Is Visualizing Your Goals Bad?

Visualization is an often-used technique for achieving goals. But what if it doesn't work? What if it actually hinders your objectives? Get-Fit Guy discusses new research into the science of visualization.

Ben Greenfield
1-minute read

I’ve talked before about the power of visualization for achieving your physical fitness goals (specifically how Olympians use visualization).

Also, Get-It-Done Guy has discussed how to use visualization for getting better results.

But sometimes visualization may not actually work. As a matter of fact, in some cases, the act of visualization may hold you back from achieving your goals! How can this be?

A study entitled “Positive fantasies about idealized futures sap energy” shows how when we engage in positive fantasies (aka, visualization), it triggers a potent relaxation response that would normally accompany the actual achievement of that goal, rather than allowing us to marshal the energy needed to obtain the goal. This study isn't the first to question the practice of this traditional self-help tool. A 2009 paper found that repeating positive mantras about themselves led people who were low in self-esteem to feel worse.

So what does this ultimately mean for you? If you have difficulty achieving your goals through visualization, maybe it’s just not for you.

Instead, try other techniques, such as progressive neuromuscular relaxation, listening to motivational music, or a few other motivation techniques I discuss here!

Do you have more questions about the efficacy of visualizing your goals? Leave your thoughts over at Facebook.com/GetFitGuy.


About the Author

Ben Greenfield

Ben Greenfield received bachelor’s and master’s degrees from University of Idaho in sports science and exercise physiology; personal training and strength and conditioning certifications from the National Strength and Conditioning Association (NSCA); a sports nutrition certification from the International Society of Sports Nutrition (ISSN), an advanced bicycle fitting certification from Serotta. He has over 11 years’ experience in coaching professional, collegiate, and recreational athletes from all sports, and as helped hundreds of clients achieve weight loss and fitness success.

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