Visualize Your Future: 4 Tips to Realizing Your Dream

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

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Do you know what your ideal life looks like? How does visualizing your dream future help you make it a reality?

According to Brian Tracy, a motivational speaker and the author of Goals!, visualization is a powerful tool for realizing your dream life. The more vivid your visualizations, the more irresistible the goal.

Here are four tips for visualizing your future and thereby activating your mind’s power.

The Power of Visualization

Visualization is important because it helps you reach your goals faster by unlocking the power of the three parts of your mind: 

  • Your subconscious mindthe part that absorbs information. Tracy likens it to Sigmund Freud’s concept of the id.
  • Your conscious mind—the part that compels you to act. Tracy likens it to Freud’s concept of the ego. 
  • Your superconscious mind—the part that Tracy describes as a universal power. He says this is what Freud calls the superego. 
Comparing Tracy’s Concepts to Freudian Theory

Tracy draws parallels between his idea of the subconscious, conscious, and superconscious mind and Sigmund Freud’s psychoanalytic concepts of id, ego, and superego. However, their concepts aren’t directly comparable. While Tracy’s description of the conscious mind aligns with Freud’s concept of the ego—both are related to how you analyze information to make decisions—the two other concepts are markedly different:

The subconscious mind and the id—Tracy says that the subconscious and the id are the same in that they’re the part of the mind that stores memories. However, the id, according to Freud, is the part of you that responds to basic needs and urges.

The superconscious mind and the superego—Tracy equates the superconscious with the superego, saying that they’re a universal power you can harness to achieve your goals. However, Freud does not relate the superego to a mystical power. To him, the superego consists of both your conscience and ideal self; it’s the part of you that controls your urges and pushes you to become your best self.

According to Tracy, these three parts of your mind work together to help activate the “Law of Attraction,” an energy that turns you into a magnet for the people and things that will help you reach your goal.

(Shortform note: The Law of Attraction that Tracy mentions is a pseudoscience that is the backbone of a lot of positive thinking advice and is the premise of Rhonda Byrne’s The Secret. Byrne explains that people operate as human transmission towers, sending a signal out to the universe, and the universe then responds in kind. She says that this means that whatever you focus on will manifest in your life. She adds that you can trace your current situation back to your previous thoughts—signals that you sent out to the universe in the past.)

In his book Goals!, Tracy gives four tips on how to visualize your future life:

1) Think Five Years Ahead 

Imagine what your perfect life would look like if there were nothing holding you back, Tracy suggests. Go through every detail of your finances, career, relationships, and health. Then, look at your present situation. Ask yourself how you can get from your starting point to your goal—doing this encourages you to think creatively and find ways to realize your vision. (Shortform note: Asking “how” helps you formulate short-term goals to build into the journey toward your big, long-term goals. Short-term goals are important because they act as milestones, are more easily attainable and thus give you much-needed motivation when you achieve them, and keep you moving forward.)

2) Focus on the Positive 

Tracy says that your vivid mental images will materialize, whether they’re positive or negative, so choose to harness your mind’s power for good things. (Shortform note: While Tracy says that it’s important to only visualize success, others argue that you should also visualize failure. Doing this can help you come up with a plan for avoiding failure and prepare for the worst-case scenario.)

3) Visualize Often 

Visualization isn’t a one-time activity in the pre-goal setting stage, but something that you should do every day. The longer you spend on this exercise, the clearer the images will become and the deeper they’ll be embedded in your subconscious. Tracy suggests using tools like vision boards to reinforce mental pictures. (Shortform note: The Secret describes a vision board as a physical representation of what you want. To make a vision board, cut out pictures of your desired things, people, and experiences, then stick them onto a poster board. Place this board where you can see it every day.) 

4) Take Action 

Achievers act immediately, Tracy emphasizes; non-achievers always have an excuse not to start. (Shortform note: While Tracy’s advice shares some commonalities with Byrne’s advice in The Secret, this tip is where they greatly differ. Tracy emphasizes taking action, while Byrne has been criticized for passively relying on the Law of Attraction to bring you success, a strategy that some experts view as dangerous because it takes away your agency.) 

Visualize Your Future: 4 Tips to Realizing Your Dream

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  • Brian Tracy's steps to setting and reaching your goals
  • How to approach your goals with the right mentality
  • Why persistence is more important than courage

Darya Sinusoid

Darya’s love for reading started with fantasy novels (The LOTR trilogy is still her all-time-favorite). Growing up, however, she found herself transitioning to non-fiction, psychological, and self-help books. She has a degree in Psychology and a deep passion for the subject. She likes reading research-informed books that distill the workings of the human brain/mind/consciousness and thinking of ways to apply the insights to her own life. Some of her favorites include Thinking, Fast and Slow, How We Decide, and The Wisdom of the Enneagram.

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