Health Wise: Visualizing your Goals into Reality

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In our last blog, we shared ideas for setting SMART goals for the new year and beyond. That blog can be found here.

As a quick reminder, SMART goals are goals that are Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, and Time-Bound. Goals that meet these criteria have a higher rate of follow through and success, due to the way those criteria hold us accountable and help us set goals that we can actually achieve.

Achieving goals can addictive - once you feel yourself achieve a goal, you will be itching to do it again and again! We get a dopamine (reward molecule) spike when we accomplish something, and from there, the motivation keeps building on itself!

We want everyone to have the tools to experience that feeling, so here’s another core ingredient to succeeding at your goals - visualization. Visualization is the practice of imagining what you want and creating a vivid image of it in your mind. And by image, we mean everything, from the visual cues that you’ve achieved your goal, to the feelings you can imagine having when you do, even the sensations in your body and what you might hear around you. The clearer the image, the more likely you are to believe you’ve already accomplished the goal, and naturally be inclined to take steps to do so!

How does visualization work? It’s pretty simple - when we clearly see ourselves achieving something, we feel very much like we already have. But when we come back to the present and see that we actually haven’t, we are inclined to work hard to make it happen. That’s because our brains don’t like the cognitive dissonance (aka the mismatch between what we imagined and what is actually real) so we try to make our vision reality. Plus, if you’ve imagined yourself achieving a goal, you’ve basically started the process of achieving it, it’s part of the the planning stage!

Let’s talk about a tried-and-true visualization technique that incorporates visualization and arts and crafts - the vision board.

A vision board is a board that houses images that represent things we want to achieve. Typically, it’s displayed somewhere you can see it daily and can spend a few moments focusing on what you want to achieve, thus dedicating some part of your day to taking steps towards your goals.

Here are the steps to creating a vision board for yourself:

  1. Choose your theme. You can make individual boards for each goal you have (e.g. a travel board, a career board, a health board), or group your goals together on one board, whatever feels best to you.
  2. Gather images from magazines or print them from the internet. The images can be literal or abstract, and should be images that spark your motivation. When you look at them, they should give you positive feelings and excitement. You can pick colors that inspire you, as well as words and quotes you like.
  3. Pick your base. This can be a piece of cardboard, poster board, a large piece of paper, multiple small pieces of paper, or a bulletin board. Choose whatever feels right to you, and to the space where you will display it.
  4. Grab some glue, tape, or push-pins. You can use pretty tape, fun pins, or whatever else grabs your attention.
  5. Attach your images in a way that feels right to you. Play around with the layout so it looks appealing to you. When you look at this, it should spark joy and inspiration.
  6. Hang it up/set it up somewhere you can see it every day. You can put this in a personal space (e.g. closet, bathroom) or somewhere others can see it too. It’s entirely up to you. Try to find a place you would see it daily.
  7. Practice visualization daily. Look at the board and imagine yourself already having achieved everything on it. If thoughts of doubt come to mind, let them go. The wonderful thing about the future is that it’s full of possibilities, so don’t let your negative thoughts make you think you’re going to fail. They can’t possibly predict that! So let yourself truly imagine the future you want.
  8. For bonus points, take a picture of your board and keep it on your devices that you use daily, so you can get an extra dose of inspiration throughout your day! Some people even choose to make it their phone or computer background.

Try this activity for yourself or with loved ones. Take a trip back to childhood collage days and grab your kids or friends and make a night of it. It’s never too late or too early in life to set goals for the future, and teaching kids to visualize their goals from a young age sets them on a path to success. Happy visualizing!

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