Written By: Kate Thieda, MS, LPCA, NCC
Are you finding yourself stuck in a rut – in the gym, at work, or in life? Making changes requires that we believe we can make those changes, and often that requires changing the messages we tell ourselves. Visualizing success is a great tool in achieving our goals.
When clients come into my office, we talk about how our self-perceptions translate into reality. If we constantly tell ourselves we are fat, ugly losers who will never succeed, chances are our actions will reflect that idea. If we can visualize being strong, healthy, and successful, our actions are more likely to reflect that perception.
- Imagine yourself feeling fit and strong, wearing that awesome bathing suit, your defined biceps, sculpted abs, and toned legs out there for all to see—before you even start to change your eating and exercise habits.
- Visualize crossing the finish line of the race, completely pain-free, because you made the lifestyle changes necessary to rehab those old injuries, ate a balanced diet, drank plenty of water, and made sleep a priority.
- Revel in the image of standing on top of that mountain with your arms in the air – you had the energy to make that climb because you started a great exercise plan with a fantastic trainer at Empower and lost 10 pounds.
Believing your goals are attainable means you are more likely to make healthy choices such as eating well, exercising regularly, getting enough sleep, taking time for self-care, and being selective about the people you spend time with.
Visualizing Your Goal…and Making It STICK
The first time you do this, give yourself up to 20 minutes to fully create the dream. After that, you can do this practice in as little as two minutes each day.
1. Find a quiet, comfortable place to relax for 20 minutes. Have a notebook and pen in hand. Make sure you’ve blocked out all distractions—cell phone, kids, partner, e-mail. You want to focus.
2. Close your eyes and take four deep breaths—inhale deeply, exhale deeply.
3. Identify the goal you want to create. Get really detailed and specific about it—imagine the sensation you feel having accomplished your goal, imagine your surroundings. Think about what you’re wearing, what you see, what you smell, how your friends and loved ones respond to the changes you’ve made.
4. Imagine that you’re incredibly proud of yourself. You are positively glowing!
5. Capture this image in your mind’s eye. (Write it all down, too, so you don’t forget!)
6. Return to it for several minutes every day.
Make sure to call this image up when making specific health choices, such as when deciding between that cookie or veggie sticks and hummus, or when you’re torn between going for a quick run or sitting down with Facebook.
Don’t hesitate to use this tool frequently when making changes for your health. In fact, the more often you recall your goal, the closer it comes to being a reality!
If you are stuck in a negative pattern of thinking and trying to get unstuck on your own isn’t working, give me a call to discuss whether counseling – in conjunction with proper diet and exercise – can help.