3 Exercises for visualizing your long-term goals

Visualizing success is a commonly used method to improve performance both in sports and in business. In fact, visualization can benefit anyone who wishes to achieve a certain goal. By creating a mental image of our desired future, it is easier for us to start believing in the possibility of achieving it. Often it also makes it easier for us to concretize our goals.

The effectiveness of visualization has been proven in over 200 scientific studies, and many top performers like Jim Carrey and entrepreneur Brian Scudamore credit visualization for transforming their performance. Also, a recent study conducted by TD Bank showed the power of visualization. One in five small business owners who participated in the study used a vision board or other representation when starting their business. Among those respondents, 76 percent reported that their business today is where they envisioned it would be. In addition, 82 percent of small business owners who used a vision board from the start reported that they have accomplished more than half of their goals so far.

So, visualization is a very powerful method, especially when it is used regularly and correctly. However, I know from my own experience that it can be challenging to get started with it and that is why I made a list of three different exercises for you to try out. Before you get started with them, here are some tips for making the exercises successful:

  • Do it in peace. These exercises require that you have time and space where you feel relaxed and focused, so try to do them in a quiet, uninterrupted space.
  • Think about your life as a whole. Even though you'll be doing the exercise mostly for your business, try to think about how the desired outcomes would affect the other areas of your life. How much time would you then spend with your family? What things would you do in your free time?
  • Be VERY detail-oriented. If you, for example, visualize getting an invitation to a famous talk show, think about how that will make you look, feel and act. What would you wear? What would you say to other people? How would you think about yourself? What would you do first? Where would you be at that time? How would the weather be?
  • Have a positive and open mindset. It is very difficult to visualize new things if you limit yourself tightly to the current reality. Therefore, try to open your mind to what would be wonderful, not just possible.
  • Set a specific timeframe for your dream life. It is often challenging for us to think very far into the future, so I recommend setting your timeframe 3-5 years from now. One of my coaching clients even made the dream day exercise 10 years from now, because it served her purpose better. So, you decide.
  • Record the results. After the exercise (if not during) save the results of your visualization. It can be in writing, pictures, video or audio, whatever is easiest for you. This way, you can revisit and review your thoughts when needed.

Now, let’s get started:

1) Create a vision board (also known as dream board or treasure map)

  1. Think about the purpose of your vision board and create an outline for it. What things do you want to include on your board? Which format is the best for you?
  2. Look for images and quotes that represent the things you want to achieve. Good sources of material can be magazines, your own photos, Pinterest, online photos etc.
  3. Make a collage of your pictures according to your plan or adjust the plan if needed.
  4. Review your vision board regularly and change your images, if needed.

Pros and cons: A Vision Board is an easy way to get started in your visualization because there is a lot of inspiring material available. Yet it can be a time-consuming method, especially if you try to be very specific in what you want. Also, paper versions of vision boards are not easily updated, and suitable material can be difficult to find.

2) Imagine your dream day

  1. Choose a specific day in your selected time frame. I recommend choosing a working day because work plays such a big part in our lives and our free time dream life is often easier to imagine.
  2. Think about what will happen on that specific day. Where will you wake up? What will you do first? What are you wearing in that day? Who will you meet? How will you spend your time? How is the weather? What will you do last before going to sleep? 
  3. Record your thoughts, for example, by writing them down, drawing them or why not even making a cartoon of it, if that’s your thing.
  4. Review your thoughts regularly and repeat the exercise when needed.

Pros and Cons: The Dream Day exercise is easy to do anywhere and anytime, and it allows more freedom for your own imagination. Yet in this exercise, it is easy to be overly general and, for example, state that you wake up in the morning and simply go to work. So remember to focus on the details!

3) Write a letter to yourself

  1. Think about a certain moment in your selected time frame. Where will you be? What will you do at that moment? What has happened?
  2. Write a letter (or record an audio or video) from that moment to yourself now. What do you want to say to yourself? How have you gotten to that situation? How are you feeling in that moment? Again, try to immerse yourself in that situation.
  3. Review your thoughts regularly and repeat the exercise when needed.

Pros and cons: Like the Dream Day, this exercise is easy to do anywhere and anytime, and you have the freedom to use your own imagination. Still, it can feel limiting to think about a specific moment in the future. If that’s the case, you can also extend the exercise: for example, make three alternatives scenarios for yourself.

All in all, it's good to remember that none of the exercises are better than the others. So you can try one of them or all of them, whatever you find most appealing. Also, none of these visualization techniques guarantee success or replace the need for hard work and practice. However, when you combine these exercises with strategic thinking and action, they are wonderful methods to help achieve your goals and grow on your own terms.

Would you like to learn more? My 5 Keys for turning your passion into a business workbook will introduce you to the 5 S’s system that I use as a foundation in my coaching sessions and give you exercises that will empower you to start building your business and growing on your own terms. Get your copy here!