How do you visualize success? What visualization techniques are helpful for achieving difficult goals?
When you actually visualize your success, you have a much better chance of believing you can achieve anything. In The Way of the SEAL, Mark Divine offers two visualization techniques that build confidence during the worst of times.
Continue reading for the key strategies to visualize success in your future.
Visualize Your Success
To bolster your mental strength is to mentally walk through best- and worst-case scenarios you could encounter as you strive to achieve your goals. When you visualize success and prepare for obstacles, you have greater confidence in your ability to confront the worst and succeed.
(Shortform note: Experts say that visualizing physical movement alters the organization of your brain’s networks. It builds more connections between different regions and triggers the area that primes your brain for action so you can move more effectively. And you don’t have to visualize yourself in action for the process to happen—picturing others moving warms up your “action brain,” prompting you to consider ways to coordinate your actions with those around you.)
Divine discovered the value of this tactic in his early twenties, when he quit his job to enter Officer Candidate School (OCS), then discovered he’d have to wait nine months to find out if he’d been accepted. Discouraged, he started regularly visualizing himself as the man he hoped to become once he’d completed the program: running, shooting, rappelling, having conversations with other SEALs, and succeeding at the highest levels. The experience felt more real and integrated each time he practiced—to the point that he deeply believed that being a SEAL was his destiny. Nine months later, he was one of two OCS candidates with a SEAL contract admitted that year.
(Shortform note: Some neuroscientists argue that visualization is a $10 billion magical thinking scam that preys on the vulnerable then leaves them high and dry. They say that the people who find success with visualization have plenty of motivation to start with. For everyone else, the practice is an obstacle to achieving your goals that leaves you discouraged and blaming yourself when you fail to achieve them. Further, imagining your success as real tricks your brain into thinking you’ve already achieved it, disincentivizing you from pursuing it.)
Divine recommends several visualization strategies to build confidence in your ability to get in a positive state of mind, execute in the moment, and enhance your mental strength. Two are guided meditation and mentally rehearsing actions you’ll take to achieve your goals.
1. In guided meditation you walk through a series of images to allow your mind to relax, heal, or tap into your subconscious. This helps you think clearly, eliminate distractions, and focus on your goals. (Shortform note: In contrast to unguided meditation, in guided meditation, an instructor walks you through the practice. Typically, before the process, the instructor explains how your mind operates during meditation, and after meditating, they suggest ways to make the technique a regular part of your life.)
2. In mental rehearsal you mentally walk through every step you’ll take to achieve your goal, including how you’ll respond to obstacles you could face. This prepares you for worst-case scenarios and to manage fears, so when you go through the motions in real life you’re not caught off guard and can adapt. (Shortform note: Psychotherapists use mental rehearsals in a different way: as a desensitization tool to help people overcome anxiety. Repeatedly mentally exposing yourself to things you fear as a therapist helps you build your sense of security and mastery can reprogram your emotional responses.)
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Here's what you'll find in our full The Way of the SEAL summary:
- A former Navy SEAL's strategies to help business leaders
- A mind-body technique that combines yoga, martial arts, and SEAL training
- How to bolster and harness your mental fortitude