The Secret does a great job explaining what to do. I’m paraphrasing but essentially, look at the back of your hand. Really look at it. Notice the veins, the freckles, the nails. Do you have any rings on? Are they scratched at all? What about your nails? Are they painted?
Now, close your eyes. Picture those hands you just observed and imagine them wrapping around the steering wheel of your dream car. That is visualization. You are imagining yourself in an exciting future. And, supposedly, the more vivid you make the vision, the faster it is to be made real in your life.
The impact of visualization on my goals
It is said that the act of imagining and believing will bring your desires to you, much like when you order something from Amazon. I don’t know about that, but there does seem to be something to it. At least, when it comes to staying in the game.
Because who do you think is better off? The person who questions every move they make? Or the person who visualizes their desires every morning and trusts that they are being made real? Who do you think is moving through their day with more confidence? Who do you think is happier, less stressed, and more sure of their efforts? That’s right. The person who visualizes.
With my blog, I’d find myself in a days-long slump maybe once every other month, if not every single month. Now? It’s been maybe once or twice for the entire year. As a person with chronic negative self-talk, the most surprising thing about visualization has been its ability to dampen that pessimism. Instead, the process has converted that voice into a hopeful one. One that believes in what I’m doing and is confident that things will work out. And so far, they have.
What I’ve tried in the past (and how this is different)
And yes, I’ve tried changing my self-talk altogether in the past. I’ve tried to cut through the negativity and “be positive.” I’ve tried doing the whole rubber-band snapping thing on my wrist. No matter. My conscious mind always knew it was a lie which made the negative self-talk even worse.
Visualization is different though. I’m not overriding anything. Nor am I forcing myself into a different way of thinking. I’m simply imagining a bright, wonderful future in great detail. Furthermore, I’m believing that those things are becoming real. The result is a better mood, more confidence, and a full belief in myself.
When I attain something that I’ve envisioned, is it because my subconscious has made it so? Or has the belief in myself allowed me to push through the challenges, just like when I do a spin class? I have no idea. All I know is that, if you’re struggling with a goal, if your self-talk is weighing you down, visualization is helpful.
Moving forward with visualization
I haven’t achieved or attained all that I’ve envisioned just yet, but I have had some things come to fruition. One of which, by the way, was completely out of my control – like my daughter hitting the near exact height and weight percentile I had visualized her reaching. Is that just a coincidence? Or should I get a beaded bracelet and travel through Asia with Siddartha in my pocket?
Other things, for example, with QuickBooost, are still in progress. But I’ll tell you what, I’ve published 59 articles this year alone. And that’s something I know I wouldn’t have had the discipline or confidence to do without visualization.
So you be the judge. If you’re currently struggling with a goal, give visualization a try. Read The Power of Your Subconscious Mind and The Secret with an open mind and see what it does for you. At the very least, you’ll likely get a nice surge of motivation from it.
You got this.