How to Visualize What You Want (& Achieve It)

This article is an excerpt from the Shortform book guide to "Untamed" by Glennon Doyle. Shortform has the world's best summaries and analyses of books you should be reading.

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How can you use visualization to achieve your goals? How can you tap into your imagination if you’re new to visualization?

The social messages that you must accept—and be nothing but grateful for—have diminished your ability to imagine a new reality. According to author Glennon Doyle, embracing your imagination will help you create a better, more vibrant life and teach you how to visualize what you want.

Keep reading to learn Doyle’s advice on how to visualize what you want and her steps for achieving your goals.

Embracing Your Imagination: Doyle’s Memoir

Doyle explains that your imagination can help you visualize a life beyond captivity, change your life, and change the world. Doyle had learned to embrace her emotions as she dealt with her addiction to alcohol and learned to embrace her intuition as she dealt with her husband’s infidelity. Her newfound connection with her emotions and intuition laid the groundwork for her to fully, freely embrace her imagination when her life took an unexpected turn. 

In 2016 Doyle wrote a book (Love Warrior) that celebrated her decision to reconcile with her husband. While she was on a book tour for this memoir, Doyle met and unexpectedly fell in love with soccer star Abby Wambach. 

She describes her experience meeting Abby as love at first sight. When Abby walked into the room, Doyle saw her future path emerging—although she had never met Abby, Doyle could clearly imagine a future as Abby’s partner. (Shortform note: Studies have shown that the endorphins released when you fall in love can increase imagination and creativity—it’s possible that this is why seeing Abby sparked Doyle’s imagination so intensely. However, when learning how to visualize what you want, falling in love isn’t the only way for you to similarly increase your capacity for imagination. Open yourself up to new endorphin-releasing experiences, such as traveling to a new place or trying your hand at art.) 

Doyle knew that she had to embrace these new emotions, tap into her intuition, and live into her imagination. She realized that this meant she had to divorce her husband. She worried about the consequences of this decision: She was unsure how her children, her husband, and the public would respond to her divorce and her coming out. Despite her worries, Doyle knew that she had to follow the path her imagination had shown her to create a new life for herself. (Shortform note: Doyle was relieved when the public response to her coming out was largely positive.

How to Visualize What You Want

Since her life with Abby didn’t follow the script society had written for her, Doyle had to write her own script. She imagined the life she wanted—one that aligned with who she wanted to be—and then made that a reality. (Shortform note: Doyle’s experiences show how powerful imagination can be—it can change your life. Part of imagination’s power comes from the way it affects your brain: Studies have shown that your imagination can fool your brain into thinking that what you imagine is already a reality. In other words, to learn how to visualize better, vividly imagining a life change makes the change easier—because your brain is already on board.) 

Imagining and living into the “right” script for her life was a group project: Doyle and Abby shared their dreams and desires and put together a shared vision for their future. They decided to get married and discussed their decision with friends and family. Her husband supported her decision, and her fans were happy for her. Doyle’s decision initially saddened her children, but they came to accept the divorce and love Abby.

(Shortform note: As you think about how to visualize what you want, take a cue from Doyle and lean on those around you for support. Experts suggest that lifestyle changes are easier when you share your successes and setbacks with others—their celebrations when things go right and support when things go wrong can make the process feel less overwhelming or lonely.) 

Rewrite Your Life’s Script

From her experience of discovering happiness once she flipped the script, Doyle realized how important it is for women to learn how to visualize effectively, using their imaginations as a guide to rewrite the script. Doyle suggests the following steps for rewriting your script: 

  1. Express your discontent. Be specific about what is wrong and what needs to change. 
  2. Use your imagination to identify what you want. Ask yourself, “What is the best version of my life I can imagine?”
  3. Create a picture of it in your mind. 
  4. Write down your desires and discuss them with loved ones.
Further Exploring How to Visualize What You Want

Each step to rewriting your script is important and worth exploring in more depth. Doyle has expanded on the script-rewriting process in multiple podcasts, interviews, and speeches—here, we’ll explore her discussed implications of each step:

– Expressing your discontent is a useful starting point when learning how to visualize better. Articulating what you are unhappy about and what needs to change challenges the unhealthy idea that you should always be happy and grateful. 
– Asking yourself what you really want is important because what you want often gets hidden beneath the expectations that others have for you
– Creating a clear picture of your desired future is a powerful technique when learning how to visualize what you want. You may have never visualized the most beautiful version of your life—and therefore may not even be aware of what you really want. When you think about how to visualize what you want, it’s also important to realize that this vision is unique to you. 

Sharing your ideas with others can help you feel seen and acknowledged—which can further inspire you to take action
How to Visualize What You Want (& Achieve It)

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Like what you just read? Read the rest of the world's best book summary and analysis of Glennon Doyle's "Untamed" at Shortform .

Here's what you'll find in our full Untamed summary :

  • Glennon Doyle's story of freeing herself from society's rules and expectations
  • Why you should rebuild your life using emotion, intuition, and imagination
  • A look at how young women are taught to repress their emotions and desires

Emily Kitazawa

Emily found her love of reading and writing at a young age, learning to enjoy these activities thanks to being taught them by her mom—Goodnight Moon will forever be a favorite. As a young adult, Emily graduated with her English degree, specializing in Creative Writing and TEFL (Teaching English as a Foreign Language), from the University of Central Florida. She later earned her master’s degree in Higher Education from Pennsylvania State University. Emily loves reading fiction, especially modern Japanese, historical, crime, and philosophical fiction. Her personal writing is inspired by observations of people and nature.

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